Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Eclipse on June 10, 2019, 09:47:25 PM

Title: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Eclipse on June 10, 2019, 09:47:25 PM
There you are enjoying a good book then you notice that the novel is preaching at you. Now I can handle it if it’s done in a subtle way but half the time it’s over the top.

Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: CameronJohnston on June 10, 2019, 10:11:32 PM
Oh I notice, and it really aggravates me. Enough to put a book down and not pick it back up.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Rostum on June 10, 2019, 10:22:54 PM
Yes i do and if it is the author pushing their beliefs at me I will stop reading. If it is the character and their beliefs are central to their core I can usually live with it.

Don't get me started on the insanity that is rewriting a story to convey a particular flavour of religeous belief.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Skip on June 10, 2019, 10:27:40 PM
My first instinct is to say no, and to say that it's just plain bad writing.

But then I have to recall some classics, especially some SF classics, that are very preachy.

Upon more reflection, this is when I get irked. Both conditions must be fulfilled.
1) the writing is clumsy; that is, I notice that it's preaching and it's heavy-handed. The polemical version of info-dump.
2) I don't agree with what's being preached.

I had to be honest about that second point. If the preaching is about freedom and liberal values, or philosophical positions that correspond to my own, I'm more tolerant.

Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Bender on June 10, 2019, 10:50:07 PM
Any examples of preachy books?
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Peat on June 11, 2019, 01:41:44 AM
Tbh, I increasingly value books that are up front and centre about what they've got to say when they don't clash directly with what I believe. Didn't care for Harry Harrison's send up of the military for example. But I can read both Narnia and His Dark Materials perfectly happy, and they're about the most preachy fantasy books going (and very much opposed).

What's more, after a bit, I see preaching everywhere... guys like Pratchett and Gemmell weren't shy about sharing their world view. Even authors whoa re just trying to tell a story say more than they mean to. I don't think its a coincidence that a lot of British fantasy authors are distinctly cynical about all that power being a good thing; we live in an angry age.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Elfy on June 11, 2019, 06:21:11 AM
The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Peat on June 11, 2019, 10:15:06 AM
The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.

I was too young to really pick up on it when I read it but with retrospect, yeah, there's a very loud message here.


Having thought on it, an author where message does sometimes becoming preaching for me is Max Gladstone. And the two exact times I felt preached too were:

a) When the MC's best friend gave a long monologue on the ills of society that directly referenced the book cover. Yes, I'd got the reference, thanks Max. No need to beat me round the head with it.

b) When at about two-thirds through I was like "Well, I don't know why, but that guy did it because nobody else could have, that's kinda boring... wait... of course he did, he's the big corporate boss and Gladstone always blames the corporations." And while that's a pretty reasonable point of view in this day and age, it doesn't half ruin a mystery.

That's the level of obviousness/story ruining that has to come around before I feel preached at.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: ScarletBea on June 11, 2019, 11:11:12 AM
The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.

I was too young to really pick up on it when I read it but with retrospect, yeah, there's a very loud message here.
I was also quite young when I read it, and thinking back, I can't really tell what it's preaching... is it the christianity thing? But isn't that the basis of all arthurian legends?

Like you said in a previous post, I think it only bothers me if it's preaching something I don't agree with, which tends a bit towards hypocrisy, doesn't it?
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: xiagan on June 11, 2019, 11:26:41 AM
Any examples of preachy books?
Everything Terry Goodkind writes is more Ayn Rand than Atlas Shrugged.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Peat on June 11, 2019, 01:21:09 PM
The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.

I was too young to really pick up on it when I read it but with retrospect, yeah, there's a very loud message here.
I was also quite young when I read it, and thinking back, I can't really tell what it's preaching... is it the christianity thing? But isn't that the basis of all arthurian legends?

Like you said in a previous post, I think it only bothers me if it's preaching something I don't agree with, which tends a bit towards hypocrisy, doesn't it?

For me, it's less the anti-Christianity (although that is present) and more the very heavy pro-feminism slant. At the time I was just "Oh hey, this book has a lot of female characters, ooh next page", but looking back, it is very  heavily pro-feminist. And hey, why not?

