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Thursday, July 19, 2007

23 -- The Real Truth About Fantasy

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction


Weigh in on the debate...leave a comment...see the SCORE so far.

rilla: Just don’t understand how so many people who write for children can say they don’t like fantasy…
Rilla: I hate fantasy…
rilla: You don’t count.
Rilla: Excuse me?
rilla: I said…you don’t count…
Rilla: Well, really, and how do you figure that?
rilla: You ARE fantasy…just a figment of my imagination…poof… and you’re gone!
Rilla: Umm…I’m still here…
rilla: POOF…GONE!
Rilla: Try abracadabra…
rilla: Still here? Oh all right…hang around then…do you like fiction?
Rilla: Of course I like fiction…
rilla: But you don’t like fantasy?
Rilla: HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO REPEAT…?
rilla: OK…I get the point…what do you not like about fantasy?
Rilla
: Only the hard facts for me…reality…that’s what I like… none of this airy-fairy…
rilla: Did you say reality?...hard facts?
Rilla: You heard me.
rilla: But you like fiction…
Rilla: Is there an echo in here?
rilla: Help me out …you want hard facts and reality from fiction…can I point out the problem with your logic? Reality, fact, is the antonym for fiction …and speaking of fiction...it’s a very fine line between creating an imaginary character – your standard, normal fiction – and giving her wings and letting her fly a teensy bit farther.
Rilla: Not big on flying,either.
rilla: Huh, a hundred years ago, the idea of flying would have been in the realm of fantasy…
Rilla: Now you’re talking science fiction…not my style.
rilla: Ever stopped to think that what you consider ‘normal’ fiction today includes planes and phones and cell phones and computers and…
Rilla: So? That’s what’s real…none of this winged stuff.
rilla: If you’d lived a hundred years ago, you’d turn your nose up at today’s fiction because it’d be science fiction…but, since you do read today’s fiction, and like it at that, technically, that makes you a fan of science fiction…
Rilla: OK…OK…science fiction’s all right, I guess. Still. I like my fiction to be real.
rilla: So how do you define fantasy then?
Rilla: I like the world I’m reading about to be real…all the rules should be what I’m familiar with…change the rules and you enter the realm of fantasy…
rilla: You mentioned reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Rilla: Yes, now that’s real.
rilla: Real?
Rilla: Real scary.
rilla: But it’s an imaginary world where all the rules are different…sounds like fantasy to me…
Rilla: The setting’s real…Cambridge…
rilla: You didn’t say anything about setting…you mentioned rules…Take my trilogy for example…it’s set in what is now known as Sydney and Australia…a setting you’re familiar with…just as familiar with as Cambridge…haven’t you ever enjoyed a book set in a location you don’t know anything about?
Rilla: No, no, it’s not the setting…I love new settings…it’s the rules, just because they are unfamiliar and different, doesn’t make it fantasy…
rilla: What does make it fantasy then…?
Rilla: The rules in fantasy are not only different…they don’t have to be consistent…that’s what makes for the problem…
rilla: I see…so the rules don’t have to be real…just consistent…
Rilla: Yes…consistency is the key…real structure…
rilla: I was just reading what Wikipedia has to say about fantasy and I quote: “Within a given work, the elements must not only obey rules, but for plot reasons, must also contain limits…or the story would become unstructured.” In other words, good fantasy has both rules and structure…
Rilla: I still don’t like it…give me an unknown setting with unfamiliar rules and I’ll enjoy it AS LONG AS IT IS REAL!
rilla: Real fiction.
Rilla: Yes.
rilla: So you want your fiction to be just that…fiction.
Rilla: That’s what I said.
rilla: You’re just proving my point…
Rilla: What point?
rilla: ALL fiction IS fantasy!

Weigh in on the DEBATE...
Where do you draw the line in the sand?
Leave a comment: Do you a) Love Fantasy b) Hate Fantasy c) Indifferent d) None of the Above...

The Score so far:
Love Fantasy -- Four -- rilla, LynNerd, Laini Taylor, TBS
Hate Fantasy -- One -- Rilla
Indifferent -- Three -- Sha-do, Fog-gi, C.K.
None of the Above -- One -- LindaBudz

Wikipedia's definition of fantasy
Read about The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

15 comments:

LynNerd said...

