That title might not make a lot of sense, but it’s from Doctor Who. In Doctor Who, the Doctor keeps on crossing paths with River Song who is experiencing the Doctor’s life in a different order than the Doctor is, so she has a diary […]
Tag: Game of Thrones
We all know fantasy pretty well, at least I’m assuming that we do. We’ve seen and/or read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. We might have read the Shanara Chronicles, Wheel of Time, Mistborn, or so many other epic fantasy series or watched shows like Merlin, Game of Thrones or Grimm. And there are certain things that we generally expect from fantasy, but what happens when fantasy series aren’t the norm, and why aren’t there more of them?
I think the biggest reason that there aren’t more of them is because publishers and writers want something that feels familiar. A writer can feel like it’s their own unique twist on something that is familiar and safe, and a publisher can look and see how well things have sold. Now there is plenty of variety within the standard epic fantasy that we often think of and that we see published most often, but there’s always some medieval feel to it that feels normal and allows us to jump into a world quickly and pick up the edge cases about the world that are different from others.
What are some of the tropes of fantasy that are used often?
While it’s less the case now, it often feels like fantasy is the clear good versus evil. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are both clear examples of this where there is clearly a good side and there is an evil side, and there really isn’t ground in between. Sometimes you really want that delineation, but fantasy can lean too much so into the good versus evil and it simply being that and nothing more.
Also there is the medieval feel, or what we attribute to a medieval feel. There are going to be knights most likely, though they might be called something else, a king, either good striving against the evil forces coming to the lands or evil keeping the people oppressed so a rebellion must rise up and there’s not all that much in between. Lots of castles, sprawling forests, and generally a lot of what you’d expect from Robin Hood shows up in your standard epic fantasy. Even in urban fantasy, there is often some leftover feel of the medieval period. In the Dresden Files, the wizarding council holds old traditions, in Harry Potter, Hogwarts is literally a giant castle.
Finally, while it’s not in all fantasy, there is very often some form of magic. This is often where fantasy diverges the most as different people use different things for magic. It could be that the magic comes from the divine, it could be that magic is steeped heavily in ritual and must be done at ritual locations, or it could be a quicker and dirtier magic that can be done on the fly. Magic can be fine and precise wielded like a scalpel or it can be swung around like a club, bludgeoning everything. So there’s plenty of leeway for magic, but it is something that is commonly found in fantasy.
That’s epic fantasy, is all fantasy like that or are there different types of fantasy?
While that might be the type that people think of when they think of fantasy thanks to Lord of the Rings, it certainly isn’t the only type of fantasy out there. There’s paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy, or even steampunk would qualify as a different type of fantasy. Probably the biggest growing type of fantasy falls into that area of urban fantasy. The Dresden Files series is one of the biggest or Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman are two of the better known. But TV shows like Grimm also fall into that Urban Fantasy sub-genre of fantasy.
There are a few that I really want to call out, though, the first being Urban Fantasy. This is one of my favorite genres of fantasy as taking a modern world and putting magic not just into the world as a whole, but a densely populated area and really focusing the story down into that world can be done so well. In all of Neverwhere, Grimm, and The Dresden Files, there’s a grittier side of the world that you don’t a lot in fantasy. That grittier side of things is what sets it apart from contemporary fantasy which would qualify as something like Harry Potter where it’s in a modern setting, but doesn’t deal as directly with the modern nature of the world.
Another one can either be modern or not, but it’s a non-standard medieval fantasy. That’s a long name, but basically, it’s looking at fantasy that really goes outside of the normal sword and sorcery that you can see and takes us to another world or part of our world than London or the medieval European equivalent. An example of this is the Daughter of Smoke and Bones trilogy. Those books are set in Prague, so different location than normal, but they also deal with a very different subset fantasy with how they talk about a number of fantasy tropes, which you can see from above, and the creatures that you see. You don’t really have your standard goblins, trolls, and faeries. It’s often a bit jarring not to have your standard fantasy tropes, but it’s also refreshing to see fantasy step away from it’s roots and branch out into new areas.
Finally is a sub genre of fantasy that I want more from, and that’s the Weird West. But this can also fall somewhat into historical fantasy as well, so I’ll use that genre so I can talk about more things. But in the Weird West genre, you’re getting something that we’re familiar with, because of westerns, and adding in some mix of magic, steampunk or advanced technology, aliens, or monsters. The movie, Wild Wild West is an example of what Weird West can be. But when you expand it to look at other parts of history, you see it around WWI and WWII, even something like Wonder Woman which falls under the umbrella of Superheroes, but the movie was as much an alternative history fantasy movie as it was a superhero movie because of Wonder Woman’s backstory and Ares being a Greek god.
Now, there’s so much more you can go with into fantasy. And a lot of what I’ve talked about with world building before for RPG’s or just in writing in general you can pull into fantasy as well and use it to help shape your thoughts around fantasy. I’m going to be doing a follow up article soon on magic and high, medium, and low magic as well as different ways of using magic that I touched on here in this post.
But I’ll leave you with the question, what are some of your favorite genres inside fantasy, and some of your favorite books or TV shows or movies in that genre?
