1. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    Things you'd like to see more of in Fantasy.

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by X Equestris, Oct 20, 2015.

    I've seen a number of threads here and elsewhere about things people are tired of in Fantasy or Science Fiction, so I thought it would be interesting to talk about things we want to see more of. What less common plots, characters, settings, etc. do you want to see more of?
     
  2. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    In terms of characters, I'd like to see more diversity. There really isn't enough variety when it comes to lead characters. Give us elegant and poised black elves, grizzled and battlescarred warrior women, a knight waking his prince with true love's kiss. And none of it treated as a joke.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Could just be because I'm half-blind and half-deaf, but I wouldn't mind seeing more protagonists with certain disabilities, conditions, or disorders. Yes there's the blindness thing, but a deaf child might actually appreciate reading a fantasy where the main character is a badass deaf guy, or maybe a person with albinism might get a kick reading about an Indy Jones-expy who happens to have albinism.

    Basically, if you are going to write a disabled character into your fantasy, consider the other disabilities/conditions/disorders that exist other than blindness.
     
  4. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    ^I'm on board with that. Fantasy in general seems to stay away from physical and mental disabilities; when they are present though, they don't seem to be too much of a hindrance. Characters in fantasy seem to be immune to everything though, so maybe it just goes with the genre.
     
  5. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I've heard these laments before and my only response is, black people didn't live in Europe in before the common era, which is where much of fantasy is set.
    Point of fact, Norse Mythology is full of "Black Elves" and "Black Dwarfs," but those are references to the dark-haired Celts who inhabited the Rhine as opposed to the "light-elves" (Germans) who lived on the Elbe and Oder.

    I don't know why there aren't more battle-scarred women--Maybe because history often overlooks them. How many are actually familiar with the story of Queen Bodica and her daughters? Now there's a warrior for you!

    As for gay love, I don't know why that gets overlooked either. There is clear historical evidence for that too: According to Aristotle, the Celtic men openly preferred male lovers (Politics II). In book XIII of Deipnosophits, the Roman Greek rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus, repeats assertions made by Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC Bibliotheca historica), that Celtic women were beautiful but that the men preferred to sleep together.

    I have a battle-scarred woman and gay lovers in my book. No Africans, Asians, or Native Americans, sorry.

    And even if one did write fantasy including black MC's, wouldn't that get published under "African Folk Traditions" anyway?
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Most fantasy is set in a completely fictitious world, not in Europe whether before or after the common era. There is a subgenre of historical fantasy, but that is relatively limited. There wasn't magic in Europe either, nor dragons, orcs, elves, and the like.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly, what made Toph from The Last Airbender so memorable was because they managed to actually address how her blindness hindered her, and how she worked to get around that obstacle. It's subtle, but in one episode (The Painted Lady), they showed Toph holding Aang's arm as they walked over a wooden pathway over water because she can't see if her feet aren't physically touching the Earth. Even then, she can only detect outlines of things, not physical details as she told Katara once when she said, "I've no idea what you look like." Any other fantasy would've just used it as a gimmick, but they managed to weave her blindness into the narrative so it wasn't intrusive and obvious, but it was there and the characters recognized it.

    Same with any other disability/disorder/condition. How does the character deal with it, how do other characters recognize that yes, this character has a handicap of some sort. Skilled writers can weave that into the plot without it looking too forced, or it taking over the plot itself.
     
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  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does the name "John Metta" mean anything to anybody here? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-metta/i-racist_b_7770652.html :

    But racism is even more subtle than that. It's more nuanced. Racism is the fact that "White" means "normal" and that anything else is different. Racism is our acceptance of an all white Lord of the Rings cast because of historical accuracy, ignoring the fact that this is a world with an entirely fictionalized history.

    Even when we make s*** up, we want it to be white.


    And racism is the fact that we all accept that it is white. Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan in Star Trek. Khan, who is from India. Is there anyone Whiter than Benedict f***ing Cumberbatch? What? They needed a "less racial" cast because they already had the Black Uhura character?
    That is racism. Once you let yourself see it, it's there all the time.​
     
  9. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The works of Tolkien, especially The Lord of the Rings, are regarded as the archetypal works of high fantasy. Tolkien always insisted that his world was the primary world, specifically, England, set in the past. In fact, "Middle Earth" is derived from the Norse Mythology, "Midgarth" which was known as the land of men and translates as "Middle Earth."

    High fantasy worlds may be more or less closely based on the real world or on legends (such as the Arthurian Cycle) and various mythologies and folklore. The primary world only needs to be separated from the setting by a great distance in space and/or time. This is what Tolkien did, and is what many fantasy writers do.

    Many mythologies contain dragons, demons, elves (as mentioned in my previous post), magic (what do you think the druids were known for?) etc . . .
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  10. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Tolkien always maintained that his world was the primary world set in the past.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    He can insist what he likes. Are you really telling me that you have no problem with a supposed past real world with elves, dwarves, Smaug, the One Ring, ringwraiths, Sauron, and Tom Bombadil, but as soon as a black guy shows up it ruins the believability for you?
     
