Sunday, 22 April 2012

Thoughts | Three Things I'd Like to See (More Of)

This post brought to you from the tired mind of a book blogger. No review for today - though I will be reviewing Earth Girl (a concept I loved; an execution that wasn't quite as brilliant), as well as the previous reads I mentioned over the next few days - but instead a quick list of a couple of things I'm enjoying, and that I'd like to see more of in fantasy.

As always - it's subjective, and thoughts are welcome!

1. Fantasy cultures based outside of medieval Europe. I may have ranted about this before - in fact, I know I have. But the point still stands: walk into the fantasy section of a bookshop, pick a title, and nine out of ten times - it'll be based on medieval Europe (and not, for that matter, much of Europe at all - Eastern European influence often doesn't get a look in). I've massively enjoyed fantasies based on other cultures and influences in the past, and thankfully, this is starting to change - Aliette de Bodard's fantastic (Aztec) historical fantasy series, Obsidian and Blood, comes to mind.

2. Female characters who aren't constrained by their society. Those who are have been written well, and often have considerable agency despite that - but sometimes, being historically accurate is used as an excuse to have them be (essentially) passive, or just to leave them out entirely! But what's this excuse - historical accuracy? To what, exactly? With the exception of historical fantasy, fantasists have little duty to be historically accurate. And indeed, they're often most lauded for not being so. So if your fantasy civilisation is ruled by superintelligent squid, is making your society not conform to patriarchal values (if you don't want your characters fighting their society) really that weird? I don't think so.

3. Universes and shared worlds - like Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere. When a work has an appreciable history and world, it's more enjoyable for me - so when one work references events or consequences (or even contains characters from) another novel, such as the recurring character Hoid in the Cosmere, it's a fair bit of fun. It also helps with consequences - if an event is still having referenced repercussions, then it's evidently significant: and if it's, for example, the cause of the events of another novel, it really shows. It's one way of really showing a fantasy of change. (Juliet E Mckenna does this too - her series often aren't directly connected, but their events affect each other)

Well, those were just some topics on my mind at the moment. I'll be returning to regular reviews and articles next week!

11 comments:

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    1. Thanks! Glad to hear you agree - just some ideas I was vaguely thinking about for now, but I think I'll turn them into a fully fledged post later on.

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  2. Replies
    1. Glad to hear you agree - just some things I was vaguely thinking about. :)

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  3. Nice suggestions all round. Yep!

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    1. Thanks - and heh, your new novel definitely bucked the trends I've been mentioning. :P

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  4. Perhaps a little odd, but I'm not too fussed by the continued use of medieval western Europe as a basis for fantasy!

    That's not to say I don't enjoy the odd diversion, but I want to be convinced fairly quickly that the writing and the story supports it well, rather than just being a change for the sake of change.

    As for the other two points, Yes and Yes. :)

    Sounds like I'll need to look into Juliet E McKenna's stuff then if you're a fan and it goes in a similar direction as Sanderson in terms of universe building and related stories!

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    1. I see your point - and it's not like it's an issue with individual novels. I wouldn't look at any particular fantasy and think: 'well, it's pretty great, but it would be better set in China'! But I do think the genre as a whole should start exploring more cultures and eras as inspiration - medieval can be fun, yes, but Victorian-era fantasies are pretty darn good too. :D Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell comes to mind...

      McKenna's good at related stories - not so much at universe building. Her more recent novels are a little weaker, IMO - but she's got some fun reads.

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  5. All good suggestions! And I was just thinking the same thing about Juliet McKenna. I need to look up some of her books now :)

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    1. Thanks! Juliet E Mckenna's definitely pretty good, especially a couple of her earlier novels - and gets points for the related stories, as well as for making an elemental magic system actually -interesting-.

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  6. Yes to all three! I'd like more less Europe-centered fantasy, especially. Great post!

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