It’s a-boomin’ – YA Fantasy

So, I thought I’d take a brief break from the heavier stuff and take a look at Fantasy’s younger, slightly retarded (but arguably a lot more successful) brother – YA fantasy.

It’s been getting bigger and bigger for some time now. And of course, herein there will be references to the usual suspects, and so I apologize in advance for the inevitable groaning and eye-rolling.  What am I talking about?

The advent of Harry Potter. With the explosion of sales, it really knocked the sleep out of the world’s eyes, made everyone sit up and take notice. There was a time when this category of fiction didn’t even exist – as early as 40 years ago even and books like Catcher in the Rye, now considered a YA classic, existed in a weird in-between marketing place.

Books with young or adolescent teens go back much further than that, of course, with examples like Alice in Wonderland (1865), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1874), The Jungle Book (1894) but there was no specific categorization for them.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s All Good & What I’m Reading :)

So, hey! I’ve been away for a bit and by away, I mean, generally doing nothing…elsewhere. Uni has been the usual demanding whore it’s always been and just recently my internet spazzed out and I’ve been disconnected for a while. But let’s jump back into it, shall we?

A lot of my commentary of late has been about ‘modern’ fantasy, fantasy that’s hard and fast and gritty and darkly funny. And you may be feeling that I’m neglecting the other sides of fantasy, that I’m ignoring or underrating it. That’s not the case at all. I started writing about the modern fantasy mostly as a guide for the uninitiated because I was tired of this false perception of what is mostly outdated fantasy and I wanted to bring some more attention to the current trend. But I love the old style just as much and I think it’s just as good, at its best.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Overrated: Rothfuss & Martin

Let me state from the outset that I like both authors and greatly enjoyed their respective works. I’m also going to keep this fairly brief – I’m more interested in hearing others talk about why they find these two to be so great so I can respond in kind. (Some spoilers ahead for those unfamiliar with Martin)

But for the life of me, I cannot fathom why they have garnered such raving praise. It is, for the most part, entirely unwarranted. Let’s start with Rothfuss. He is the author, for those that don’t know, of the book ‘The Name of the Wind’ which is essentially about a legendary figure who lives and runs a bar in some abysmal nothing-town, in which he is naught but a tavern owner. A Chronicler arrives and convinces Kvothe to recount his tale and so we are swept into this “making of the legend” narrative.

It is written in first person, with interesting, fresh descriptions and a generally swift pace that occasionally lags. And it is has received ridiculous praise. I just don’t get why — the story itself isn’t original, and that’s fine, I for one have always been more interested in characters and yet, I feel like I’ve come across and read a thousand Kvothe’s and even the world, to some extent, has very little that is new or interesting. Even the magic system, the process of “naming” to gain power has been seen elsewhere, notably in David Eddings Belgariad series, and the prequel, Belgarath the Sorcerer.

Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What’s Hot

So. In my last post, I mentioned a lack of commentary on the genre as a whole. I have only just started to begin my own, this is all fledgling stuff, but I thought it would be a good idea to start commenting on some of the notable books in the last few years, what’s great, what’s not, and maybe even comment a bit on some of the overrated stuff floating about. I know some of my rambles – seen in the first three posts, were a smidgeon long (ha) so I’ll be brief, promise.

Hot:

First and foremost: Steven Erikson and his epic Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. What is there *not* to say about this ridiculously talented man? His series redefines the concept of ‘epic’ in ways no other series possibly can. I don’t simply think he’s the best of our time, or that he’s ahead of the rest, I think he’s the best there has ever been and not just by a little – this isn’t something I had to wrangle about endlessly in my mind, he is simply leagues ahead of anyone else. It’s almost embarrassing. I can’t possibly begin to tell you all about his magnificent behemoth of a series, not here, not in brief, so I’ll settle for discussing what I love most about his work.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

On the dearth of commentary!

And no, I’m not referring to the lack of such on this blog, haha. I’m talking  about the lack of commentary on fantasy (well-thought out, current, commentary on trends in fantasy, what’s good, what’s not, etcetera). Why the fuck can’t I find anything worthwhile? Am I just lame at searching for it? I put in a search for ‘writing’ here on WordPress and came up with a hundred thousand or more bullshit pages from bullshit people about bullshit and yet putting in ‘fantasy’ or ‘fantasy writing’ pulls up ten half-hearted results, as though even the search engine is saying,

“Really? That’s the best you can do?”

I did find this blog post by a writer, Damien G. Walter , who spoke briefly about the new trends and questioned it. He was responding to this Agony Column podcast. You can see my response in the link provided to Damien’s website. Basically, I wasn’t impressed when the interviewer and interviewee (apparently a top editor at the forefront of fantasy) both mistakenly referred to Terry Goodkind as the author of the Sword of Shannara series.

Seriously, this shit isn’t hard to keep track of, people. And you might be thinking, Omar (that’s my name, by the way) that’s kinda close to what you’re looking for isn’t it? Yes but it was written over a year ago and isn’t that great to begin with, or in-depth. Someone help me out? Is there a goldmine out there I’m missing?

If you know it, link me!

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Fantasy and Sexuality

Alrighty, shall we continue on rambling? Might as well, since I’m an insomniac and I have nothing better to do as of this very instant. So, last time I spoke about characters. What I didn’t speak about, which in hindsight makes up such a very huge part of characters, is sexuality. So this is, in part, an addendum to the previous blogs. If I have time, I’ll speak about some other stuff too.

I had a discussion some months ago with Karsten about gay fantasy and I wanted to immediately clarify my views following that, but failed to, because I’m a lazy man – the king of laziness, in fact. So, we spoke about Richard Morgan’s ‘The Steel Remains’ which I didn’t care for and which Karsten loved. She said it was brave because it depicted gay sex and had a main gay character, etc. I thought otherwise –

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Characters, Fantasy

Abercrombie and Characters

A Quick Preface:

I’m writing these blogs because I want to vocalise what fantasy is, why I love it, some of my favourite concepts and subgenres and, most of all – as a tribute. To a genre that first awakened my imagination, that introduced me to myth and magic and wonder and mystery, to the beauty of otherworlds, to nobility and honour…To a genre that encouraged me to look outside the box, that taught me there was more to life than ugly family situations and mean streets.

It’s not to attack anyone🙂 I just want to say that, since my, er, belligerence came through a tad strongly last time around, heh. Having said that, I’m belligerent by nature. Fantasy honestly changed my life and essentially underpins who I am in a major way. Accordingly, I intend to devote my life to it, whether by adding to it fictionally, or academically or both. Now! Dr. Phil moment over, let’s move on.

The Discussion:

Basically, I was talking with Jack the other day. He mentioned how he was thinking of making a substantive character change because he thought his protagonist was a whiny little wimp and not many people like them. It got me thinkin’ see, about characters and specifically, about Joe Abercrombie (author of the First Law series) and why his work in particular is amazing. Jack’s reasoning is that we need a reason to sympathise/empathise with the characters and he’s not wrong – there are no real wrongs or rights here and I think that’s half the point I want to make.

Too many people have this notion that characters must be a certain something. Too many writers out there subscribe to this notion, young and old. They mustn’t be whiners, they must be brave, they must be honourable, they must be the goodliest do-gooders of good in existence, they must strive for something, they must be sympathetic. No, no, no, no, no. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Characters, Fantasy