The Jub Jub Bird

A literary blog with fantasy tendencies

Dispelling a Few Myths (or Slaying a Few Old Dragons)

Sci-Fi and Fantasy is the domain of geeks and no-lifes right?  The type of people who wish they were Conan the Barbarian: wielding bloody great swords with their beef-cake bodies, while women and monsters drop at their feet; when in fact they’re really spotty, uncoordinated nerds with no social skills, an evident lack of shaving equipment and one too many iron maiden t-shirts?  Right?

Well, yes.  Right.  I’m sure there are some people who fit nicely into the stereotype.  But if we’re into stereotyping, then we should also record that Football fans are the type of people who wish they were David Beckham: wielding deadly right boots on the ends of their perfectly toned legs, while women and defenders drop at their feet; when really they’re overweight, uncoordinated beer-monsters with no conversational alternatives, an evident lack of non-club related clothing and one too many match-day programs.  And Radiohead fans are the type of people who want to be Thom Yorke: wielding rapier-like wit, detached irony and urban guerrilla tactics in the fight against faceless corporations, while spotty uncoordinated nerds drop at their feet; when really they’re well-adjusted 30-somethings with young families, a guardian subscription and no immediate plans to smash the system.  Ok so I got a bit carried away with that last one but you get the general idea.  Stereotypes exist but they are as one-dimensional as the loin-clothed characters in those pulp fantasy epics read by spotty, bearded sci-fi geeks (ooh – what a give away!). Anyway, you know what I’m saying.

And for another thing, Fantasy is a very broad term.  We’ve come to think of it as Dungeons and Dragons, or the publishing-company-bookselling-industrial-complex has encouraged us to think of it this way, so they can pigeon-hole and market it to spotty, bearded, sci-fi… ok, I’ve done that gag to death now.  But I prefer to include the whole gamut of speculative fiction, from generic men-in-tights cheese to booker-nominated magic realism classics, from epic space opera to myth-based historic fiction, under the banner of Fantasy.  I suppose Speculative Fiction is intended to cover all these bases but that term sounds a bit too much like an apology in advance to me.  Like we’re a touch sensitive about our interest in all things escapist and attempting a pre-emptive strike against those who may sneer from the side. Escapism is the operative word here, whether we wish we were Conan the Barbarian, David Beckham, or Thom Yorke.  Even if we don’t wish we were anyone else but simply enjoy exploring the endless possibilities of life in different worlds, with different rules, through other people’s imaginations.  The wide-scale success of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, shows there’s mass-appeal out there for ‘magical’ escapism beyond the fan-boy ghetto.  Let’s just call it Fantasy, I say.  But let’s be aware of the lazy stereotypes and the dreadful pulp nonsense, which comes with the territory.  And let’s try and improve the image of that catch-all term, in our favour.  Let’s praise those writers who blur the lines between Fantasy and Literature in interesting and thought-provoking ways and let’s be critical of those writers who churn out cliched pot-boilers.  Perhaps we’ll play some small part in bringing about a wider acceptance of the term, in the popular imagination and ultimately mainstream publishing.   That’s the aim of this blog anyway: tough on generic fantasy cheese, tough on the causes of generic fantasy cheese.

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July 1, 2009 - Posted by | Musings

1 Comment »

  1. […] have already defined what I mean by fantasy here.   When I came across this, admittedly ancient, but utterly inspired piece by Nick Lowe on plot […]

    Pingback by The Jub Jub Manifesto – Part 1 « The Jub Jub Bird | April 22, 2010 | Reply


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