Where Is Fantasy Going next

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#1
I have long got back into reading but from the the books I have read, and by reading the best Fantasy lists this is the time of the 'gritty fantasy' books before this it used to be 'The Farm Boy with a Sword' these are the only two I can think of at the moment though there maybe more that I have missed out.

So what do you think will be the next evolution of Fantasy or where would you like to see it go ?

Will there be a next one or will authors just retread old themes and just add twists to them ?
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#2
I think this might be a question dividable by terms, Fad versus Trend
the defining difference is that a Fad is orchestrated from the top down... as in companies or organizations deciding whats next, and through an advertising campaign and pushing the fad it becomes popular (or often doesn't)
a Trend on the other hand is more grassroots, the people are encouraging each other to buy this or do that resulting in an increase in interest.

For the rest of this, its my opinion on which is what.
I think the Whole Farm Boy with a Sword, was more of a fad while at the same time there seemed to be a trend for Tolkeinesque worldscapes
In the same vein I'd say this more gritty style is probably a trend. at the same time there seems to be a big fad on Harry Potter style fantasy, (contentwise that is) by that I mean, books based on magic themes very HIGH magic worlds and concepts, as well as the blending of traditional fantasy concepts with Vampires also seems to be more of a fad than a trend

If it moves away from this anytime soon, I'd say it would be The new Hobbit Movies that edge the driving force, as the only Fantasy theme not in Vogue right now that's receiving a lot of attention. I don't think this will revert back to the Large and details Character vs Environment of the Tolkeinesque worldscapes because the movies don't seem to focus on it as much as the book. but maybe a push towards more Adventurous Fantasy, setting off on quests and missions again with a low magic world and being serious but lighthearted. as far as what the next fad will be......hard to say what the publishers might push on us.

(ohh previous Fantasy trends would be Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Gothic, and realist.... Im not sure what you call 1920- 1980 [where I see Realism end and Farm boy with a sword pick up] I see a lot of Pulp, and Sword and Sorcery, but I don't know what the trends are in this period.)

again this is IMO
 

Buffy V Slayer

Knows Who John Uskglass Is
#4
(ohh previous Fantasy trends would be Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Gothic, and realist.... Im not sure what you call 1920- 1980 [where I see Realism end and Farm boy with a sword pick up] I see a lot of Pulp, and Sword and Sorcery, but I don't know what the trends are in this period.)
Good insight Bierschneeman. I feel like there is a developing trend towards post-structuralist values, as well, but maybe only because I just finished reading The First Law. Character types are being deconstructed and reformed in more ambiguous ways, and the binary concept of the hero and the villain is being especially confused. Even the idea of the heroic mission has been confused recently. I mentioned The First Law, but others have been doing this as well. ASOIAF has this feel, and some of the characters and concepts in Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man display these ambiguous qualities. Traditional categories and concepts in fantasy are going the way of the Dodo. I think this is another trend that has been developing in the past 40 years or so.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Right now I don't think there are any common trends in fantasy. Is there a lot of gritty fantasy coming out? YES. Are there a lot of fantasy writers completely going against common fads/trends. YES. Is there a lot of basic children fantasy. YES. Most of the contemporary fantasy writers I've read don't seem to be following any trends - N.K. Jemisin, China Mieville, Steven Erikson, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss - get my point.

What I'd like to see is more futuristic fantasy out there. That's the direction I hope fantasy eventually takes.
 

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#7
What I'd like to see is more futuristic fantasy out there. That's the direction I hope fantasy eventually takes.
Kind of like Fantasy sci-fi then ? Perhaps a good example of this would be something like the Final Fantasy games that have a futuristic setting with magic involved.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#9
Right now I don't think there are any common trends in fantasy. Is there a lot of gritty fantasy coming out? YES. Are there a lot of fantasy writers completely going against common fads/trends. YES. Is there a lot of basic children fantasy. YES. Most of the contemporary fantasy writers I've read don't seem to be following any trends - N.K. Jemisin, China Mieville, Steven Erikson, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss - get my point.
I haven't actually read N.K. Jemisin, so I can't comment on her (although reading a bit of the summary of the first book doesn't make it sound particularly 'unique'), but otherwise, of those names, the only ones I can think of who might actually qualify for not following trends is China Mieville, and maybe Steven Erikson. And if Erikson qualifies, it's going to be more because of the Kharkanas thing he's doing (I've heard people say that it 'reads a lot like a play'), rather than Malazan.

