Essay on Fantasy

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David C. Durkee

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Jun 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/3/96
to wand...@grfn.org

I am a fan of the fantasy genre, but one thing that really gets
on my nerves about it is how much fluff and crap makes it's way into
print. The vast majority on fantasy writers seem to be of the hack
variety. How long has it been since a fantasy book was taken as a serious
literary work? Not since Lord of the Rings? Even that was thrown away in
most circles. How about Alice in Wonderland (if this can be considered
fantasy)? Dismissed as a childrens book.

Fantasy today is little more than pale imitations of the founding
books of the fantasy genre. It is impossible to call fantasy literature
as it had virtually no value. Almost all fantasy books are of the 'trash'
variety, using archtypes for characters and manuvering them through
assembly-line worlds. We fantasy fans are bedazzled by the ever more
vauxhall descriptions of strange things we have never seen and never
will. Fantasy is dismissed as escapist, and for the most part it is.

Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.

1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
"the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
your average fantasy fare?

2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant
and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
and wrong, or black and white.

3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.

All these things fit in very well to the escapist bent of most
fantasy novels. We can sit back for a few hours and zone out, having all
the decisions made for us, having everything cut and dry - a nice break
from reality.

These things are all well and good, but as serious art, they
reflect nothing that goes on in this world. There is no clear cut good
and evil in our lives, god is not here to guide our every step, and how
many of you know of a clear goal or quest that you are currently on?

The thing that gets on my nerves is that fantasy could be so much
more. Right now it is sliding into the mindless pit of pulp-novels that
the romance genre currently abides in. If people just removed some of the
asinine and repetitous elements from their writing, then fantasy could
recieve some of the recognition that it (unfortunatly) currently does not
deserve.

Fantasy has so much to it that could be used to help explain our
lives in real terms. Fantasy is in possession of many strong symbols.
Dragons are representative of the power of nature to it's utmost, magic
is representative of the unknown power, ability and actions of powerful
beings. There is so much raw and elemental feeling in fantasy that is
currently untouched. No one explores the psyche of their characters
deeply, and all the attempts that do result in half baked characters
which usually do not make sense. If we could only touch the elements of
this genre which would inspire a new golden age of what we could proudly
call fantasy literature.

Thank You...

John Molenda
wand...@grfn.org

Synicism

unread,
Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
to

In article <31B36B...@durkee.com>, "David C. Durkee"
<ddu...@durkee.com> writes:

>Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.
>
> 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
> "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
>evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
>your average fantasy fare?
>
> 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
>question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant
>and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
>shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
>hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
>and wrong, or black and white.
>
> 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
>accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.
>
> All these things fit in very well to the escapist bent of most
>fantasy novels. We can sit back for a few hours and zone out, having all
>the decisions made for us, having everything cut and dry - a nice break
>from reality.
>
>

I take it, then, that you haven't picked up a book in awhile. The fantasy
genre is as rich and as fulfilling as it ever was, perhaps even moreso
now. There are lots of writers like David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, the
Weis and Hickman combo we all know and love here, Stephen King (the Dark
Tower series), Brian Jacques, Angus Wells, Terry Goodkind, and (dare I say
it?) Robert Jordan (whom I don't like, but lots of other people do) whose
books certainly rise far above the Saturday morning cartoon trash you seem
to find everywhere. Since you were kind enough to list your grievances
categorically, I'll discuss them in the same way.

1. Especially on a dragonlance board, how can you say that characters are
flat? Fantasy is chock full of dynamic, colorful characters who change
and evolve throughout their respective plots. Take, for example, oh, I
don't know, Richard Cypher, the hero of Terry Goodkind's The Sword of
Truth series. Sure, the framework of the story is the same - average joe
country boy is forced to take up arms in revenge for something or another
and goes on an epic quest to save something else or another and in the
process becomes a great hero. But then compare the story of Richard, who
found himself changing from a pawn in a deadly and ancient game and broke
free of it in grand Luke Skywalker fashion to say, Sir Sparhawk of David
Edding's fame in the Elenium, knight of the realm and champion of the
Queen. Different people, with a rich past, and a vast ream of possibility
in the future.

2. Fantasy is full of characters who embody neither the good, nor the
evil, but the HUMAN, and there are many worlds where there are no gods to
speak of. Take a favorite to the newsgroup, Raistlin Majere, for
instance. The debate will rage on from now until the end of the universe
about whether Raistlin was truly evil, or really good, or some strange
combination of both, but if you read this newsgroup, you know his story so
why should I bother? Or, for those Robert Jordan fans out there, the
story of Rand 'al Thor, the Dragon Reborn - hero and wielder of tremendous
cosmic power, but also pervert, murderer, and madman. Or maybe the
Gunslinger in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. You get the idea? To
quote Terry Goodkind, "Evil, my boy, is entirely a matter of perception."

3. Of COURSE there's a goal or quest. Who wants to read a book about a
day in the life of John Doe or Joe Knight? It's called plot. All books
have one. And not always does good triumph outright either. I have yet
to read a book where nothing was lost and everything gained.

Silver-Night

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Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
to

You make several intersting points. Allow me to refute, agree and examine
these...

David C. Durkee wrote:
> I am a fan of the fantasy genre, but one thing that really gets
> on my nerves about it is how much fluff and crap makes it's way into
> print. The vast majority on fantasy writers seem to be of the hack
> variety.

In any division of liturature, be it fantasy, science fiction, horror,
romance, self-help, religious or any other, there is a large percentage that
is -by definition- "average". If the standards of the industry were in
keeping with what you feel is ideal and fantastic, then others would still
complain that it was 'typical' and 'uninspired'.

If you mean that formulaic plots and characters are irritating or
intrinsically unimportant, you are (IMHO) mostly correct. However, realize
that in contemporary Western thought, folk have been taught to look at only
the shades of grey and the exceptions to the rules. Many have forgotten that
Black and White *do exist and that there are many people out there who *are
stereotypes in one fashion or another. This is in the real world I'm talking
about. It should not be a sign of poor writing if a novel or short story uses
stock characters or fluff plotlines. What will distinguish that work from
others will be the means by which it executes itself. This can be in the
narrative, pacing, description or even unconventional endings. But there is
nothing inherant in what you call 'fluff' that makes it bad; especially when
it seems you mean 'fluff' is the standard and not a hard, definable quantity.

