“Science-Fantasy,” an epic genre combination

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | e-mail

 

Space ships. Robots. Artificial intelligence. Warring high-tech factions. Science!

These are a few of my favorite things.

Mystical spirits. Magic. Powers Unknown. Conversations with the gods. Dragons!

These are a few more.

But I have to read different genres to get my fix of both, right? After all, aren’t science-fiction and fantasy often shelved separately (albeit, next door to each other) in libraries? Actually, not always. It’s one of those cases where it does depend upon the library or bookstore in question: some separate them, some don’t. Some places might not even bother to separate them out from general fiction! In the latter case, I suppose that would help the argument that there are definitely stories that blur th esoteric line between science-fiction and fantasy, but it also goes to show that not everybody agrees on this. As for me, I’m always delighted when I encounter something that has elements of both science-fiction and fantasy.

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The Desert in Fantasy and Sci-Fi

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

Deserts (and desolate lands) have fascinated me since I was a kid; I’ve always felt myself drawn to them conceptually. But why? I can’t find a particular reason for this — I didn’t grow up in a desert; my ancestors don’t come from a culture strongly associated with one;  and I’ve never actually been to one. Even so, this inexplicable link with deserts feels natural. If I ever got to writing a fantasy novel, the story would most certainly commence in a desert.

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Jakku (Abu Dhabi), Star Wars : The Force Awakens

By this point, deserts have intertwined with my imagination at its core, recurring again and again in both my every day interest — specifically, history and the Middle East — and, more importantly here, the fantasy I choose to read or watch.

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What Fantasy Taught Me About Love

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

Hello readers and friends! Valentine’s Day is approaching and be sure to tune in to listen to our special Book Table episode about sex in fantasy, which will be released on the 10th! Plus, our very own Dorothy will have a special follow-up post for that day. We also had a nanosode about a married couple who write together- February seems to be the month for talk about romance.

Today, however, I’m going to talk about some of the lessons of romance, love, and moving on that I’ve gleaned from reading fantasy. One of the reasons I love fantasy so much is that as I immerse myself in worlds and their characters, I learn, through empathy or example, so much about life. These are not things one can learn from reading abstract philosophy or history that deals with power struggles and interstate interactions on a scale not relevant to daily life. There’s something about the struggle of a heroic character in fantasy, even when he or she is flawed, that inspires one to be a better person. When you live out a character’s struggles in literature, it sometimes makes you a stronger person.

Spoiler-warning

This post contains minor spoilers for both The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the second Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.

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Setting the Story: Medieval vs Early Modern

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

Fantasy, as a genre, has largely been associated with the Middle Ages. While this is obviously not always the case, especially with those stories set in the real world (many of which, like Harry Potter, take place in contemporary times), there is some truth to this. The fantasy movement did grow out of the Romantic movement of the 19th century, which was, in part, a reaction against the science and rationalism of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. The “Medievalism” of fantasy is related the genre’s use of magic, awe, emotions, folklore and escapism, as alternatives to the increasingly rationality, homogeneity, and banality of modern existence.

Thus, most constructed fantasy worlds, both historical and mythical, are essentially Medieval European in nature. These can either be based off of the Dark Ages (500-1000) of early Medieval Europe, which gives off an “empty-world” sort of feeling, or the more crowded and better-historically documented High Middle Ages (1000-1350). Jump forward a bit, and you may or may not be in the fantasy genre anymore. This is when you get to Steampunk based off of the 19th century Victorian Era, or the slightly later Dieselpunk, based off of the “interwar period” (1918-1939) through the 1950s. Relatively little fantasy is set in worlds inspired by the ancient and classical periods of human history. 

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