This week: When Fantasy isn't FantasyEdited by: Robert Waltz
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I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
I think perhaps all of us go a little crazy at times.
― Robert Bloch, Psycho
We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.
― Stephen King
Fantasy never stands alone.
By which I mean, Fantasy is not so much its own genre as it is a type of backdrop against which other genres play out. (The same, I think, goes for science fiction).
The archetype of Fantasy, the works of Tolkien, is an action/adventure story in a world of magic and elves and such, and many other fantasy stories follow this template. But you often find elements of other genres in fantasy stories: romance, mystery, supernatural, war, comedy, erotica... and, since autumn is officially here (in the northern hemisphere anyway), I also have to mention horror.
The horror and fantasy genres are often intermingled, anyway, whether we're talking about traditional swords-and-sorcery works, or modern (or urban) fantasy. Almost always, dark eldritch horrors lurk in the background of even the most pastoral fantasy settings, waiting in the shadows to frighten our protagonists or spur them into action. Consider the Nazgul of Tolkien, or the (quite similar actually) Dementors from Harry Potter. Or the plethora of vampires and werewolves that haunt modern fantasy, or the ghosts that lurk in some steampunk stories.
I think, however, that the difference between fantasy and horror lies in their approach to these (usually) malevolent entities. In horror, often the scary things are just there, requiring no real explanation, just lurking, ready to bite or slash or devour.
With Fantasy, there's the opportunity to flesh out the elements of horror, to invent malevolent entities with more purpose than mere jump-scares or glimpses into otherworldly realms. Perhaps the vampires are just another race, like elves. Or maybe it's a necromancer behind that zombie invasion. Or, well, you know... Sauron or whatever.
With Halloween coming up, and NaNoWriMo closely following, this sort of thing is going to be on the minds of many writers of fantasy fiction. So, if you're planning to write fantasy (or, for that matter, science fiction), consider the other genres your story incorporates... and never forget the darkness.
Planning to do NaNo? On the fence about it? Preparation helps, so be sure to check out
And now, some fantasy for your horror season enjoyment:
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Last time, in "Immortality" , I talked about... well, immortality.
Write 2 Publish 2020 [Concerning my previous editorial, "Tea" ]: http://japanese-tea-ceremony.net/ Here is the link to the Tea ceremony. It is a big deal in The Japanese culture.
Thanks for that! Always good to know how different cultures approach the same things. I'd make a joke about "immortali-tea" here, but the author of the Iron Druid series beat me to it...
Graham B. : I think immortal characters are usually written as either tragic, or as indifferent and unchanging. The Greek gods were portrayed as embodying some of the worst of human characteristics. They seemed to care little about human suffering. But other times immortal characters often wish for death. In a Star Trek Voyager episode named "Death Wish" a member of the immortal Q continuum is brought on board Voyager and has a chance to explain to Captain Janeway how dull and cheap life can become if it is endless. It is difficult to imagine how such an individual would see the world, but it's fun to try. Immortality is a central theme to Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix graphic novel series, in which he explores humanity's quest for immortality and the costs associated with it. So I think the most basic question when writing an immortal human character is, how much of their humanity did they have to give up to obtain immortality?
Those are all great themes to explore. Coicidentally, as I write this, I'm in the middle of rewatching all of Star Trek, and I just saw the Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint."
That's it for me for September! Until next month,
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