> How long has it been since a fantasy book was taken as a serious
> literary work? Not since Lord of the Rings? Even that was thrown away in
> most circles. How about Alice in Wonderland (if this can be considered
> fantasy)? Dismissed as a childrens book.

This seems that you are making a case for Fantasy being misunderstood as a
genre and Not that it is poor or been innundated with fluff. I've often
thought that most people don't like (in the Age of Reason and post-Industrial
Revolution world) those things that question science and the rationalist
method of looking at the world. In fact, many people dismiss fantasy without
ever reading it because it's that "childish stuff". Once again, they haven't
read anything since childhood and have been convinced by society that Childish
things belong in the past.

They typically don't pick up an adult fantasy novel and give it a shot. They
don't read "Mus of Kerbridge", "The DarkSword Trilogy" or "The Herald Mage
Saga" because they have preconceptions formed by growing up in a society that
shuns magick, non-scientific reasoning and anything that smacks of "the past
that we've given up because we've learned so much since then..." I chalk it
up to cultural arrogance and not a presence of fluff.

> Fantasy today is little more than pale imitations of the founding
> books of the fantasy genre.

I agree with the essence of your point. Many fantasy novels today (and even
science fiction) seem to be re-working the classical elements of Tolkien,
Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. However, simply re-telling something in a
differing vein is not bad. I may not like it and avoid reading it, but that
is a personal choice, not an all-encopassing standard by which the liturature
can be measured.

> It is impossible to call fantasy literature
> as it had virtually no value. Almost all fantasy books are of the 'trash'
> variety, using archtypes for characters and manuvering them through
> assembly-line worlds. We fantasy fans are bedazzled by the ever more
> vauxhall descriptions of strange things we have never seen and never
> will. Fantasy is dismissed as escapist, and for the most part it is.

Non-fiction liturature in general is escapist. Go back to "Beowulf" (I
recommend the Burton Raphael translation) and look at it. This is where
J.R.R. Tolkien got much of his inspiration for "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of
the Rings"; and that story is a classic that dates back to the Dark Ages in
narrative form. How about the tales of ChuCullain or Baba Yaga? These to can
be seen as escapist, yet they are considered classics and integral to our
past.

The problem is that they are seen as 'quaint' or 'scholarly'. This seems to
be the fate of any non-fiction liturature in the modern world that does not
directly apply to the mundane lives of the average person: Either a book is
relegated to the category of 'fluff' and 'not-important / childish' or it is
seen as 'quaint' and tolerated as something that Other People may read, but
not a distinguished and Adult person.

> Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.
>
> 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
> "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
> evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
> your average fantasy fare?

Of course. But flat characters populate novels of every genre. It is not a
problem intrinsic to fantasy liturature. How about the flat characters such
as "the hard-working-but-beleagured-welfare-mother-fighting-alone-in-the-
inner-city", "the generation-x-slacker", "the well-meaning-but-out-of-touch-
poltician", "the evil/good-preacher", "the domineering-money-grubbing-boss"?
These are the staples of Urban myth and so-called 'realistic' social
commentary stories that populate our shelves and best-seller lists (and
frequently are touted by intellectuals as being the only True Liturature).

> 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
> question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant
> and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
> shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
> hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
> and wrong, or black and white.

Untrue. As I state earlier, there is a perception in Western thinking that
all things have to occupy the realm between Black and White, that all things
exist in shades of grey. Well, if you look about, you'll find that folk have
forgotten that the scale is inclusive and that Good and Evil (by whatever
definition you use) does exist in pure forms.

Does such a preoccupation with pure and straight-forward characters make
fantasy (or any other genre) sick? Possibly. I agree that there is an over
dependence upon stereo-typical and pure characters. "Pure" evil, "Pure" good,
"Pure" right and "Pure" wrong are (IMO) over-used. But saying that they
shouldn't even exist (and that's what it sounds like you are saying) in a
story is a bit much.

Let the occasional Black and White elements exist amongst a sea of Grey.

Not all fantasy novels do this either. There are those stories that fool the
reader, taking advantage of the preconceptions of "Good vs. Evil" only to show
that the Dragon isn't evil at the end. Many stories take advantage of the
stereotypes to make a point or give the reader an extra thrill of realization
at various key points in the story. But a story that breaks all the
stereotypes merely to do so, does not make it good.

> 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
> accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.

Yes, but most of us wish our lives had this kind of closure. A book or story,
by definition, seeks to have a beginning, middle and end. By this, there is
most-often closure on all elements. Think about it: most of us complain when
a movie leaves a plot thread hanging. While that would be normal in the real
world, in liturature it is simply bad writing.

As for happy endings, I agree with you. They aren't necissary and are
overused. Look at the recent film "The Usual Suspects" ... not a happy
ending. But a GREAT film!

Still, when one accomplishes a major goal in their life, it is usually
considered a happy thing. Hence, you will get a preponderance of happy
endings in fiction writing.

> All these things fit in very well to the escapist bent of most
> fantasy novels. We can sit back for a few hours and zone out, having all
> the decisions made for us, having everything cut and dry - a nice break
> from reality.

'Escapist' is not bad. Most folk escape every day into work, sports, poetry,
art, fishing, camping, driving, walking, daydreaming, drugs, alcohol, etc...
It is not escapism that is bad; it's how well the person can return from the
escape. Psychologically speaking, people need escape ... that's why we dream.
Fantasy novels are those dreams put down in writing.

If a person cannot return from that escape and it hampers their ability to
react to the consensual world around them, they have the same problem as the
person who cannot wake up and escape from their dreams at night.

> These things are all well and good, but as serious art, they
> reflect nothing that goes on in this world.

This is the old arguement used by those professors and proponents of the NEA
who think that the only art is that which shows us real life. It is the
utmost of intellectual arrogance to assume that just by living in the real
world the average person cannot experience many facets of life. Art does not
have to be real to be good. It can be a fanciful flight on dragon wings or a
daring deul with a dire enemy for no other reason than the simplest...

It's fun.

Like the enthusiasts who ride roller coasters, readers don't allways want real
life. That's not a bad thing, it's just part of being human.

> There is no clear cut good
> and evil in our lives, god is not here to guide our every step, and how
> many of you know of a clear goal or quest that you are currently on?

