June 01, 2020, 10:15:32 AM

Author Topic: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy  (Read 17372 times)

Offline Arry

  • Cat of the Canals
  • Administrator
  • Elderling
  • ***
  • Posts: 5880
  • Total likes: 648
  • Gender: Female
  • Faceless
    • View Profile
    • Tenacious Reader
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2013, 09:04:29 PM »
Quote
Back at the original question....hmm, at the moment, I'm just all for healthy, perfectly consensual relationships with no abuse or rape-y overtones.

THIS. ALL OF IT.

So you really do want your fantasy to be fantasy and to divorce all associations with reality, huh?

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Would you care to rephrase that so I actually understand what you are saying? Because I'm reading one thing, and I'm sure you didn't mean it.

I don't think he means what I thinks he means- That it should have aspects of realism and that abandoning romantic elements is unrealistic, or that an appreciation of the genre, devoid of that element,  is just an escape from reality?

If that's the case. I disagree. Romance is that extra ingredient, that is not loved by everyone, but loved my most people. You may even love it, but just need to take a break from it for a while(Like the extra cheese on the whopper =3), because of the effects it has on the plot and characterization of a novel.

'Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.'

Figured I would jump on the bandwagon and share what I think Dan D Jones meant.

I thought is was a joke ... that the statement

Quote
healthy, perfectly consensual relationships

is a fantasy aspiration in the real world. I don't think he meant it literally as in they are not possible (obviously they are), but more that bad and unhealthy relationships absolutely exist in real life and to create a world without that would take the makings of a fantasy world. I think it was just a joke that to expect all relationships to meet some ideal escapes from the realm of realism.

But ..... I don't know for sure. Dan will have to speak for himself.

The way I have read this conversation, Fellshot wants more healthy examples of relationships within novels to provide positive examples, and Dan made a joke that that only exists in a fantasy world.

Don't take my opinion as anything more than my interpretation. They will both have to clarify and speak for themselves. :)
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin

http://www.tenaciousreader.com

http://www.speculativeherald.com

Offline AshKB

Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2013, 09:10:53 PM »
On one hand, the snobbery towards the romance genre is something I find very weird from fantasy - guys, you know dragons and magic aren't real, either, maybe you guys should read more non-fiction, just so you don't forget what reality is (etc - you get the picture). But that's not what I understood from Dan's comment.

It was more the idea that people after reading about a relationship between equals was worthy of a bit of mockery, that suddenly THIS is so fantastically unrealistic. Not "perfect", not "last forever and over multiple lives" just "between equals with no harmful power-dynamics".

A stableboy being accepted as a king is fantastic and unrealistic, too. That stablehand being a GOOD king, to the boot (because of course we don't want to see what'd happen, all the intrigue and manipulation that'd follow, if not outright civil war). The thief who discovers that she has a secret gift at calling fire. Dragons as aerial warfare, and technology that remains swords and shields for thousands of years. A society where women have all of the education, and yet men are still the ones in control (Sanderson, I'm looking at you - education tends to equal power, historically and realistically speaking.) Noooot entirely sure why "protagonists or main side-characters in healthy relationship" is the sticking point that people have to come back to reality on.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 09:13:03 PM by AshKB »
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted - Plutarch

I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow - Woodrow Wilson

Offline Arry

  • Cat of the Canals
  • Administrator
  • Elderling
  • ***
  • Posts: 5880
  • Total likes: 648
  • Gender: Female
  • Faceless
    • View Profile
    • Tenacious Reader
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2013, 09:18:36 PM »
Noooot entirely sure why "protagonists or main side-characters in healthy relationship" is the sticking point that people have to come back to reality on.

I don't think anyone here is promoting unhealthy relationships in fiction (or real life). In fact, I don't think anyone has said that healthy relationships are the element of romance that pull them out of the story.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin

http://www.tenaciousreader.com

http://www.speculativeherald.com

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2013, 09:24:45 PM »

It was more the idea that people after reading about a relationship between equals was worthy of a bit of mockery, that suddenly THIS is so fantastically unrealistic. Not "perfect", not "last forever and over multiple lives" just "between equals with no harmful power-dynamics".

