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What do you miss from fantasy novels?

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

  1. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    Hmm I guess fantasy does have a tendency to have its fair share of Mary sue's (and the male equivalent I can't remember the name of).

    I will freely admit that I partly made this thread to figure out what I can do to make my own fantasy setting stand out more and already have a lot of inspiration ^^
     
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  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, missed this reply earlier.

    You'll really want to read Perdido Street Station, the first of China Miéville's Bas Lag novels. If you like Dark Fantasy, you should dig it. It's set in a London analogue called New Crobuzon. It's a creepy, dark, scary, wet, unstable place where magic is science and science can range from clockwork automata to spectacularly messed up "moths" that feed on the nightmares of the citizens, leaving them comatose and ravaged. There's no medievalism, no trite, faux archaic English, no prithee tell, or whither goest thou? There's no quest, but instead a mystery (of the police sort) to be solved. There are left wing rebels and right wing reactionaries. Miéville is a very political creature.

    Leave the chainmail and swords behind. Abandon the wattle and daub farm. Strike down every wizard or magician that dares call himself such. Get out of the woods and forest. Stop returning the calls of your elvin friends and delete your dwarvish pals from snapchat. No castles. No wars for thrones. No fucking dragons.

    Once you've emptied your table of all of that, decide what you want to say with your story, because your story is NOT the props and costumes; those are incidental. Once you know what you want to say, start thinking of ways to say it that don't have to happen in the real world, or maybe it's a fucked up version of the real world. Just don't write anything that may at some point even hint at someone eventually uttering the phrase, "M'lord."
     
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  3. IlaridaArch

    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Well one thing I find bit tiresome that we have this amazing universe with all sorts of beings roaming about, and yet the protagonist is always a human. At least with major publications.

    It can't be because it's easy to sympathise with humans. I find that to be belittling towards readers. I believe they would do just fine with another race as our point-of-view.
     
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  4. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    I see what youre getting at and that would indeed be an interesting take.

    Not something I could do in my own story as I've only got humans and monsters ^^
     
  5. froboy69

    froboy69 Member

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    Effort. Hahaha, but seriously, sometimes I feel like certain stories/series recycle familiar aspects in fantasy without trying to do something risky and different to it. Now by all means it is hard to be original depending on how you're approaching your story telling, but I can't help to yawn whenever I review other people's work.
     
  6. Ebenezer Lux

    Ebenezer Lux Member

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    I think to an extent, we crave those familiar tropes or there is a bizarre disconnect. That debate will go on forever however. I think fantasy is missing humble protagonists, lately anyway. Maybe that's a call back to the old stuff.
     
  7. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Active Member

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    What do you mean by humble protagonists in this case? not sure I follow.
     
  8. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    I mean, new subgenres are always coming out.

    LitRPG started off in Russia, but only came out due to virtual technology advancing.

    Science-Fiction is probably going to get more popular, but I see Fantasy mixing with technology more.
     
  9. G.A. Kainne

    G.A. Kainne Member

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    My issues with stories today are that many characters seem bland and the story line is not as developed as I would like, so I guess the easiest way to describe this is lack of depth in some works. Fantasy is not what's lacking it's some peoples laziness showing through the pages.
     
  10. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    It's simply becoming easier and easier to produce a novel. Also, the market is becoming flooded. It's like singing or acting, there will be people who would be terrific if they pursued it... but the harder it becomes to become successful the less likely some people will be to try.
     
  11. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Member

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    I like when fantasy takes something from the modern world and allows us to examine it closer. I once wrote a paper in college for a professor who was very dismissive of the fantasy genre- the paper was "In Defense of Fantasy". In it I examined the qualities of fantasy that make it such a compelling genre for so many. One of the major points I came up with was that "fantasy is the bars of the cage between us and the monster". The "monster" being something that scares us, something we are afraid to discuss. Take for example, Mercedes Lackey and her Heralds of Valdemar series. There is a particular trilogy I am referring to here- the books Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price. Written in the early 90s, they feature a prominent gay couple and the love they feel for each other. By taking what, at the time, was a very controversial subject, and placing it in a fantasy realm, it allowed readers to view it close-up without feeling as threatened by it.
    Love and death are two major topics that tend to scare people on some level. Fantasy deals with these things in ways that allow us to examine them closely without feeling like they are too real and in our face. Hence my metaphor, that it is the bars of the cage between us and the monster. It gives us that safety net to examine controversial subjects. And that, I think, is what is too often missing from modern fantasy. There are fewer and fewer "monsters" confronted.
     
  12. Iridium

    Iridium New Member

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    If the question was about what I miss, then I'm just going to go and say that I don't miss anything. That funny feeling I sometimes get when I start reading a new book and it reminds me of Lord of the Rings? I'd say it's nostalgia.

    If the question is about what is missing (a completely different question), then ooh boy... I am not really sure that I could objectively point something out. Sometimes I think that I've just read too much fantasy and it doesn't feel as exciting anymore. Now I haven't read Game of Thrones, but the series really made me feel like I am child again, looking at my very first, stunning (although quite brutal and unnecessarily pornographic) fantasy piece. I am also a huge fan of grey characters, but I feel like they are incredibly hard to write well. Passion from the side of the author is often missing nowadays. A lot of people seem to get into the industry just for the money and whatever other reasons they have. It is also the fact that so many people are publishing in general. Men, women, children, vegetables, everybody wants to get published. And since there are so many ways to do it, they go for it. I could write a long erotic fantasy novel about an elf who is really into dwarves, and make them use magic to create their sex toys. And after 50 shades of grey got published, who the hell knows, maybe my novel will also be really popular. Quality is lacking. And don't get me started on how the humanity is degrading, because we are. Today people will stuff all their questionable values and principle into books and TV.
     
  13. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like to be surprised with something new. The way I was surprised with Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy. Or Terry Pratchett's Diskworld series. Or Kage Baker's Company series. (Well, basically ANYTHING by Kage Baker surprises me, in a good way.) Or Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. What I don't want to read is another Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings. Those are good/great stories, but they've been written. I don't want something derivative of theirs, I want something new.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Baker is always great.

    You might look at Devices and Desires, by KJ Parker; The City and the City, by China Mieville; Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books, of course; The Red Tree or The Drowning Girl, by Caitlin R. Kiernan; or Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner.
     
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  15. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I read the Mervyn Peake trilogy many moons ago ...although I can't say I've ever re-read it. It was a difficult read, for many reasons. I've read a bit of China Mieville, but only short stories. He's definitely on my list. I'll certainly keep the others in mind. Thanks for the recommendations.
     
  16. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's missing is authenticity. Not all non fantasy novels achieve this, but most fantasy novels by default don't. If I pick up a fantasy novel at random, I will almost certainly feel like I'm reading a book written by a pale nerd who wouldn't even be able to lift a sword, let alone know how to use one.

    Who wrote authentic fantasy? Well, Tolkien, because he effectively invented a genre, using real mythology. Lord Dunsany- the guy was a baron in an Irish castle. Mervyn Peake, because Gormenghast is more literary than fantasy, and I consider literary fiction (also, historical) to be authentic by nature.
     
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  17. PilotMobius

    PilotMobius Member

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    I'd like to see the social and political impacts of the introduction of magic : laws and ethics concerning the use of magic, revolutions in warfare, etc.

    Without that, fantasy is just alternate reality medieval with flashy lights thrown in.
     

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