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July 19th, 2007

10:51 am: Science fiction and fantasy hybrids
Once again, I want to define some terms. I’m talking here about books with the “equipment” of both fantasy and science fiction: elves and lasers, for example, or magic and anti-gravity. I wouldn’t consider it a hybrid if there were a few machines that resembled magical artifacts but were fully explainable by any scientific laws and in any case were just named after the magical artifacts to be cute, or if there’s magic that seems like physics in disguise but turns out to be plain supernatural magic after all. And saying that a work can mingle the “attitudes” of fantasy and science fiction will just involve me in endless arguments, because you can always argue about what attitudes a book actually expresses. Equipment is the easiest standard to judge by, so I’m using it.

So why use them at all? )

The next rant is apparently on “happy things about urban fantasy.” I’ll get to thinking of those right away.

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February 10th, 2007

08:52 pm: Rant on domestic fantasy
This is part rant, part how-to. One reason I think not very much domestic fantasy is written is the sheer lack of models; it’s much easier to walk the paths of, say, the save-the-world plot because there’s so much of it out there to show you how to do it.

But I think there should be more domestic fantasy, because I like it )

I think there should be more of this kind of writing, if only because it would vary the deeper parts of fantasy novels—plot structure and pacing, for example—as well as the kinds of events and protagonists available.

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September 6th, 2006

08:52 pm: Non-complex fantasy
A few people have asked for a rant on…non-complex fantasy.

I dislike this name. But I have stared at it for a while now, and there doesn’t seem to be any better replacement for it. “Simplistic” fantasy is an insult, and “light” fantasy usually implies some element of humor that’s not always there. A book can be a good read without delving into the most Byzantine themes ever and without having a joke every three pages. That’s the kind of book I’m talking about here.

(I will note that it isn’t the kind of book I usually enjoy, since temperamentally I’m inclined towards fantasy that makes me strain my intellect to keep up with the ideas being presented and smashes me into an emotional wreck by the end. I don’t always find it, but the books I love do it, and the ones I like the most come closer to it than not. So this rant may have hidden biases).

Non-complex fantasy )

Still not sure about the name of this rant, but the only other term I’ve thought of is “mindless,” and that would result in extreme sarcasm against the whole idea, so non-complex it remains.

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March 26th, 2006

08:34 pm: Why complex fantasy is just so great
I will say this three times. That makes it true:

I have nothing against light fantasy.
I have nothing against light fantasy.
I have nothing against light fantasy.

There. (We will not talk about my grudge against simplistic fantasy, because then I would have to foam at the mouth, and no one wants that. Besides, I know that simplistic fantasy isn’t the same as light).

Now I can talk about what makes complex fantasy so darn great )

Hmmm. Perhaps the next rant will be on ways to recognize when an author might be repeating herself.

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November 25th, 2005

06:38 pm: Rant on creating subgenres
This is the rant on various ways of creating subgenres—that is, small pockets within fantasy, rather than separate genres altogether like science fiction. Most of these are ways I’ve used. Others are ones I’ve seen recommended. Each will have its caveats, of course.

On to the rant! )

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November 21st, 2005

03:58 pm: Fantasies about recovery/healing
Hm. A mixed bag, this one. I’ll just wander around and talk about whatever I see fit.

Yes, how was that different from the usual, again?

Not exactly your typical rat-racing, sword-waving, maiden-chasing fantasy )

Creating subgenres is next. *croons*

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November 1st, 2005

11:00 pm: Ten great things about non-tragic fantasy
(I will answer comments on the espionage rant tomorrow. I'm sorry, but I've written about 11,000 words today, counting the rant, which, according to the way my wrists ache, was clearly too many. I'm happy, though).

Now this is an interesting topic, isn’t it.

Oooh, neato )

A lot of my recent interests lately—post-apocalypse stories that are really post- and not focused on the event itself, stories about recovery and healing, stories that demonstrate the true psychological cost of abuse and the rising past it rather than simply curing it with True Love—can be traced back to this, I think. And I still wish there was a better way of defining it than by the name of what it’s not.

