What would you like to see more of in fantasy books?

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#21
2) paragons of character types written well. ( I will heavily use d&d references to show what I mean just to make it easier. Since these were designedafter fantasy tropes)

We

are all used to the loincloth wearing buff barbarosi (teehee) who chops through enemies three at a time with his two handed great(weapontype). Or the strider wannabe who broods in dark corners of taverns and deads enemies through the eyes from a mile away . These are old boring tired cliches that wont die and usually written very poorly. But I feel like fantasy writers are trying too hard to distance themselves from these cliches turning everyone into a grey mass of ambiguity. Having characters that unreadable is good, having all your characters like that is unrealistic.

The alternative is writing the cliche but giving them a hook. That's even worse

What I would like to see is some honest creativity with the paragons. (D&D examples) paladin. In d&d it seems most people think of a paladin as a one dimensional character (colloquially known as lawful stupid) typically reads as an unwillingness to think out its actions whose sole purpose I to attack evil with a full charge. An unbending rigid conformity to moral code stricter than monasteries. Or based too heavily on a modern morality.

But this isn't so restrictive. You can play paladins as poet warriors. A paladin of hammurabi would be a revengeful one carrying our eye for an eye judgments in the streets ( chopping off their hands). You can devote yourselves to a nearly evil presence.

Blonde beefcake Armstrong from full metal alchemist, and Jamie Lannister are both good examples of this type of paladins but what I'm after would be like the game of thrones female paladin sworn to protect the stark girls

True paragons of character types need not be cardboard cutout s , and in a world grey they stand out as realistic characters that seem real world.
This contains a lot of my thought. I'm happy that people are trying to avoid and twist cliches but a lot of what makes fantasy powerful to me is the use of the great mythic archetypes we all grow up with. And for all we've seen a lot of them and maybe get a harder to please, I think most readers still light up when they see someone hit them in the sweet spot. Certainly, most of fantasy's breakouts are masters of it - Tolkien, Rowling, Pratchett, Martin. I'm not sure how many authors are deliberately not hitting for this kind of territory and how many just aren't making good contact but I feel its in short supply. Best use of stereotype might be a good spin-off thread actually.

Mind you, so too is truly effective avoidance and reimagining. I feel like I read a lot of characters trapped between one and t'other. A bit familiar but with no real substance. Maybe all the room for reimagining has been taken up but I doubt it. I wish there was many fantasy taking big risks - wee kid MCs in books meant for adults, books making heavy use of illustrations (hybrid literary-graphic novels?), books with non-human protagonists... I didn't like Peter Newman's The Vagrant but I really wanted to based on what I read of it. More genre hybrids. More satire and parody. I suspects it all out there somewhere in the great SP slurry heap.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#22
A lot of great suggestions so let me try and add something of my own. It might be similar to the rest though.

I would like to see fantasy authors take new routes in fantasy and move away from the tried and true stuff. Maybe a fantasy book or series based almost solely around sports? Maybe there are some but I haven't heard of them if there are. I know people have talked a lot about getting away from the medieval Europe setting and I am with that too, but even moreso I just want to see more creativity on the whole. Sanderson for example, is always throwing new magic systems at us and taking interesting approaches even if his execution isn't always perfect. So imagine an author we put at the top like say a Martin, dipping his toes into something new and interesting.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#23
I'd like to see a reversal of fortune and fate. Take a thankless, truly unpleasant villain, one seemingly crippled with envenomed contempt, belligerence, and malevolence, and have the proverbial holes in their armour filled not with bile and hatred and self-loathing but a slow accession and cultivation of empathy, integrity, compassion, and heroism. Instead of another anti-hero rape-apologist power fantasy, take the vulgarity and obscenity and irascible nature of the character and transform it into something more noble - maybe the villain finally has a light-bulb moment, and sees another path they may walk beyond incessant depravity, cruelty, and wilful destructiveness.

Thus begins the long, arduous work of redressing their evil, perhaps not to find redemption or forgiveness, but to at least dismantle and bring down every instrument and artifice of ruin and wretchedness they wrought - to make way for something brighter, to alleviate wanton suffering, or to delineate the strain of finding a new way to do things; demonstrative of that rare tenacity required to break old, despicable habits and forge one's destiny anew. I can imagine how fascinating it would be to watch a villain, a real bastard, burdened with the yoke of their own evil working through sweaty brow and calloused hands trying to effect and implement meaningful change for the better, and in doing so, cultivating a world they no longer belong. A tad fatalistic and grim, but something I'd be inclined to explore.

