Tanaqui tweaver at imbolc.ucc.ie
Sat Aug 26 23:18:38 EDT 2000


+ > + However as soon as I decided I was using a planet as my setting 
+ > +everything changed and it became undeniably science fiction.

I still can't split stuff into SF and fantasy, so it's not fair to question
the "planet-setting means it's SF" decision you made (though the high-tech e.g.
satellite surveys and supporting literature provide further support).

You say high fantasy doesn't happen on planets. Can it happen on Flat Earths
(thinking Narnia here), or other planes we haven't yet seen through a 
telescope? Does it not happen on a feasible infrastructure?

+ > + 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. 

I'm not sure this is true, although it's so general it would be hard to
disprove. Is a Ringworld finite and knowable, even to someone with a 
Protector's lifespan? Or does the background have to be a vague realm studded
with nunneries for the sacking, the looming fortress of the Dark Lord, and
sanctified glens to be High Fantasy? More the sort of alternate world that
those attempting time-travel find as their past in Niven's fantasy stories?
Or the Fantasyland so thoroughly delineated by DWJ?

+ In a fantasy setting, especially high fantasy its a lot easier to be 
+ mysterious. 

And GMs sometimes use that to cheat. In high fantasy, you can have plain
inexplicable stuff happen, as in _Paranoia_ you can set up the players in
inescapable ways... but saying "the dragon did it" is as bad as giving a
clone a 36-digit designation before sending it to the briefing room through
a bright blue corridor.

+ going to need to have a good excuse not to answer reasonable 
+ questions. "Nobody knows" was not going to be a sufficient answer.

+ Have you ever tried to divide your books into separate SF and 
+ fantasy sections or been in a bookshop which has? 

Publishers often try it, so libraries and bookshops feel compelled, but
it is indeed a silly endeavour. My books are in clusters by author arranged
by "feel" (DWJ's saying that she gets a feel for the book before writing it
has meaning to me, because I very much feel that books have character).

And, of course, every time we define a field, some smart alec has to subvert
it |-) Pitching for new members of our SF group at freshers' fair, we have
this high-speed mantra for what we cover - magic realism/slipstream fiction/
sf/fantasy/dash of horror/cyberpunk and cypherpunk/fairy tales/space opera/
etc etc

+ I have a couple of books of criticism by Ursula Leguin, I'll have to 
+ see what she has to say.

And, just as interestingly, what she retracts or changes. I think that going
back to change the pronouns in one of your articles because of a feminist
change of heart is a bit bizarre. Without time-travel, you're never going to
be able to make the change fully effective: add a note, and leave it. Thus 
_Tehanu_, a fine novel and an interesting coda to _Earthsea_, rather than
New Improved versions of the trilogy without wizardly misogyny.

She seems to join TS Eliot in thinking that people should be protected from
a critic's early and flawed apprehensions rather than rolling with paradigm
shifts or complete reversals like Wittgenstein's.

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