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Re: The Future of Fantasy I'm a tad late to this party, but I'll chime in.

First of all, I, like others here, have never personally been told that my reading preferences are "childish", but I have read multiple "serious" critics treat any new fantasy film, TV series or book with disdain for no other reason than it was fantasy. If you can still find them, try and google negative reviews for the LOTR films (note: not the Hobbit films, the LOTR films). I guarantee that 98% of the negative reviews were people poo-pooing it because it was fantasy. I even remember one critic saying that the movies only did well because parents were taking their children multiple times and insisted that no one over the age of five could like these movies.

There was a review of Game of Thrones that labled it "dragon-ridden fantasy crap" and spent most of the review talking about how the author doesn't read fantasy, doesn't like fantasy and therefore didn't like the show. He apparently did like The Jersey Shore, however, as he suggested the "wedding night" scene between Dany and Drogo was an homage to that show.

Also, I have to agree with all the posters who have said that urban fantasy and paranormal romance are not the same thing. Take it from someone who has read both. For example, I love--love--Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series. It's amazing, and I will admit that loud and proud. But I tried reading a paranormal romance once when I worked part time in a used book store and the woman who ran it said that I should read it before deciding I didn't like it. Well, I read part of one book. Urban Fantasy it is not. It was basically a thin plot with some excuses for the hot blonde (naturally!) werewolf female lead to bone her werewolf-hunter boyfriend multiple times.

On a side note, suggesting that JRR Tolkien isn't the grandfather of modern fantasy just because people wrote fantasy before him is really missing the point. Tolkien is the man upon whom the foundation for modern fantasy was built. Not Eddison. Not Dunsany. Tolkien. Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer and no one would ever suggest such a thing. But he's the man who made fantasy what it is today, directly or indirectly. Now, that's not to say that all fantasy sense then is a pale imitation of Tolkien (though some of it is). I merely say that the innovations that later sprang from the minds of such diverse writers as Donaldson, Eddings, Jordan, Martin, Hobb, Bradley, Lynch, Carey, Abercrombie, Mieville,  Sanderson and a huge list of others, probably would never have been more than "pulp" books that might not have even gotten past genre magazines, or would have been told by publishers that they would need to be released as quick, episodic novella-type series, assuming they were even taken seriously enough to publish. Tolkien is the reason fantasy is taken even as seriously as it is today.

Now, on to the future of fantasy. The future of fantasy, in my opinion, will be greatly helped by a larger, more diverse menu to choose from. This is already happening, and I think it has helped greatly in terms of increasing public awareness and appreciation of it. Oh, we still have a long, long way to go, but thanks to the genre broadening out and including so many subgenres, there is so much more to choose from, and thus, something that almost anyone could enjoy. If you know a friend who kinda thought about getting into fantasy, but doesn't like reading about period settings, there's urban fantasy. If they don't like reading the same fantasy cliche's they see in Disney movies and fairy tales, there's a wide variety of fantasy that is edgier and less predictable without being grimdark. But if grim and dark is what they want, they can have it. Fantasy writers are also coming from more diverse background these days, and they're bringing that diversity into their writing and creating new ways to build character and build worlds that we never would have conceived of in the 80's.

I love this, personally. I don't want fantasy to just become one thing to the exclusion of all others. It was that, for a long while, and that was its worst period. In fact, from about 1990 until 2003 I barely read fantasy at all, and it didn't help that when I went to the fantasy rack at a book store, it seemed like I was faced with rack after rack of RPG scenarios in book form.

Also, I think fantasy is by and large moving away from Giant Doorstopper Series With Ten Volumes That Might Never End (TM). They're still out there, and admittedly I'm a big fan of several of them, but I'm seeing a return to shorter series (quadrilogies, trilogies), even single-volume, and this is definitely not a bad thing. It's pretty intimidating for a person who's never read fantasy, but is considering it, to go to the fantasy section and have a huge shelf space entirely taken up by one series, or alternately to have only one book by a given author on the shelf, so that the customer gets home, cracks it open, and quickly realizes it's book 9 in a twelve-volume set.

May 04, 2015, 06:09:33 AM
Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database) I grew up in the 70's and 80's, and I don't remember there being a shortage of female fantasy authors at that time. One of the series that hooked me on the genre was The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Read that in primary school. I credit Cooper (along with C.S. Lewis) with hooking me on fantasy, and I credit authors like Tanith Lee, Ursula Le Guin, Meghan Lindsholm, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Barbara Hambly, Lynn Flewelling, Carol Berg, Jane Yolen, Ellen Kushner, Juliet E. McKenna, Juliet Marillier, Sharon Shinn and a whole host of others for keeping me hooked. 

That list is off the top of my head, but there are many, many others, and I have read a ton of them. To those who think women can't write fantasy, I can only say this: maybe it's true that women and men write differently, but every reason you give for not liking female authored fantasy is a reason I would give for why I do like it. I don't want all fantasy to be "epic". I don't want all fantasy to be about men. I like the variety of styles and voices we see in the genre now.