Standalones sounds great, too.
Logen, Caine, Severus. I can't think of any more examples that fit as well as those three. Notably we primarily see each of them after their enlightenment.
 

Blastoise

Got in a fistfight with Dresden
#24
A lot of great suggestions so let me try and add something of my own. It might be similar to the rest though.

I would like to see fantasy authors take new routes in fantasy and move away from the tried and true stuff. Maybe a fantasy book or series based almost solely around sports? Maybe there are some but I haven't heard of them if there are. I know people have talked a lot about getting away from the medieval Europe setting and I am with that too, but even moreso I just want to see more creativity on the whole. Sanderson for example, is always throwing new magic systems at us and taking interesting approaches even if his execution isn't always perfect. So imagine an author we put at the top like say a Martin, dipping his toes into something new and interesting.
This is an interesting thought that I had not really personally considered, something like sports. That is definitely something very cool about the Harry Potter series with the creation of quidditch.

I feel/see both sides of the argument, as far as going away from the medieval stuff. I definitely love the medieval setting (those are also hands down my favorite war movies and I've enjoyed several TV shows in that setting as well), so I would love to see more of those at a high quality, like ASOIF. At the same time, new/creative settings that we had not seen/considered would be cool and interesting as well.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#25
A lot of great suggestions so let me try and add something of my own. It might be similar to the rest though.

I would like to see fantasy authors take new routes in fantasy and move away from the tried and true stuff. Maybe a fantasy book or series based almost solely around sports? Maybe there are some but I haven't heard of them if there are. I know people have talked a lot about getting away from the medieval Europe setting and I am with that too, but even moreso I just want to see more creativity on the whole. Sanderson for example, is always throwing new magic systems at us and taking interesting approaches even if his execution isn't always perfect. So imagine an author we put at the top like say a Martin, dipping his toes into something new and interesting.
There was a time when sports fantasys wre a thing in the 70s and 80s. The best were rollerball, death race, the warhammer game of blood bowl (and novels based on the game) . There were quite a few spanning many many media formats. Most were quite forgettable so it might take me a while to remember.
 

Anti_Quated

Journeyed there and back again
#26
Blood bowl. Hahahaha. Memories. Just like Mutant League Football/Hockey.

I've another 'like to see'. A fantasy world bereft entirely of humans. No humans (or human substitute creatures like Elves/Dwarves/etc) whatsoever. Only weird, fucked up amalagations of primordial things that slither and sluice and snarl. A world where Man never has tread, where only the animals (i.e. everything below us on the evolutionary/food/organic supremacy chain) dwell. Just to see what it would be like, particularly with varying levels and thresholds of sentience and primal instinct amongst the myriad denizens.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#27
That was a great, well thought out list, peat.

And I haven't listed anything because all I want more of is pages, but as a long time sailor your suggestion of more seagoing fantasy sounds good to me.
What sort of sailing? I did a lot of small boat sailing when I was a kid.


Anyway, a few more thoughts...

- More spirits/spirit worlds. I love them, and they're cool and... I dunno, I think Rachel Aaron is the only author I've seen use them recently. Which seems absurd when you consider the number of mythologies containing something like it.

- More realistic historic clergy. We tend to see them either as D&D style clerics, or as politickers, or simple parish priests being humble and spiritual. Where's the mad mystics? Where's the scholars, the people running the universities? The secret heretics, the out and out occultists? Where's the priests who are at once sinners yet true believers? I feel like the surface has been most lightly scratched.

- More real world fantasy rooted in a sense of place and its local myths and superstitions/more urban fantasy that uses all the conspiracy theories rather than Vampires, Werewolves and Fairies.

- More parody and satire. It feels absurd to me that this part of the genre has seemingly died a death in recent years.

- More Moorcock/Anderson/Feist travelling between different worlds.

Increasingly I think my thoughts amount to one of two things: make Fantasy weirder/more mythical, or make it grounded. We've got enough books that dwell in this in-between state. Its a shame Miles Cameron's characters and writing style don't quite sit right with me, as he gets it.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#28
Blood bowl. Hahahaha. Memories. Just like Mutant League Football/Hockey.