At the very least, I am. And I know others who are. But we have many goals
and quests, many of them ill-defined. It's up to the individual to determine
what is a goal or quest. In the case of fantasy novels, it's up to the
author. Each of us defines good and evil, so I would say that it is in our
lives and is fairly clear-cut. However, since people change, those
definitions change as well. But -for the moment- I have my goals, my 'good'
and 'evil', and am on my personal quests.

> The thing that gets on my nerves is that fantasy could be so much
> more. Right now it is sliding into the mindless pit of pulp-novels that
> the romance genre currently abides in. If people just removed some of the
> asinine and repetitous elements from their writing, then fantasy could
> recieve some of the recognition that it (unfortunatly) currently does not
> deserve.

Yes. Fantasy could be so much more. I suggest you read "The DarkSword
Trilogy" by Weiss and Hickman. It breaks most of the sterotypes you have
established and has a deep philosphy and characterization that is not typical.
Read the short stories in "Mindscapes" by Harlan Ellison ... those are hardly
typical and many of them could be pigeon-holed and called 'fantasy'.

Most of what you are complaining about though, is not a problem with lazy
writers or easy literary solutions, it has to do with a huge bulk of writers
hitting the market who are all beginners. Most never write their second or
third novels; that's the weeding-out process. It means that a HUGE number
will be poor (by your standards), but that's how it goes. There is no
shortcut. The publishers want numbers, not a 'feeling' as to what will sell
or not. If a formulaic story is what they feel will earn them the dollars,
then that's what they'll promote. We have to watch, wait and see then which
of those authors filling that marketing need will emerge in their later works
to be something different.

> Fantasy has so much to it that could be used to help explain our
> lives in real terms. Fantasy is in possession of many strong symbols.
> Dragons are representative of the power of nature to it's utmost, magic
> is representative of the unknown power, ability and actions of powerful
> beings.

In your opinion. Realize that these elements and interpretations are as much
stereotypes as "the brave knight"; "the mysterious and powerful wizard"; "the
beautiful princess" ; "the evil king/knight/despot/etc...". What if you just
want to tell a story to uplift, terrorize, excite, titillate, thrill, depress
or merely entertain? Dragons can be representative of whatever we make them
to be. Magick is a philosphy and practice used by many people even today.
The representational meanings of these story elements change with society and
scholar. That's why the study of liturature is a social science and why so
many Classicists argue about what the 'correct' interpretation is...

There is no clear, allways-right answer.

> There is so much raw and elemental feeling in fantasy that is
> currently untouched. No one explores the psyche of their characters
> deeply, and all the attempts that do result in half baked characters
> which usually do not make sense. If we could only touch the elements of
> this genre which would inspire a new golden age of what we could proudly
> call fantasy literature.

I disagree. Many novels explore characters in deep ways. Read the first 6
novels in the "DragonLance" series. Try books by Mercedes Lackey or Ursula K.
LeGuinn. Read "On a Pale Horse" by Piers Anthony. Granted, others do not
allways develop their characters, but it's all part of the process by which an
author develops their skill. There are many who are not very good at
characterization, or dialog, or action-scenes, or subtle sub-plots, or any
number of the parts of a story. Saying that because someone forgets something
or doesn't develop one of these areas to your satisfaction is assuming that
what you like and prefer is what EVERYone will like and prefer. It also
assumes that writers don't change or evolve.

I don't read much Fantasy novels (or SF or Horror) because of some of the
arguements you make. But I also don't think that my definition of what's
right and wrong is necissarilly correct. It is correct for me; not for
everyone at everytime and everywhere.

> Thank You...

Your welcome.

David J Rust
fan, witch, and writer-in-progress

David C. Durkee

unread,
Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
to david...@rladvert.com

Silver-Night wrote:
>
> You make several intersting points. Allow me to refute, agree and examine
> these...
>
>

> They typically don't pick up an adult fantasy novel and give it a shot. They
> don't read "Mus of Kerbridge", "The DarkSword Trilogy"...

Which in my opinion, although it had interesting characterization, was difficult
to finish...


> I agree with the essence of your point. Many fantasy novels today (and even
> science fiction) seem to be re-working the classical elements of Tolkien,
> Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. However, simply re-telling something in a
> differing vein is not bad. I may not like it and avoid reading it, but that
> is a personal choice, not an all-encopassing standard by which the liturature
> can be measured.

> We need something new... something new!!! The beginnings of Terry Brooks, Robert
Jordan, Weis&Hickman, and countless others are exactly the same!!!


> narrative form. How about the tales of ChuCullain or Baba Yaga? These to can
> be seen as escapist, yet they are considered classics and integral to our
> past.

> Beowulf and Cuculainn were folk heroes, and so their stories of course reflect
nationalistic pride and such. I don't see myself sitting around a campfire
telling the heroic tales of Tanis or Allanon (who is just Gandalf all over
btw)...

>
>

> as "the hard-working-but-beleagured-welfare-mother-fighting-alone-in-the-
> inner-city", "the generation-x-slacker", "the well-meaning-but-out-of-touch-
> poltician", "the evil/good-preacher", "the domineering-money-grubbing-boss"?

> Such flat characters are signals for poor writing in other genres as well. To
say 'every one else does it' does not change the fact that it is not enjoyable
to read.


>
> Untrue. As I state earlier, there is a perception in Western thinking that
> all things have to occupy the realm between Black and White, that all things
> exist in shades of grey.

Opinion, merely my opinion. But when was the last time God appeared before you
and talked to a whole group of leaders (like Takhisis did)? They are not
*imminant*...

> Not all fantasy novels do this either.

You notice I never once said all, I used the word most...



> As for happy endings, I agree with you. They aren't necissary and are
> overused. Look at the recent film "The Usual Suspects" ... not a happy
> ending. But a GREAT film!

Best I've seen in over a year... Kevin Spacey kicks butt!

>
> > These things are all well and good, but as serious art, they
> > reflect nothing that goes on in this world.

> Art does not
> have to be real to be good. It can be a fanciful flight on dragon wings or a
> daring deul with a dire enemy for no other reason than the simplest...

For something to be enjoyable, we must have some connection. We must be able to
relate somehow... many of the characters in these trash stories are, as they say
in Amadeus "so lofty they would shit marble"
>

> Yes. Fantasy could be so much more. I suggest you read "The DarkSword
> Trilogy" by Weiss and Hickman.