I'm not trying to question you in particular, but I don't want this post to become a mess of quotes and fragments, so I'm going to try to hit everything off of just that. Unless we are defining trends differently than I have always defined them, then authors are ABSOLUTELY following trends. An extrapolation or elaboration on something another author got big for doesn't mean someone is not following the mold, it just means they are using actual imagination to do it with. There's nothing necessarily original in KKC. Rothfuss is just presenting it extremely well. Brandon Sanderson's main claim to fame other than WoT isn't insanely original stories (although Mistborn is more creative than many), it's his cool magic systems, and the fact that the guy seems to almost literally never be not writing. And this is not hate for either of those guys. I would consider myself a fan of both.

I don't want to turn this into a battlefield where we stake out territory over our favorite authors, and defend their endeavors against all assaults, so I'm not going to get hella into it. But gritty fantasy is the current trend. You can call it original if you want, and it can be, but that doesn't mean that it isn't at this point becoming something of the status quo in fantasy literature. Subpar authors are making subpar stories and they are becoming disproportionately popular for their actual worth. Concepts of hero and villain, and deconstructions of character and 'traditional fantasy story' may be original at a certain point, but they stop being that way when you have how many people doing them. This doesn't mean the stories can't still be entertaining, but in this case it's giving too much credit to things that you like, confusing (purposely or otherwise) minor fluctuations for groundbreaking new ideas. It's not something you'd even consider allowing the sort of fantasy you hate to get away with. 'Farm boy with a magic sword' isn't even nearly as common a concept among professional authors as would be suggested by the amount of times we mention it.

As for where it goes next, based on the trends, it's going to go from gritty, to gritty with a very tongue in cheek sense of humor (is Abercrombie already doing this? I read a few pages of BSC and it seemed that way a little), a lot of self-referential jokes and lampshade hanging, and irony. I'm guessing this because it's where movies have gone. From here I imagine it will start to go beyond simply 'gritty' and into 'outright horrifying and terrible.' Gritty fantasy already functions in some capacity as a challenge to readers to imagine just how horrible a world can be, and maybe there's some kind of catharsis in that for us ("at least we aren't going to get eaten alive forever like people in _____ " ). If that's the case, the natural evolution would just be to take it further and further until we either hit a wall of 'it can't get any worse,' or until people become so tired of it that cheerful heroic fantasy starts to look appealing again. And then we get to do the whole thing over.

And I was curious about that as well, Nighteyes. I can't tell if moonspawn means science fantasy, or just, like, steampunk-y sort of fantasy. Essentially Final Fantasy VII, VIII, XIII, etc. as books or something.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#10
Well I don't know where it's going in terms of books, but it seems to me that fantasy is making a way to TV and big screens in a full swing. Just look at GoT or newly announced Rothfuss's series or a movie like the Seventh Son.
Previously fantasy series didn't have such a big bang to them. I think GoT changed everything.
 

Nighteyes

Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life
#11
There is definitely a boom in cinematic fantasy. Game of thrones opened some doors, as did potter. I am honestly quite excited for american gods and name of the wind, as nervous as I am about how good they will be. There are a few others that I would like to see on the screen.

I think the farseer trilogy would be difficult to do, but none the less, I would like to see someone give it a go. Also I wouldnt mind seeing what someone could do with the night angel trilogy.

I am also curious to see what happens with the lies of locke lamora now that lynch is allegedly back at it. Maybe they will dust off the rights to that one.

Wheel of time... I honestly think that it is an impossible task.

And a prediction. When hbo is done with game of thrones, I would not be surprised to see mr abercrombies tales come to life.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#12
Essentially Final Fantasy VII, VIII, XIII, etc. as books or something.
I think that would actually be kind of hard to read. And that's coming from someone who loves those games (well, I haven't played XIII or the one that's online, but all the others back to the original on NES). I guess because I don't want a 20-chapter diversion on racing chocobos or seeking out ribbon accessories for every character (or at least the 3 I actually used). Though I suppose the setting and general idea of a fight against an evil corporation, if tweaked by a skilled author, could work.

P.S. I was glad when Aeris finally died.

P.P.S. I think I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning.
 

João Ribeiro

Journeyed there and back again
#13
Well I think YA is definitely getting a boost these days, I'm not sure if it's a fad or a trend but Potter made that market likable and profitable. Sanderson and Abercombie I'm looking at you guys.

Regarding the future of fantasy itself, TV may bring in new writers GOT style so I think gritty is here to stay for a while but the grey characters angle has a lot of merit, people, as readers, don't quite take to the Enid Blighton "the man who looks fishy and has a bad mustache is the bad guy" angle anymore, people have layers, ... yes donkey like onions... so grey characters are easier to identify with. The Farm boy is now out of fashion since people immediately shout out "derivative derivative".

