Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: eclipse on May 12, 2016, 04:51:14 AM

Title: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: eclipse on May 12, 2016, 04:51:14 AM
World's where there is no magic,The only thing fantastical about them is that the world is not earth.Stories like K.J Parker and GGK for example

Why not write a historical fiction instead especially when the settings are based on ancient Rome /Greek /Egypt /China ? What can it bring to the table that Historical fiction can't?

Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Lanko on May 12, 2016, 05:02:54 AM
Still need to read those authors.

The first thing that came to mind regarding you question is probably because in Historical Fiction they would have to specifically follow the historical events, no? Like in Bernard Cornwell's books. He can create characters and his own situations, but results of the main events are set in stone.

Probably Parker and GGK are not "held back" by this and can create totally new paths for their inspired cultures/countries and disregard time/regions/historical events or recreate them as they see fit.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: eclipse on May 12, 2016, 05:05:53 AM
Read the Folding Knife it's awesome!
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Peat on May 12, 2016, 07:20:06 AM
Tbh, I don't care why they make those decisions when they write like they do. Whatever they need to tell the story, go for it.

That said, just because there's no magic, doesn't mean there's no fantastical elements - they still have the ability to add those if they wish.

The other big one is the ability to do as Lanko says and change the course of things dramatically.

Not huge things, admittedly. I suspect to a certain point they're called fantasy due to the author's involvement with the genre, not so much the applicability of all of it to their works.


edit: This GGK interview covers very well why he makes those choices - http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/29/guy-gavriel-kay-jrr-tolkien-interview-fionovar-tapesty-the-summer-tree
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: ScarletBea on May 12, 2016, 08:08:35 AM
Yes, I used to think those were not fantasy books, if they didn't have magic and weird things and fantastical elements...
Being here on F-F, being exposed to such a variety of fantasy books, has quickly dispelled that notion, and some of the books I loved in the last few years don't really have that 'traditional touch' - but they are still very much fantasy.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: cupiscent on May 12, 2016, 08:44:20 AM
I remember once hearing that Jennifer Fallon's Second Son trilogy (which personally I think is her finest work) wasn't eligible for a fantasy book award because there was no fantastical element. While it was set on a non-earth world (with two suns), the absence of magic, fantastical creatures, divine beings or other "fantasy" trappings meant it wasn't fantasy. After all, it could just be set on another planet in our own universe! (I thought that was nonsense. The books were clearly fantasy. Despite maths and astronomy being key pillars of the story, it was absolutely not about science.)

This is actually a topic very near to my heart, as my proposed Master of Creative Writing thesis was on "non-fantastical fantasy", and I was proposing to write about Parker and Kay. But the funny thing is that when you look closer, Kay always has at least one small fantastical element (often shades of divine intervention and/or spirits, by which classification much of Shakespeare is also "fantasy lite"...). And Parker has only recently started leaving out the oddity - the Fencer trilogy has some central, if baffling magic, and the Scavenger trilogy has some confused but very present telepathy and divine-incarnation stuff.

But certainly there's a strong historical vibe, but a freedom to the non-historical sandbox. As Kay noted in interviews regarding his new book, he's pulling in elements from a few centuries where those elements give him something he wanted to use in telling the story he's telling. (Perhaps that's what gives his work a richness and emotional resonance I can rarely find in historical fiction...)

Really, the answer to why write fantasy and not history is: because I want to, nyah nyah. ;D
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Lady Ty on May 12, 2016, 10:39:53 AM
I enjoyed that article by GGK, thanks @Peat (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=41189) and @cupiscent (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32615) agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments.

'Fantasy-lite' is just one more description to try and put books into neat little boxes.  Why not welcome variety with an open mind? We each choose what we enjoy reading. I like all I have read of GGK ranging through different degrees of fantasy.

Fionavar, is packed out with legend, magic, monsters, dragons, just about every traditional fantasy stereotype you can imagine; then Tigana, where a magic curse is central to the plot, but more emphasis is on the results and the characters; finally to Under Heaven where an Oriental style world, its customs and the lead characters are the most fascinating, while the strange magic of ghosts and a wolf shaman touch gently and add a special extra dimension. I don't care which of GGK's work I read next, will take it as it comes with no particular expectation, apart from knowing it will be beautiful prose.

I read a funny, witty book a long time back, which has touches of fantasy, but they have called it 'magical realism', yet another confusion. It was The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll. I would never introduce it here, it is essentially a romance, but the unexpected sprinkles of magic and fantasy were a delight.

Any concepts of fantasy introduced in books can only make it more widely recognised and acceptable in the fiction world that has treated the genre as a whole pretty shabbily for a long time.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Mr.J on May 12, 2016, 11:26:23 AM
I am very happy with no magic, I can be put off if its done too much and too freely.

Even though there is definitely weird shit going on and a pissed off mage (Bondsmagi) I sort of consider The Lies of Locke Lamora as magic lite; it's not seen as a real thing in the world, and its not the driving force of the story at all. It's mostly just thieves being thieves. :)
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: DrNefario on May 12, 2016, 01:47:15 PM
I'm perfectly happy for authors to do what they like.

