Bad Jenny! No Biscuit!

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

November 17, 2009 -- 9:18 a.m.

I try to post daily, but sometimes life interferes. Point of example, my cousin won a gold medal at a karate tournament. Yah! It was good to see so many young girls competing. And how many of their parents came out to support them.

But busy is good. I've been reading the complete Chronicles of Amber, which doesn't qualify as new fiction but is something I've always wanted to read. It's funny how you can pick up a book and read one page and you suddenly have a good idea what year it's written in. The Amber series started in the 70s, so the style of the day is quite jarring, and the slang doesn't carry well 40 years later (not to self, never use modern euphemisms!) but the ideas are very interesting. There's something about it, maybe the color-coding, that reminds me of the Piers Anthony Adept series, which I highly recommend. I loved the first three books of that series. The second trilogy...well, if you can't say something nice, right? The grid from that series was awesome. I wish there was a real game tournament like that.

One thing I've noticed about the newer fantasy is it seems to be more religious than it used to be, Everyone is always fighting gods, becoming gods or serving gods. In the older books I read, religion was painted in vague strokes (the evil Emperor served an evil goddess who was mentioned maybe twice) or left out at all. It was straight individual vs. evil empire.

I wonder if the inclusion of religion and religious extremism is merely the inevitable deepening/broadening of the genre (if you think about it, the fantasy novel is still quite young, depending on whether you include folktales like Gilgamesh or gothic horror stories like Frankenstein, which is usually categorized as sf yet have a lot of the tropes of the fantasy genre) or a reaction to political events. The great fathers and mothers of the genre were writing at a time when two empire battled off on exotic battlefields all across the world. Now that religious extremism has replaced the cold war threat for a lot of people, is it surprising that that theme is reflecting in books? Perhaps even subconsciously? It isn't surprising that they sell well if they touch that nerve in the general conscious--or maybe it is if people are looking to escape from real life, not read reflections of it. Perhaps the inclusion of more religious authors into the mainstream, who learned their techniques from religious men like David Farland, Orson Scott Card and now Brandon Sanderson?

It's something to think about. It's entirely possible that its merely I've noticed it more, and nothing has changed a bit. While I think high literature is overanalyzed, I'd like to see someone monitoring the trends of sf and fantasy to see if there's truly been a change.


  1. Lee Ann Setzer said...

    Now if you can get someone to fund that study, your new job is to read sf&f all day!

Post a Comment