Been there, I was very disappointed especially after DL and DG.
>


>\ That's why the study of liturature is a social science and why so


> many Classicists argue about what the 'correct' interpretation is...

I was only using my dragon=elemental nature as an example. I was not saying
"this is what this means" -- I am a deconstructionist...


>
> There is no clear, allways-right answer.

> This is what i am saying... fantasy all too often provides one...

> I disagree. Many novels explore characters in deep ways. Read the first 6
> novels in the "DragonLance" series. Try books by Mercedes Lackey or Ursula K.
> LeGuinn. Read "On a Pale Horse" by Piers Anthony.

LeGuin is one of my favorites... try Earthsea, the dispossessed (the best imho),
the left hand of darkness, and the lathe of heaven. She is a real writer...
Piers Anthony disappoints me because all of his characters possess certain
traits, no matter what you read by him (be it Bio of a Space Tyrant or
Incarnations of Immortality) -- I would accuse him quite seriously of being a
formula novelist...


>
> I don't read much Fantasy novels (or SF or Horror) because of some of the
> arguements you make. But I also don't think that my definition of what's
> right and wrong is necissarilly correct. It is correct for me; not for
> everyone at everytime and everywhere.

> I'm just hoping for something more... if not by me then by someone else...

John Molenda
wand...@grfn.org

"stop - i wanna go home, take off this uniform and leave the show...
i'm waiting in this cell because i have to know...
have i been guilty all this time?" -pink floyd, the wall

Sue Bogar

unread,
Jun 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/4/96
to

> Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.

Methinks before you go about generalizing things like this, you should
take a closer look at most of these stories, ESPACCIALY dragonlance,
which, if anything breaks the rules you've set, does.



> 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
> "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
> evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
> your average fantasy fare?

Hm.. laurana fits except she's an army general. raistlin fits except he
isn't that mysterious fi you look engouh, he bares his soul to the
reader. the brave knight isn't even a knight.

> 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
> question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant
> and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
> shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
> hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
> and wrong, or black and white.

ROFL!!! have you even READ any dragonlance books? how about Legends? ever
heard of Raistlin? I guess you've never seen the debates we've had about
his alignment, either, then... and i'd hardly call tanis a paragon of
virtue, either, going off with kitiara in the dragonwars... even the God
of Good is more interested in the balance of all things...



> 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
> accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.

never mind. you obviously haven't read DL at this point. If everyone
lived happily ever after, Sturm would have lived, Flint would have lived,
Tanis would have lived, Tas would have lived forever, and evil would have
been banished forever from the planet. oh, and raistlin wouldn't be stuck
in the abyss for 25 years either. Krynn is not a world of forced happy
endings...

>
> John Molenda
> wand...@grfn.org
>


---wiccan--dragon--elfkin--RML--philosopher--xx conspirator--artist--me---
Come away, O human child
To the waters and the wild Look, Raist, bunnies... ____
With a faerie, hand in hand \|><|\
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand \|\ |\

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization
--R. W. Emerson


Tracy Hickman

unread,
Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
to David C. Durkee, wand...@grfn.org

(TRH)I suppose everyone knew I'd respond to this one ...

David C. Durkee wrote:
(snip)


> Fantasy today is little more than pale imitations of the founding

> books of the fantasy genre. It is impossible to call fantasy literature


> as it had virtually no value. Almost all fantasy books are of the 'trash'
> variety, using archtypes for characters and manuvering them through
> assembly-line worlds. We fantasy fans are bedazzled by the ever more
> vauxhall descriptions of strange things we have never seen and never
> will. Fantasy is dismissed as escapist, and for the most part it is.

> (TRH) I am going to have to assume, since this was posted to this newsgroup,
that Joe Molenda is including Dragonlance in his disertation. For my part, while
there is much to say regarding all the series Margaret and I have produced
over the years, I'll try to stick to the topic of the newsgroup. Further,
I will confine my remarks to those Dragonlance works which bear my name or
which I had some say in it's product direction.
Dragonlance was not an assembly line world. I suggest that those interested
check out the FAQ sections of htt://www.TRHickman.com for an explaination of
how that process worked but suffice it to say here that I started it's design
with geologic plate movement and a detailed history over three thousand years
old. There was nothing assembly-line about it except the physics we understand
and the natural consiquences of its interaction through nature.
As to archtypical characters -- who can deny that the Heros of the Lance were
archtypes? It isn't the fact that they are archtypes (most characters in any
novel are archtypes on some level or another) -- rather, it is what one does
with those archtypes that separates them from the mold and gives them depth.
More on this shortly.

> Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.
>

> 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
> "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
> evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
> your average fantasy fare?

> (TRH) Yes, archtypes, but breathing life into identifiable archtypes is
part of the challenge a writer faces. Would Raistlin have been nearly so
interesting if he weren't physically a near invalid? Would Tanis, leader
of the Heros, have had any character depth if he didn't constantly question
his ability to lead and be faulted with his indecision between Kitiara and
Laurana? Caramon, the Arnold-beefy fantasy hunk, wouldn't be sympathetic
if he didn't have his weight and drinking problem. Good characters have flaws
just as we all do -- it is what makes them real. Overcoming those faults
give motivation to the character. Once a character becomes perfect ... they
are no longer interesting.

> 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
> question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant
> and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
> shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
> hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
> and wrong, or black and white.

> (TRH) Actually, I consider the fact that fantasy engages the question of
good and evil as a POSITIVE thing about the genre. However, as Dragons of
Summer Flame shows, things may not always be so clear cut. In that book,
evil actually WINS part way into the book and its triumph, in perspective,
shows how our perceptions of history are not clear cut. Again, I suggest
my postings in http://wwwTRHickman.com on Ethics in Fantasy as well as the
Dragonlance FAQs.

> 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
> accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.

(TRH) When characters problems (internal or otherwise) are resolved then
the story ends. As readers of our books know, this does not always mean
happily ever after.

> All these things fit in very well to the escapist bent of most
> fantasy novels. We can sit back for a few hours and zone out, having all
> the decisions made for us, having everything cut and dry - a nice break
> from reality.
>

> These things are all well and good, but as serious art, they

> reflect nothing that goes on in this world. There is no clear cut good


> and evil in our lives, god is not here to guide our every step, and how
> many of you know of a clear goal or quest that you are currently on?