Ah, well. “Life-affirming” will do.

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July 5th, 2005

05:23 pm: Political fantasy rant
This rant is on political fantasy—ideas about achieving it, caveats, problems with it. You know, all the usual things.

Can’t think of a clever title for the lj-cut… )

And writing limitations on magic is next.

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June 19th, 2005

07:26 pm: Writing fantasy without magic
Yes, before we start, just in case, I do believe it’s possible to write fantasy without magic, I don’t consider it an essential requirement of the genre, I don’t think that any novel set in another world but not using magic is therefore “historical,” blah blah blah. If you’re dead-set on convincing me that this isn’t true, save your keystrokes. I’m simply not going to agree. A novel set in a world with invented history, invented people, invented countries, and so on can be fantasy. It doesn’t have to be alternative history (particularly if it’s not closely based on an Earth country), and it doesn’t have to be science fiction (particularly if it doesn’t deal closely with science and the effects of science on human lives). Neither do we have to make up a whole new genre label just for these books.

So. What happens when you take away the magic but write in another world? I’ll be discussing that below. (I suppose there could be a way to write urban fantasy without magic, but as I can’t think of what then would separate it from a mainstream or mystery novel set in a city, I don’t discuss it).

Fantasy without magic )

A poll on ideas for the next rant will be up shortly.

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June 15th, 2005

07:59 pm: Adult bildungsroman rant
It helps, I think, that a) I’ve been looking forward to this rant, and b) the fantasy books that I’ve enjoyed the most in the last month were both adult bildungsromans. One, Charles de Lint’s Memory and Dream, was a reread, and perhaps better than I remembered; the character’s adolescent past is entwined with recollections of her adult life, and she gets to see her mistakes in all their embarrassing detail before she gets to fix them. The second, Kim Wilkins’s The Autumn Castle, is wonderful for the consequences that linger on in the character’s life (despite what could have been typical Dead Parent Angst), for the different conception of Germanic(!) faeries, and for a portrayal of what really happens when adults act like spoiled children—or Mary Sues—in what the author aptly refers to as the “Real World.” I’ll be looking out for more of Wilkins’s books, definitely.

If you need a quick reminder of what a bildungsroman is, here’s the original rant I did on them, and here’s the definition: A novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character.

Doesn’t have to be youthful )

Fantasy without magic is next.

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June 4th, 2005

08:27 pm: Brutal fantasy rant
Ah, here we are.

Just as with the rant on transformative fantasy, I’m essentially defining a subgenre here. As with transformative fantasy, it’s a subgenre I like, and one that a lot of the fantasy books I love fall into. This means that I burble.

Like, a lot. As in, this isn’t as much of a rant as a long, long stream of burbling.

Brutal fantasy )

Several of the brutal fantasies I like—especially Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series—get slapped with the labels “depressive” and “horrible.” But that’s the point of not flinching, of stirring up the shitstorm and then facing it, of using dilemmas instead of imagining a way out of them. There’s plenty of comfort-oriented and happiness-oriented fantasy out there. I think this subgenre deserves a place, too.

Other brutal fantasies:

Paul Kearney’s Monarchies of God series
Carol Berg’s Rai-kirah books, especially the second one (Revelation)
Sarah Micklem, Firethorn
Glen Cook’s Black Company series, especially She Is The Darkness

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May 19th, 2005

09:13 pm: Ten alternatives to writing a 'character learns a lesson' story
In a way (a very vague way) this is like one of those rants about things I think are cool and ignored too often, but it concentrates more on plot and characterization ideas than world-building or themes. And it springs directly out of having read far too many fantasy short stories that follow the exact same structure.

