Levels of Magic

552353_3422252960261_735548649_n.jpg

Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

While the fantasy genre is often associated with the need for a presence of magic or the supernatural, I would argue that need not always be the case. Could a fantasy novel not, instead, solely feature complex world-building with different lands, societies, and customs without the presence of magic? I believe so. Recently, several members of Backroom Whispering Productions read The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, a 2015 hard-fantasy novel from Tor Books that features neither magic nor the supernatural, nor are there strange beasts or creatures. It is, instead, merely a fictional world entirely separate from our own, with customs, cultures, and technologies not found on Earth. And, yet, it is fantasy, especially if one assumes that certain seemingly supernatural elements or sentient races can be explained by the physical laws of their respective fictional worlds.For example, the otherwise magic-free 2014 fantasy novel The Goblin Emperor contains species such as Goblins and Elves, which for all we know, could have evolved naturally in that world.

Continue reading

Advertisements

What Fantasy Taught Me About Love

552353_3422252960261_735548649_n.jpg

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.

Continue reading

Setting the Story: Medieval vs Early Modern

552353_3422252960261_735548649_n.jpg

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. 

Continue reading

Worldbuilding: A Look at the Empty Spaces

552353_3422252960261_735548649_n.jpg

Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

During this most recent Thanksgiving vacation, my brother and I ended up watching parts of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies on television. This is not an uncommon occurrence; we’ve immersed ourselves in the beautiful scenery from Middle Earth countless times.

While watching the third Hobbit movie, Battle of the Five Armies, this time, I happened to notice and remark on something that always struck me about Middle Earth: it is, for the most part, a vast and empty place. While there are some settled regions that give us either a stately (Gondor) or cozy (Shire) vibe, settlements are few are far between, and the breathtaking beauty can be quite lonely. Unlike in the real world, where there are people and tribes everywhere (like Rohan), the settlements of this world, like Bree and Dale, are few and far between.

Continue reading