I've another 'like to see'. A fantasy world bereft entirely of humans. No humans (or human substitute creatures like Elves/Dwarves/etc) whatsoever. Only weird, fucked up amalagations of primordial things that slither and sluice and snarl. A world where Man never has tread, where only the animals (i.e. everything below us on the evolutionary/food/organic supremacy chain) dwell. Just to see what it would be like, particularly with varying levels and thresholds of sentience and primal instinct amongst the myriad denizens.
Might be difficult though, as it would be hard to relate to non-humanoid characters.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#29
What sort of sailing? I did a lot of small boat sailing when I was a kid.
Small boat sailing in mountain reservoirs when I was growing up, then blue water sailing starting about 25 years when I bought into a 41' monohull offshore yacht and my most recent was a 47' blue water catamaran that I bought out of the Moorings fleet that I sailed all over the Caribbean with from 2009 -2014. Many places I went don't exist anymore, at least the structures. Most of my time was spent in the western Caribbean in Belize especially, Guatemala, Cozumel, Grand Cayman. BVIs, USVIs, Puerto Rico, Bahamas.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#30
/more urban fantasy that uses all the conspiracy theories rather than Vampires, Werewolves and Fairies.
You should check out R.S. Belcher for this. The Shotgun Arcana series is basically Wild West, but his other books, Nightwise and Brotherhood of the Wheel (I think that's the name?) are great examples of this.
 

MorteTorment

Knows Who John Uskglass Is
#31
You should check out R.S. Belcher for this. The Shotgun Arcana series is basically Wild West, but his other books, Nightwise and Brotherhood of the Wheel (I think that's the name?) are great examples of this.
Yeah, R S Belcher is awesome!
 

Olli Tooley

Told lies with Locke
#32
Yeah, I hate this too. In the past few years I've read some science fiction short story collections where I swear every story had at least one gay character (even though the collections weren't LGBT themed, in which case the stories would've been chosen for that aspect). I have no issues with gay characters and sometimes it is really important to the story (like with Gil in Richard K. Morgan's fantasy series, the name of which I'm totally blanking on right now) or it explains something like
Jezal's wife and her "friend" in The First Law series
but most of the time it is just checking things off a "look, see how progressive I am?" list and that is irritating.
Is the character gay to check boxes, or just because some people are gay?
There seems to be a school of thought that some characters should be gay without really saying so or making a big deal out of it, because, it shouldn't be a big deal.
I don't know, but in real life, I am constantly surprised when my son tells me a particular person is gay, or it finally dawns on me that the reason the two ladies I see in the High Street are always together is because they are actually "together".
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#33
But Gil just overdid it. Mentioning it is one thing, repeatedly featuring it is messaging. It read like Gay Sex 501: An Advanced Treatise.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#34
Is the character gay to check boxes, or just because some people are gay?
There seems to be a school of thought that some characters should be gay without really saying so or making a big deal out of it, because, it shouldn't be a big deal.
I don't know, but in real life, I am constantly surprised when my son tells me a particular person is gay, or it finally dawns on me that the reason the two ladies I see in the High Street are always together is because they are actually "together".
It can be a tough call, I think, at least in some cases. I read a book awhile back with a trans woman character and it was actually a really well thought out storyline and one that helped flesh out the world's magic system (basically she changed the XY body she'd been born into, into an XX body). And I would say, she was trans because some people are. The story would've worked but would've been a little different if she was not trans (assuming a tolerant society in either instance). But now I am reading the sequel and there are TWO trans characters as well as two lesbian relationships (not involving the trans people) and I feel like it's veering into "checking boxes" territory.

It was the same with Kameron Hurley's Mirror Empire series. This was like checking boxes taken to the extreme. One society with three genders, one with five (both with only two different chromosome options, gender being more of a social construct in this instance), one with group marriages where people don't really care which of the five genders they're hooking up with, etc.

