Let's stop sneering at fantasy readers

They might be the zit-ridden little brothers of science fiction geeks, but fantasy readers still deserve our respect.

This article was posted by Sam Jordison on The Guardian books blog. You can read the entire piece here.

Here's an excerpt:

As has often been noted on this site in the past, it's not always easy being a science fiction fan. Even though the genre has produced some of the most forward-thinking, influential and linguistically advanced literature of the past century, most people still regard it as the preserve of lonely men who know a little bit too much about computers and not quite enough about personal hygiene.

But even SF fans have it easy compared to followers of fantasy. These are the people Red Dwarf fans sneer at for being nerdy. They are the zit-ridden little brothers of the SF geeks, whose even-less-healthy obsessions include trolls, giving Anglo-Saxon names to phallic weapons, and maidens with magical powers.

There are probably good reasons for pillorying fantasy as the genre of eternal greasy adolescence. It's also been easy to patronise the writing because of its literal lack of years. Although fantasy can lay claim to being the oldest style of writing, with a lineage right back to Gilgamesh and Homer, we now generally think of it as the creation of the baby-boomers, of writers who read Tolkien in the 1960s and never quite came back from Middle-Earth.

Follow the link to read the rest. . .

8 commentaires:

machinery said...

this piece was kind of wierd.
how about sci-fi where humans of the 20th century are conquered by aliens, and somehow manage to win .. that's real mature, huh ?
or how about time travel ?
or star wars/star trek ?
and of course the central idea of sci-fi, where the human is always better than the alien ..
I have read a lot of sci-fi and alot of fantasy.
fantasy, if it's well written has one advantage over sci-fi, it doesn't need a historical background.
and so, anything goes.
sci-fi, is always limited by what we can imagine according to our own knowledge of current science.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't even aware that David Eddings had died... Probably because it happened while you were in California, Pat.
That's what happens when one blogger becomes a primary source for SFF news...

Jim Shannon said...

Without historical background ones world building leaves the story kind of thin. Real or imagined life doesn't happen in a vacuum(no pun intended)

machinery said...

jim shannon :
what I mean by background is that in sci-fi, there must always be a histrical reference to earth, it's inevitable.

in fantasy, the author can create the history of that world, and through it make a line that is "natural" of events, and not a supposed line of events as in sci-fi, since the sci-fi authors ask "what can be" and proceed from there, while fantasy authors already said what happened and begin the story in the "present".

Tristan said...

This article is almost laughable. There is little or no mention of China Mieville, R.Scott Bakker, Steven Erickson, Daniel Abraham, Hal Duncan, Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, Michael Moorcock, Gene Wolfe,C.S. Friedman, Richard Morgan,or Standard Bearer George R.R. Martin. Not even the passing of Robert Jordan is mentioned. It is like judging a country by visiting one mid-sized city. Bakker and Erickson alone discuss as many human condition themes as any mainstream literary author. And the Long Price Quartet breaks the mold of a fantasy series. As far as sequels and what not, many great literary authors, Faulkner springs to mind, followed the same families and settings for their entire career with few deviations. Articles like this do nothing to expose the diversity of the genre and what it has to offer. I'm also tired of people talking about the large amount of bad fantasy out there, like fantasy is the only genre with bad writers.You don't like fantasy, that's fine, but don't go around judging the genre because you read one bad dragonlance book or something, you are wasting your time and everyone that hears you.

Jebus said...

Although ti started off dodgy it was basically pointing to the fact that Fantasy ain't actually a bad genre. Remembering this article is geared towards the general public rather than fans of fantasy per se.

MarkK said...

The article is kind of funny. It's refreshing to be able to see the genre in the eyes of a naive non-fantasy fan. I mean the perception alone that people who read fantasy doesn't care so much about the quality of writing seems to be too outdated. Obviously he hasn't read Wolfe, Kay, Martin, Erikson, and Mieville, to name a few.
In the world of the internet, I had gotten the feeling that fantasy fans had matured to the point that their the ones who has become very difficult to please compared to other demographic, add the fact that they also seems to be the more vocal about their praises or their complaints, makes them tough customers. With a plethora of writers to choose from, harsh judgments from fans are easy to come by.

Vic K said...

I'm with Tristan and Mark K on this one. I read the article and thought it was light on substance. It was obvious the writer hadn't bothered to check out the very best of modern fantasy, which stands shoulder to shoulder with any other literary work, genre or otherwise.

Take a look around Pat's blog for starters...!