... sure why "protagonists or main side-characters in healthy relationship" is the sticking point that people have to come back to reality on.

Fantastic point. But I doubt... I was about to say something stupid, but I changed my mind... Instead,

"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2013, 09:58:32 PM »
Quote
Back at the original question....hmm, at the moment, I'm just all for healthy, perfectly consensual relationships with no abuse or rape-y overtones.

THIS. ALL OF IT.

So you really do want your fantasy to be fantasy and to divorce all associations with reality, huh?

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Would you care to rephrase that so I actually understand what you are saying? Because I'm reading one thing, and I'm sure you didn't mean it.

What I mean is that healthy, perfectly consensual relationships don't exist in reality.  (That includes any relationship with any length and depth, not just romantic ones.)  Human beings are imperfect animals.  Many people aim for healthy relationships and many get reasonably close but no one is actually perfect.  Jealousy, irritation, intolerance and all sorts of human foibles raise their head in any romantic relationship of any length.  We do things we don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  We compromise and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work, and that throws "perfectly consensual" right out the window. 

More importantly, I find such relationships boring in fiction.  Fiction is driven by conflict and pat relationships don't generate conflict.  If it doesn't contribute to the conflict in some way, then why have it in the story?

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2013, 10:11:38 PM »
Quote
Back at the original question....hmm, at the moment, I'm just all for healthy, perfectly consensual relationships with no abuse or rape-y overtones.

THIS. ALL OF IT.

So you really do want your fantasy to be fantasy and to divorce all associations with reality, huh?

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Would you care to rephrase that so I actually understand what you are saying? Because I'm reading one thing, and I'm sure you didn't mean it.

What I mean is that healthy, perfectly consensual relationships don't exist in reality.  (That includes any relationship with any length and depth, not just romantic ones.)  Human beings are imperfect animals.  Many people aim for healthy relationships and many get reasonably close but no one is actually perfect.  Jealousy, irritation, intolerance and all sorts of human foibles raise their head in any romantic relationship of any length.  We do things we don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  We compromise and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work, and that throws "perfectly consensual" right out the window. 

More importantly, I find such relationships boring in fiction.  Fiction is driven by conflict and pat relationships don't generate conflict.  If it doesn't contribute to the conflict in some way, then why have it in the story?

I don't think she means a relationship without conflict. I haven't read much fantasies, but often, romances aren't really romances. It comes out in an abusive, dominant tone, where choice has little factor in the accord. And sometimes, rape is implicitly displayed. Faint, but very present.
Example, Jorg and Katherine in Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire Trilogy.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 10:24:18 PM by Inextremis »
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline Arry

  • Cat of the Canals
  • Administrator
  • Elderling
  • ***
  • Posts: 5880
  • Total likes: 648
  • Gender: Female
  • Faceless
    • View Profile
    • Tenacious Reader
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2013, 12:37:29 AM »
hat I mean is that healthy, perfectly consensual relationships don't exist in reality.  (That includes any relationship with any length and depth, not just romantic ones.)  Human beings are imperfect animals.  Many people aim for healthy relationships and many get reasonably close but no one is actually perfect.  Jealousy, irritation, intolerance and all sorts of human foibles raise their head in any romantic relationship of any length.  We do things we don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  We compromise and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work, and that throws "perfectly consensual" right out the window. 
Hmmm… I actually disagree with you. Compromise does not mean that a relationship is less than it would be without it. A healthy realtionship is respect and trust, and a hopefully bit of fun. When you have these, compromise is not 'giving in', it's willingly meeting a middle ground. I actually think a relationship without compromise would be more likely to be unhealthy than one with it.


