Middle ages, Dark Ages and Premodern straight fantasy
ven at vvcrane.junglelink.co.uk
Tue Aug 22 20:50:01 EDT 2000
sorry about the repeated message (again) if I ever catch me or
my computer doing it I'll know how to stop it happening.............
I started this mail ages ago, then my computer decided it wouldn't
talk to its new monitor after all and I rather lost momentum.
I'm having trouble articulating what I wanted to say about epic or
high fantasy but this is how the mail started.
> But the big question is, WHY? Why should epic fantasy have a pre-industrial
Its a good question and I'd like to propose a different kind of
answer. The first part I've cribbed from the encyclopedia of fantasy,
ed John Clute and John Grant (I should mention again that DWJ
was a contribuitor and at times it reads like the intellectual cousin
of the Tough Guide). The encyclopedia contains entries about the
themes and motifs of fantasy as well as authors and works.
"A fantasy text is a self-coherent narrative which when set in our
reality, tells a story which is impossible in the world as we perceive
it; when set in an otherworld or secondary world, that otherworld
will be impossible, but stories set there will be possible in that
This is not intended as a closed definition, as Clute says fantasy is
a fuzzy set, something you know when you see it. In the entry
called Fantasyland he deals with that place in which genre fantasy
is set. He says it displays features from a more or less fixed set of
landscape ingredients (see Tough Guide) and goes on to say that
the plot in High Fantasy interacts with the landscape in a particular
way. He means by this the way in which the land suffers from
fading or thinning, or weather chaos or unhealthy growth.
This is as far as I'd got. Now I'm going to go straight for my
intended conclusion. The setting of High Fantasy is in a world but
not on a planet. I came to this via a world I'm designing for role
playing. I wanted to set something in that place where the
technology is so advanced that it is indistinguishabe from what we
call magic and use plot elements from epic fantasy. Its an isolated
colony world where the technology has run wild and created a large
area of dangerously out of control nano- and bio- tech called the
Blight. Basically its a place of dangerous transformation, where
nothing can be trusted to be as it seems. So I have the landscapse
as integral to plot stuff. However as soon as I decided I was using a
planet as my setting everything changed and it became undeniably
Fantasies may be set on planets, obviously, its something to do
with what the people in the world know of that world. Once there's
the idea of spinning through space around a sun the world is finite
and knowable. Its a different paradigm (meta model), not at odds
with fantasy, just with high fantasy. This is probably very relevant
to the subject that started all this off --
the role of universities in fantasy.
These are ideas in desperate need of feedback, very much IMHO.
While I'm here, totally off topic, I'm very delighted with the www at
the moment. Via the web site and chatroom for an obscure folk
rock band me and my school friends used to follow, we're all
getting back in touch after our post school diaspora.
Yours in a shrinking world
You are trapped in that bright moment where you learned your doom.
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