I just wanted to do a short post this week to mention that I recently became a staff writer for Fantasy Faction, so in addition to keeping up this weekly Thoughts on Fantasy blog (or at least, I usually manage to keep it weekly!) I’ll be writing one or two articles a month for Fantasy Faction. Continue reading
What is Fantasy Fiction?
If you read a lot in the genre, recognising a book or film as “fantasy fiction” is probably something innate and automatic. However, if you’re not familiar with it, or if you’ve wondered where the lines are drawn, a definition might help to clarify things.
But how do you define something as slippery and changeable as a genre? Continue reading
5 Ways to Keep Your Dragons Fresh
Dragons are popular creatures, particularly in epic high fantasy. If you pick up a fantasy book at random, I’d say the chance of you encountering a dragon at some point during that book are high. In fact, doing a brief and highly unscientific survey of my fantasy shelf, I’d say about 15% of them involve dragons in some way (and i’m sure if I read exclusively epic fantasy that percentage would be higher). Personally, I’m not someone that actively seeks out dragons, but I always enjoy a well-wrought dragon when I encounter one.
The question is, when there are so many dragons out there, how do fantasy authors make their dragons feel fresh and interesting? Continue reading
What Did Tolkien Think of Fantasy Fiction?
We all know J.R.R. Tolkien wrote fantasy fiction. He was the brilliant mind behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, a creator of intricate and enthralling new worlds, and one of the founding fathers of the genre. You can rarely talk about fantasy fiction without mentioning Tolkien… but I think his skill in writing fantasy was not the only thing that made him the legend he is today. Continue reading
Genre is Not a Dirty Word
I’ve encountered quite a few fantasy and science fiction authors – famous and popular ones at that – who, when asked about their decision to write in the genre, say something along the lines of “oh, well, I just write what I write and someone slots it into a genre later, I don’t think about what genre I want to write in”. There’s often this additional implication that ‘genre’ is a dirty word – that is the oppressive tool of publishers and bookshops. Books get hemmed in and categorised by this evil notion of genre, and their authors get pigeon-holed as ‘fantasy writers’ or ‘crime writers’.
Frankly, I never understand this. I love the word genre. Continue reading
The Battle of the Bookshelves
Okay, it’s not really a battle. But when you look at the two bookshelves in my house – two identical IKEA monstrosities – there’s an obvious difference.
The one on the right is stuffed with autobiographies and memoirs and a myriad of non-fiction… books on economics and the Internet age and business and psychology and politics. Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom cosies up next to Jared Diamond’s Collapse, and a rather ominous book titled The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Continue reading
Why We Read Fantasy: Is There a Secret Ingredient?
For years, perhaps since the earliest fantasy criticism, authors and critics have touted the element of ‘wonder’ as being central to fantasy, and to some extent, science fiction.
We’re often told that it’s why we’re drawn to the genre, that it’s this particular intangible, magical feeling of awe that we are seeking when we dive into Middle Earth, linger in the corridors of Hogwarts, or encounter the many worlds and peoples of Star Trek. Continue reading