The Death of Fantasy? What?
Earlier today, on the Gollancz Blog, A.J. Dalton wrote a post pondering the “death of fantasy.” The posit is that because there seems to be a lack of magic in some recently published fantasy that fantasy itself is in danger of either “dying” or undergoing radical change. My own comment on the blog post argued that fantasy is not going anywhere, nor is it becoming less magical.
The question boils down to what one reads. I would argue that a lot of the seeming absence of magic is probably a result of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Magic plays a very small and limited role, and magic’s limited role has become a point for those inspired by him. The success of the series can be pointed to the human conflict over the Iron Throne and what that conflict does to the people involved. This means that the actual epic conflict gets pushed to the back burner.
It is not beyond reason to assume that more recent fantasy writers, inspired by Martin, would have similar attitudes towards magic. In a way, magic may be a victim to the general rebellion against Tolkiensian fantasy that has been going on for the past few years.
Does that mean that magic itself is becoming less prominent in the genre? No. Read Mieville’s Bas-Lag books, Patrick Rothfuss, R. Scott Bakker, Harry Potter, etc. Hell, read manga- Fairy Tail is all about the wizards. And it is awesome.
This whole thing annoys me to no end. It is the same kind of bunk spewed about science fiction every year. How long has science fiction been at death’s door? Twenty years? Still not dead yet.
Fantasy is not dead yet, and neither is magic.