Generally speaking I'm never that keen to exclude something that wants to be in. I've seen it argued that Star Wars is fantasy rather than SF, and I just think: sure I can sort of see the argument, but why do you want to keep people out? What does it gain? How does it matter? On the one hand it's a space adventure, and on the other it's about a hero saving the princess with his magic powers. I'd be happy to count it as either, but I've got to say I lean towards SF. The pulpy SF that Star Wars channels was quite a lot closer to pulp fantasy than any SF purist might want to accept.

Who would benefit from kicking GGK and KJP out of fantasy? Is magic really the crucial defining element? Or is it just a certain level of unreality? Or is it any five from these eight possible elements? Or is it just about trying to bring books to the attention of people who might like them.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Rostum on May 12, 2016, 11:48:52 PM
Fantasy Lite? Really!
How about if the books recommended or I trust the author I read it. The incessent urge to catagorise does nothing for me at all. You don't need magic for it to be proper fantasy and most historical fiction equates to the based ever so vaguely on something that may have happened but didn't premise.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Benstory on May 15, 2016, 01:33:36 PM
I like them. Not for everyone, but then what is?
Over historical fiction, they give the author more freedom.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Ryan Mueller on May 15, 2016, 05:15:29 PM
Not a huge fan in general. I like to see a lot of fantasy elements in my fantasy.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: eclipse on May 15, 2016, 05:38:10 PM
I don't get the label argument? I didn't even bring it up in my post but if I wanted a Paranormal Romance and got something like Epic fantasy like Malazan instead I be like  :o so I think you need sub-labels in fantasy as people like different sub-genres in fantasy and that's great. I wish we didn't have labels either but I think we need them to explain the difference between certain books

BTW I picked Lite not because I was being insulting but didn't want people getting it confused with light hearted fantasy books, you type light fantasy books in search and you get recommendations for Michael J Sullivan and that's not what I wanted to talk about

As for me I enjoy some of them but not all of them of the ones I've read

I thought the GGK article was great and it helped me with why some authors write little fantasy in their books   ;D



Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Lady Ty on May 16, 2016, 02:34:21 AM
Apologies @Eclipse (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=9661), I read it as a new buzz word, not your personal description.  ;)
You are right, we do need some descriptions to distinguish between different fantasy styles when choosing what we like best.

My frustration comes from prominent reviewers and critics trying to argue something is not worthy of a literary prize or award because it has fantasy or Sci Fi elements.   Sorry if I confused the issue.

BTW, because this thread reminded me, just started another GGK which has tiny flicker of strange magic, but fascinating distortion of the Byzantine Empire.  :)

Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Rostum on May 19, 2016, 08:24:23 PM
Likewise please accept my apologies I loathe the categorisation of books into thinner and thinner slices. I can see what you are getting at. Fantasy where everything is fantastical can be great but so can a real world setting with one ever so slight change to what we know and live in. It depends on the story and the storyteller. If it keeps me rapt I will read until I finish or fall asleep and often read books in one or two sessions.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: eclipse on October 30, 2017, 11:20:47 AM
Bumped for @Sgtwolf01
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Sgtwolf01 on October 30, 2017, 11:47:26 AM
Bumped for @Sgtwolf01

Oh I've been summoned, but I guess it's pretty relevant to what I was doing before.

Quote
World's where there is no magic, The only thing fantastical about them is that the world is not earth.Stories like K.J Parker and GGK for example.

Now forgive me for my ignorance regarding these authors. But these universes are stories set in another place that isn't Earth, but doesn't feature anything magical about them?
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Ray McCarthy on October 30, 2017, 07:23:44 PM
Absolutely you can have fantasy without extra species, Psychic powers, magic, paranormal, supernatural etc. The simplest is "Alternate history". It's more difficult without the support of common fantasy tropes and stereotypes. The less like our own world it is, the more difficult to do well.

Ultimately more "magical" fantasy or "High" fantasy is either using ad hoc "magic" to fill plot holes (JK Rowlings) or it's a background and really a support, almost a maguffin to the plot.

There are many gradations of fantasy. One reason is to write mediaeval flavour stuff without having to get every pesky detail right. Such as when did they have hops so non-lager beer would keep (see non-hopped ale, hopped ale and Beer vs Lager). When did they have gunpowder? Earlier than most think. Maybe you want 17th C style stuff but without black powder.
Maybe you want 14th C. style but with chilli or potatoes or turkey or prickly pear or tomatoes or large strawberries (all new world, old world strawberries were small, a little like alpine).
Or you want a "what if" 5th C. were the Roman Empire didn't fail, or one where the Romans didn't destroy mainland European Culture. Or The Inca conquer Spain.
Or the Chinese don't abandon exploration, or don't fall to Mongols, or Europe DOES fall to the Mongols, or does fall to the Moors (no Charlemange). Or Napoleon beats the Russians and the UK.

