Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Fantasy, as a genre or subgenre, has this way of painting things in words and symbols that are often obtuse. I remember reading this book where the whole city existed inside some magical glass. I recall, as well, in other works a vague wall of various and diverse "gods" who are little removed from the way gods work in the world. I recall numerous tortured heroes doing things that are viscerally challenging, of marginal interest otherwise. As a reader, right this second, I find that annoying.

Did any of it have metaphoric value? Probably not. This was all, for the most part, elements of "shiny" that make something "awesome".

As I write more fantasy, and read more, I yearn for simplicity. There are enough strange things already in the world, and hopefully enough in your fantasy world to sustain real depth. Please, focus on the elements that matter metaphorically, artistically, etc., and simplify the things that are only in the way of narrative.

The Baroque is not my ideal. In epic fantasy, and entertainment-oriented fictions, I prefer to keep the lines clean. Do not wander down a path unless it serves the larger themes, please. I don't want just awesome. I want something where every element of awesome shown also ties to a larger system of symbols, and meaning that speaks to the artistic truth of the narrative.

That is my preference today. Tomorrow, who knows? I will probably turn my nose up at such clean simplicity, and devour something hefty and baroque, like an issue of Electric Velocipede. At the moment, I aim for simplicity, and I re-read Ellen Kushner's classic "Thomas the Rhymer".


AMCrenshaw said...

Have you read:
The Easter Parade by Richard Yeats

The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Concrete by Thomas Bernhard (a particularly good contrast to your work)

J m mcdermott said...

I'll keep an eye out. A couple sound very familiar, but I'm not sure if I remember them. The Bulgakov has a catchy title.