Oh and vampires are going to lay low for a while until people forget about Twilight. All except Thomas Raith. I'd sure like to see Edward Cullen get his shiny arse kicked by Thomas.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#14
I think that would actually be kind of hard to read. And that's coming from someone who loves those games (well, I haven't played XIII or the one that's online, but all the others back to the original on NES). I guess because I don't want a 20-chapter diversion on racing chocobos or seeking out ribbon accessories for every character (or at least the 3 I actually used). Though I suppose the setting and general idea of a fight against an evil corporation, if tweaked by a skilled author, could work.

P.S. I was glad when Aeris finally died.

P.P.S. I think I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning.

Well, obviously certain sacrifices have to be made for the sake of adapting a story to its medium. I don't see a chocobo breeding and racing interlude in a novel/series, because you're not gating anything to impede a player's progress. Even Final Fantasy VIII, which was probably the closest to an actual 'storybook experience' would not have had certain elements ("Hold up, hold up." Zell said to the Galbadian soldiers. "Lemme just junction some Ultima to my gloves so I can punch you really hard."), or dealt with gameplay concerns, which was what chocobo-ing, hunting down 'secret' GFs, and even the card game (which was nonetheless super duper fun, might I add) were all about.
 

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
#16
Sorry haven't read everyone's post as my brain is fried. However, I still think that we are in the Trilogies are all the craze phase.

Name your top 10 standalone books published in the last 10 years. GO!
 

João Ribeiro

Journeyed there and back again
#17
Name your top 10 standalone books published in the last 10 years. GO!
Elantris
Warbreaker
The Rithmatist
Notice a theme?
Any Dresden one (they are kind of half-breed between stand-alone and a huge saga).
 

Buffy V Slayer

Knows Who John Uskglass Is
#18
Concepts of hero and villain, and deconstructions of character and 'traditional fantasy story' may be original at a certain point, but they stop being that way when you have how many people doing them. This doesn't mean the stories can't still be entertaining, but in this case it's giving too much credit to things that you like, confusing (purposely or otherwise) minor fluctuations for groundbreaking new ideas.
Concepts of hero and villain, and deconstructions of character and 'traditional fantasy story' may be original at a certain point, but they stop being that way when you have how many people doing them. This doesn't mean the stories can't still be entertaining, but in this case it's giving too much credit to things that you like, confusing (purposely or otherwise) minor fluctuations for groundbreaking new ideas.
Quite right. The authors who invented the style could be classed as original or groundbreaking, where the rest are following the trend. I don't think it's a case of giving too much credit. We're talking about current trends, and this is the definition of a trend.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#19
Well, obviously certain sacrifices have to be made for the sake of adapting a story to its medium. I don't see a chocobo breeding and racing interlude in a novel/series, because you're not gating anything to impede a player's progress. Even Final Fantasy VIII, which was probably the closest to an actual 'storybook experience' would not have had certain elements ("Hold up, hold up." Zell said to the Galbadian soldiers. "Lemme just junction some Ultima to my gloves so I can punch you really hard."), or dealt with gameplay concerns, which was what chocobo-ing, hunting down 'secret' GFs, and even the card game (which was nonetheless super duper fun, might I add) were all about.
I know, and that's why I said the last thing before the P.S.

I have to wonder though -- when you start removing all the "extra" things that make a good game but don't make a good book, what's left of the story? Does it still make any sense? I actually came across a self-published novel once where the FFVII influence was so strong I had to stop midway through the sample. (Which is why I said a "skilled" author up above...)

At any rate, I think it would be difficult to write something like that without inadvertently making it sound like steampunk, which I am not big on. I'm sure there's someone out there who could make it work.

Name your top 10 standalone books published in the last 10 years. GO!
I have no idea about publication dates. Let's see if I can even name 10 standalone books that I remember ever reading:
  1. Song of the Beast by Carol Berg
  2. Tigana by GGK
  3. The Lions of al-Rassan by GGK
  4. A Song for Arbonne by GGK
  5. Elantris by Sanderson
  6. Warbreaker by Sanderson (no offense, but I thought this one was silly and would put it nowhere near the top of a list of favorites)
  7. The Barbed Coil by J.V. Jones
  8. Under Heaven by GGK
  9. Ysabel by GGK
  10. The Last Light of the Sun by GGK
  11. The Swordbearer by Glen Cook
  12. The Tower of Fear by Glen Cook
  13. Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler
  14. The Devil's Diadem by Sara Douglass
  15. Blackdog by K.V. Johansen
  16. The Company by K.J. Parker (am not a fan, but we've been over that elsewhere)
  17. The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet
What do you know, I guess I can. There's clearly a theme in my list as well. Maybe two themes, as I note a lot of those authors are women. I think the publication dates span several decades, though.