Joan Aiken's 'Wolves Chronicles" might have no supernatural in most books.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Aiken#Wolves_Chronicles
They are obviously fantasy.
Wikipedia
Quote
Many of Aiken's most popular books, including the Wolves Chronicles (also known as The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series or the James III series), are set in an elaborate alternative history of Britain in which James II was never deposed in the Glorious Revolution, but supporters of the House of Hanover continually agitate against the monarchy. These books also toy with the geography of London, adding a Canal District among other features. Wolves have invaded the country from Europe via the newly built Channel Tunnel. The novels share a varying cast and a variety of interlinked child protagonists – initially Bonnie Green, but subsequently her itinerant friend Simon, Simon's intrepid Cockney friend Dido Twite (the heroine of most of the books), Dido's half-sister Is and Owen Hughes (son of Dido's Royal Navy ally Captain Hughes).
I'd be delighted if I could write 1/2 as well.
She has other more "magical" books.  While "Harry Potter" has far more "magic" ... well I know which author I prefer.
Similarly some of the Mary Stewart books have a fantasy feel with no "magic". Thornyhold, leaves you unsure. She did do an Arthurian series, but I prefer all her other books more.
Georgette Heyer's Regency books are well very researched (she bought letters and had 1000+ books on the subject). I'd call them "fantasy lite" Romance. Some more so than others. But all good fun. Victoria Holt OTOH is more stereotypical less fantastical period romance.

Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Yora on October 30, 2017, 07:28:17 PM
The idea of stories set in fictional but realistic places doesn't do much for me. For historical novels, there's a massive options of places and times to pick from, which are all interesting environments for things to happen.
Magic is the main reason that makes fictional places interesting to me. While I actually very much like when characters have very little access to magic, monsters and spirit with supernatural powers are my favorite thing in fantasy.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Ray McCarthy on October 30, 2017, 07:38:00 PM
Magic is the main reason that makes fictional places interesting to me. While I actually very much like when characters have very little access to magic, monsters and spirit with supernatural powers are my favorite thing in fantasy.
This is why I've virtually stopped watching films/TV. It's INCREDIBLY narrow. Absolutely EVERYTHING is in books and with zero budget you can write your own.
My daughter says her BGI is far superior to any Hollywood CGI. She engages it while reading. Brain Graphical Interface :D

I used to only read a few kinds of books. Now as well as buying new books, I get stuff from Gutenberg.org (55K books and rising) and  free to 10c to €1 books from charity shops and read almost randomly to broaden my taste and find new authors to enjoy. Helps my writing too.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Sgtwolf01 on October 31, 2017, 12:11:42 PM
The idea of stories set in fictional but realistic places doesn't do much for me. For historical novels, there's a massive options of places and times to pick from, which are all interesting environments for things to happen.
Magic is the main reason that makes fictional places interesting to me. While I actually very much like when characters have very little access to magic, monsters and spirit with supernatural powers are my favorite thing in fantasy.

Heh, I'm the opposite. I like my history very much and anything dealing with such immediately catches my attention. And I'm actually not that big of a fan of magic, I can make exceptions based on situation and circumstances but I generally dislike magic. I mean sometimes supernatural powers are cool, magic or otherwise. But I like my characters somewhat mundane, I guess it's more 'realistic'.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: eclipse on July 11, 2019, 06:11:38 AM
Here we go

Peat’s Link still works

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/29/guy-gavriel-kay-jrr-tolkien-interview-fionovar-tapesty-the-summer-tree
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Elfy on July 11, 2019, 07:51:38 AM
One of the best things I’ve read in the past couple of years Lara Elena Donnelly’s Amberlough Dossier is like this. Set on a world that is very like ours, but at the same time not ours and absolutely brilliant stuff.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Neveesandeh on July 11, 2019, 09:12:34 AM
I generally don't like fantasy lite. I read fantasy mostly for the fantastical elements, it's an excuse to let your brain run wild. I'm generally more interested in weird creatures and monsters than magic though. I've been drawing up plans for one series that has no magic elements but lots of strange creatures.

I think Joe Abercrombie often strays into fantasy lite, The Shattered Sea trilogy definitely qualifies, and even when his books do have fantasy elements they're quite toned down. I like his books but reading Berserk has made me realise you don't need to tone down fantasy elements to tell a dark and realistic story. People are still flawed, complex and relatable if you drop them into a world with immortal slug monsters.

For an non-book example, I adore the Dark Souls games and I consider Bloodborne to be my favourite game of all time, but when I found out that all but five of the bosses in Sekiro, the newest game from the same developers, are human I didn't bother getting it, even though I've heard loads of glowing reviews. (Three of those bosses are also puzzle bosses, something Fromsoft doesn't really do very well, but that's not relevant to the discussion.)

Weirdly enough, I do really like alternate history, although I haven't read that much of it. I like the idea of taking something familiar and twisting it into something different. It's impossible for me not to look back on history and think about what could have gone differently.

I guess if you're not going to include fantasy elements, there's not really any need to set it in a secondary world. It might free you from the constraints of history, but to be honest a lot of historical fiction takes serious liberties anyway.
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: Ray McCarthy on July 23, 2019, 09:58:52 AM
Isn't all Fiction to some degree "Fantasy Lite"?
Title: Re: What do you think of fantasy lite novels?
Post by: eclipse on December 24, 2019, 10:20:19 AM
@isos81

Here you go  ;D