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  1. #1

    Do different species in a fantasy novel turn you off?

    It's seems to me that the traditional fantasy novels with different spieces of man has kind of fallen off the map. I could be wrong, I'm still new to fantasy. But it would seem the most popular books now are more realistic in nature. I'm writing a novel currently and was wondering whether or not this turns Ppl off, on or are indifferent? Will you stay away the book completely, will you read it but be unable to relate or take the non human characters seriously or is it something you'd like to read b/c it's fresh and fun to experience some new types of ppl you haven't read before?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by theguardian1130 View Post
    It's seems to me that the traditional fantasy novels with different spieces of man has kind of fallen off the map. I could be wrong, I'm still new to fantasy. But it would seem the most popular books now are more realistic in nature. I'm writing a novel currently and was wondering whether or not this turns Ppl off, on or are indifferent? Will you stay away the book completely, will you read it but be unable to relate or take the non human characters seriously or is it something you'd like to read b/c it's fresh and fun to experience some new types of ppl you haven't read before?
    Ya, a lot of the new ones don't seem to have Elves and Dwarves, or anything else, in the book. I like both ways. If it fits, it fits.

  3. #3
    Book of the Black Earth
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    OP, check out the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikowsky (first book: Empire in Black & Gold).

  4. #4
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Sprunk View Post
    OP, check out the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikowsky (first book: Empire in Black & Gold).
    I agree, I think it's quite an interesting play on the races we've come to love and know via 'standard' fantasy.

  5. #5
    Damn fool idealist DailyRich's Avatar
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    I'm sort of going the opposite way -- I'm longing for books with elves and dwarves and monsters and such, rather than simply humans with swords and magic. Not that I'm tired of the other variety, but as good as they are, I want that little extra fantastic touch.

  6. #6
    Malazan seems to be pretty popular.

  7. #7
    Having different species is interesting... but using Tolkien's template over and over is not.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by DailyRich View Post
    I'm sort of going the opposite way -- I'm longing for books with elves and dwarves and monsters and such, rather than simply humans with swords and magic. Not that I'm tired of the other variety, but as good as they are, I want that little extra fantastic touch.
    I couldn't agree more. While I do love Abercrombie, Martin, Lynch etc., I miss magical creatures and the sense of wonder that comes with them.

  9. #9
    w/ ScienceFiction.com scifiJerald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theguardian1130 View Post
    It's seems to me that the traditional fantasy novels with different spieces of man has kind of fallen off the map. I could be wrong, I'm still new to fantasy. But it would seem the most popular books now are more realistic in nature. I'm writing a novel currently and was wondering whether or not this turns Ppl off, on or are indifferent? Will you stay away the book completely, will you read it but be unable to relate or take the non human characters seriously or is it something you'd like to read b/c it's fresh and fun to experience some new types of ppl you haven't read before?
    For me, different races expose the reader to the joy of trying to wrap their head around something completely foreign to the norm. While classic ideas of elves/gnomes/orcs/etc have been over-used, I think the ideas they represent is still relevant and desired. Certainly be me, anyway.

    I love complex and sometimes borderline-human characters in more contemporary works- but there is something... romantic about characters with radically different physiology.

  10. #10
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    There are plenty of contemporary quality authors who have different races populating their world.

    As mentioned Steven Erikson has a plethora of races.

    Other authors include:

    R. Scott Bakker

    J. V. Jones

    Jim Butcher

    Paul Kearny

    Tom Lloyd

    G. R. R. Martin (Giants)

    Robert Jordan

    Robin Hobb

    Non-human species can add a lot to a fantasy book, if done right.
    I dont think that non-human POV's are absolutely necessary. An human perspective can be just as alien as a non-human one, if enough time and effort is spent on there culture, beliefs and world view.

  11. #11
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DailyRich View Post
    I'm sort of going the opposite way -- I'm longing for books with elves and dwarves and monsters and such, rather than simply humans with swords and magic. Not that I'm tired of the other variety, but as good as they are, I want that little extra fantastic touch.
    Me too. It's one reason I like The Bard's Tale books so much.

  12. #12
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    All fantasy authors should memorize it.

    Professor Tolkien's remarkable essay "On Fairy Stories" contains in its brief six dozen or so pages a wealth of insight that remain as cogent today as over seventy years ago when first set down.

    Therein, Tolkien remarks on "one of the primal 'desires' that lie near to the heart of Faërie: the desire of men to hold communion with other living things." The stumbling block for too many writers who would cater to that urgent desire is the word other. It avails nought--indeed, is counter-productive--to have races of "other living things" that are, in fact, just people in funny make-up with a few trademark quirks. The reader is taken in about as much as at a children's halloween party, and will find these ill-masked imps more annoying than anything else.

    Tolkien himself was, as we would expect, preternaturally aware of all that; an easy instance of his ability ot conceive, motivate, and portray races with truly alien points of view is the remarks of Legolas about time:
    For the Elves the world moves, and it moves both very swift and very slow. Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by: it is a grief to them. Slow, because they do not count the running years, not for themselves. The passing seasons are but ripples ever repeated in the long long stream. Yet beneath the sun all things must wear to an end at last.
    That can be, in some intellectual sense, understood by human men, but only with effort; it is not so alien as to be incomprehensible, but it is truly different.

    Compose races with truly alien viewpoints that arise naturally from their differing natures, and you have achieved much; try and fail, and you have kids playing trick-or-treat.
    Last edited by owlcroft; January 14th, 2011 at 10:31 PM.

  13. #13
    I do not mind different species. For me it depends more on if I am enjoying the plot and characters. I'm not instantly turned away at the mere mention of elves and dwarves. In scifi tv shows, I always enjoyed different species when they had a different approach and view to things.

    I would advise that if you, as example, are going incooperate elves in your books, try to really make them a different species. Not just humans with a slightly different culture, pointy ears, who mingle occassionaly with humans. I prefer it if some more thought has gone into it and that it isn't too basic (basic similar to what Terry Brooks did in his books).

  14. #14
    trolling > dissertation nquixote's Avatar
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    I have also noticed the turn away from the multi-racial fantasy world. I wonder how much of it has to do with the perception that having elves/dwarves/etc. is racist (i.e. emphasizing group differences in people).

    Note that elves and dwarves and orcs etc. are not always depicted as separate species, since often they can produce fertile offspring (half-elves etc.).

  15. #15
    Registered User Rilzik's Avatar
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    There have been some big mostly human books recently, but I don't think the trend is a big as you think. I do think that authors are taking elves or orcs and twisting them into something they can call their own. Sometimes they are using a modified template of elves but just never actually using "elf"or calling them elves and giving them a different name.

    I don't think using them turns people off at all, but it is a way to score some easy points in world building to not use the default fantasy races or at least not the default names elf, dwarf, orc and so on.

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