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Contemporary Fantasy

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  • Heresiologist
    replied
    Originally posted by Sir Sorcerer View Post

    Yes I think this is what I was trying to say by calling it a perception that was being overturned. Of course the reality is that there have always been women and non-white writers of fantasy, although mostly hidden somewhere in the 1 to 5 ratio background.
    ...
    I've also read that there was a overall decline in female authorship from 1850 to 1950, dropping from about 50% to 25% during that period. I expect, but am not sure, the data set probably roughly comes from our previously mentioned "North America and Western Europe" focus.

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  • Sir Sorcerer
    replied
    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
    I think there's a fair chance it's more accurate to say that in N. America and Western Europe the fantasy genre has been dominated by writers and editors who were white men.
    Yes I think this is what I was trying to say by calling it a perception that was being overturned. Of course the reality is that there have always been women and non-white writers of fantasy, although mostly hidden somewhere in the 1 to 5 ratio background.

    Funny, I'd never thought that phantasy poetry was a genre. Would be curious to find out more about the thing.

    I like how this thread is coming up with a lot of new names to seek out and have added several to my to-read list. Hope I will be able to add some of my own recommendations when I've had the time to read some more.

    Leave a comment:


  • Heresiologist
    replied
    Originally posted by Doc View Post

    Jemisin’s awards success and the resistance and backlash to her success by meathead white guys tells this story really well.
    I'm pretty sure I've read a couple pieces that found Samuel Delany saying that once the number of black authors went beyond token level numbers and into 13 to 20 percent territory, racism and prejudice would increase.

    Anyway, the less said about those meatheads the better. Instead, I'll say that I enjoyed Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring well enough and hope to read something else by her once the stack of unreads gets a bit shorter.
    Last edited by Heresiologist; 09-23-2020, 09:13 PM.

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  • Heresiologist
    replied
    Originally posted by Sir Sorcerer View Post
    I think what has changed is that fantasy used to be a genre written almost exclusively by white men from North America and Western Europe. During the last 10 years this perception has been radically overturned. Just look at the recent Hugo, Locus etc. awards. I can only see this as a good thing.
    I think there's a fair chance it's more accurate to say that in N. America and Western Europe the fantasy genre has been dominated by writers and editors who were white men.

    I recently read that back in the heyday of Weird Tales magazine, as many as 17% of the writers were women. The number was 40% for poets published in the magazine. I expect there were probably some not so white authors in the ranks as well. There might be some overlap of these groups, but we're getting close to 1 in 5 territory, maybe even past it, and well past it if the poetry is taken into account. Of course, this is just one magazine, and the "survey" seemed somewhat informal, but, still, it's rather suggestive. And I think it's already doing a good job of making the genre look much less exclusive than it's often presented as.

    [Later Addition] Given the preceding I'll just use this as an opportunity to mention Gertrude Barrows Bennet who, writing as Frances Stevens, was a rather successful pulp writer from about 1917 until 1923. I just read her novel The Citadel of Fear and thought her treatment of the Irish blooded protagonist often resembled that found in R.E. Howard's later work.
    Last edited by Heresiologist; 09-23-2020, 09:00 PM.

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  • Doc
    replied
    Originally posted by Sir Sorcerer View Post
    I think what has changed is that fantasy used to be a genre written almost exclusively by white men from North America and Western Europe. During the last 10 years this perception has been radically overturned. Just look at the recent Hugo, Locus etc. awards. I can only see this as a good thing.
    Jemisin’s awards success and the resistance and backlash to her success by meathead white guys tells this story really well.

    Leave a comment:


  • Doc
    replied
    Originally posted by Sir Sorcerer View Post

    Her new book, Piranesi, is receiving a lot of good reviews:
    https://locusmag.com/2020/09/gary-k-...usanna-clarke/
    The problem with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is that it doesn’t actually have a conclusion. You read the door stopper and realize there is still more story. It’s a really great ride, and a real time investment, but she can do such interesting things. I have her new one on my list.

    Incidentally, her writing teacher (and future husband) is also one of Mike’s biographers, Colin Greenland.