(TRH) Oh, boy ...
I have often wondered what constitutes 'serious art' or at least in whose
minds eye that label is judged and credited. More to the point, however,
I must disagree that it reflects nothing of our world. For us to identify
with the characters, their choices must make sense to us -- in some way,
their choices must be our choices. Margaret specifically wrote Caramon
in the Legends Trilogy to convey the problems of alcoholism. Darksword
(though few new it) was an examination of Christian fundamentalism and
the effects of power on perspective and judgement as well as an examination
of the Arthurian legends in reverse. Rose of the Prophet clearly examined
various conflicting religions as paradigm shifts of one true reality and
addressed gay issues at the same time. The Death Gate series sprang, in part,
over my own musings on the troubles in Northern Ireland. For that matter,
my own 'Immortals' . . . ah, but that's science-fiction, I suppose.
Is this not 'serious' art?
I, as many on this newsgroup know, have a firm conviction and faith
in God, though I certainly do not expect him to coddle me through life. Indeed,
He has seemed to send me into mortality as something of a survival trip with
a minimum of equipment: my brain is too small to comprehend the vastness of
creation. However, while the lines between good and evil are seldom drawn
clearly for us, that doesn't mean that there is no good, evil, right, or
wrong in the world -- only that we have to look with better eyes to discern
it.
As for a clear quest or goal: I have one -- I think everyone should.
In this, fantasy does not show us something that doesn't exist; rather, it shows
us something to which we need to aspire.

> The thing that gets on my nerves is that fantasy could be so much
> more. Right now it is sliding into the mindless pit of pulp-novels that
> the romance genre currently abides in. If people just removed some of the
> asinine and repetitous elements from their writing, then fantasy could
> recieve some of the recognition that it (unfortunatly) currently does not
> deserve.

> (TRH) I cannot speak for others, but I've striving to do this for the
last twelve years. However, I didn't get into this business to have someone
else who believed themselves to be arbitor of what has value tell me when
I had made it or not. I came into this profession to tell stories of courage
and valour -- and hopefully inspire those same qualities in those who read
my words. I sincerly doubt that I will ever garner the awards and praises
of the other members of my profession but if I should, I would hope that it
was because my words inspired others to act rather than because it was
'serious art.'



> Fantasy has so much to it that could be used to help explain our
> lives in real terms. Fantasy is in possession of many strong symbols.
> Dragons are representative of the power of nature to it's utmost, magic
> is representative of the unknown power, ability and actions of powerful

> beings. There is so much raw and elemental feeling in fantasy that is


> currently untouched. No one explores the psyche of their characters
> deeply, and all the attempts that do result in half baked characters
> which usually do not make sense. If we could only touch the elements of
> this genre which would inspire a new golden age of what we could proudly
> call fantasy literature.
>

> Thank You...
>
> John Molenda
> wand...@grfn.org(TRH) 'Half baked characters?'
If I don't explore the psyche of my characters then I'll eat Fizban's hat.
I already proudly call my works fantasy literature. I don't know
what you are reading out there but I certainly hope it hasn't been anything
Margaret and I have written. If it has, then you have missed something which
we work very hard to infuse in our work: the human condition and our triumph
over our weaknesses to discover the greatness within each of us.
That, after all, is the most important quest of all.

Tracy Hickman

David C. Durkee

unread,
Jun 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/5/96
to Tracy Hickman

> > Fantasy today is little more than pale imitations of the founding
> > (TRH) I am going to have to assume, since this was posted to this newsgroup,
> that Joe Molenda is including Dragonlance in his disertation. John Molenda... John! John! but that's ok...

.... <snip-snip snip here snip there> ....

For my part, while
> there is much to say regarding all the series Margaret and I have produced
> over the years, I'll try to stick to the topic of the newsgroup.

This is a fanstasy novel newgroup -- I thought my essay was on topic...

> Dragonlance was not an assembly line world.

I agree for the most part Dragonlance avoids many of the troubles in Fantasy today...
let me say that in my opinion Chr. Leg. 2nd. and Dosf are all excellent books, with only
a few flaws between them. Since I am on th etopic and speaking to an author, there were
always a few things that bothered me, and I wonder why you did them.

Winter Night -- This would be my favorite book of the series except for to things in it
which really bothered me. First of all, It started off after the hammer of kharas had
been found, and left many questions about that unanswered. Then, the little adventures
at the icewall were chronicled only in a song, a disturbing break from an otherwise
wonderful narrative. The chapters of the journey through Silvanesti are wonderfully
written..
Summer Flame -- It seemed to me that there was enough going on to make chronicles 4 5 &
6... and it came off like you were just glad to be done with it at the end. Although a
good book, i think that it didn't do justice to what was going on... (imho)

> > Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.
> >
> > 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters

> > (TRH) Yes, archtypes, but breathing life into identifiable archtypes is


> part of the challenge a writer faces. Would Raistlin have been nearly so

> interesting if he weren't physically a near invalid? <snip> Once a character becomes perfect ... they are no longer interesting.

I agree with you, that is the problem with fantasy, that they are unwilling to take
their characters down from a pedestal...


>
> > 2. A clear distinction between good and evil.

> > (TRH) Actually, I consider the fact that fantasy engages the question of


> good and evil as a POSITIVE thing about the genre. However, as Dragons of
> Summer Flame shows, things may not always be so clear cut.

This was (imho) the best feature of the book...

>

> (TRH) When characters problems (internal or otherwise) are resolved then
> the story ends. As readers of our books know, this does not always mean
> happily ever after.

> This is another positive aspect about most dragonlance novels...

> >
> (TRH) Oh, boy ...
> I have often wondered what constitutes 'serious art' Margaret specifically wrote Caramon
> in the Legends Trilogy... <snip>

> Is this not 'serious' art?

I think that in some ways your writing is evolving... it is good, and maybe someday you
could stand with salinger, twain, leguin and other great writers... although it is
difficult to come out this way in your chosen style...
What is serious art is entirely my opinion, but I am fairly sure tha tfew people
consider 'defenders of magic', 'before the mask', or other such books real art... these
are trash fantasy novels, and I doubt that you would in any honesty argue with me... I
also doubt that you are proud of every single thing ever to come off the tip of your
pen...

> As for a clear quest or goal: I have one -- I think everyone should.
> In this, fantasy does not show us something that doesn't exist; rather, it shows
> us something to which we need to aspire.

