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Author Topic: The Future of Fantasy  (Read 17532 times)

Offline BrandonMarkham

The Future of Fantasy
« on: February 14, 2011, 06:11:45 AM »
 Today, I asked myself where was Fantasy-fiction going? Looking back at the genre shortly after Tolkien, Fantasy has had a rocky start. People called it juvenille crap. Even with Donaldson and Jordan entering the scene, Fantasy was still seen as a childrens genre.
 It's obvious that the genre has changed, but some of us still cling on to Tolkien, and revere him as some "Father" of Modern Fantasy, forgetting Lord Dunsany and E.R. Eddison.
 I see Fantasy still struggling in the years to come, but slowly we are being noticed as a real genre. Like Rothfuss said in an interview, Fantasy is still a new genre.

Offline Overlord

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2011, 09:39:04 AM »
Personally I think it is going in the direction of being more reflective and first person based. Traditionally Fantasy has been set in the third person and the focus on Epic worlds. I think Fantasy is becoming more and more character orientated and in order to enforce this - we are getting brought closer to characters. We now experience far more from their eyes and their minds than before. I think authors such as Newton, Mieville, etc will continue to have their more unique worlds popularized, but I also thing pretty traditional fantasy tales will remain prevalent with more character emphasis and more dark tones as we continue moving away from the characters journey and towards the actual character.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 09:43:31 AM by Overlord »
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Offline Fellshot

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 02:24:39 AM »
I think that it isn't going in a single direction so much as branching out in multiple directions. The segment of fantasy that seems to be trying to be considered literature the most certainly seems to be heading towards introspection rather than questing, but the rest seem to be going off and doing their own thing. What is frequently being called "urban fantasy" these days is attempting to incorporate elements of the hard-boiled detective novel and the romance genre. Epic Fantasy seems to be trying to shake off some of the eurocentricism in favor of other things. Sword and sorcery seems to be flirting with tropes from the horror genre.

I agree that the more "traditional" tales will still be around because it's culturally important to everyone to keep repeating them.

Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 10:48:17 AM »
Well said, Fellshot!

Offline Overlord

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 11:02:05 AM »
I hope Urban Fantasy never gets called 'Fantasy' lol - that is one thing I am really, really hoping for. I like that most people are calling it 'Paranormal Romance' I can live with that. A girl at work was reading some Charlenne Harris (name?) novel the other day and said:
'I like Fantasy too'
'erm... NO! NO! You do not. Do you know what Lord of the Rings is? Do you know the characteristics of an Orc?'
"No...?'"  

Point Proved ::)
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2011, 11:11:33 AM »
IMO Fantasy thanks to Miss JK Rowling, and Peter Jackson's adaptions of LOTRs has actually become quite mainstream in the 21st century.  Genres do go through periods of popularity (except crime. romance and espionage thrillers which are ALWAYS popular!) - back in the late 80s early 90s Horror for example was very popular, but nowadays not many people seem to be reading horror. 

Also look at the talent in the field now - Pratchett, Suzanne Clarke, Gaiman, Rowling, Sanderson, Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Hobb (and that's just a start). 

Actually it does put me off trying to write my own fantasy novel as I feel the genre has now become too crowded.  I think I would rather try Sci Fi which seems to be very neglected these days - and try and get a revival on in that genre.   
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Offline Fellshot

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2011, 03:06:22 PM »
I hope Urban Fantasy never gets called 'Fantasy' lol - that is one thing I am really, really hoping for. I like that most people are calling it 'Paranormal Romance' I can live with that. A girl at work was reading some Charlenne Harris (name?) novel the other day and said:
'I like Fantasy too'
'erm... NO! NO! You do not. Do you know what Lord of the Rings is? Do you know the characteristics of an Orc?'
"No...?'"  

Point Proved ::)

I'm not against paranormal romance being called fantasy (just don't expect me to read any of it) the core problem that the books marketed as "urban fantasy" have (besides the glut of sameness) is that they are trying to reconcile two other subgenres that have two mutually exclusive goals. Hard boiled really refuses happy endings but a "happily ever after" absolutely a requirement in romance. At least they make themselves easy to spot and avoid.

Offline Lyz

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 03:40:05 PM »
I may be the only one with this view, but I feel like "urban fantasy" and "paranormal romance" are two separate things.

My reasoning behind this has four words:
Anita. Blake. Vampire. Hunter.

Originally, I liked this series. And then the main character started giving it up willy-nilly about five books in. And... It's hard to read about the paranormal past all the "romance". I firmly feel that Anita Blake is considered paranormal romance.

However, other "urban fantasy" that I've read (namely, Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs) have romance spattered throughout their stories, but it's not the focus.

... That probably made absolutely no sense.
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Offline ChrisMB

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 04:45:03 PM »
I know this may sound like blasphemy, but I think that the future of fantasy lays in stepping out of the shadow of J.R.R. Tolkien. Don't get me wrong, I too acknowledge that The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are great books, but I see too many writers even today taking ideas directly from those works and using them in their own settings. For example, in the Icewind Dale trilogy, the entire plot about Bruenor trying to find the lost dwarf mine city of Mithral Hall was great, but it reminded me too much of the Mines of Moria. Every wizard (especially the bad ones) since Saruman has had a great tower overlooking their domain, and the races more or less have remained the same.

