Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fantasy Setting

When I grab a Fantasy book off the shelf and read some random pages, there are a few things that cause me to place it back on the shelf. I’ve already spoke of character races and magic. The third element in Fantasy is the setting. Typically, the setting is what defines the genre, right? You can have strange races, but the setting can be Science Fiction or you can have magic, but the story may be Romance. Setting is what grounds the Fantasy genre and I’m not simply talking about a bunch of trees rather than a steel enclosure in space. Setting is broader. It is society and culture. It’s what’s used for currency and how the people or entity’s worship. It’s everything from units of measurement to burial ceremonies.

So why is setting so ignored in Fantasy? Why do writers simply take 1300’s feudalistic Europe add Dwarf’s and magic and call it Fantasy? And we as Fantasy readers let them get away with such laziness. As soon as I read “the Lord did this” or “the Lady did that”, I toss the book right back on the shelf. Whatever happened to world building in Fantasy? This is what it’s all about and perhaps the driving reason I no longer read High Fantasy. Fantasy writers have gotten lazy or simply don’t care…and why should they, we keep buying their books.

I write what I like to read. My stories have none of the feudalistic backdrop that pollutes the Fantasy genre.

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