I seriously doubt that very many fan. authors consider this when writing... try
reading terry brooks money grubbing novels (which make me puke) and tell me if he is not
merely making money off his novels...

Very many fantasy novelists go through the motions, talking WHEN THEY HAVE
NOTHING TO SAY!!!! Read 'Brave New World' by aldous huxley, though you most likely
already have... this is hemholtz watson's problem... he is an artest, when nothing is
worth painting or saying or singing or writing...
>

> > (TRH) I cannot speak for others, but I've striving to do this for the
> last twelve years. However, I didn't get into this business to have someone
> else who believed themselves to be arbitor of what has value tell me when
> I had made it or not.

"to thine own self be true" -- the vast majority of your work which I have read succeeds
for the most part (with one awful exception)....

'Half baked characters?'
> If I don't explore the psyche of my characters then I'll eat Fizban's hat.
> I already proudly call my works fantasy literature. I don't know
> what you are reading out there but I certainly hope it hasn't been anything
> Margaret and I have written. If it has, then you have missed something which
> we work very hard to infuse in our work: the human condition and our triumph
> over our weaknesses to discover the greatness within each of us.
> That, after all, is the most important quest of all.
>
> Tracy Hickman

I was not attacking dragonlance, but fantasy in general... your novels for the most part
rise above the masses of crap which fill the fantasy shelves (although I do honestly
think that Tanis could have been characterized better, don't ask me how...) can you deny
that most fantasy novels are mindless equvilants to watching a Schwarzennegrer (who
cares how it's spelled) movie?
I stated at the beginning that I was a fan, and I am... I am just disgusted with the
vast majority of fantasy novels, and would like to see the genre go in a new and (imho)
better direction...

John Molenda - wand...@grfn.org

"do not trade present realities for future rewards"
-tom robbins, another roadside attraction

Silver-Night

unread,
Jun 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/6/96
to David C. Durkee

David C. Durkee wrote:

> Silver-Night wrote:
> > They typically don't pick up an adult fantasy novel and give it a shot. They
> > don't read "Mus of Kerbridge", "The DarkSword Trilogy"...

> Which in my opinion, although it had interesting characterization, was difficult
> to finish...

I assume that you are talking about "DarkSword..." and not "Mus...".

In either case, your arguement is that despite "interesting characterization" the
book(s) was(were) difficult to finish. As stated in my original post, there are
many elements to any novel that have to be woven together for the whole. It is
entirely encumbant upon the author to perform this juggling act of character,
pacing, description, creativity, etc to create a good book. Given this and given
your statement about "difficult to finish" and "characterization", some other
element -in your opinion- must have been lacking.

If this is true, and it was the lack of some undefinable element in the tale (I say
"undefineable" because you do not define it for us) that made it poorer than it
could have been. If that element is difficult enough for you to pinpoint (ie, not a
specific character, chapter or scene), then it is likely that the author would
likewise not be able to pin-point it or even know it's there. You are expecting
more books to be as complete as if they were written by the greats.

Books, as stated before, come onto our shelves through the avenue of publishers who
want to make money. This means that we'll see a LOT of beginners with formulaic
plots (the publishers won't take too many risks with an unknown quantity) coming and
going. Also, the bulk of books on the shelves are NOT by the known authors ... just
look at B.Daltons or Waldenbooks sometime. Tons of them are by folk you've only
heard of once or twice; they are still very much at the mercy of the publishing
houses. Only after time will they be known enough that their experiments will be
allowed to see the light of day.

By that time, the novels generally ARE really good and don't dissapoint the readers
... but it takes time. And by that point, many of the other beginners have dropped
out to follow some other path in their lives (just in time to make way for the next
crop of beginners writing formulaic novels).

My point is that the abundance of novels that you find unsatisfying (that clutter
the bookshelves) are there because of the nature of the publishing industry. The
novels themselves may have low points and high points, but the average fan shrugs,
reads the book and goes on, curious if the next book will have better elements.
Sure, a really BAD book will discourage anyone from reading further novels (those of
Gary Gygax were Horrible; I barely hung on long enough to pick up "Desert..." which
was allright.)

> > I agree with the essence of your point. Many fantasy novels today (and even
> > science fiction) seem to be re-working the classical elements of Tolkien,
> > Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. However, simply re-telling something in a
> > differing vein is not bad. I may not like it and avoid reading it, but that
> > is a personal choice, not an all-encopassing standard by which the liturature
> > can be measured.

> We need something new... something new!!! The beginnings of Terry Brooks, Robert
> Jordan, Weis&Hickman, and countless others are exactly the same!!!

Beginnings do not a story make. They are only, when you look at them honestly,
beginnings. Anyone can spearhead a new and interesting tale from the same starting
point provided that they look at it with creative eyes. Even assuming that you are
correct in that Terry Brooks (I assume you mean the Shannara series) and Weis &
Hickman had beginings that were essentially (if not "exactly") the same, look how
different each one unfolded and developed. These were works (regardless of merit)
that took different tacks from each other and had radically different
characterization, development and pacing. What made them good or bad was not that
the Beginings were similar... (Which, I do not believe anyway.)

> > narrative form. How about the tales of ChuCullain or Baba Yaga? These to can
> > be seen as escapist, yet they are considered classics and integral to our
> > past.

> Beowulf and Cuculainn were folk heroes, and so their stories of course reflect
> nationalistic pride and such. I don't see myself sitting around a campfire
> telling the heroic tales of Tanis or Allanon (who is just Gandalf all over
> btw)...

So you exclude tales of folk heroes as 'fantasy'...

At the time, that was the equivalent of fantasy novels for these people. The
stories don't just reflect "nationalistic pride" and similar elements though. No
more than novels or stories from any culture reflect the time and place in which
they were written...

As for sitting around a campfire and telling the tales of modern fantasy heroes and
heroines, have you ever been to a filksing? Ever read fan fiction? Ever sit in at
a convention with a circle of complete strangers who have been drawn together by a
discussion of a common thread such as "What is the nature of Raistlin's change of
heart at the end of DL6?" or "Why is it that magick works in a specific way in this
novel and not in another?" These are our campfires and the tales are retold by
every person who has allowed themselves to be touched by them.

> > as "the hard-working-but-beleagured-welfare-mother-fighting-alone-in-the-
> > inner-city", "the generation-x-slacker", "the well-meaning-but-out-of-touch-
> > poltician", "the evil/good-preacher", "the domineering-money-grubbing-boss"?

