We Are the World: The Changing Face of Fantasy

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And that’s all the Mr. Rogers reminiscing I plan to do. Instead, I’ll start with a little housekeeping to close out this week’s book giveaways.

18159876The winner of Claire Wingfield’s book is

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Shelby Hogan!

Shelby and anyone else, please take note: Claire asked me to tell you about her latest offer:

In honour of all those attempting to write a novel draft in the month of November, anyone who buys 52 Dates for Writers:Ride a Tandem, Assume an Alias, and 50 Other Ways to Improve Your Novel Draft by 1st December and emails proof of receipt plus a short outline of their novel to contact(at)clairewingfield(dot)co(dot)uk will receive a list of questions and prompts to help keep their project moving.

Readers who review 52 Dates for Writers on Amazon or Goodreads before 24th Dec 2013 will be in with the chance of winning a year’s subscription to a writing magazine. Just email your contact details and a link to your review to enter.

16074605The winner of Susan Fletcher’s book is

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Stephanie Stamm!

Congrats to you both! Shelby, please send me the email address used for your Kindle. Stephanie, please send your snail mail address. Here’s the email: lmarie7b(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll try to get your book in the mail next week sometime.

Now, onto other items.

If the title makes you think of that 80s hit, We Are the World, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie and sung by a racially diverse group of singers, good. That was deliberate.

diverse-people

We are the world, but we didn’t sing that song.

The other day I listened to a webcast on the future of epic fantasy, hosted by Publishers Weekly. The guests were James L. Sutter, senior fiction editor at Paizo Publishing, and Marco Palmieri, editor of imaginative fiction of Tor Books. If you want to listen to the webcast, go here. You have to register to listen.

Don’t feel like listening? I’ll give you the highlights. First, they defined epic fantasy. What makes a fantasy epic? The scope of the story—how much is changing in the world; major changes to nations. That sort of thing.

Second, they discussed how the genre is opening up beyond the Tolkienesque, Eurocentric, black-and-white thinking stories to darker, less fairy tale-like stories with fallible main characters. (Please note that these above mentioned Tolkienesque novels will still be acquired, however. The market just wants more variety.) Also, authors have the opportunity to tell “briefer” (aka, shorter, less phone-book sized tomes) standalone stories. Role-playing gamers have a huge part to play, especially those familiar with Pathfinder. (You really need to listen to the webcast.) Above all, diversity is all the rage.

Diversity. New flavors of characters, new settings, new, new, new. The genre’s opening wide and embracing the diverse world in which we live. That’s good news for me, though I’m a fan of Tolkienesque stories. But as far as my story is concerned, let me check the list. Diversity? Check. Fallible main character? Check. Shorter than a phone book? Um, I’ll get back to you on that.

Fantasy is changing. Are you on board with that? What changes excite you? Cause you dismay?

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Um, fantasy might not be this diverse.

Diverse group from ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com. Cat from LOL Cats.

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28 thoughts on “We Are the World: The Changing Face of Fantasy

    • Oh, Andy. You shouldn’t have asked me that. I can go on and on. But since you asked, if you like a dark story, you can’t go wrong with an oldie but a goodie: Sabriel by Garth Nix (young adult fantasy). If humorous fantasy is what you crave, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (mostly adult fantasy) fits that admirably. Everyone always wonders where to start with that humongous series. If you like cops, I recommend the City Watch books, starting with Guards! Guards! If you like stories featuring Death as a character, you might start with Mort. If you like phone book tomes, Robert Jordan’s your man with his Wheel of Time series, which Brandon Sanderson is finishing.

      • Thank you for these. Sabriel I canot get on Kindle, I will try the good old library. If not, I should be able to get hold of a paperback.

      • Well, I hope it appeals to you. I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I love Terry Pratchett!!! Even though I’ve read and reread his books, I still laugh every time!

      • Bingo! There is a copy of it in the local library, will pick it up tomorrow. The Jordan books sound good-but it is waaayyy too long for me to commit to right now with my backlog of books!
        Speaking of which-did you see my last post? We had our first night last night so we are one story in, and Millie loved it. And what’s more-she was ready to sleep straight after it too 🙂

      • I quizzed her next morning on the school run. Not only could she tell me everything that happened, she also told me it was brilliant, which makes everything worthwhile 🙂

  1. I have to confess that I struggle with the Tolkienesque tomes, so these changes make me incredibly happy. I think that’s why I gravitate towards urban fantasy more often than epic/high fantasy as well, because there’s less world-building I have to wade through. Having said that, if an epic fantasy story draws me in, I’m not going to say no, but that’s more likely to happen with this new wave than with the traditional.

  2. You are such a giver! It’s like Christmas everyday on your blog. 🙂 I’m on board with fantasy changing. Anytime there is openness to diversity, no matter the content, it’s a good thing! More opportunities and ideas! Maybe half a phone book is good. 🙂

    • It’s worth a read, Jill, though I realize dystopian fiction is not everyone’s cup of tea. But now I’m curious: what else is on your TBR list? What is your cup of tea?

  3. That’s very generous of Claire to offer such prizes! I think “A Song of Ice and Fire” has really opened up the genre for more types of stories as those editors mentioned.
    Also, I truly believe there is plenty of room for Transformer cats… Hmm.. didn’t they already do that with Voltron?

    • Ha! Voltron. So true!
      Yes, the webcast participants mentioned George R.R. Martin as one of the catalysts for the changes. But I think Guy Gavriel Kay and Scott Lynch deserve some of the credit.

  4. Great post about changes in fantasy, Linda! And thank you (& Susan) so much for the copy of Falcon in the Glass. It sounds so wonderful, and I’m very excited to read it!

  5. I’m so danged excited to be a winner!!! Thank you Linda and Claire! As for We Are the World, I have fond (?) memories of singing that in chorus in middle school. I welcome the fantasy changes. I haven’t read fantasy for the tome reason, but I love good worldbuilding and I have always loves Susan Fletcher’s books. And your story as well ;). I’m glad we’re seeing a resurgence and some change. I think there’s a real push to diversity in all of YA right now, which I think is fantastic. Readers need to be able to see themselves in the stories they read.

    I’m remembering a fabulous TED talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie about the danger of what she calls the “single story.” She talks about how as a child she wrote stories that were set in England and starred blonde haired, blue eyed children despite her day to day reality of being African, because that was all she was reading. I think a kind of diversity is necessary across genre and am glad it’s making its way to fantasy as well. And if you have a few minutes, I HIGHLY recommend Adichie’s talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

      • Did you get a chance to listen to it? I don’t normally frequent TED even though I’m inspired every time I wander over there, but I heard an interview on NPR with Adichie and was just fascinated.

      • I just finished listening to it. She’s a wonderful speaker. I so identified what she said about being influenced by the stories you read and the preconceived ideas you have, based on them. I loved her story of going to Mexico!

  6. I like the changes in fantasy, though I haven’t read as much fantasy recently as I used to when I was a kid. I don’t consider Hunger Games fantasy, though a bunch of comments here have mentioned it (it seems much more like science fiction since it could, theoretically, actually happen). I noticed you mentioned Sabriel above; do you have any other YA fantasy that you really like?

    • Good point, Christi. Dystopian fiction is hard to categorize. At least it falls under the umbrella of speculative fiction, which houses science fiction and fantasy. Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy ranks way up there with me as far as YA fantasy is concerned. I also love Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Anything Holly Black or Julie Kagawa writes is fine by me too. Loved Kristin Cashore’s and Laini Taylor’s books. I also love MG fantasy books like Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series, the Percy Jackson series, Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who series (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making).

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