Posts Tagged ‘Tolkien’

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about gritty fantasy or grim dark fantasy, and I had the pleasure of talking a friend’s ear off about everything I knew on the subject. And, it struck me. Gritty fantasy, or books with anti-hero protagonists, have been around for a lot longer than I thought. Let me specify this. I mean, if we were to talk about strictly anti-hero protagonists, we would spend a very long time discussing whether or not mythological Greek heroes counted. (Achilles!)

I’m talking about Glen Cook Black Company style. Game of Thrones. Blade Itself. Those kinds of books. In Game of Thrones and Blade Itself, the magic is substantially underused. There isn’t a strict system like in modern high fantasy books (everything by Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks), for one. I think it’s an ironic thing. With a lot of gritty books that try to prove themselves to be every bit as dark as Game of Thrones, they try to be as different as possible from Lord of the Rings style novels. For the really good gritty books, they seem to use the same style of magic from Lord of the Rings style books. (Albeit without a whole new language. Who has the time for that nowadays?)

In my book, the Line of Corruption, my protagonists are all questionable in their morality. We have a former mass murderer, a mercenary with the potential to be the strongest in existence, a politician that controls everything in his city… It’s all very questionable. I like it that way. I like those types of protagonists. They’re very interesting to write, and I like to think that there’s a good market out there for them. However, I have to face the fact that everything has most likely been thought up. I didn’t create a mind-blowingly original magic system (I couldn’t access the mind of Brandon Sanderson. The guys from Being John Malkovich weren’t up for it).

So, if a kid like me is writing “gritty” heroes (although they’re in a world where a definite magic system is in place a la Brent Weeks ), it’s safe to say that the gritty genre isn’t really a subgenre anymore. At least, not what people might think. Right now, George R.R. Martin is considered to be one of the most popular writers alive, and a legend in fantasy literature. Moorcock and Cook started it, GRRM took it to the next level, and Joe Abercrombie’s now in the same level. The Knight in Shining Armor is a cliche. No doubt about it. But, I’m afraid that anti-heroes with questionable morals are quickly becoming cliches, if they’re not already.

Speaking as someone that likes gritty stories a lot, it’s hard to come to terms that it’s no longer as revolutionary or as edgy as it was in the 70’s-90’s. Winter has come and gone. Now it’s summer, and all our dark anti-heroes are baking in the sun with all the rest of the knights in shining armor.

I do think that the next “big thing” will be dark epic fantasy. The Way of Shadows (one of the most popular books of that particular genre) is already well known. But, it’s not yet at the same level of infamy as  Game of thrones. (Which is fair. That’s something that FEW writers will ever achieve.)

Or maybe Tolkien-style stories might make a comeback. Nothing wrong with Wheel of Time-like stories as long as they’re original enough. Maybe books like Mistborn may come into the limelight, too. A Mistborn Tv series. Or maybe Urban Fantasy gets a big shout out. I don’t know. Fantasy, as a whole, is changing practically daily. I still like gritty stories, but I am looking forward to reading stories that don’t try especially hard to have “unlikeable” characters. Filling your entire cast with Joffrey-wannabes doesn’t help, from what I hear.

So, what do you think? Any ideas as to what the next BIG THING will be? Leave a comment. Might be that you’re right. Do you disagree with me? Feel free to tell me why. Now, I’m going to go read a fantasy book. Care to guess what genre it belongs to?

~Jian

Advertisements

To be honest, I didn’t realize why I wanted to be a writer ’till earlier this morning. Well, I knew why, but before then, I didn’t actually put it into a proper sentence aloud. I was jogging 6 kilometers and… (Jian, was this a ploy to casually slip in the fact that you ran TWO kilometers? Yeah, that’s right, people. He only did two kilometers)

Ahem. 2.5 kilometers, as I said. The person I was jogging with asked me what I wanted to be, and I casually proceeded to tell him my life story. Told him about all my dream jobs – which consisted of being a soldier in World War II (I was five, in my defense.), a surgeon for all the cash, and finally a writer. Being a writer makes sense to me. My hands are too shaky to be a surgeon, and I’m way too pampered to be a soldier in World War II. Also, World War II was over fifty years ago. There’s that.

But even when I wanted to be a surgeon, I still wrote. I remember three stories that I started when I was seven, which I thought was some of the greatest things ever, at the time. My parents, who didn’t have it in them to tell me, said I was a gifted writer. They still tell me that today, but after their deception when I was seven… I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll believe them when I’m successful.

Maybe.

My favorite of the three stories was this mash up of Lost and Band of Brothers. At the time, they were my two favorite shows. I mean, I can’t say I really understood some of the twists in the plot of Lost… and I couldn’t see the awful things that happened in WWII Band of Brothers was trying to convey. I looked at both shows, and saw the glory in them. So, I wrote about these WWII paratroopers that get stranded on an island, and they end up being forced to fight terrorists.

I didn’t even account for them not being able to contact any other people. I just thought it was a natural thing for people to get stranded and not even try to find a way off the island… Normal.

Second story was a joint project with my then best friend. He was a big fan of the Lord of the Rings, and so was I. So, we wrote a massive rip off of Lord of the Rings. Tolkien would have been crying in his grave with each word I typed.

And the third story, which I consider to be the worst, was a Fantastic Four ripoff. The funny thing is I didn’t even watch the movies or read the comic books. I just saw a trailer of the first Fantastic Four movie, and thought: “I think I could write a book about that… only with different powers.”

My Johnny Storm ripoff had electrokinesis instead of pyrokinesis, though. And to this day, I still believe that electrokinesis is a cooler ability than pyrokinesis. I mean, you can’t control pyrokinesis. Really, try to fight some bad guys in a dense wooden area. See how far that gets you. But with electro-

That’s beside the point. Anyways, all things I considered, I was a horrible writer. I didn’t have an innate talent for it, but I had fun. Skip to a few years later, and I wanted to do something more with it. I could continue to perfect my fan fiction writing skills ( which was, in all honesty, was abysmal ), or I could write my own book. And four years later, I realize that I really wanted to be a writer because I had fun doing it. With my academic subjects, I didn’t have an innate talent for them, either. I had to work hard on each subject in school.

However, I was even worse at writing, yet I had fun? That did not make sense to me. At all. But nothing, up to that point, had ever given me the same amount of joy that writing did. And I think that’s what started it all. My boredom, and the fact that writing was one of the few things that quenched the boredom. That, and television. But, I couldn’t really make a career out of watching Tv, now could I?

(Unless you’re really good at it, which you aren’t.)

Ignore the parentheses. So, anyways. I wrote an earlier article called Writers Assemble, and that was loads of fun to write. But, while I touched on the subject of origin stories, I didn’t actually talk about why I started to work hard to be a writer. The reason why in that article, I mention a rather different story than the stories above is that I didn’t really start considering myself a writer ’till about three years after I stopped writing terrible stories that ripped off amazing stories.

So, if you’d do me the honor, please tell me below in the comments why you became a writer. Or, link me to a blogpost where you say ( in much more coherence than I did ) why you decided to continue writing after the initial ‘meh’ moments of your writing. That’d be pretty awesome, and I hope you do that. Thanks!

P.S: Also want to say Thanks to everyone that Liked the last post, and commented. Pretty awesome of those people. If you liked this post, please remember to Like, Follow, and Comment. All three, preferably. Thanks! Talk to you later!

~J.A. Romano