> Such flat characters are signals for poor writing in other genres as well. To
> say 'every one else does it' does not change the fact that it is not enjoyable
> to read.

I'm not saying that it is. My point was that too often the viewpoint that you
espouse is found in the halls of the politically correct brigade who point to novels
loaded with the above stereotypes and say "this is good fiction because it deals
with relevant social issues."

> > Untrue. As I state earlier, there is a perception in Western thinking that
> > all things have to occupy the realm between Black and White, that all things
> > exist in shades of grey.

> Opinion, merely my opinion. But when was the last time God appeared before you
> and talked to a whole group of leaders (like Takhisis did)? They are not
> *imminant*...

I am a Wiccan. This happens. In other religions it also happens to those who
follow a particular faith. The divine is seen as "imminant" by many sane and
rational people all around the world; certainly not in a Hollywood-esque manner with
bright lights and a Spielberg budget, but it's does happen.

However, this is not a religious debate. Furthermore, even if the divine never
interracted with todays societies anymore, does not mean that in a fantasy world
they cannot do so. Look at Ovid's "Metamorphosis" or Petronious' "Satyricon".
These were tales written at the heart of polytheism in the world; the divine and
mystical were often one and the same and showed up with alarming regularity. Yet we
still read these ancient writings and thrill to what they say. The presence of the
Divine -like any other singular element- is not sufficient to sink a book for being
over the top.

> > Not all fantasy novels do this either.

> You notice I never once said all, I used the word most...

Noted.

> > > These things are all well and good, but as serious art, they
> > > reflect nothing that goes on in this world.
> > Art does not
> > have to be real to be good. It can be a fanciful flight on dragon wings or a
> > daring deul with a dire enemy for no other reason than the simplest...

> For something to be enjoyable, we must have some connection. We must be able to
> relate somehow... many of the characters in these trash stories are, as they say
> in Amadeus "so lofty they would shit marble"

But each person connects with what they experience in different ways. I do not
doubt that you and I would have radically different ideas as to what is thrilling.
I consider H.P.Lovecraft to be one of the most chilling tale-spinners of this
century. Weis and Hickman have managed to create a series of tales that had me
staying up until 4am agonizing over what would happen next. Since each of us
identifies with different things in writing, it is pointless to state that fantasy
novels tend to be unenjoyable by virtue of their unconnected nature.

Connection is done via commonality or the ability to relate personally. There are
very few things that everyone can relate to. Further, if each novel has to connect
to only those rare elements that the majority of humanity shares, then you are
limiting what the authors can write about.

> > That's why the study of liturature is a social science and why so
> > many Classicists argue about what the 'correct' interpretation is...

> I was only using my dragon=elemental nature as an example. I was not saying
> "this is what this means" -- I am a deconstructionist...

This was not my point. Below is the quoted passage with your point and my response
to it. My point was that fantasy does not have to "help explain our lives in real
terms". I also make the point that it is pointless to even do so in terms of
symbology because the elements of the tales will be interpreted by many different
people in an infinite variety of ways. Only the most blunt or unquestionable
elements will be taken the way that the author intended. Look at the television
series "The Prisoner". Tons of symbology, yet what it all means is left up to the
audience. There is little pretense on the part of Patrick McGoohan that he had a
specific point. Oh, he's admitted that he did, but not one that overrides what
others see and derive from it.

Symbology is a useful writing tool. Fantasy is not only in existance to explain our
lives. It can also serve to entertain. But relying upon the strong symbols of
fantasy to help us "explain our lives" -in ANY terms- is an exercise in futility
unless the writer is offering up the most blatant of symbols ... symbols which will
be accepted or rejected on the basis of the reader's individual biases.

> > > Fantasy has so much to it that could be used to help explain our
> > > lives in real terms. Fantasy is in possession of many strong symbols.
> > > Dragons are representative of the power of nature to it's utmost, magic
> > > is representative of the unknown power, ability and actions of powerful
> > > beings.
> > In your opinion. Realize that these elements and interpretations are as much
> > stereotypes as "the brave knight"; "the mysterious and powerful wizard"; "the
> > beautiful princess" ; "the evil king/knight/despot/etc...". What if you just
> > want to tell a story to uplift, terrorize, excite, titillate, thrill, depress
> > or merely entertain? Dragons can be representative of whatever we make them
> > to be. Magick is a philosphy and practice used by many people even today.
> > The representational meanings of these story elements change with society and

> > scholar. That's why the study of liturature is a social science and why so


> > many Classicists argue about what the 'correct' interpretation is...

> > I disagree. Many novels explore characters in deep ways. Read the first 6


> > novels in the "DragonLance" series. Try books by Mercedes Lackey or Ursula K.
> > LeGuinn. Read "On a Pale Horse" by Piers Anthony.

> Piers Anthony disappoints me because all of his characters possess certain


> traits, no matter what you read by him (be it Bio of a Space Tyrant or
> Incarnations of Immortality) -- I would accuse him quite seriously of being a
> formula novelist...

The book that I specifically mention (and the one that follows it, "Bearing an
Hourglass") are examples of non-formulaic writing. I generally don't like Anthony's
work because he writes females very badly. The third book in "Incarnations..." was
awful, as was the Fifth. Both had convoluted plot lines and female leads that felt
like they were cookie-cutter characters. However, the first two books in the series
are an exploration of theological issues and reinterpretations of contemporary
religious belief. Not exactly typical.

> > I don't read much Fantasy novels (or SF or Horror) because of some of the
> > arguements you make. But I also don't think that my definition of what's
> > right and wrong is necissarilly correct. It is correct for me; not for
> > everyone at everytime and everywhere.

> I'm just hoping for something more... if not by me then by someone else...

I guess my point was that you'll have to find those authors that can provide you
with that. Saying that the state of the fantasy industry is "sick" (meaning, I
assume "infirm" or "unhealthy", NOT "depraved") because you have not yet found a
wealth of books that meet your needs is like saying that a person has the flu
because you think you understand the symptoms.

Dave.

Michael Siu

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

Dear folks,

I have only recently found this news group. It has been great reading
this series of "essays". I think the reason why I like reading the
Dragonlance series so much is its in depth description of an alternate
world, filled with a great diversity of characters, each with a distinct
personality, strengths & weaknesses, inner conflicts and so forth. The
stories may not reflect our modern world very well, but I think they do a
really good job in capturing the modern people onto paper. Last but not
least, a good story spinning author like Tracy (or Raymond E. Feist)is
what makes the book ticks.

