Knocking People Out: Easier in Fiction Than in Real Life

During some recent TV viewing I noticed a few characters getting a little too conveniently knocked out, which got me wondering how many of the ways writers commonly use to render characters unconscious are actually plausible. To try and answer that, I did a little researching and wrote an article for Fantasy Faction about how true to life these fictional “fade to blacks” might be. Here’s the link in case the topic is of interest to anyone following along here:  Continue reading

Platonic Protagonists: Can Heroes and Heroines Just Be Friends?

So I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately, but I thought I’d get back into the swing of things this week with an examination of some more Uncharted Territory in Fantasy. Full credit for this post’s topic goes to Kumquat Absurdium, whose comment from earlier this year has inspired me to take a closer look at platonic male-female relationships in fantasy stories:

“Why can’t you have a male and female protagonist combo that remain completely platonic throughout the book? We need a movement for this – support #PlatonicProtagonists! It’s not strictly a fantasy problem but it is a problem in fantasy as much as anywhere else.”

Now to be honest, I love a good romance, and I’m not at all averse to sexual relationships in the fantasy I read and watch. That said, I think it would be refreshing to see more platonic friendships between men and women in fiction, because the different dynamic that these relationships offer can be satisfying and rewarding in its own unique way. It might also better reflect the fact that men and women can be friends in real life.

I do, however, think there are reasons we don’t see a lot of male and female protagonists in such friendships:  Continue reading

A Streak of White Hair: Fantasy or Reality?

I recently wrote an article on Fantasy Faction about characters who have “skunk stripes” in their hair. I wanted to find out why these occur both in fiction and real life, and how plausible “natural” white highlights really are. My investigation led me to some interesting answers, so I thought I’d share the article link in case the topic is intriguing to anyone following along here:  Continue reading

Must Fictional Parents Always Be Absent?

I recently started a series looking at “uncharted territory” in fantasy fiction, and in the comments I.W. Ferguson very rightly pointed out that something you don’t often see in the genre is parents and their children doing things together:

“I rarely see children and their parents doing things together in fantasy. So often the parents are dead, missing, out of town, unhelpful or antagonistic, or even not mentioned at all. There are many, many books I haven’t read, but if you’ve also found this rare, I would enjoy a post about it. Also, I’d love to learn about examples showing how it can be done well.”

I’ve noticed how common it is to encounter orphan characters in fantasy, but this comment got me thinking about absent or evil parents in general, and I wondered if it would be possible to find examples of more positive, visible parent-child relationships in popular fantasy tales. Continue reading

Where Are All The Female Magical Mentors?

Earlier this year I was hunting for examples of good fantasy beginnings for a Tough Travels post. The topic for that month’s feature was inspired by a quote from Diana Wynne Jones, which pointed out that the typical fantasy protagonist usually starts out in poor circumstances until they are contacted by their Mentor:

“you will be contacted by your TOUR MENTOR (normally an elderly male MAGIC USER with much experience) who will tell you what to do, which is almost certainly to discover you are a MISSING HEIR.”

In my hunting, I tried to find an example of a book that flipped the cliché a little bit, and had a magical mentor character that was neither elderly nor male. The elderly part I managed, but finding a female magical mentor? Harder than I thought it would be. Continue reading

Uncharted Territory: Things I Rarely See in Fantasy

Because I write and think about fantasy fiction quite a bit (as the title of this blog might suggest), I occasionally notice interesting spots of “uncharted territory” in the stories I read and watch – i.e. concepts, ideas or character types I rarely come across. I don’t mean obvious things that no one would expect in the genre anyway, but small, specific things that I try to find examples of and am intrigued when I come up with close to nothing. So I thought these might provide good inspiration for a series of posts. Continue reading

Why Gods Are Usually Better Left Off-Stage in Fantasy

Call me old fashioned, but a God in fiction should have god-like powers. What exactly are those? Well, a snap of the fingers and they can bring drought, famine, flood or plenty, kill hundreds, create hundreds, change the world or influence people’s lives and fates. Hell, they are usually the ones that created the world in the first place. Most importantly, their powers trump everyone else’s. If they’re a god, they’re more than everyone else: they’re the ultimate power.

This leads me to why I often have a problem with gods traipsing around centre-stage in fantasy novels, TV shows, or films. If they’re no longer a mysterious, largely absent and only mildly-interfering power, they can become problematic. Here are a few reasons why (and I’m well aware other people may not mind these things as much as I do!): Continue reading

My Top 5 Fantasy and Science Fiction TV Series

I’ve long been a fan of fantasy and sci-fi TV shows, and although I don’t have time to watch as many as I would like (I guess I’m reading too many books!) if a good one comes along I’m liable to get addicted. For example, I recently finished watching the first season of Westworld and had to force myself not devote all my waking hours bingeing on it. The experience had me trying to remember which other fantasy and science fiction shows had a similar effect. After some thinking, I’ve narrowed it down to the five I like most: Continue reading

Amazing Concept, Disappointing Film: ‘Upside Down’ Could Have Been Great

I don’t normally write movie reviews… in fact, I don’t even really write book reviews, I just occasionally mention or rate books I like. But this week I had to make an exception, because I recently watched a film on Netflix that irked me, not because it was terrible (though I did find many aspects of it to be terrible) but because it could have been so good. It could have made it onto my favourite sci-fi films of all time list. Continue reading

A Trip to Braavos and King’s Landing

I recently spent a week in Spain and made sure to fit in a day in Girona into my schedule. It’s a beautiful, ancient city with an impressive medieval wall, and it’s also got an airport with cheap flights to the rest of Europe… but I’d be lying if I pretended it was anything other than pure nerdy Game of Thrones fandom that peaked my interest. Continue reading