What do you miss from fantasy novels?

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Safety Turtle, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    I've found that I have a problem with the "good triumph over evil" thing that is very common in fantasy and I think that a part of me can't "dig it" (as the young people say) because, even though it's fantasy, I still find it highly unrealistic.
    I guess I'm just one of those pessimists who constantly see the horrible in our species :p
     
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  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Great book. There's a lot more (much, much more) out there in fantasy than a lot of people realize. People are familiar with the most popular authors and view the genre as limited because of it. In the mean time you have:

    China Miéville
    Mervyn Peake
    Angela Carter
    Kage Baker
    Caitlin Kiernan
    Neil Gaiman
    Clive Barker (yes, he wrote some fantasy)
    James Blaylock
    Tim Powers
    K W Jeter
    K J Parker
    Samuel R. Delaney (yes he wrote fantasy)
    Michael Moorcock
    Elizabeth Hand
    P.C. Hodgell

    ...that's just off the top of my head, and I excluded the magic realists for the sake of avoiding argument, even though they belong under the umbrella "fantasy."[/user]
     
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  3. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    I actually got a bit interested in Neil Gaiman and Caitlin Kiernan after I saw them in an H.P Lovecraft documentary, may have to pick up some of their stuff after I've finished reading the novel I bought today.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Completely agreed, and yet another poignant example that the lack is not in the available published works, but in our definition of the genre.
     
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  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    For Kiernan's older stuff, get Daughter of Hounds. Great book, with characters from earlier works. For later stuff, The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl.
     
  6. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    That IS horrible! :) Good triumphs over evil all the time. We just don't all see it. And that's no fantasy! ;)
     
  7. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    I'm well aware of it ^^
    Though strangely I keep finding my self attracted to those kind of stories and settings...one of my favorite sci-fi settings is the Warhammer 40k setting which is probably the most grim dark setting you can find (the humans in it are basically fanatically religious space nazis combined with the inquisition) and there's not a single race, species or culture that could be defined as "good".
    This is a setting where entire planets are wiped out, because of a fear of "heresy"...and I just eat that stuff right up ^^
     
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  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The term "grimdark" came from WH40K, right?
     
  9. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    I'm actually not sure.
    I personally haven't seen it used anywhere else, though it might have...though I have referenced the project I'm working on as "grim dark"...though grim dark have very much become the catchphrase of 40k (for them not in the know, the games tagline is: In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war).

    I found a comment once that really hits the nail on the head for that setting: "You know a setting is grim dark, when a race bred only for war, with an instinct for killing and whose entire life is centered around warfare and bloody murder...is considered "comic relief" (he's talking about Orks (no, not Orcs ^^) who actually have some very interesting and different lore).


    Edit: I found this on wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimdark
    Which actually didn't help much, seems there's some trouble actually defining it...but apparently "A song of ice and fire" is considered "grimdark".
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I think the word "grimdark" came from the tag line in WH40K and the preface paragraph that's at the front of each novel.
     
  11. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    It probably does.
    To me, Grimdark is to scifi and fantasy sort of like what H.P Lovecraft was to horror...a sense of futility, in a way.
    I mean, in WH40K there's absolutely no chance of a happy ending...the inevitable outcome is that the galaxy will most likely be consumed by a swarm of unfeeling aliens.
    It's sort of like the Old Ones and Outer Gods...there's absolutely nothing we can do about it.
     
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  12. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    Well, the fact that all those evil planets are wiped out sounds pretty good to me!

    And you know, you remind me - the theory of evil, its existence and creation, is fascinating to me.
     
  13. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    I believe there's a lot of truth/reality to this. But I won't ramble.
     
  14. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    But the thing is, they're not evil ^^
    They're considered heretics for not being utterly, and blindly devoted to the God Emperor of Mankind...we're talking about a galaxy wide fascist dictatorship that no actually, historical dictatorship could rival.
    Which is why I love the setting, because humans are not the good guys ^^ they're also extremely xenophobic (Xenos is also the name they give aliens) and kill almost all non-human species they encounter, simply for not being human.
    The only race that most people consider good are the Tau, because they fight for "the greater good" and allow humans and other species to join them peacefully...which sounds good, until you read how they sterilise an entire population simply because they didn't want to freely join their "greater good".
    It really is grim and dark ^^
     
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  15. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    I'll say! I'm already confused. And scared. lol
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I like Dan Abnett best. I've read him most. Do you have other recommendations?
     