What is that structure? Very simply: A character starts out the story convinced of something, usually a philosophical idea, which is obviously Wrong. There’s another character in the story, who may be a sibling, parent, friend, lover, whatever, convinced of something else, which is obviously Right. By the end of the story, the Wrong character learns the Rightness of the Right idea and is instantly converted to it. The action of the story often has surprisingly little to do with the learning of the lesson. Examples are children learning to respect their parents, parents learning that their children are much more important and special than they ever gave them credit for, male chauvinists learning that girls are just as good as boys, and atheist characters learning that faith is Good and True. (I especially hate that last one).

I dislike them. There’s so many different stories to write. In fact, at least ten of them )

This rant gave me about three more ideas for more rants. Good deal.

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March 13th, 2005

08:15 pm: Transformative fantasy rant
This rant is very similar to one I did a little while ago, things Limyaael thinks would be really cool. Transformative fantasy isn’t a defined genre of fantasy as such. It’s one I’m defining. The books I like best tend to have at least one of these qualities, and the more they have, the better I like them. Summed up, they tend to add up to:

Change is Lord, and God )

Damn, that was fun. Transformative fantasy is what keeps me reading the fantasy genre, even when it seems overrun with clichés. The ones I find affect me like no other books ever have, and maybe like no other books ever will.

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February 11th, 2005

09:17 pm: Telling drama from melodrama rant
Since an awful lot of people voted for it, this comes first.

Get out the red pencils )

Whee. Fun. Melodrama is one of my pet hates.

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July 27th, 2004

11:39 pm: Bildungsroman rant
Quick definition of a bildungsroman, courtesy of A novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character.

So you have a teenaged protagonist, and you’re writing hell-bent for leather to make your fantasy the story of her (or him, as the case may be) growing up and finding herself. So how do you make this old-as-the-hills plotline shine?

Follow the good fantasy authors )

The bildungsroman is one of those stories that I love seeing in the hands of a competent author, but too often its handlers are ham-fisted.

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June 24th, 2004

10:00 pm: The fantasy in the mystery
So this is the other part of the mystery rant—this time, less about detective fantasies or detective heroes, and more about plots with political conspiracies.

Court intrigue, plots that make the Labyrinth look simple, and stupid villains.—oh my! )

And tomorrow I’ll begin on underappreciated fantasy authors.

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June 22nd, 2004

08:41 pm: The mystery in the fantasy
There are two main parts to this rant, and they can be summed up like this if you're not really curious: 1) Less fantasy authors should use mystery elements in their fiction, since they aren’t good at them. 2) The fantasy authors who want to use them anyway should not give them less respect because they aren’t climactic battles, the rebellions of young heroines, or romance.

For the more curious )

This will have to be a two-part rant. The one tomorrow will be about keeping the fantasy in the mystery.

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March 30th, 2004

07:42 pm: Dark fantasy rant
Dark fantasy rant, crossed with horror fantasy rant. I’ve read some good examples of this, but sooner or later they pick up the same constellation of sins.

When horror isn’t enough… )

Does anyone know any convincingly dark fantasy series I could try? Anne Bishop and Laurell K. Hamilton have both gone to the dogs, and I noted the problems I had with Carey’s trilogy. In particular, if anyone has read any dark fantasies that don’t have wimpy endings, let me know.

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March 16th, 2004

03:04 pm: Feminist fantasy rant.
Quote of the Day: “Feminism is the radical opinion that women are people.” –Seen on a bumper sticker; I haven’t been able to find the original.

Yes, people, and not the Masters of the Universe.

Feminist fantasy: Another genre I don’t hate, just wish would change )

Another genre that drives me nuts. When it’s good, it’s very, very good, and when it’s bad, it’s horrid.

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March 15th, 2004

02:04 pm: On urban fantasy.
Quote of the Day:

"I sometimes wish that I could control the weather. But this might be uncomfortable for other people."


I don't hate urban fantasy. I just wish the prettification would stop )

Urban fantasy is another genre that's often simplistic and shallow, and it doesn't have to be.

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