And on the anti-Christianity part - I think it's more anti-organised religion as Christianity has become, than anti-Christianity's message. Well, I definitely think that now that I've looked at the book's wiki page and seen this:

"About the time I began work on the Morgan le Fay story that later became Mists, a religious search of many years culminated in my accepting ordination in one of the Gnostic Catholic churches as a priest. Since the appearance of the novel, many women have consulted me about this, feeling that the awareness of the Goddess has expanded their own religious consciousness, and ask me if it can be reconciled with Christianity. I do feel very strongly, not only that it can, but that it must... So when women today insist on speaking of Goddess rather than God, they are simply rejecting the old man with the white beard, who commanded the Hebrews to commit genocide on the Philistines and required his worshippers daily to thank God that He had not made them women... And, I suppose, a little, the purpose of the book was to express my dismay at the way in which religion lets itself become the slave of politics and the state. (Malory's problem ... that God may not be on the side of the right, but that organized religion always professes itself to be on the side of the bigger guns.) ... I think the neo-pagan movement offers a very viable alternative for people, especially for women, who have been turned off by the abuses of Judeo-Christian organized religions."
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Neveesandeh on June 11, 2019, 09:33:01 PM
Amber Spyglass. Amber Spyglass without the merest shadow of a doubt.

To be honest, I don't mind an author promoting their beliefs through their work, actually I think it's essential to lend the work depth. So long as it's done subtly, or in a way that makes sense in the narrative, I don't find it a problem, even if it's a viewpoint I disagree with.

With the Amber Spyglass, it's a book where the major antagonist is a religious organisation. It's leader claims to be God. That's the narrative. We get it. We understand and acknowledge that this is an anti-religious piece of work. We do not need an entire chapter of a peripheral character describing how she left religion, especially not when the plot grinds to a halt so that she may preach to us.

That said, I have other issues with the book as well. Maybe I would be more forgiving of a book being preachy if it makes up for it elsewhere.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Elfy on June 11, 2019, 10:41:18 PM
The Mists of Avalon is one that stuck out to me.

I was too young to really pick up on it when I read it but with retrospect, yeah, there's a very loud message here.
I was also quite young when I read it, and thinking back, I can't really tell what it's preaching... is it the christianity thing? But isn't that the basis of all arthurian legends?

Like you said in a previous post, I think it only bothers me if it's preaching something I don't agree with, which tends a bit towards hypocrisy, doesn't it?

For me, it's less the anti-Christianity (although that is present) and more the very heavy pro-feminism slant. At the time I was just "Oh hey, this book has a lot of female characters, ooh next page", but looking back, it is very  heavily pro-feminist. And hey, why not?

And on the anti-Christianity part - I think it's more anti-organised religion as Christianity has become, than anti-Christianity's message. Well, I definitely think that now that I've looked at the book's wiki page and seen this:

"About the time I began work on the Morgan le Fay story that later became Mists, a religious search of many years culminated in my accepting ordination in one of the Gnostic Catholic churches as a priest. Since the appearance of the novel, many women have consulted me about this, feeling that the awareness of the Goddess has expanded their own religious consciousness, and ask me if it can be reconciled with Christianity. I do feel very strongly, not only that it can, but that it must... So when women today insist on speaking of Goddess rather than God, they are simply rejecting the old man with the white beard, who commanded the Hebrews to commit genocide on the Philistines and required his worshippers daily to thank God that He had not made them women... And, I suppose, a little, the purpose of the book was to express my dismay at the way in which religion lets itself become the slave of politics and the state. (Malory's problem ... that God may not be on the side of the right, but that organized religion always professes itself to be on the side of the bigger guns.) ... I think the neo-pagan movement offers a very viable alternative for people, especially for women, who have been turned off by the abuses of Judeo-Christian organized religions."
The author was a neo pagan when she wrote it and that's the book's very heavy handed message. I would have been as equally turned off if it had preached anything else.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Peat on June 11, 2019, 11:20:09 PM
Fairy nuff - interesting to see the different things we take away. It was definitely very pro-pagan.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Rostum on June 11, 2019, 11:56:12 PM
Mists of Avalon was written from a female perspective. Depending who you talk to it's feminist fantasy, what isn’t (Best Served Cold was lauded as such in certain circles) and/or pagan fantasy. I wasn't overly concerned on reading it as a teen by the religious aspects, it has Christianity as well, but have not re-read as serious allegations were made by the authors children.

Lots of Catholicism and Paganism in Emberverse and I enjoyed that world while it was written from a perspective and not as in the later books as a good vs evil with magic and miracles at the forefront.

I am also not a fan of self or peer censorship and have no time for fundamentalists who wish to ban or not read books because they believe them to be a danger to their or others souls.

