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  1. #1
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    The economics of fantasy worlds...

    Who hates books where it's obvious the economy behind the world simply would not work?

    How much detail should an author include?
    Do you ever get bored by the detail - do you really need to know what people eat for breakfast, and where it comes from, how it is transported, etc etc?

    What authors get it right - and why?

  2. #2
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    I want to read books that are credible. What probably bothers me more than anything else in reading any SFF book is when something trips me up and breaks the dream. I'll swallow anything as long as the world seems real. I think all those things about how a society functions is interesting anyway. And what people eat for breakfast! I mean, they eat pickled beans in Japan, what do they eat in Utopia?

    But on the other hand, there are some books which don't need any detail like that to create compelling realities. It's all in the writing, I think.

    What's "right" varies with each book. The Little Prince is light on credible detail but still one of the most beautiful books ever written. And China Mieville is positively Marxist in his approach to describing how cities and societies work, and I like that too!

  3. #3
    How much detail a fantasy author includes about topics such as the economy has never mattered much to me. If an author chooses not to address something like that, it's fine with me. If the author does choose to include an economic system, however, it should at least be feasible. I'm not going to examine it closely, looking for problems or anything. On the other hand, like alison said, if something is so blatantly absurd that it takes me out of the story, that annoys me to no end.

    As for detail in general, yes, it can sometimes get boring, but for me that is rare. I like detail. Rather, I like detail that serves a purpose. If telling me about a character's diet, where it came from, and how it arrived tells me something about that character or society in general, I eat that up. Some authors do get carried away though. I don't need to know what each character is wearing in every scene, for example. I understand that the author is trying to paint a vivid picture, but some things can be left to the imagination. Define a character's style of dress at some point early in the story, and unless that style changes for some reason that is pertinent to the plot, just leave it at that.

    As for who gets it right, once again I agree with alison. "Right" is relative. One highly detail oriented writer who is one of my favorites is Janny Wurts. Some may disagree (and it wouldn't be the first time), but I think Janny Wurts gets it right. The amount of detail in her books turns a lot of people off. I, however, find that the details she includes add a great deal to the story. She uses detail to (among other things) show contrast between characters of differing outlooks on life and set a scene's mood if necessary.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Glen Cook. His Black Company novels are unbelievably devoid of detail; at least the type of detail one gets in most fantasy these days. And yet, they are wonderful books. So Cook gets it right too. Go figure.
    Last edited by Obtuse; March 24th, 2005 at 01:32 AM.

  4. #4
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    Go figure...

    Yeah, I agree. Both extremes can work in the hands of a skilful writer. Perhaps, from the writer's perspective, the secret is to know the details yourself, to be aware of everything about the world you create, even if you don't include it. That way it always seems real...

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