How much do you know about fantasy/sf?

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Alchemist, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. Alchemist

    Alchemist Registered User

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    How much do you know about fantasy (or sf)? I am posting this in the fantasy board but feel free to discuss where you fall in relation to sf, if it is different. I couldn't think of a clever acronym, but we'll just call this the Fantasy Knowledge Scale. Take my descriptions loosely; you may find that you fit some of one tier and some of another--just try to average it out (NOTE: I've used John Clute's name half-humorously as a kind of barometer--thus the second, joking, name; don't take it too seriously, please).

    Oh yeah, if you think of a good name for this let me know and I will change it.

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    THE FANTASY KNOWLEDGE SCALE, aka THE CLUTOMETER

    Novice - You're just starting. Maybe you saw Lord of the Rings or read Harry Potter and want to read some fantasy books. You haven't decided whether you like it or not, but are curious.

    Apprentice - You're a casual fan of fantasy. You've read some of the classics and/or more popular authors such as Tolkien, Brooks, Lewis, Rowling, Jordan (or in sf, Herbert, Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, etc). Or you might have found your way into the field through another avenue like horror or a fantastic literary author like Michael Chabon. You've read dozens of fantasy novels but probably not more than a hundred, and you don't have a sense of the history or field as a whole. The name "John Clute" is meaningless to you. You might have an inkling to write a book someday.

    Journeyman - You're a serious fan, probably life-long. You've read hundreds of books and have a solid sense of the field, although don't necessarily know the history beyond the broad-strokes or have a sense of who wrote when. You read for pleasure and only what suits your interest. You probably don't know who John Clute is, although you might have checked out one of his Encyclopedias for ideas of books to read. This is probably when you decide to either write a book or leave it to your betters.

    Scholar - You're both a diehard fan and a serious student of the field. You may not have read more than a Journeyman, but you know more about what you haven't read--you have a sense of the history of the field and could place most authors somewhere along the timeline, with at least a general idea how the genre has evolved. You haven't read everything but you hope to gradually fill out the holes in your knowledge and strive for Mastery, to some degree at least. John Clute becomes a source of awe (or disgust), his work a major reference point; you almost certainly own at least the two Encyclopedias at this point, maybe some of his review compilations. You find yourself buying books on genre history and criticism. You may start thinking about writing a book on some aspect of the field. You may have a blog or some other way to communicate and discuss your ideas.

    Master - You're an authority of the field. You've filled out the holes in your knowledge and have read almost all of the classics and at least one book by almost every significant author, and many others besides. Those classics or authors that you haven't read is by conscious choice and taste, although you have read many books that you didn't enjoy because you felt you should. Clute is like an elder statesman that you refer to although don't always agree with. You either write a book on the field or are working on ideas for one, or you decide not to and focus on your own collection and knowledge.

    Sage - You've transcended even the authority of mastery and know more about the field than anyone you know, whether in person or via the computer. You could easily teach a graduate program on the field. There is almost certainly no non-vanity published authors that you haven't heard of and you've pretty much read something by almost everyone. John Clute? Phaw! You are beyond Clute. You are the book on fantasy and/or sf.
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    I'd call myself a Scholar in both fantasy and sf, although have read more fantasy. I am more serious about writing fantasy than reading and researching it, but I also love reading and am constantly trying to expand my knowledge of the field. I hope to read at least something by most "significant" authors, except those I try and don't like. I will probably never attain Sagehood but Mastery could be a possibility at some point, but I'm still years away.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  2. velocci

    velocci Slayer

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    I think i'm an apprentice. I'd love to have Raistlin as my master.
     
  3. Sfinx

    Sfinx Life's a riddle

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    The "Journeyman" well suits me.

    But that's also because the word itself is by far the most appealing of the lot :)

    Cheers,

    Sfinx.
     
  4. Orbison

    Orbison Making it so.

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    I'd say I'm most likely a Journeyman at the moment, but certainly moving towards Scholar. Gradually. :)
     
  5. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

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    By these definitions I fit somewhere between Journeyman and Scholar. I often find it as interesting and rewarding to read about the genre -- introductions, forewards, afterwards, reviews, critiques, criticism, literary history, literary memoir, etc. -- as I do to read works within the genre. But I'm by no means as knowledgeable as a Clute or a Gary K. Wolfe, and I'm not eager to delve into the more esoteric, abstract, literary-jargon filled books and essays on the genre as most academics would be.


    Randy M.
     
  6. Alchemist

    Alchemist Registered User

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    Being as knowledgeable as a Clute or Gary K Wolfe would be a Master or Sage, not a Scholar. You could say that a Sage is a tenured professor, a Master an adjunct, a Scholar a grad student, a Journeyman an undergrad, an Apprentice a high school student, and a Novice a grade school student--at least relative to each other.

    The difference I tried to define between Journeyman and Scholar is that both may be equally avid readers, but a Scholar actually wants to know about the field and enjoys meta-discussions about fantasy or sf. In a sense, knowing who wrote a given book isn't that important to a Journeyman, or only enough to know what to read (or avoid) in the future. A Scholar, on the other hand, is also interested in knowing about the author because of how they fit into the context of the field as a whole. And I would say that the "esoteric, abstract, literary-jargon" is a separate stream from actual knowledge of the field, an off-shoot if you will. In the analogy I use above, a Journeyman may enjoy the field as one among many while for a Scholar it is a focus of study that goes beyond entertainment. So, in a sense, there is a jump between Journeyman and Scholar of commitment. For the former, sf/fantasy is one interest among many, whereas for the Scholar it is a true passion and central to their lives. This may also divide the folks that want to take their interest into the professional domain in some way, whether through blogging, review writing, story writing, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  7. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    Between Novice and Apprentice, I'd guess. If I'm not at Apprentice, I'm very close.
     