    Leave a comment:


  • Doc
    replied
    [QUOTE=EverKing;n430597]

    Overall, I think the state of Fantasy is pretty stagnant. There are some refreshing spots--Gaiman, Mieville--which are trying to add something new to the discussion but overall I think the vast majority of it is derivative in the worst ways. Some, like Martin, try to disguise their derivations with shock and "gritty realism" but even they are fairly poor in my opinion. The trend a decade or so ago was in "Urban Fantasy" /QUOTE]

    cut that quote more than I meant to. Although I could have just cut out Gaiman and Mieville and added an exclamation point. Both of them are so good, and part of that is because they are adding something new. Gaiman has a lot in common with some of the urban fantasists, which certainly isn’t a knock. I mentioned recently how much I like Jonathan Carroll and a lot of the other fabulists that also get called urban fantasy, and I really like some of Charles DeLint’s work, some of which is definitely urban fantasy. All of them
    also have a lot in common with a certain kind of horror writing as well, especially in the sense of things being just a little off.

    I’ll take all of this over another quest fantasy.

    Leave a comment:


  • Doc
    replied
    Originally posted by Peacefulpie View Post
    Jeff Vandermeer is a good writer I have only read annihalation though. I'm looking forward to reading KJ Bishop is she not a modern writer?
    Borne is amazing, and I’m really partial to Vennis Underground. I don’t think any of his work has disappointed me. And Bishop is relatively current (and really good) although she hasn’t published for a few years.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sir Sorcerer
    replied
    I think what has changed is that fantasy used to be a genre written almost exclusively by white men from North America and Western Europe. During the last 10 years this perception has been radically overturned. Just look at the recent Hugo, Locus etc. awards. I can only see this as a good thing.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sir Sorcerer
    replied
    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
    I've also read Susanna Clarke's short stories collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which I found well wrought and quite interesting in places. Not enough to make me want to tackle Strange & Norrel, though. Throwing her into Sturgeon's 90% crud bin seems a mistake to me. Gaiman's certainly praised her to the heavens.
    Her new book, Piranesi, is receiving a lot of good reviews:
    https://locusmag.com/2020/09/gary-k-...usanna-clarke/

    Leave a comment:


  • Heresiologist
    replied
    Originally posted by Sir Sorcerer View Post
    The lists on Goodreads are always confusing to me because they tend to include just about anything. Anyway, for what it's worth, the contemporary fantasy list includes authors like Rothfuss, Rowling, Martin, Sanderson, Gaiman, Abercrombie, Paolini, Jordan, Pratchett and Hobb, some of these probably more YA than fantasy proper. Also Susanne Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell), Naomi Novik (Uprooted) and Jim Butcher's urban fantasy series. I haven't read any of them, with the exception of the Harry Potter books many years ago, and some of Pratchett's older stuff. Probably they are just part of the 90% that Sturgeon spoke of.
    Oh, I forgot Joe Abercrombie. I really liked his First Law trilogy and, possibly, his Best Served Cold standalone novel set in the same world. For myself, Logen Ninefingers, his barbarian character, is right up there with Conan. The novels in his YA aimed Shattered Sea trilogy are all shorter works, being mere 300-400 pages each. I liked them, but not as much as his so called grimdark First Law stuff.

    I've also read Susanna Clarke's short stories collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which I found well wrought and quite interesting in places. Not enough to make me want to tackle Strange & Norrel, though. Throwing her into Sturgeon's 90% crud bin seems a mistake to me. Gaiman's certainly praised her to the heavens.

    Yet another fairly recent trilogy I enjoyed (though not overly so) was Aliette De Bodard's Aztec magical murder mystery: Obsidian and Blood. However, the Aztec names and mythology seem quite a hurdle for many.

    I'll finish off my recent trilogies round up by mentioning Pat Walsh's unfinished Crowfield Abbey series. I quite enjoyed both The Crowfield Curse and, to a slightly less extent, The Crowfield Demon. BTW, they also feature a somewhat Elric like white skinned elf named Shadlock. I'm quite disappointed the trilogy has been on hiatus or something for the last few years.

    I also just bought Spellslinger by Sebastian De Castell. Not having read it I can't say much about it. A blurb that goes "Told with the conviction of Ursula LeGuin and the dash of Alexandre Dumas" sounds promising, though. I've also spoken with him a couple times in a bookstore we, apparently, both frequent and he's left a good impression.

    As for golden or stagnant ages, I think it's the same as it ever was: it's always the best of times, and the worst of times. But these days, it's a whole lot easier to get your hands on nearly anything you want, whether old or new.
    Last edited by Heresiologist; 09-21-2020, 10:00 PM.

