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  1. #1

    How much do you know about fantasy/sf?

    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 by Alchemist; July 27th, 2010 at 02:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Slayer velocci's Avatar
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    I think i'm an apprentice. I'd love to have Raistlin as my master.

  3. #3
    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. #4
    Making it so. Orbison's Avatar
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    I'd say I'm most likely a Journeyman at the moment, but certainly moving towards Scholar. Gradually.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemist View Post
    [...]
    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.
    [...]
    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. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Randy M. View Post
    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.
    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 by Alchemist; July 27th, 2010 at 03:47 PM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemist View Post
    Being as knowledgeable as a Clute or Gary K Wolfe would be a Master or Sage, not a Scholar.
    I understood but was working out why I couldn't be considered a Sage.

    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.
    I certainly lean heavily toward the scholar, but I don't believe I've read broadly enough to take on that mantle.

    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.
    I disagree. Every discipline has its jargon (think of the PC/laptop you're working on with bytes, bits, megabytes, routers, memory, motherboards, etc, etc), including literary scholarship -- it's the short form for conveying a wealth of information. Sages and masters would have to be familiar with this to discuss issues with one another (Wolfe, in particular, since he is a practicing academic -- sounds vaguely disreputable, doesn't it?) and Clute, in what I've read by him, seems inclined to create his own jargon as he goes along, pulling in esoteric, obscure words to denote what might be more easily understood by his audience in simpler, but probably more extensive, language.

    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.
    Fair 'nuff. But most scholars would have started as novices, worked up to apprentices, then journeymen. It's actually pretty easy to find yourself somewhere between such designations.


    Randy M.

  8. #8
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Between Novice and Apprentice, I'd guess. If I'm not at Apprentice, I'm very close.

  9. #9
    Jekyll to another's Hyde H.P. Rice Wells's Avatar
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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.

  10. #10
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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.

  11. #11
    Dazed Rambler Winter's Avatar
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    Journeyman heading towards Scholar.

  12. #12
    ~ Metal Forever ~ Metal-Demon's Avatar
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    Hmm ... I would say that I'm hovering close to Journeyman status.


  13. #13
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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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")

  14. #14
    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.

  15. #15
    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.

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