Yes, thats right, I love reading books by Tracy as well as Raymond (and
a couple others =)

Cheers

Mike

Mike

Jonathan Nusholtz

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

To the original poster, John Molenda/David Durkee:
Could you please clarify something for me? It seems from where I sit
(obviously in front of a computer) that you first insulted all fantasy
novels in general. Then after a brilliantly worded reply by an actual
fantasy author, you took back nearly everything you said in regard to the
Dragonlance series. In other words, you insulted all fantasy books then
changed your mind about the books this newsgroup is devoted to. If none of
your complaints apply to DL, why post them here?
Have you ever read Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince and Dragon Token series? I
think they're excellently written and have many real-life situations that
happen to occur in a fantasy setting.
One last note: Change the name that appears on your postings to the one
that you sign postings with; makes it easier to know what to call you.
Jonathan


David C. Durkee

unread,
Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
to

I never once said that I did not like dragonlance (if i did not, why
would i post here) - but it is not perfect. Also, where else am I
supposed to post an essay on fantasy liturature? alt.monster-trucks???

I did not take back anything I've said. Although I have gotten a couple
very intellegent replies to my SA (and a few stupid ones) no one really
argues with my basic premise that the vast majority of fantasy novels are
trash.

Finally, the big reason I posted here was because I had something to say,
and I thought (rightly so) that I would be able to get intellegent replys
from reader's, writers, smurfs, goblins, and gargamel. This newsgroup
enjoys a unique situation. Why should I not take advantage of that?

PS -- just because you like someone doesn't make them right... it's ok to
disagree with those you admire... i admire ML King, but i don't agree
with EVERYTHING he said... same for anyone else...

Anyhow... good-bye all for 3 months! I am off for my summer sabbatical...
Also, although I have an email address (it is a free-net) i do not gain
newgroup access with this, so when i post i am using someone elses
computer. I can't very well change his name when he is letting me use it,
can I?

Kai Rode

unread,
Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
to

Tracy wrote:

> > These things are all well and good, but as serious art, they

> I have often wondered what constitutes 'serious art' or at least in whose


> minds eye that label is judged and credited.

It's art if you don't get paid for it. ;-)

Bye
Kai
--
"It's like a pair of magic specs." - Urza Bloodrunner

Jamie1km

unread,
Jun 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/16/96
to

In article <31B36B...@durkee.com>, "David C. Durkee"
<ddu...@durkee.com> writes:

>Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.
>

> 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;

> "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the

>evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
>your average fantasy fare?
>

> 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
>question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant
>and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
>shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
>hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
>and wrong, or black and white.
>

> 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
>accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.
>
>

I'll accept that some fantasy suffers from these ails... but I would like
you to specifically point =DRAGONLANCE= books that suffer from this (this
is alt.fan.dragonlance, after all). I would say that that the 'core'
novels at least (Chronicles & Legends) certainly don't suffer from your
'sickness.'

** Jamie

The Dark Archon

unread,
Jun 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/18/96
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On 16 Jun 1996, Jamie1km wrote:

> > 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
> > "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
> >evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
> >your average fantasy fare?

Hail!
Let's see...I'd put Sturm as the brave knight. I don't think Raistlin was
mysterious at all, he let everyone know what he was trying to accomplish.
Dalamar wasn't mysterious, although he was exotic, I think, nor were
Justarius, Dracos, Par-Salian, Magius, many others...The beautiful
princess, I'd go with Laurana, but how many of your aforementioned
beautiful princesses are rescued by that noble knight and how many have to
lead an army to continue a war which that knight fell in? And of course
there'd have to be an evil/king/despot/etc, as you term it, because you
have to have an antagonist (or more than one), otherwise there's no story!
We'd be bored if they lived in an ideal world with only good stuff (does
the name Kingpriest mean anything to you? Would you consider him good in
the first place?)

> > 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
> >question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant

I absolutely disagree, and I think Raistlin is the archetypal counter
example for that. We've had discussions raging for weeks, months, on
whether "Raistlin is truly evil." Was Kitiara evil, or was she only
seeking power? Was Dalamar evil, are any of the Black Robes evil, just
because they're Black Robes (don't come in with AD&D allignments here,
I'm referring to their characters in the books)...

> > 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
> >accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.

That certainly doesn't happen in the main DL books I think. Flint doesn't
even finish it alive. Raistlin accomplishes his only in the alternate
future. Tanis faces trouble with his son and others. Caramon has to cope
with aging, his youngest son's leaning to magic, the "death" of his
brother, I could go on, as I'm sure many of the fans here could. And of
course, there's the whole issue of DoSF, a *huge* new conflict that arises
some time after the heroes have defeated Takhisis and are supposed to be
resting happily ever after...

The Dark Archon

-Est Sularus oth Mithas-

PGP Key fingerprint = 23 5E F7 22 D1 95 30 8C 24 EE 65 19 71 10 68 33

Zifnab the Zany

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Jun 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/18/96
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>>Fantasy today is sick, and there are several things wrong with it.
>>
>> 1. Fantasy has mostly flat simple characters "the brave knight" ;
>> "the mysterious and powerful wizard" ; "the beautiful princess" ; "the
>>evil king/knight/despot/etc...) ... Do you recognize any of these from
>>your average fantasy fare?

No...

>> 2. A clear distinction between good and evil. There is never any
>>question as to who is on who's side. The good and evil gods are imminant

>>and their existance is unquestioned. The good guys are always great
>>shining paragons of virtue, and the bad guys are always slimy power
>>hungery hateful villians. Actions are always clearly good or evil, right
>>and wrong, or black and white.

Read the Wheel of Time series...half the time ye don't know who's on
who's side...

>> 3. There is usually a goal, or quest, and when the heroes
>>accomplish this, everyone lives happily ever after.

Well duh.....'twouldn't be fantasy, now would it, if there were no
quest. We read fantasy novels to learn the story of ppl's adventures,
not how some shepard lived his life tending sheep in a world of magic
and adventure. Pahleez! Get a grip, start reading some more, and
keep and open mind...humans have such a nasty tendency to be
narrow-minded..'tis quite annoying, I must say...


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