I don't think she means a relationship without conflict. I haven't read much fantasies, but often, romances aren't really romances. It comes out in an abusive, dominant tone, where choice has little factor in the accord. And sometimes, rape is implicitly displayed. Faint, but very present.
Example, Jorg and Katherine in Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire Trilogy.
I agree this is likely what she was referring to as well. I also still don't believe that Dan was saying he wants abusive relationships in his fantasy. I kind of feel like people are on two different wavelengths here. So, for the record, while I said I like my romancers to suffer, I did not mean by each others hands. I never said I was against healthy relationships, I just don't want them to happen overnight and become obsessive.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 03:30:48 AM by Arry »
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin

http://www.tenaciousreader.com

http://www.speculativeherald.com

Offline GauravZ

Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2013, 03:49:09 AM »
Vin and Elend from the Mistborn triology is my favourite couple.
I think they are a perfect couple considering the world in which the story takes place.
With the world in turmoil and Elend the new king,they both are unsure of their responsibilites towards the people and towards each other.
" Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it." - Llyod Alexander

Offline Fellshot

Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2013, 06:16:39 AM »
I thought that "a variety" would be inclusive of both good and bad romances and relationships, but ancedotally it seems like there's a trend to portray the unhealthy side more than the healthy side. In the interest of parity, I would prefer to have more healthy relationships of all kinds between characters. It would at the very least provide a good contrast between the two. I am sorry if this wasn't clear.

Quote
What I mean is that healthy, perfectly consensual relationships don't exist in reality.  (That includes any relationship with any length and depth, not just romantic ones.)  Human beings are imperfect animals.  Many people aim for healthy relationships and many get reasonably close but no one is actually perfect.  Jealousy, irritation, intolerance and all sorts of human foibles raise their head in any romantic relationship of any length.  We do things we don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  We compromise and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work, and that throws "perfectly consensual" right out the window. 

You are confusing "healthy" with "static." They do not mean the same thing. A healthy person doesn't feel good all the time, why would relationships be any different?

Also compromise implies a solution that all parties can accept, thus one has consensus.

Offline Nighteyes

  • DON'T send me Leopard Erotica!
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6885
  • Total likes: 1531
  • OH WOW! JUST WORKED OUT HOW TO DO THIS!!!!!
    • View Profile
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2013, 06:52:15 AM »
I thought that "a variety" would be inclusive of both good and bad romances and relationships, but ancedotally it seems like there's a trend to portray the unhealthy side more than the healthy side. In the interest of parity, I would prefer to have more healthy relationships of all kinds between characters. It would at the very least provide a good contrast between the two. I am sorry if this wasn't clear.

Quote
What I mean is that healthy, perfectly consensual relationships don't exist in reality.  (That includes any relationship with any length and depth, not just romantic ones.)  Human beings are imperfect animals.  Many people aim for healthy relationships and many get reasonably close but no one is actually perfect.  Jealousy, irritation, intolerance and all sorts of human foibles raise their head in any romantic relationship of any length.  We do things we don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  We compromise and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work, and that throws "perfectly consensual" right out the window. 

You are confusing "healthy" with "static." They do not mean the same thing. A healthy person doesn't feel good all the time, why would relationships be any different?

Also compromise implies a solution that all parties can accept, thus one has consensus.

I HOPE healthy relationships do exist! Because I have made a promise to myself from now on I will only be in healthy relationships!

I think I can see where Dan is coming from - but he is completely muddling up his vocabulary and expressing himself.very poorly.   

I think he is railing against idealise Disneyfied relationships - and pointing out that even the happiest relationships still have their wobbles.  Those relationships though despite their wobbles are still healthy and.consensual though.
The Real Powers That Be

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1069
  • Total likes: 602
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #25 on: December 26, 2013, 05:08:24 PM »
If that's the case. I disagree. Romance is that extra ingredient, that is not loved by everyone, but loved my most people. You may even love it, but just need to take a break from it for a while(Like the extra cheese on the whopper =3), because of the effects it has on the plot and characterization of a novel.

Did you just imply that plot is a bowel movement? If so, hilarious.

I'd say my favorite romances are those of mutual standing. Slaves must marry slaves and kings must marry queens! Oh wait, kings must marry kings.