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    More levity. Why does fantasy take itself so dam seriously?
     
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  13. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Who says I want to be like Tolkien? If you'll excuse me, I'll be writing out my fantasy not based in any version of Europe where my main protagonist is a non-white gal.

    @Simpson17866 - Well, if you have albinism (lack of pigment in skin, hair, and eyes), you'd be whiter than Benedict Cumberbatch. :p
     
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  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've read a book set 20,000 years ago with black, white and Asian characters. There were many things wrong with the book, but that wasn't one of them. It's a lazy excuse to say "oh but the book's world is a bit like Europe centuries ago and there were no black people in Europe until recently".
     
  15. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I for one refuse to accept a past real world with Tom Bombadil in it :p
     
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  16. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    I think only the Shire is meant to be England. Middle Earth itself is essentially all of Europe, Harad would be the Middle East/North Africa, and Rhûn being Asia. Obviously they aren't exact mirrors, but I believe he intended it to be this way. But yea, Middle Earth (and by extension, Arda) is Earth something like 6,000 years ago, we are currently in the 6th age (marking the end of WW2), if what I read was correct.

    Given his attention to realism and detail, I actually do find it odd that there would be mixed colours among humans for a great period of time - seeing as mixed colours were rare enough five centuries ago.
     
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  17. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The mythologies already deal with dwarfs and elves and dragons, torcs, etc.
    There is a great movie, 13th warrior that puts an Arab (also considered Caucasian) in the Beowulf story. It's great. A Moor shows up in one of the Robin Hood tales. To adequately suspend disbelief there must be some level of believably.

    If you want black characters why not set a story somewhere in a "world" similar to Africa? Oh wait, because it would be classified as "African Folk Tradition." It has nothing to do with being racist, or not racist. The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden was a lovely novel, with a black MC, however it is not fantasy.
     
  18. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's Tolkien, though. He may be the one who popularized the genre, but in no way are fantasy writers required to strictly follow his path. And even Tolkien has nonwhite peoples: the Haradrim and Southrons and Easterlings, for example.
     
  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Because there's no need. You can have a black character in any world.
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    We will have to agree to disagree. This line of reasoning seems ridiculous to me.
     
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  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Not to mention the fact that "most" fantasy isn't set in the historic real world, nor intended to be. Tolkien doesn't constitute most fantasy. Most fantasy, and in particular epic fantasy, appears to be set in wholly created worlds. Even the minority that you might say purport to be set in the real past clearly aren't really set in the real past. This particularly justification for lack of diversity is bizarre.
     
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  23. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    The logic here is incredibly twisted. Applying the same logic, making Spiderman black is racist towards white people, having a lack of gay characters in Star Wars is homophobic, and having a male protagonist is sexist towards women. It's not racist unless there is reason behind it. Not writing a black character isn't racist unless you're writing whites because "to hell with black characters". You'll see any sort of discrimination if you want to. I'm gay yet I don't believe every story written in the history of North America is homophobic - why? Because that's absurd, just because somebody sharing my experience or traits is not present, does not mean discrimination. Lack of inclusion and forced exclusion are very different things. Also, of course white is going to be normal in North America and Europe, just as many African authors have primarily black characters, and Asian authors have primarily Asian characters. It's all about perspective, I suppose African authors with primarily black characters are racist towards white people. Do Russian authors hate Americans because their stories focus mainly on Russian people?

    Give me enough time and I'll find a way to turn Mein Kampf into a discriminatory piece against Germans.
     
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  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Plus, because it's...y'know....fantasy! You can do whatever you want, you don't have to copy Tolkien's fantasy world you can make up your own.

    @Acanthophis is correct. Just because a story has these particular set of characters doesn't hint toward some bigoted agenda an author has against a group of people. None of my stories feature Italians, Hindus, people in wheelchairs, bisexuals, etc. Does that mean I secretly hate all of them? OF COURSE NOT!! Just like I don't think JK Rowling secretly hates all non-white, non-UKers because 99.99999% of her characters are mostly white folks from the UK.

    This is quickly turning into a topic of its own, but suffice to say, while there's nothing wrong with diversifying your cast, it doesn't make you a horrible person if you don't shove a random blind Hindu boy from India into your story. I'd much rather you not include him if he's just going to be there for the sake of having diversity.

    'Cause here's the thing, we're all people and none of us are meant to fill in a 'check-list'. You want to have that blind Hindu boy from India in your story? Then sit down and figure out how he'll fit into the story, his background, his psychology, how he treats people, how others treat him, etc. I like to follow the old adage of 'don't include something just for the sake of a gimmick or checking off a list.' Make your characters, in whatever way they appear, seem real.
     
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  25. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @Link the Writer the arguments are against bullshit reasons for not including diversity. Reasons like "although this is a made up world of my own imagination, some places in the real world didn't have many black people at a certain period in time, therefore I can't either".
     

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