While I too am guilty of using elves, orcs, trolls, and goblins, I don't see why authors can't put a more unique spin or create a new culture around these races. I don't see a problem with using these races, especially since so many of them are derived from lore that reaches back centuries before Tolkien, but there should be some new approach to them. In fantasy more than any other genre (except perhaps science fiction), authors rely more on their imaginations to create places that will be memorable. If the places we travel to feel too familiar, then they won't be remembered.

A friend and I have been discussing the differences between our initial fantasy worlds for years now: whereas I tended to stay more on the epic, which I now find gives personality to the world and little to the characters; she favored more personal stories and plots that focused less on saving the world and more on the mundane or everyday problems. While I appreciate her views, and in fact those have helped shape my current stories, I always tend to lean towards the epic, though on a more gradual scale.

In the end though, the fantasy genre's future lies in the hands of those brave enough to write the next offerings. It's a future that is ripe for the picking and exciting as anything, but a little frightening as well, since it is such a niche group and we've come to expect certain things from fantasy. I for one can't wait to see how the mold will be broken, or if we'll ever need a mold again.

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2011, 05:54:31 PM »
I suppose it depends on how narrowly you want to define the genre of 'Fantasy'. If your gaze is narrowly focused, secondary world-epic scale-evil dark lord-hero saves the world, then fantasy is, however well written and enjoyable it is to read, creatively moribund. A bunch of variations on the same tired old theme.

If you allow your gaze to spread a little wider, suddenly you're looking at a genre which includes new and established talent, such as China Miéville, Cherie Priest, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Fowler, Mark Chadbourn, Joe Hill, Philip Pullman, Clive Barker, Catherynne M. Valente, Mary Robinette Kowal and goodness only knows how many outside of the epic tradition I've missed out.

If you look at fantasy as a whole, it's about as healthy as can be and the future is very bright, and very unpredictable, indeed. The only thing that can be said for certain about it, is that it won't travel in the directions we expect.
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Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2011, 06:39:01 PM »
I would have to disagree with a lot concerning fantasy.  Since the beginning of this century/last decade, we have seen an increase in the love of fantasy and acceptance of it.  I have never really been told, once by anyone, that fantasy is a children's thing.  Maybe being called a nerd, but I hold that badge up with pride.  I would have to say that is nonsense.  If a child understands half of anything concerning High Fantasy, I would be shocked. 

We owe Tolkien a lot, as I argued recently, fantasy was little more than a dirt road.  He paved the way for the future for fantasy.  Is it the best?  No. Is his style always going to be followed?  Hell no.  In fact, I have seen LITTLE of any story that follows the tradition of Tolkien's this last decade.  The only one I can say was similar to Tolkien's was Jordon's Eye of the World, after that, nothing has been a remote glimmer of Tolkien's work. 

And Fantasy is definitely going into new directions as time moves on.  There will styles followed or added.  We are all putting our voice out there and it's a good change.  Fantasy has been on an incline for a long while, don't think we have to worry.

Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2011, 12:31:42 PM »
I know this may sound like blasphemy, but I think that the future of fantasy lays in stepping out of the shadow of J.R.R. Tolkien....

In the end though, the fantasy genre's future lies in the hands of those brave enough to write the next offerings. It's a future that is ripe for the picking and exciting as anything, but a little frightening as well, since it is such a niche group and we've come to expect certain things from fantasy. I for one can't wait to see how the mold will be broken, or if we'll ever need a mold again.

(applauds)

Seriously, very well said!

Offline BrandonMarkham

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2011, 03:07:12 AM »
@Overlord. Why not? To me, Fantasy is Fantasy, Urban Fantasy is Fantasy, Steampunk is Fantasy, Mythpunk is Fantasy. In our minds, we term Fantasy to Epic Fantasy, which is a sub-genre itself. Paranoral Romance is arguable as to whether it belongs in Urban Fantasy or Romance or both.
 As Fantasy fans, I believe that most of us are discriminating against our own genre, but that's another post.
 To Chris, you are not being blasphemous but righteouness.
 And I agree that the traditional epics will still be around, probably forever. But the future is looking bright, with authors as Orullian, Charlton, and Siregar, to even writers of Color like Okorafor and Jemisin picking up after Butler's death.

Offline billdoor

Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 01:48:31 PM »
Fantasy is treated like video games by the mainstream press in that it has a massive following, (fantasy books often hit the top of the NYT or the Sunday Times best sellers list)- but because the sort of person that works for the BBC or writes for a newspaper doesn't understand them, there is next to no mainstream coverage.

Hopefully HBO spunking a small fortune on Game of Thrones will help address this. After all we've had sci fi on the telly for decades now. In fact I think it's one of the few things that Stephen Fry has said in recent times that makes sense: he said the BBC treat sci fi and fantasy as childrens programmes and that Dr Who and Merlin are good but only in the context of being for kids.

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Future of Fantasy
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2011, 06:17:57 PM »
Here is a though. Why are fantasy shows or films generally based on a book but sci fi more often than not original screen plays and ideas?
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