1. Kerilum
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    Kerilum Active Member

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    Is There A Gay Clichay in Contemporary Fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Kerilum, Dec 27, 2016.

    I feel I can't go a book without reading half way down the Amazon summary that little Bobby is troubled by his feelings for little Jimmy. I feel as if gay relationships are being forced down my throat. I look in the fantasy section for fantasy, which at first, is what I see, but then I question whether or not I am in the LGBT or romance section of fantasy.
    I don't mind if a character is gay--I'm not homophobic--, not a difference between a straight love attraction in my eyes. What I mind is that this is happening in every book. The little 2 sentence summary talks about fantasy and the fantastical scenarios, but then the longer synopsis, as I somewhat said before, goes on and on about the relationships.
    What do you think?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Firstly, I think the word you want is cliché. Clichay is not a word.

    Secondly, welcome to the wonderful world of trends! I've seen all kinds of trends come and go in genre lit. I remember when my beloved Science Fiction got consumed by military Warhammar 40k type stories and there's a whole generation of young readers who think that that's all Science Fiction is. I remember when Urban Fantasy really started to have a following only to be doused by Peter Jackson and his reboot of LotR. Harry Potter isn't the only series about a special school for magically gifted kids, and they all came out around the same time. Can any of us forget the paranormal romance craze?? And, of course, let's not forget dystopian YA love triangle trilogies, which are ALL about the evil grownups (cough, cough, baby boomers, cough cough) and the spunky young people who will survive their Dastardly Plans.

    Yes, Gay is happening outside the bounds of just LGBT lit. So, just as I had to wait out the whole Warhammer 40k period that was defo not not my cuppa' tea, so too you may have to just wait while Bobby and Jimmy have their moment in the shire. It will pass. The zeitgeist is nothing if not fickle.*

    ETA: Also, depending on how you're filtering in Amazon, there is a spectacular amount of (very enjoyable) LGBT spec fic romance that you may not be filtering out, thus, more than anything, you're experiencing what statisticians call sampling error. *shrug* The fact that there is so much of this kind of work speaks of a vast audience that has clearly always been there and that prior to the advent of venues like Amazon was simply told "No. We're not going to give you that", in a moralizing tone, by the old guard of traditional publishing.

    *ETAA: And though it may pass as a big phenomenon, don't expect it to disappear. Being something other than 100% str8 is too common in real life, too much a part of the human condition to pretend it's not there and not write about it. And it's not just those of us who are LGBTQ+ who want to write these stories. It's the people who have been our friends and our extended families, who have known us and loved us, who want to write these stories too because it's part of the lives and experiences they too have had.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As @Wreybies said, it is currently something of a trend in literature generally. However, there is more fantasy lacking such elements than including it.
     
  4. Hypatios
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    Hypatios New Member

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    Looking at much of literature, and not just fantasy, you could construct the same sort of point regarding a "straight cliché". What's happening now is a redress of balance. Mainstream Western fantasy, and literature, has always centred heterosexual relationships and it's high time that fresh ground was explored. I'd actually appreciate it greatly if you could direct me to some of the work that you stumbled across, as I'm always on the look-out for stuff with LGBT+ concerns: it's on average more varied and interesting than the rest of what's out there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The Hexslinger series by Gemma Files was flipping delicious. Weird West meets Not-Nice Aztec gods and the gunslingers are also wizards and the love story is between two guys who are also decidedly not nice people. It's fucking awesome. :-D
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Which brings us back around to a core issue that seems to come up again and again in different guises with Fantasy, specifically, as a genre, and I'm wondering why this should be. We get lots of "Why is Fantasy so {fill in the cliché thing that's bugging me}?" threads. Like, again, there was the whole Military War Story period of Science Fiction, but I know perfectly well that this was just a blip on the overall timeline of the genre. I'm not wearing blinders that this one slice of thing I don't like is the whole thing.

    But for Fantasy, we do seem to get a lot of sentiments expressed to that effect. I wonder what is causing this. I mean, I know the genre to be dauntingly wide open, if anything, so why the commonality of "wearing blinders"?

    Thoughts?
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    We get the same thing on Mythic Scribes. I'm not sure why this is. My initial thought was that a lot of people start reading fantasy with some of the hallmarks of the genre--Tolkien and later imitators, who write a certain kind of fantasy--and then later, and perhaps unconsciously, gravitate toward those same kinds of works. So you get complaints about "Why does all fantasy have X" when in fact most fantasy doesn't have X, but most fantasy of a certain subgenre does have it. People don't seem keen on branching out into all of the variety, subgenres, and the like that are out there. Fantasy is quite diverse, not just in terms of subject matter but in terms of writing style, tropes used (or not used), setting, etc. There's really not much (if anything) that you can use as X in the sentence "Why does fantasy always have X" and make an accurate statement out of it.