  8. H.P. Rice Wells

    H.P. Rice Wells Jekyll to another's Hyde

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    I would say I'm just on the cusp of Journeyman status. (Agree with the notion that this is the best title of the bunch!) This stems from my not having read much sci-fi in the last decade/decade and a half, so I've missed a bit.
     
  9. Thaellar

    Thaellar New Member

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    I am definitely a novice. I read a couple of Dragonlance books many years ago and have just started reading again. I'm about a third of the way through George Martin's A Game of Thrones. Good book...hard to put down.

    Glad I found this forum recently. Really enjoy the suggestions and opinions of everyone.
     
  10. Winter

    Winter Dazed Rambler

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    Journeyman heading towards Scholar.
     
  11. Metal-Demon

    Metal-Demon ~ Metal Forever ~

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    Hmm ... I would say that I'm hovering close to Journeyman status.

    :)
     
  12. Roland 85

    Roland 85 Registered User

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    Journeyman/Scholar for me, both in SF and Fantasy. Leaning towards Scholar if I say so myself (we have a very weird expression in my country, which could be loosely translated as "The old gipsy woman that used to prase me died")
     
  13. Larry

    Larry Vaguely Borgesian

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    I believe I'm more knowledgeable in some aspects than either Clute or Gary Wolfe, but that would be in relation to writers such as Borges whose non-fictions largely have not been translated yet into English. In other areas, I could probably engage in a good discussion with them and others on the cultural aspects of earlier works.
     
  14. Dirvani

    Dirvani Registered User

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    I haven't read a ton yet but I'd consider myself at least an apprentice, though I'd say I'm already a fairly serious fan and will be my whole life.
     
  15. Michigan

    Michigan Registered User

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    I'd say journeyman definitely describes me.
     
  16. Gustaf Hagel

    Gustaf Hagel Formerly imaster

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    A very rusty Journeyman. I really haven´t read nearly as much in the last five years as I would have liked, but before, say, 2003 I read everything I got my hands on that somewhat resembled fantasy. I´ve started down that path again and also just began writing my own book.
     
  17. Queen Aurora

    Queen Aurora KOC addict

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    I don't think I fit into any of those....

    I am not a diehard fantasy reader and will read pretty much anything but love fantasy above most books, I have never liked Pratchett or Tolkien but have read the Harry Potter books and liked them because they were kind of easy to read I guess.
    I just pick a book and give it a go but will always finish it whether I like it or not, I can't stop reading part way through as it drives me crazy no matter how naff it is.

    But I hardly ever finish series/sagas/trilogies, I forget authors names and book titles so easily. And with always being skint, 3 kids always wanting more and the fact that I never read a book twice, I do not tend to buy them, I go to the library once a week and take out as many as I am allowed.

    My love of fantasy comes from fairy tales- my favourite film was and still is Sleeping Beauty and I grew up reading. Once I completed all of the teenage books in my library and a lot of the classics (Animal farm is the only book I have re-read!), at about 11 yrs old I picked up a Storm Constantine book and was hooked.

    So not sure what I woul be but I don't seem to fit anywhere!

    Sorry twaffling again :eek:
     
  18. teahupoo

    teahupoo Supercalifragilistic

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    Journeyman fantasy reader. I've read hundreds of books/series. I follow many author blogs like Rothfuss, Sanderson, and GRRM.

    Apprentice Sci Fi reader. I've read all the dune books father and son. Kevin j Anderson seven sun books. Orson Scott Card books. Some random books like Anathem by Neal Stephenson. A few others.

    I am a novice Horror reader. Ive read all the Anne Rice vampire books.
     
  19. Pvt

    Pvt Registered User

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    I'm a novice, apprentice and journeyman at the same time. I'm new to fantasy AND I've read hundreds of fantasy books, although I must admit not all of them were high fantasy but I have read works from over 50 high fantasy authors.
     
  20. Engelbrecht

    Engelbrecht Dwarf Surrealist Boxer

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    I suppose that, from a reader standpoint, I fall somewhere in the neighborhood of "Master". While I'm not a blogger or aspiring author, I certainly have read plenty of books (well more than 2,000, from more than 650 authors). For more years than I'd care to confess, I've tried to read both widely and deeply from the best that science fiction & fantasy has to offer. While there are certainly gaps in my reading (the more you read, the more your to-read list grows), I'm moderately satisfied with progress to date. I've read most of the major award winners, the majority of the nominees, around forty genre history and criticism books, most of the SF classics (both the older list and the updated list - fascinating approach to this), and plenty of interesting "peripheral" authors. I've even read Hugo Gernsback, L. Ron Hubbard, and other genre reprobates. :)

    I must confess that I don't really have the stomach for phat fantasy and that I increasingly incline towards the literary end of the spectrum (as well as the surreal and the outré). Even so, I'm not averse to some good YA or a bit of guilty pleasure. I have pretty high standards, irredeemably set at an early age by the consumption of almost the entirety of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series (I still have one unread - aging, like fine wine).

    As for Clute, I sometimes think that (based on both readings and personal observations) the emperor is, at best, clad in gossamer. He'll go round and round and I can hardly make out what he's trying to say. Sometimes, I'm tempted to think that he's not really trying to say anything - it's simply obfuscation at high boil. I've often thought his "Excessive Candor" column was remarkable for its lack of candor - it was often difficult to tell whether or not he actually liked a work. Perhaps this is a bit strong, but the contrast between the Clute's ambages and, say, the warm and lucid expressions of Michael Dirda (genre-friendly Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism) is remarkable.

    Anyhow, my attitude towards genre is somewhere along the lines of: "Eleventy-one years is far too short a time to read such excellent and admirable authors. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." :)