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

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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

The Nostalgia Factor: Which Film Remakes, Reboots and Sequels Can’t You Resist?

Jurassic World, The Jungle Book, Independence Day: Resurgence, Finding Dory… what all of these films have in common is that they are reviving or continuing a story I loved in childhood or adolescence – a story that has a good deal of nostalgia attached to it. And I seem to be encountering more and more of these lately. This is undoubtedly because the industry is making more reboots and sequels, but to be honest, it’s also because I’m getting older (noooooo…) and I remember more originals. Continue reading

Are Movies Bigger Tearjerkers Than Books?

When it comes to books and movies, I would dub myself a moderate-to-heavy crier. There are highly sensitive people who cry at the drop of a hat, and there are steely never-criers who could count on one hand the things that moistened their eyes. I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle, leaning toward the quick-to-cry end of the scale.

So the other day on Facebook group when someone asked the question “which books made you cry? ” it got me thinking. Continue reading

Are They Really Dead? 5 Kinds of False Deaths in Fantasy

When a favourite character dies in a fantasy novel, movie or TV show, our sense of sadness or shock is often tempered by that niggling question that immediately presents itself… are they really dead?

And we can’t be blamed for asking it. Continue reading