May 10, 2015, 07:59:35 AM
Re: Depression is a bitch... from a friend This is Incredibly hard for me to write

I suffer from anxiety. I've always been shy but it it got so bad in my early twenties that I wouldn't leave the house unless I had to (work and shopping) I couldn't even maintain eye contact unless I really know the person (family) and when I did go out I thought strangers were laughing/talking at me behind my back on top of all this I was starting to get eczema on my face it wasn't too bad but my self concious was making it worse. I even worried about my accent thinking people wouldn't understand me  this meant my social life suffered I really wanted to make friends but at same time I was scared of meeting people I throw myself into books

But when I  was really down and feeling lonely and felt I was wasting my life hiding away, I joined a social club on my own called Spice it was one of the bravest thing I've ever done I forced myself to use eye contact and try to talk to people and it was brilliant at first I did zorbing,micro-lighting,paint-balling etc but then disaster a girl who I didn't know very well accused me of stalking her (she split up from her b/f and wanted to be noticed or something) a complete fabrication , I eventually had an apology of her but the damage was done. I left as it had knocked my confidence and trust for a long time

I eventually picked myself up again and forced myself to be brave I wanted to try archery so forced myself to join an archery club. Here I found friends and gained close friendships,  there went to the pub on Friday evenings I joined in which was scary at first but then I got more and more confident which gave me the confidence to join a badminton club

Last year my Dad passed away from bowel cancer to distract me I joined a cycling club. I would never would have had the courage earlier to do this.

Even Fantasy Faction gives me confidence as the people here are so friendly here

I still get scared of meeting new people especially in big groups but I try my best to fight against my anxiety  maybe I should go to the next Grim Gathering


May 11, 2015, 06:20:40 PM
Re: Depression is a bitch... from a friend
Depression is quite common in my gf's family so I understand what you are going through.

Words may help, but maybe comics help more?

Because of what I said above, I collected some beautiful comics about depression. Hope you enjoy them! :)







Wow. Those are moving. Especially the last one.

Myself, I've never had to deal with true clinical depression, and put in context my own problems seem rather trivial, but I guess I'll share too:

I have Asperger syndrome, diagnosed when I was sixteen and miserable from loneliness after leaving home for high school. The diagnosis helped and led me to get the support and mindset I needed.

I have made great improvements in the sixteen years since, both in my ability to understand other people and to live with myself. I have a few friends I made through tabletop games and hobbies that don't involve my computer.

But I‘m still a bit of an alien among people. I don‘t deal with chaos and noise well. I‘m stiff and awkward in conversations and I don‘t have much of an ability to form new friendships. There is always this invisible wall around me, and this strange inner blockage that limits my outward emotional expression.

Almost all of my time away from work is spent alone. Seeing a young couple with a baby or a group of friends tends to give me this sting of sadness and yearning, this wish to have been born a bit different. I fully expect to remain single for the rest of my days. Looking at myself I honestly see no realistic chance of any other outcome.
I often have negative thoughts towards myself, just under the surface, denigrating my worth, my accomplishments, where I am in life, my bravery. And for some reason I‘ve been unusually hard on myself this year.

But, as I said, on whole I’ve improved greatly from the miserable boy I once was. The darkest days now are nothing compared to the past. My family is good people and I have learned to manage myself and make the world less sharp and difficult.

May 11, 2015, 08:56:12 PM
Re: The best female science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now
The first one being this:


Until female writers reject magical thinking and start writing science-based science fiction, they are just a bunch of would-be princesses to me.

That right there is your reason. I am in awe of the fact this one quote totally dismisses both the women who DO write science based SF (he hasn't heard of any, so there must be none and/or he's not picked up a book with a woman's name on the cover in the erroneous belief they don't write science based SF*) and those who don't (because we should all write what he, personally, likes to read and if we don't we're just the would-be princesses)

It's actually a pretty spectacular example of what we're up against

*Including at least one of the authors in the article!

I am curious, the comment was presumably made by a man, but could have come from a friend of mine who is a total SF head, possibly the most obsessive Iain Banks nerd and she's scientist to boot, but let's assume it is from a man for all it matters.

It is a comment to a news article, possibly heartfelt, possibly trolling. Either way you are unlikely to sell the commenter a book. This is not indicative of how every male views female authored fantasy fiction. It is one comment left by one individual. If you feel this comment is a spectacular example of what you are up against. I feel you're reading too much into the comment. The coment doesn't read to me as though the commenter would read male authored fantasy either.

Most of us I suspect (male or female) have a limited finances and are picky in what we read due to cost and time restraints. As a result we buy what catches our interest. In times of no money I read slower and re-read stuff I have previously enjoyed.

The fact that there is an article about female authored fantasy is more of a worry. Why on earth should that be necessary? This is not a sporting event, authors should be on a level playing field regardless of gender. I am pretty sure the independent would not publish an article titled 'The best male science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now'. So why is there the need for this segregation and does it in any way help?

I am also puzzled about the Waterstones best SFF table. Book shops aim to make money, this they do by selling books. Perhaps the choice of what goes on a table is decided by the store more likely by regional/head office and in all likelihood by a computer listing of what they are selling by category week on week. The tables are of course set up by the stores almost entirely female staff. I don't believe there is any gender bias by bookshops. It cannot be in their financial interest.