 Harry potter is of course a great example and sarcasm[far more dangerous than a narrow minded authoritarian religious view that bans free thought and knowledge] sarcasm/
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Alex Hormann on June 12, 2019, 12:43:34 PM
Possibly down to the types of book I read, but I notice it way more in Sci-Fi than in Fantasy. Though that could be because a lot of the SF I read is way more liberal than I am. As an example, I almost DNF'd Elizabeth Bear's new book when it called me a bigot within the first chapter.

As a general rule, I'm fine with having open themes. A lot of the Military SF I read is openly quite preachy about duty and honour, but it informs the story rather than getting in the way of it.

I must also admit, since I did my degree in creative Writing, I tend to notice things like this a whole lot more than I used to.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Peat on June 12, 2019, 01:11:15 PM

I must also admit, since I did my degree in creative Writing, I tend to notice things like this a whole lot more than I used to.

Once you start to see it, it becomes impossible not to see.

I mean, would I consider GRR Martin to be preaching that most people are bellends, that nobles are usually bigger bellends, and that principles must be flexible to keep those bellends in their place? Kinda yeah; he never stops to make a big explicit grandstanding monologue, but the characters and choices puts into the story time and time again hammer the message home. It is easier to ignore the latter, but when you subconsciously go looking for it, they're both as noticeable imo.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Bender on June 13, 2019, 01:41:41 PM

As a general rule, I'm fine with having open themes. A lot of the Military SF I read is openly quite preachy about duty and honour, but it informs the story rather than getting in the way of it.

I thought preachiness had religious overtones. Do we consider Duty and Honor as preaching? Surely those are basic characteristics of any old fashioned protagonists.

Take Sandersons Stormlight Archives, pretty much every page involving Kaladin or Dalinar has something on duty and Honor. It's a bit repetitive, but I don't get the feeling of being preached to.

On the other hand, one of posters in another forum had hesitations on reading Red Sister trilogy due to Convent, Nun setting as he feared it may be preachy. I didn't find that too preachy either.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Alex Hormann on June 13, 2019, 03:26:25 PM

As a general rule, I'm fine with having open themes. A lot of the Military SF I read is openly quite preachy about duty and honour, but it informs the story rather than getting in the way of it.

I thought preachiness had religious overtones. Do we consider Duty and Honor as preaching? Surely those are basic characteristics of any old fashioned protagonists.

Take Sandersons Stormlight Archives, pretty much every page involving Kaladin or Dalinar has something on duty and Honor. It's a bit repetitive, but I don't get the feeling of being preached to.

On the other hand, one of posters in another forum had hesitations on reading Red Sister trilogy due to Convent, Nun setting as he feared it may be preachy. I didn't find that too preachy either.


I see 'preachy' as any overt attempt by the author to tell the reader how to live their lives. Unless it's a massive monologue, I can allow characters to discuss things. it's only when the narrative itself id saying 'this is the way' that I find it preachy. Of course that line does blur in 1st person narration.

Preachy for me definitely goes beyond just religion though. I'd also include political messages like Peter F Hamilton tends to do, Ben Aaronovitch's anti-anything that isn't London, and maybe even Steven Erikson's rants against literary criticism in Crack'd Pot Trail. BAll of those are very much the author using books as a mouthpiece for his own views.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: cupiscent on June 14, 2019, 03:51:12 AM
I do recall trying to read the Puppy-insert short fiction in the Hugo ballot a few years back and just about passing out from the weight of the "here is the point, let me tell you about the point, this entire thing is a Metaphor for the Point".
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Eclipse on June 14, 2019, 08:06:38 AM
Crank’d Pot was the book I was thinking about when I made this topic.

Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: xiagan on June 15, 2019, 02:12:14 PM
Crank’d Pot was the book I was thinking about when I made this topic.
Crack'd Pot Trail? I dnf'ed it. Not sure I'll pick it up again. How is the second half?
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Alex Hormann on June 15, 2019, 05:34:01 PM
Crank’d Pot was the book I was thinking about when I made this topic.
Crack'd Pot Trail? I dnf'ed it. Not sure I'll pick it up again. How is the second half?

Exactly the same as the first half. Seriously, absolutely nothing happens in that book. I try to avoid being negative about books even when I don't like them, but Crack'd Pot Trail is just a hundred-odd pages of Erikson ranting against literary criticism.
Title: Re: Do you notice preaching in fantasy books?
Post by: Peat on June 15, 2019, 06:03:58 PM
Willful Child by Erikson also felt very much like it was a "This is why everyone who's ever liked classic space opera stuff is wrong and horrible" book going from the opening pages, and I'm not even a huge fan of the stuff.