I love fantasy and sci-fi. The Oz books were my favorites as a kid. How many people do you know who don't like the Wizard of Oz? Sci-fi is cool, but I don't like the scary, horror stuff. I remember reading years ago that with fantasy you have to set the rules, the limits, the boundaries, within the fantasy world you are creating and work within them. So what you quoted goes along with what I heard. Yes, the story needs structure even if it is fantasy.
When I finish Digits, Bus, and then Storm House, I'm going to revise my fantasy novel. First thing I started writing years ago. It comes out of the drawer every few years to get tweaked, rejected again, and back in the drawer. But someday I'll be reading the revised version (hundredth revision?) at the critique meetings! And I'm looking forward to hearing the end of book one in your triology. It's got me hooked.

Rilla said...

Hey LynNerd,
I'm not into horror either. Funny thing, I was as a kid...couldn't get enough of it...now...let's just say I have an over-active imagination ;)
Didn't know you'd worked on a fantasy novel. Would love to hear it now that Digits and Bus are almost done...what is Storm House?

Laini Taylor said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE. Can't imagine life without it! Can't imagine writing without it. I think a lot of people "think" they don't like fantasy, but if they're exposed to the right books, they DO. If it's quality, well-written fantasy. And, "literary fantasy" is happening now too, the kind that's okay for snobs to read -- Time Traveler's Wife, The Historian, Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell. And I love that too!

Rilla said...

Yay, Laini! The score in favor of fantasy just shot through the roof ;) I agree with you about what people think of as stereotypical fantasy and write off the genre as a whole. I hope to change that...just as you are doing so successfully.

Rilla said...

P.S. Laini, hope the arms are better...

TBS said...

Thumbs up for fantasy. Have read Tolkien's Rings trilogy at least three times - not up on more recent stuff though except the inevitable Harry Potter.

Rilla said...

Woohoo, another weigh in for fantasy! Fantasy rocks! I've read the trilogy about ten times and The Hobbit at least as many...

LindaBudz said...

I think I'd have to go with "none of the above." Cuz I generally prefer plain old contemporary fiction, but I could name lots of fantasy (and to a lesser extent sci fi) I have enjoyed (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Wizard of Oz; HP; The Hobbit;etc.)

Rilla said...

Hey there Lindabudz, if you've loved even one book, you count as loving fantasy ;) And if you enjoy Ratatouille...there's no looking back !

C.K. said...

I'm going to say indifferent (mostly) but funny you should mention The Handmaid's Tale because I absolutely love that novel - and Oryx and Crake too.

I happily watch sci-fi and fantasy (just saw Sunshine, which was fantastic and two of my favourite movies are Children of Men and Gattaca) though. I just don't read much of it. The minute I read something that doesn't feel as if it could happen right around the corner, I feel sort of disengaged, not lost in the story like I want to be.

Love the blog idea by the way!

Rilla said...

Hey C.K.
Thanks for weighing in on the debate. I have the opposite problem that you do. If a story doesn't carry me far far away to a reality so different from my own I can completely lose myself in it...I lose interest fast. Of course, good non-fantasy can do that as well. I guess some of us need to escape this world just a little more than others ;)
Love your article on cyber harassment of women. The more the sexist racist bigoted minority gets its back up against a corner, the nastier it is going to get. You are right, we must continue to stand up for our rights whether it is in cyber space, my space or my home...good on ya.

C.K. said...

I'm all for escaping too. I guess we just have different modes of transport, huh?

I'm glad you liked the Star article (thanks for linking to it!). The stuff I'm running into on the net lately is just burning me up and you're right, I think it's going to get nastier. Hard to believe it's 2007 sometimes!

LindaBudz said...

I just realized that most of the fantasy I like (in fact, three of the four that I named) starts out in the real world until the MC is transported into a fantasy world via some sort of portal. So the reader gets to experience the fantasy world via the POV of a character who is discovering it along with the reader. I think that makes it more accessible to me.

Rilla said...

Hey C.K.
Yeah, it's hard to believe we're in 2007. We seem routinely to leave some parts of our population in another era. Leave me in fantasy land and I'll be happy too ;) BTW, I was thinking of your article when I wrote the next post.

Rilla said...

Hey LindBudz,
Good point. It is a great way to make the introduction to a fantastical world easier on the reader when the protagonist is discovering it simultaneoulsy.
In other books, like the Hobbit, even though the protagonist is a strange unheard of creature, he has such human characteristics and lifestyle that you relate to him immediately. And the real fantasy part of the book, seen through his POV, is new to him as well.
Hey, my middle-grade adventure uses the first device and my YA trilogy, the second...maybe you'll love them ;0