Welp, now that I've made fun of how my sentence sounded, I'll explain what I actually meant. I like the relationships where they seem to be equal partners, but not the same person. I like Lan and Nynaeve because they compromise and it isn't always one of them making the decisions and the other giving in (at least as far as I remember, it's been a while and what I recall may not be what is).

Also, Fitz and Molly? Psshht. Although I like the message that not all love is sexual, I'm still rooting for Fitz and the Fool.

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2013, 05:27:28 PM »
There are two separate issues here: one is the nature of a healthy relationship in real life and one is the nature of relationships in fiction.

I certainly do believe that there are healthy relationships in real life.  I just happily celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary, so I think I'm doing something right.  But I don't think a healthy relationship is defined as one without power imbalances.  A healthy relationship is defined by the way that you handle power imbalances.   That is, I think, a very important difference.

We do things we don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  We compromise and sacrifice in order to make the relationship work, and that throws "perfectly consensual" right out the window. 
Hmmm… I actually disagree with you. Compromise does not mean that a relationship is less than it would be without it. A healthy realtionship is respect and trust, and a hopefully bit of fun. When you have these, compromise is not 'giving in', it's willingly meeting a middle ground. I actually think a relationship without compromise would be more likely to be unhealthy than one with it.

I would largely agree, but I'd say that sometimes compromise IS "giving in."  It's accepting that the relationship is more important than your own selfish desires, and doing things you really don't want to do for the sake of the relationship.  I don't think it's always possible to find a "win-win" solution to every conflict.  Sometimes, you simply have to say "I see this is important to you and so I will acquiesce to your desires in this."   A healthy relationship is one in which power imbalances and "giving in" occurs on both sides. 

I don't think she means a relationship without conflict. I haven't read much fantasies, but often, romances aren't really romances. It comes out in an abusive, dominant tone, where choice has little factor in the accord. And sometimes, rape is implicitly displayed. Faint, but very present.
Example, Jorg and Katherine in Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire Trilogy.
I agree this is likely what she was referring to as well. I also still don't believe that Dan was saying he wants abusive relationships in his fantasy.

Actually, I sometimes DO want abusive relationships in my fantasy.  I'm a huge fan of the Broken Empire trilogy and the abusive relationships are a vital part of that story.  I certainly don't see Jorg as a role model.  He's a badly damaged human being and is incapable of being in a healthy relationship.  Having him treat Katherine in any other way would have been untrue to his character and would have weakened the story.  I'd hate to meet Jorg in real life and I sure as heck don't want him dating my daughter, but READING about him in a work of fiction is wonderful.

That being said, I don't necessarily want all of the relationships in my fantasy to be abusive.  I listed a few of my favorite fantasy relationships early in this thread and none of those were abusive, although not all of them were healthy.  (Some might disagree as to whether the nature of the relationship between Phèdre and Joscelin from Kushiel's Legacy was abusive but I don't believe it was.)  And I can certainly understand the objection when an abusive relationship is painted as a normal or healthy relationship.  But I also think it's important to recognize that a work of fiction is not necessarily painting an idealized picture of real life.  An abusive relationship may very well be normal within the context of that story.  It says nothing about real life or about the author of that work of fiction.  I think its deeply unfair to call Lawrence a misogynist because he wrote Broken Empire.  Fiction is driven by conflict.  That sometimes means war, slavery, rape, abusive relationships, etc.  I like them in my fiction.  That doesn't mean I like them in real life.

