Friday, June 29, 2007

An author answers [3]


KAREN MILLER , a talented and successful sff writer, asked the following:

What's the most powerful thing about the fantasy genre?

I haven't a clue what it is for most people. But as a reader, the most powerful thing about the genre for me is its ability to offer me so much in one package, so much between the covers of the one book.

Fascinating characters, good writing, great plot, action, intriguing background, thought-provoking issues - all those things you can find in many novels about today's world, but fantasy offers more. It can be a war story, a crime novel, a romance, an epic, a history, all at one and the same time. It's the sheer challenge of reading a fantasy that blows me away if it is done well.

I don't mean challenge as in something that is hard to understand, but challenge as in something that expands your view of this world even as it describes another world, that makes you think, that surprises you with every turn, that challenges your imagination, even as it tells a great tale about great characters. A good fantasy is a total immersion. Powerful stuff.

There aren't too many mainstream novels that can do all those things in one book. But then again, fantasy & sci fi readers are the most intelligent of readers. They can take it!

As a writer, the most powerful thing is the possibility of saying so much without being boring. I am a great believer in writing good entertainment, but I do like to say important stuff at the same time. In a mainstream novel this can come across as preachy or just plain dull because the setting is so close to home. In a fantasy, it's easier to make the story make the point, if you have one.

Ooo, I love writing fantasy.

9 comments:

2paw said...

Oh, I've recently read and enjoyed Karen's books!! Others poohpooh fantasy and science fiction as lightweight, but I agree that it explores myriad facets of life, of living, of philosophy, of - well you name it really. It does make me think and one of the reasons is that the setting throws the theme into stark relief: it isn't hidden in 'real life' but is made clearer and given depth.

Glenda Larke said...

Exactly. And we don't carry our prejudices so much into a fantasy world, so our thinking is not so clouded by our upbringing and acculturation.

Satima Flavell said...

Good point, Glenda, about our not carrying our prejudices so much into a fantasy world. Perhaps that helps make the genre a powerful catalyst for making people think. It's easier to think with the blinkers off!

Argus Lou said...

Good question, thought-provoking answer!

I ordered one of your novels from the Deutsch Amazie yesterday, Glenda. Looking forward to it.

Glenda Larke said...

Thank you,Argus Lou! You will get the US version, I think, with the, um, interesting covers...

Anghara said...

*i* would buy it.

You get such cool questions...

KarenEMiller said...

I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head, Glenda. Fantasy is a *huge* tent -- it encompasses so many facets of storytelling, and allows them to be combined and recombined in ways that theoretically mean the genre need never get stale or old.

That's what I love most about it, and it's why I get so cranky when I hear people complaining about certain kinds of fantasy. People who are in the spec fic community and should know better. If you don't like 'traditional' style fantasy, fine. Go write the stuff you like. But don't whale on the writers and readers of that kind of story. Fantasy is the Baskin and Robbins of spec fic storytelling. And if I like vanilla, that does stop you enjoying Rocky Road? I don't believe it does -- if enough other people also enjoy it. But if they don't, is that the fault of vanilla lovers everywhere? No, I don't believe it is!

Sorry. I'm ice cream deprived at the moment, can you tell? *g*

There is endless scope in fantasy fiction. And that's why I love it, and why I think it's so powerful.

hrugaar said...

I just think that Fantasy shows us there is more to life than the tedious grey monotony of materialistic existence that current society foists on us as allegedly being 'reality'. Discovering a new world is a bit like falling in love really - it brings new colours to the monochrome and opens up your awarenessto all kinds of unexpected possibilities. :o)

Glenda Larke said...

And to think there are people out there who won't even TRY fantasy!