    Getting back to LGBT characters, the vast majority of fantasy does not include such characters or romances. Much more current fantasy output includes it than fantasy of the past, but if you look at the genre at the whole it's a small portion of the body of work.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Also, I've been working my way through this particular reading list over the past couple of years: http://booklist.rassaku.net/

    This is where I came across the Hexlinger series, btw. It was actually the first set of books I read from this list and I was so happy to have done so that I've been plowing through it ever since. I usually, but don't always, concur with the dry wit in the reviews expressed therein. :) The last set of books I read from this list started with A Companion to Wolves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. The first book was great. The second book, not so much. Didn't read the third. The series as a whole felt like it started off as a single novel that they then tried to extend into a trilogy and really should have just left as an excellent stand-alone. Anywho... I've found some terrific reads from this list. :)
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Nice list. Have you read Storm Constantine? I quite like her.

    The Ellen Kushner Riverside novels (see Swordspoint et al., on your list) are just great :D
     
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  10. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    I think it is because of the constant barrage of that type for a while that makes it very hard to find anything else.
    For example, if I go to a chain bookshop, they will have the same books in fantasy for months due to the fact they are 'safe' books, as in everyone is reading them because they like them so similar books should also do well. The bookshop will do well out of people wanting to move on from a series but are just dipping their toes into fantasy so need some guidance and so it all ends up as a case of the type of fantasy getting ridiculously available in shops and searches because they want sales.
    If I go to an independent or a second-hand book shop it is slightly different, they will try to show as much range as possible due to the fact they are only one shop and will try to cater to a lot more people.
    Both are ways of just trying to make money in my mind and the first is what drives the trend.

    Why is fantasy filled with LGBT at the moment? Because some people wanted to write it, it got popular due to the LGBT movement, sold well, people wanted more, that got found/written, that also got popular.
    Amazon is giving you these suggestions because they are selling well. All trends boil down to this really.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Have I read Storm Constantine? Have I sat up at night wondering what it would be like to be incepted and become a harling, like Pellaz and the legendary Calanthe? Have I wondered what life would be like as a fierce Kakkahaar warrior, screaming my courage across the desert sands by day and taking aruna with my beautiful har lover at night?

    No. I've never done these things. :whistle: :-D
     
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  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    :D

    I was almost certain I knew the answer to that, because I have a memory of discussing her books with you in the past. But I wasn't quite certain whether it happened or I was misremembering.
     
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  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Which, and to bring things back around to the original topic, only goes to show that LGBT themes reaching out into the rest of the bookshelves at one's local bookseller is nothing new. Constantine's Wraeththu books are from the 80's (positively prehistoric to some of our members) and you can also find a healthy engagement of LGBT themes in other works such as pretty much anything by Delany, and the Darkover novels by MZB. As others have already mentioned, perhaps there seems to be so much right now only because up until the last 5 - 10 years or so, while it was present, there was a paucity of these themes. We can talk about it now. We can admit to our sexual diversities and not fear so much as before. So, it would only seem natural to me that writers looking for new ground to tread in their individual, respective journeys as writers would likely not ignore this newly opened door that had only been taken by a few in the past.
     
  14. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How do you think the rest of us feel about every other story on the planet forcing straightness down our throats?
     
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  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    At the risk of sounding spiteful, perhaps the OP can do as we have always done in the past and flip one of the characters in our mind to a gender that makes the story more relatable to us. :bigwink:

    To the OP, genuinely, I do not mean that to sound snarky or cruel. But Simpson's point is one I understand. For those of us who don't fit within the heteronormative box, this flood of stories and books you mention feels like a Renascence, like water in the desert. We hoped to have something to read wherein we could see ourselves reflected, but to be spoiled for choice is more than we ever dreamed, at least for someone of my generation. Our own forum member @Laurin Kelly has been praised for her works in LGBT themes, and I am pretty darned sure that @BayView has also seen her share of attention in the realm. It's pretty awesome to be able to include them on our community and know that they are having success as writers, at least in part, because of this opportunity in genre and theme (not to take away one iota of praise for the fundamental talent needed to even get noticed in this now competitive area).
     
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  16. Kerilum
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    Kerilum Active Member

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    wrong
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    What does that even mean?
     
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  18. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Huh?
     
  19. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Kerilum likes to post things that make people cranky. See the second page of Putting a sociopath into fantasy.
     
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  20. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    The Fifth Season (Broken Earth Trilogy) has some non-hetero relationships. And I particularly like this example because, one, it's an incredible story, two, because Jemisin deals with the non-hetero relationships in a way that doesn't feel shoehorned. It's hardly mentioned, but it's present and it feels natural for it to be there rather than contrived. I can't recommend that book enough. I just received the sequel, The Obelisk Gate, in the mail today. I'm pumped to read it.
     
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  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Be this the case, then I am terribly sorry to disappoint, but disappoint I must. :bigsmile: I was invigorated to engage in a lively conversation with the introspective and oft engaging members of this forum who never fail to illuminate new avenues of discourse, new questions to ask, new answers to be sought that lead to even more questions and so on and so forth. :bigcool:

    Sorry if anyone was "bummed" that this was the direction I took. :whistle: Always bumming, me. :-D
     
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  22. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Is it wrong that I'm picturing you waving a perfumed silk handkerchief about?

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the warning, but I like sharing information :)
     
  24. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee In my defense, words are my weapons. Contributor

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    Not to make this political, but I totally heard this in Donald Trumps voice.
     
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  25. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hahaha :rofl:
     
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