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  • EverKing
    replied
    Originally posted by Peacefulpie View Post

    I haven't read Martin but I do know of Paolini's reputation. I have tried reading Mieville twice but can not get into his books. I think that fantasy has definitely got more stuff to explore just not in the "standard fantasy setting".
    My opinions of Martin may be unfairly critical because I came into Fantasy, if you will, through Tad Williams in the early 90's. Martin has acknowledged Williams's influence as an inspiration for A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), which is appreciated, but in addition to the painful parallels between the two Martin utterly fails where I feel Williams succeeded: providing some emotional connection to the story and "heart" to the characters. Martin attempts to build on Williams's early attempts at modernizing the classical fantasy tropes, a la Tolkien, through subversion but Martin's approach becomes more about shocking the reader than in encouraging the reader to think of the true consequences of the tropes. I don't really know how to explain it except to say that Martin presents the tale as a charlatan would, a snake-oil salesman with few redeeming qualities.

    That said, I know many ardent fans of Fantasy who swear by Martin and have a distaste for the lingering prose of Williams. To each their own.

    Leave a comment:


  • Peacefulpie
    replied
    Originally posted by EverKing View Post

    I agree on those and would add Martin to the list of the 90%. Obviously, too, would go Paolini who I think is one of the worst offenders.

    Overall, I think the state of Fantasy is pretty stagnant. There are some refreshing spots--Gaiman, Mieville--which are trying to add something new to the discussion but overall I think the vast majority of it is derivative in the worst ways. Some, like Martin, try to disguise their derivations with shock and "gritty realism" but even they are fairly poor in my opinion. The trend a decade or so ago was in "Urban Fantasy" which provide fantastical twists to the modern world, some of which were decent but still they tend to follow the same formulae as classic fantasies. In the end, I have found myself reading fewer and fewer fantasy novels and those few new ones I have read in recent years (Rothfuss) have just confirmed my suspicious.

    Does this mean the genre has been mined out? I would like to think not. I hope that in time we'll see a true revival sparked by something original and fresh. I certainly don't know what that will look like--if I did, I'd have a go at writing it myself!
    I haven't read Martin but I do know of Paolini's reputation. I have tried reading Mieville twice but can not get into his books. I think that fantasy has definitely got more stuff to explore just not in the "standard fantasy setting".

    Leave a comment:


  • EverKing
    replied
    Originally posted by Peacefulpie View Post

    Rothfuss and Sanderson are definitely part of the 90% from what I read of them. Very uninspired stuff. I like Gaiman though.
    I agree on those and would add Martin to the list of the 90%. Obviously, too, would go Paolini who I think is one of the worst offenders.

    Overall, I think the state of Fantasy is pretty stagnant. There are some refreshing spots--Gaiman, Mieville--which are trying to add something new to the discussion but overall I think the vast majority of it is derivative in the worst ways. Some, like Martin, try to disguise their derivations with shock and "gritty realism" but even they are fairly poor in my opinion. The trend a decade or so ago was in "Urban Fantasy" which provide fantastical twists to the modern world, some of which were decent but still they tend to follow the same formulae as classic fantasies. In the end, I have found myself reading fewer and fewer fantasy novels and those few new ones I have read in recent years (Rothfuss) have just confirmed my suspicious.

    Does this mean the genre has been mined out? I would like to think not. I hope that in time we'll see a true revival sparked by something original and fresh. I certainly don't know what that will look like--if I did, I'd have a go at writing it myself!

    Leave a comment:


  • Peacefulpie
    replied
    Originally posted by Sir Sorcerer View Post
    The lists on Goodreads are always confusing to me because they tend to include just about anything. Anyway, for what it's worth, the contemporary fantasy list includes authors like Rothfuss, Rowling, Martin, Sanderson, Gaiman, Abercrombie, Paolini, Jordan, Pratchett and Hobb, some of these probably more YA than fantasy proper. Also Susanne Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell), Naomi Novik (Uprooted) and Jim Butcher's urban fantasy series. I haven't read any of them, with the exception of the Harry Potter books many years ago, and some of Pratchett's older stuff. Probably they are just part of the 90% that Sturgeon spoke of.
    Rothfuss and Sanderson are definitely part of the 90% from what I read of them. Very uninspired stuff. I like Gaiman though.

    Leave a comment:

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