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Thread: Are we really writing fantasy?
March 3rd, 2006, 02:14 PM #31
When I said logical Prunes, I meant in reference to logical possibilities, like sentient trees and magic, not in my thought structure. Sorry for being so unclear.
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- Jan 2006
I think the majority of students are still practical/career oriented but there are encouraging signs.
March 3rd, 2006, 02:41 PM #32
The leap from logic to acceptance is an interesting one. Fantasy readers are more able to bridge the gap and enter into a world that does not conform to the constraints of everyday reality. Some people cannot read fantasy because it is simply 'unbelievable' to them and they find it impossible to get their minds around it. They can't see past the logical impossibilities that magic and alternative worlds possess. Yes, consistency in a magical system is spoken of all the time, but I tend to think that it really means no more than an author's ability to make the unbelievable sound and seem believable and acceptable. We accept the premise of the possiblity of magic, alternate ways of affecting the world, and from that premise we then derive a system that has internal consistency. The word logic is being misapplied. It does not refer to the premise here but to the inferences.
If one day your character is all powerful and the next day, he can't protect himself from the simplest of things, that's an inconsistency that is unacceptable without a thorough explanation. But the fact that he is all powerful on day one is a premise that a fantasy author is allowed to posit without having to prove how, and the reader need not question it. The reader needs only to accept it.
March 5th, 2006, 03:34 PM #33Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
But it's not. Nor is it the ideas in fantasy, which are themes you can find in any other types of fiction. The only thing that is fantasy are fantastical elements that have a fantastical basis -- magic, supernatural, unexplained alternate realities. These fantasy elements, which are not an assigned set of tropes, do not define "genre" in the sense that it is usually used. They are the key elements of a type of story -- fantasy. Genre fiction is really category fiction. When we speak of genre fantasy, we're speaking of category fantasy. And category fantasy is simply stories containing fantasy elements that are published for and marketed to the category market.
Which is why an author can simply leave the genre/category market and go to the general one. Of course it's not that easy. Once you are in the category market, the high-low culture system likes to keep you labelled category, which is why non-category authors used to avoid the category like the plague, and why publishers try to repackage where they can, to convince that an author has gone "beyond" category and crossed over into general relevance, that the author has more appeal beyond just die-hard fantasy fans.
There is a slight content difference between non-category and category fantasy, but it's not one of ideas or tropes. It's focus. Non-category fantasy stories tend not to use their fantasy elements as the main point of the story, but rather just as a device to pursue some type of story. Whereas category fantasy builds everything around its fantasy elements. But this is not a distinction that holds fast and true, and is likely to blur increasingly if things go on the way they seem to be going in the market.
By the way, next month's issue of PW will have an article on Sci Fi and Fantasy, which one is selling more and why. I am interested to read what the industry has to say about this.
March 5th, 2006, 04:52 PM #34
Sure! No problem. It's going to be in the April issue. I will summarize it here and I'll send you the issue after I read it.