Personally I have do not know of anyone who determines what they read by the gender of the author. That would be silly. Whether the blurb catches my interest or it has cool cover art or a recommendation is far more likely to sway me than the name on the spine. I believe that I will continue to read what interests me in any category regardless or the authors gender. I do not feel the need to define my reading time or the amount I spend on books by the sex of the author as to do anything else would also be silly.

May 15, 2015, 03:05:07 PM
Re: The best female science fiction and fantasy writers you should read now
Thanks for the diplomatic reply. Forthright is a mild way to describe me.... :)

I have a firm belief that a forum is a meeting place for ideas and views and your post gave me pause for thought.
So I now understand more of your argument than I did before regardless of how much of it I agree with.
The reason I dislike the idea of a female authors list article is it implies the female authors should be treated differently from male authors either because they are not as good or because they deserve special treatment. I am not in favour of either positive or negative discrimination. Both cause long term issues that eventually have to be addressed.  I understand that the article being of benefit and there are authors I haven't heard in the list, but really don't like the idea of the gender segregation.
You are stating that women writers get reviewed less and are more likely to suffer from softer cover art which will dissuade men from picking up the book in the first place. I think we are both agreed this is a bigger issue in the US than UK. I also believe this is less of an issue than it was in the past in the UK.
I have just checked Marc's list of May releases on this site 13 by male authors 16 by female and one co authored. Maybe two covers are a bit soft but the wouldn't put me off. I seem to be a bad judge though of what I should and should not be picking up.
I have not the experience you have regarding reviews and publicity and will look out to see if there any noticeable disparity by sex in the UK of professional reviews. If nothing else this has to be improving year on year?

Marketing is something of a Dark Art I think. They are trying to sell to as many people as possible, but hey can't please everyone. And sometimes they get it wrong for us as individuals (Luckily failure in this Dark Art will not result in creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions).

Marketing is largely the ability to destroy someone else’s hard work when done badly. I work in technology and can think of a couple of products that after years of development and millions invested have been destroyed by being pushed at the wrong customer by people with little understanding or apparent interest in making it a success. By the time this is rectified you have lost market share and life expectancy of products is shorter and shorter these days. So you certainly have my sympathies on that factor.

The original wassname, women selling less etc -- I think it's a massively complicated issue. There's no one thing you can point at and say "Change this and all will be well" There are instead many interconnected things, and if you pull one thread the whole thing might come unravelled. I have no idea what the answer is.

Which is a bit of a bugger for those of us getting the crappy end of the stick, but there you are.

ETA Ofc this is one reason I went with a male pen name. I'm using my real name for the next series. I wonder what difference it will make?

All I can do is wish you well for existing and future sales. May I ask which names you have published under? Or will this shatter the mystery?

May 17, 2015, 01:18:51 PM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Plot twists - Voting Thread

Oh yeah, two in a row baby! And I'm not even a writing contest regular yet, (although I should become one with my entry to this month's contest). I'm kinda curious to see if I can go three for three now (although May was a very strong month this time around so I won't be too surprised if I lose). But whatever happens, I shall appreciate my victory here and accept my new self-appointed title of GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST!!!

What? I told you this stuff would go to my head.

(Seriously though, big thanks to everyone who voted and not just the people who voted for me. Let's try and make this next month a great one too)

June 02, 2015, 03:22:31 AM
Re: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally) Since I evidently wasn't clear enough, I am going to lock the discussion because this conversation has lost purpose/direction and has just degraded to where I don't think there's much useful left to be said. I think everyone has had their say and can just leave knowing not everyone will agree.
June 09, 2015, 09:53:45 PM
Re: Fantasy Indiana Jones? And folks can read Elfy's story contest submission for this month, which is squarely in the tradition - but with a fantasy twist.


June 17, 2015, 05:42:30 PM
Re: Book-hoarders Anonymous - display your wares Can't express how much love for this thread i have!

I love the sight of walls and cases full of books constantly boring all my friends with pictures of my newly resorted books! Since starting to read books properly at 14 i've steadily been growing my book collection and having to find new bookcases or make them from thing like old stereo speakers to hold my graphic novels to making new shelves in the chimney breast indent.

Only recently with a newly built set of shelves have i been able to untetris all my books, used to spend hours trying to stack them properly to fit on the space i had, but with the addition of new shelves they can all be stacked properly with some space for more new books!

I'm completely terrible for buying far more books than i can read at once whenever i go down to the bookshop, to the point where i'm known by my first name at the one in town for spending hours looking through books to buy and ordering tons at once. Joke that if i ever break a leg and cant get about for a few months that id have plenty to read!

PS. Sorry for the crappy quality had to reduce the size loads to be able to upload, or at least was the only thing i could find to reduce the file size enough to upload. Heres a link for the full sized images if anyones interested.
Link: http://imgur.com/a/W2htc

June 25, 2015, 03:59:51 AM