I have read other books where I really feel like characters are gay just because some people are. There are some books by Juliet McKenna (she doesn't get talked about much here, and they're not the best books in the world, but I have a soft spot for them) like this. And maybe any one of the stories I read from that collection I was talking about earlier would've seemed that way if I'd read it in isolation. But it is noticeable when a collection with maybe 17 stories in it, where it is not an LGBT-themed collection, has more than half the stories with gay lead characters.
 

rudyjuly2

Ran bridges next to Kaladin
#35
It was the same with Kameron Hurley's Mirror Empire series. This was like checking boxes taken to the extreme. One society with three genders, one with five (both with only two different chromosome options, gender being more of a social construct in this instance), one with group marriages where people don't really care which of the five genders they're hooking up with, etc.
I think some people in our society are now identifying 5 types: male, female, transgender male, transgender female and none/non-binary. About 95% of people do fall into the first two categories (although that stat can be debated).

This was an interesting article on chromosomes and the combinations that go into being male, female or something else. From 2015.
https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/gl...nd-y-chromosomes-think-again/article24811543/
 

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#36
Is the character gay to check boxes, or just because some people are gay?
There seems to be a school of thought that some characters should be gay without really saying so or making a big deal out of it, because, it shouldn't be a big deal.
I don't know, but in real life, I am constantly surprised when my son tells me a particular person is gay, or it finally dawns on me that the reason the two ladies I see in the High Street are always together is because they are actually "together".
Interesting the way this discussion is going . . .
I'm always willing to do a favour for another struggling independent author, so here's a plug for Chris Matthews. Anyone seriously wanting to study gay relationships in F/SF might also want to look up the author's background.
Mudlark, by Chris Matthews, my review here.

In a different context . . . I am just home from a 'Literary Lunch' with Mari Hannah as speaker. Not F/SF, she writes crime, set in the North-East of England - but the lesbianism theme runs strongly through her work - for the same reason! The stories might appeal to the 'grimdark' readers on this board - it is distinctly gritty (but I prefer rather lighter material!)
 
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Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#37
I think this is something that's very much in the eye of the beholder and in the presentation.

I think I'd start to consider something tokenism when a character's sexual orientation doesn't have a plot purpose or character purpose, and also isn't an unobtrusive detail. If an author keeps wanting to say "This character is different", but the difference doesn't actually amount to anything, that starts to feel tokenistic.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#38
I think it's useful to compare LGBT characters in other fantasy books to those in A Land Fit for Heroes, because Richard Morgan does a lot of things perfectly in that series. First of all, it's a kick ass Grimdark series that gets its edge via different themes and ideas than those found in The First Law. The world-building is incredible and original, while somehow managing to include very obvious parallels to the antebellum south that I appreciated. On the LGBT character issue, ALFfH fundamentally tells you the story of what it is to be a gay man or woman in a fantasy world. Constant persecution, injustice, and prejudice. The world defines you by it.

There's a lot of vivid gay sex in the series, and I can see why that might be hard for a lot of people to read. The scenes were never particularly lengthy, and I guess HBO has me pretty used to it. I was much more bothered by the child molestation in the first few pages of The Darkness that Comes Before and by most of the sex in The Broken Empire, and even those didn't keep me from reading on. In ALFfH, there's even more vivid straight sex than gay sex, from what I can remember, but that was pretty unappealing to me as well. Just a barbarian killer using a bunch of girls half his age whose voices grate on his nerves. There's quite a bit of lesbian fantasies and a little bit of lesbian sex, and I'll admit that those had my attention :p.
 

GiovanniDeFeo

Might as well be a Malazan regular
#39
Is the character gay to check boxes, or just because some people are gay?
Well, that is tricky because it's a cultural subject.
Example: say that you are writing a fantasy that is based on the Iliad. Well, half of the story is moved by sexuality. Achilles wants Agamennon slave for himself. But, he also has a male lover. That is a fact, and it moves the whole plot (Achilles kills Hector because he has killed Patroclus).

The thing is: you'd have to create a society in which bisexuality or homosexuality has a role, and a weight. If you just put modern 'gay people' (a descriptor that is pretty recent and it won't apply to Achilles, btw) it just doesn't make sense.
 

GiovanniDeFeo

Might as well be a Malazan regular
#40
Oh... I just read recently that Julius Caesar was affectionally called by his soldiers "husband of all wives, and wife of all husbands", referring both to his bisexuality and the fact he had the habit of sleeping in married couples' beds.
That would make quite a story!