Offline Arry

  • Cat of the Canals
  • Administrator
  • Elderling
  • ***
  • Posts: 5880
  • Total likes: 648
  • Gender: Female
  • Faceless
    • View Profile
    • Tenacious Reader
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2013, 06:01:50 PM »
Actually, I sometimes DO want abusive relationships in my fantasy.  I'm a huge fan of the Broken Empire trilogy and the abusive relationships are a vital part of that story.  I certainly don't see Jorg as a role model.  He's a badly damaged human being and is incapable of being in a healthy relationship.  Having him treat Katherine in any other way would have been untrue to his character and would have weakened the story.  I'd hate to meet Jorg in real life and I sure as heck don't want him dating my daughter, but READING about him in a work of fiction is wonderful.
I understand where you are coming from. I love reading about Jorg, and how he treats everyone is part of what makes the books so fascinating. I agree that the book would have suffered if somehow Katherine was the one person he treated well. Actually it would have annoyed me because like you said, it would not have been true to his character. So non-healthy relationships certainly don't deter me, and YES, there is difference between what we enjoy/tolerate in fantasy and what is acceptable/unfathomable in real life. Fiction is fiction for a reason, it's a place to explore and experience things that would normally disturb, disgust us as well as excite and entertain us. I have to say, unhealthy relationships are never something I would intentionally seek out, I wouldn't see a review that complained about rape and say "Hey, I gotta go read that!" because of the rape or abuse, but since I enjoy damaged characters (within damaged worlds), I am going to enjoy books that have damaged relationships as well.


Quote
That being said, I don't necessarily want all of the relationships in my fantasy to be abusive.  I listed a few of my favorite fantasy relationships early in this thread and none of those were abusive, although not all of them were healthy.  (Some might disagree as to whether the nature of the relationship between Phèdre and Joscelin from Kushiel's Legacy was abusive but I don't believe it was.)  And I can certainly understand the objection when an abusive relationship is painted as a normal or healthy relationship.  But I also think it's important to recognize that a work of fiction is not necessarily painting an idealized picture of real life.  An abusive relationship may very well be normal within the context of that story.  It says nothing about real life or about the author of that work of fiction. I think its deeply unfair to call Lawrence a misogynist because he wrote Broken EmpireFiction is driven by conflict.  That sometimes means war, slavery, rape, abusive relationships, etc.  I like them in my fiction.  That doesn't mean I like them in real life.

I actually really agree with this.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 06:05:00 PM by Arry »
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin

http://www.tenaciousreader.com

http://www.speculativeherald.com

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2013, 07:01:31 PM »
I have to say, unhealthy relationships are never something I would intentionally seek out, I wouldn't see a review that complained about rape and say "Hey, I gotta go read that!" because of the rape or abuse, but since I enjoy damaged characters (within damaged worlds), I am going to enjoy books that have damaged relationships as well.

I certainly don't make it a habit of searching review sites for the word "rape" to find out what I'm going to read next.  However, I will admit that all of the complaining about Broken Empire, including the charges of misogyny and the character assassination of  Lawrence, made damned sure that I was going to read the book.

Offline Arry

  • Cat of the Canals
  • Administrator
  • Elderling
  • ***
  • Posts: 5880
  • Total likes: 648
  • Gender: Female
  • Faceless
    • View Profile
    • Tenacious Reader
Re: Romance/Relationship in Fantasy
« Reply #29 on: December 27, 2013, 07:10:56 PM »
I have to say, unhealthy relationships are never something I would intentionally seek out, I wouldn't see a review that complained about rape and say "Hey, I gotta go read that!" because of the rape or abuse, but since I enjoy damaged characters (within damaged worlds), I am going to enjoy books that have damaged relationships as well.

I certainly don't make it a habit of searching review sites for the word "rape" to find out what I'm going to read next.  However, I will admit that all of the complaining about Broken Empire, including the charges of misogyny and the character assassination of  Lawrence, made damned sure that I was going to read the book.

I didn't think you did. That is actually what I meant when I said I didn't think you wanted abusive relationships in books, I just didn't word it quite right. Pretty much wanted to get across that I didn't think you sat around googling books specifically to find ones with rape or misogyny.  It's not those things that necessarily draw someone to the book, it's the nature of the character and the world they live in and what drives them to behave the way they do … and sometimes the unpredictability of some of these stories. And yes, any controversy surrounding a book can make it more appealing when its sitting on your TBR pile.  Conflict can drive book sales as well as stories.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin

http://www.tenaciousreader.com

http://www.speculativeherald.com