Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Guest Post: Can there be such a thing as “Too Much Fantasy?” by David Emrys

David E. Emrys is the author of a couple of self-published fantasies. I got to chatting with him on Twitter, and he seemed like a good fellow. So I asked if he’d like to write something. And he did. So here it is.


Is the fantasy world over-populated? It’s a valid question and one that keeps raising its ugly head in the current era of ‘Lord of the Authors: The Fellowship of the Fantasy’.

Without battling out the topic of Indie vs Traditional, I want to take a moment and talk about fantasy worlds. A simple blog post can’t cover every single fantasy tome to have ever graced a book shelf (or a digital market place like Amazon, for all you e-publishing gurus), but we can highlight a few.

J.R.R. Tolkien with his elves, and his dwarves, his hobbits with their hairy feet, and his trolls. Ringwraiths, a dark lord, and a powerful artefact that is a curse to all those who bear it.

George R.R. Martin with his thrones, and his games, the squabbles of men, and the treachery, futility and thick-fast plots (oh, and if you’ve watched the TV adaptation, there’s a fair number of boobs, too).

Ursula K. Le Guin – if there was a Godmother of fantasy, it would be le Guin. Her stories are folklore brought to life, magic and mysticism intoned with a rich world building.

Robin Hobb, who’s back catalogue boasts more tomes than the knives of Joe Abercrombie’s cast (below) – claimed by Orson Scott Card to have “set the standard for the most serious fantasy novel”.

Peter V. Brett – demons galore! How ‘man’ (and woman!) can overcome their fears for what they believe is right.

Karen Miller strives to break down the old fantasy clichés, using them where she will, but bending and twisting them into something new, pushing ‘fantasy’ into a more ‘fantastical’ realm.

Mark Lawrence explores the moral depravity of a Prince who won’t let anything – or anyone – stand in his way, even if that involves burning the world just to keep warm.

Michael J. Sullivan brings bromance to the fold (Webster’s unofficial definition of bromance: “bro-mance, a combination of brother and romance, meaning ‘a brotherly romance’ between two males.” Often seen sharing large quantities of bruises, beauties, and beatings) with a healthy dose of death-defying escapades and swashbuckling adventures.

John Gwynne breaths fresh life into the folklore and legend side of fantasy, giving Giants, Wyrms and even Angels a gritty new lease with a Nordic/Celtic feel.

Brent Weeks forefronts assassins in one, and mages in another, but above all else they struggle with their own powers for further means.

Brandon Sanderson… Magic, need I say more? But then again, his world-building is second to none.

Joe Abercrombie touts more knives than any sane man should ever need, but lucky for us not all of his characters can be deemed sane enough to count or care for that matter. But when all is said and done, it’s down to being what you’re meant to be, and (as he often states by way of infamous barbarian Logen NineFingers) once you’ve got a task to do, it’s better to do it than live with the fear of it.

Helen Lowe, a relative newcomer to the fold, but with her fresh blood added to the mix, the 2012 Gemmell Award winner (Morningstar category) weighs in with a hefty dose of darker, grittier fantasy and a deeper meaning of how we treat each other.

I’ve barely even touched the surface here. I could go on for hours. James Barclay, David Gemmell (big daddy of British heroic-fantasy), Robert E. Howard, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, Tamora Pierce, David Dalglish, Mazarkis Williams, Moses Sirergar III, Ben Galley, Steven Erikson, Christopher Paolini… ok, ok – I’ll stop, now.

So, the fantasy genre is a busy set of worlds. But each and every one of them is different. Yes, a lot of them share themes or creatures (elves, dragons, hobbits, dwarves, damsels in distress… hobbits, or other creatures with hairy feet?), but would you really say: “No more!” Heck, I’m sure if you asked a lot of these authors they’d admit to being inspired by one another. Of course they would.

Ok, let’s imagine if someone said “No more” to Robert Jordan. Would we have the Peter V. Bretts, and Christopher Paolinis of today? “Put that pen down, David Gemmell…”, and voila, no John Gwynnes or James Barclays. How many would we lose if Robert E. Howard had run out of ink on the first page, and Conan had been lost to an unfinished sentence?

IMAGINE THE CHAOS if someone told J.R.R. Tolkien to shave his hobbit and write a rom-com? Think of the children, pray for their futures!

Publishing is an ever changing industry, and fantasy is an ever changing realm of possibilities. If you’re Indie or Traditional, reader or writer… could you really say NO to one last fantasy? And before you start culling dwarves, shaving hobbit feet, or cashing in dragons’ fangs and hoards for the last copy of 50 Shades of Grey, just remember:

A Fantasy author isn’t just for Christmas. They’re for life.

(And even then, they’ll think of a way to come back and haunt you from the afterlife – they are, after all, in the business of fantasy.)


D.E.M. Emrys is the author of two eBooks in his Wroge Elements fantasy series: From Man to Man (UK/US – currently free on both) and It Began With Ashes (UK/US).


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