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If you go into Fantasy Flight Game Center (or to their website), you see loads and loads of board games that have Star Wars on the side of the box. They have X-Wing, Armada, Rebellion, Imperial Assault, Legion, and Destiny, and I’m probably missing a couple, […]
If you’ve been around the site recently, you may have seen my posts about fandom bandwagons I’ve jumped on way after everyone else (and if you’ve read any of my other stuff, you’ve almost certainly seen me allude to my tendency to do this). For someone who experiences intense FOMO pretty much all the time, it’s a bit ironic that I have this proclivity, but so it is. Is it due to laziness? Elitism? Happenstance? I may never know. But what I do know is that it’s been this way long enough that I’ve learned a thing or two about the ways this habit of mine is more a blessing than a curse.
Many times in the past, I’ve felt silly for taking so long to get on board with a new fandom, especially when it seems everyone around me knows about all the cool new things before I’ve even heard of them (does this mean I know a lot of hipsters? Maybe). But the longer it’s gone on, the more I’ve realized that my tendency take my time is almost all pros, and very few cons. As I see it, the only real downside is that I’m much more at risk for seeing spoilers before I get around to watching/reading/playing the new thing and have to avoid certain corners of the internet if I don’t want to ruin it for myself (a pretty significant downside, considering my hatred of spoilers, but still). Well, that and the fact that I end up having to endure an endless refrain of “You haven’t seen/played/read it yet? What’s wrong with you?/do you live under a rock?/we can’t be friends anymore lol.” But as truly infuriating as those things are, they can’t overshadow the sweet, sweet benefits that come with waiting a while to try the next new thing.
First, there’s the fact that waiting until something’s been out for some time will ensure that you know about all the bugs in the system before you jump in. Did a new gaming console come out that you can’t afford right now or don’t feel like getting yet? By the time you get one, all the glitches will probably have been fixed (and it will likely cost less to boot). Is there a new anime series that looks interesting? If you wait to watch it, you’ll hear about how there are a bunch of filler episodes you can skip, or how there’s a story arc that’s not worth your time. Basically, this means that you can maximize your enjoyment of the new fandom while avoiding all the nonsense that the early adopters had to wade through. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets to skip all the crap. Trust.
Beyond that, there’s the matter of access. Say there’s a show everyone’s talking about — if you wait a while to watch it, even if it hasn’t been released a whole season at a time a la Netflix original series, then you can binge-watch it to your heart’s content. Or if a book series is already complete, you don’t have to wait ages for the next installment to come out while you sit in agonized suspense longing to find out what happens next; you can just read the books one right after the other if you want (gloating to your friends who started reading them right away is optional, but generally recommended). And perhaps best of all, when it comes time for you to find a copy of Cool New Thing X, you can buy a used one on the cheap, or borrow it from a friend who already has it. Call it laziness, call it delayed instant gratification, call it whatever you want — all I know is that I’m a huge fan of this approach, and I’ve never truly regretted taking it.
And then there’s the fact that as a Johnny-come-lately, geeking out with other people in the fandom is so much more satisfying. Like, for real, you guys. Whether you’re live-messaging your friends about the awesomeness that is Dragon Age (*cough* guilty *cough*), talking about which of your Game of Thrones fan theories came true, or discussing the topic of how the Harry Potter series is amazing despite its plethora of gaping plot holes, it’s gonna be a good time for everyone. As long as your friends aren’t too jaded and too-cool-for-school to squee with you about the new thing you’ve gotten into (which, if they are, y’all need to give them a talking to), you get the joy of experiencing how great a fandom is for the first time while having your friends go “I know, right?!” whenever you talk to them about what you love about it, and your friends get the opportunity to relive its amazingness, all while remembering what it was like when they fell in love with it. As I see it, it’s a win-win for everybody.
And so, my friends, you may disagree with these points, and you may think I’m a bit silly or lackadaisical for doing things this way — that’s just fine (in fact, I get it). But regardless of how silly or strange it may seem, this strategy totally works for me — and, I suspect, for a lot of you as well. And while there are certainly upsides and fun aspects about jumping on board with something right from the beginning, you can keep your ability to do that all for yourself — I’ll just be over here, enjoying the heck out of great fandoms in my own way. Several years later, that is.
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Shannara Chronicles So, I was bored yesterday while waiting for Kristen to get back from work and workout, so I decided to start watching a show on Netflix. Shannara Chronicles was the show that I decided to go with. I actually read the first book […]
Fall is here, and with it comes the return of so many great shows, along with premieres of new ones. Peder and I have already been availing ourselves of the wealth of new episodes coming out for some of our favorites, like Killjoys, Brooklyn 99, and Bob’s Burgers, and we […]
The news is a bit old, but I just came across it. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones and worried about what sort of epic fantasy will be around to watch once Game of Thrones is done, the Wheel of Time Series is likely to fall into that void.
Harriet McDougal, wife of the late Robert Jordan, dropped some exciting news late Thursday: the TV rights to Jordan’s Wheel of Time fantasy epic have been acquired by a major studio.
From the Wheel of Time Google Plus group:
The following is a press statement that has been approved by the studio involved in contract negotiations:Update: Wanted to share with you exciting news about The Wheel of Time. Legal issues have been resolved. The Wheel of Time will become a cutting edge TV series! I couldn’t be more pleased. Look for the official announcement coming soon from a major studio —Harriet
I’ve personally enjoyed this series more than Game of Thrones. And as long as they don’t spend all the time that the series does getting lost in a ponderous middle, they should be able to turn this into a nice, fairly long running, epic series.
This is the topic I was going to write on last week, but here it is now — the first of two parts on writing characters. Protagonists These are the good guys, the main characters of your story — for that reason, they are generally more […]