  17. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    Yeah...that's the Warhammer 40k setting for ya!
    That said, it is a really deep and detailed setting that's been growing for many years...it's has a bit of weird but really cool mix of sci-fi and fantasy, like the Adeptus Mechanicus, which is a sort of cult who worships machines and technology and believe that all machines have a "machine spirit" that must be appeased with sacred oils, chants and refer to the buttons that active them as "runes" and the items themselves as almost magical.
     
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  18. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    You've probably already read it, but all the Gaunt's Ghosts novels are brilliant.
    There's also another Imperial Guard themed book called "Fifteen Hours" that's got a special place in my heart...other than that there's of course the Horus Heresy series, most of them are pretty excellent to.
    Also, Storm of Iron, was the first one I've read and by Graham McNeil.
     
  19. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    I'm struggling to understand this. Good doesn't triumph over evil. And there's no one good but they're not evil, yet worlds are destroyed? That's pretty realistic in a way. No person is really 'good'. We do good things, but basically we're all rotten as hell. Just a belief of mine. :)
     
  20. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    Well I would say that the Imperium of Man (the ones destroying planets, or "Exterminatus" as they call it) are bad guys.
    Speaking of which, here's one of my favorite quotes about just that: "Some may question your right to destroy ten billion people. Those who understand know that you have no right to let them live."

    Ironically, there are only two races in the setting I would consider really "evil" or "bad".
    One are Tyranids who are aliens from a different galaxy, they consume all life on a planet, then break it down in their ships (that are living creatures themselves) and build new creatures from it, but they don't do it out of malice or hatred, they do it for the same reason a lion kills a gazelle: it's their nature.
    The other one are Orks, mainly because they don't hate anyone, they just love fighting, it's what they're made for (quite literally made for as they are originally artificially "grown" to be a sort of bio weapon), they don't fight you because they hate you, they do it because they think having "a gud scrap" (as they would say) is fun.
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I'm not a Martin fan, as people who have read my views about him on other threads will know. However, I think he was different enough from other fantasy writers that I'd read that I was intrigued ...for the first three books or so. Then I began to lose faith that he knew what he was doing. I'm still not sure that he does, and I stopped reading partway through book 4. He went from writing Fantasy to writing Soap Opera. Endless coming and going of characters, but no conclusion to the story.

    Just reading @Steerpike's list. I forgot Mervyn Peake in my list ...top of my head is fairly empty these days. That was incredibly innovative stuff. I picked him up after reading Tolkien and wasn't quite ready for him then. But I tried again later on and loved Gormenghast, and the others that followed. I've still got that trilogy somewhere at the back of my shelves. Should try reading it again, maybe after I finish re-reading The First Law.

    And I do love Kage Baker. I did mention her, though. I suppose her Company series could be called sci-fi—as can her Empress of Mars series—but a lot of the other stuff she wrote is what I would call Fantasy. Ermenwyr is one of my favourite fantasy characters.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
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  22. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee In my defense, words are my weapons. Contributor

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    I miss reading fantasy before I started writing fantasy...

    I used to trust an author to take me through the story, now I find myself questioning their every decision. I've become an insufferable backseat writer.
     
  23. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Damn! Lost another one. :P Contributor

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    Not a thing. Though to be fair I do not have a taste for Fantasy. :supersmile:
    The only exception being 40k as it has an interesting and complex
    dynamic about it. Also the Orks are freaking funny. :p
     
  24. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    Can only agree with you on orks...buy I've been a devoted Ork player for about 10 years I think ^^

    I can also speak fluently with an Orky-accent...guess that's sort of an achievement.
     
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  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know if it's exactly answering the question... but I find a lot of fantasy lacks characters I find compelling.

    About the only fantasy I read is stuff that gives me really interesting, complex, multidimensional characters, not the stereotypes or self-insert "heroes".
     

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