I don’t like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I remember fully reading A Game of Thrones and being impressed that it wasn’t the usual dreck that I read. Which consisted mostly of the old Tor Conan pastiches. This was ten years ago. Then, about 2o03, I picked up A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. I skimmed those two novels. And I was not impressed. Now, almost a decade later, I have no desire to go back and give them another look. Why?
My problem with ASoIaF is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. At first, the historic-political elements of the novels are balanced by the high/ epic fantasy elements. But as the series gains in popularity and the series has to be approaching its conclusion (if there are still to be seven novels), the stronger fantasy elements seem to be thrust into the back seat. And the game for that damned Iron Throne takes center stage. (As an aside, I also think the series is too bloated).
The series, when advertised for the HBO adaptation, is described as The Sopranos meets The Lord of the Rings. Am I the only one who goes ugh? Am I the only one who really does not want this kind of fantasy?
I think I shall start calling the school of fantasy that has developed around Martin the historicist school of fantasy. Or just historicist fantasy. Now what is this new genre? Well, it is a constructed world fantasy that utilizes history as inspiration and the basis for world building. It is separate from historical fantasy in that it does not take place on Earth.
And I really don’t like this type of fantasy. If I wanted to read fantastical visions of history, I’d read historical fantasy. Or I would actually read a history book. Which would be more entertaining.
What I want is fantasy not history. I want myth not realism. Often, verisimilitude and the suspension of disbelief is brought up in critical discussions of fantasy. Maybe I just have an easier time of accepting the world building, but I could give a crap if a writer inserts bales of hay or gets the weaponry wrong or neglects religion. I don’t care. Is the story good? Can I see it in my mind’s eye?
This brings me to the grimdark fantasy. I’m honestly not very interested in them, either. I did enjoy reading Morgan’s The Steel Remains and liked Polansky’s Low Town far more than I thought I would. But Bakker, Abercrombie, etc.? No, thank you.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of darkness in what I read. But, I like that darkness mixed with almost an equal measure of light. I want joy with sadness; I want hope with despair. I don’t want a continual parade of despair and horror.
I guess what I’m yearning for is a rediscovery of the fantastic, of pushing the boundaries of the imagination out from what we have.
Will I ever write a historicist fantasy? Maybe. But if I do, I want to do it right. I want to write the type of story that I would enjoy.
So, I was planning on getting a comparison of the novel and film versions of Howl’s Moving Castle posted. But, as with much of this blog, other events have preempted it. In addition to the Howl post, I was thinking of writing my thoughts on the role of the critic. However, I think I can actually incorporate that post into the present one. So, what is this post about?
Well, it’s about taking stock of things. Of analyzing where I’ve come and where I’m going. It’s about questioning ideas and directions. It is, largely, about revising.
For one thing. I’m not going to do a post, an essay, a research paper, etc. on the grimdark in fantasy. I’m interested in the topic. But, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to waste my time reading books that I don’t like several times to make sure I don’t mess it up. I certainly don’t want to waste my time reading a bunch of secondary sources and texts of influence that will bore me to death.
The simple fact is that I really don’t want to be a critic. I’m not a scholar. I don’t have the credentials or, honestly, the wherewithal to do it. For a while, I wanted to be an academic. To be a professor of English. But not any more. So, why should I beat a dead horse anyway? I shouldn’t. Time to buy the damn thing.
And, finally, wasting my time with all of these genre fights takes time away from me doing what I really want to do. Which is writing fiction. And I don’t need distractions.
As many of you who read my blog on a regular basis know, I am keenly interested in writing comics. Lately, I’ve taken a harder look at that interest.
My harder look has convinced me to pursue both novels (prose) and comics. Some of my ideas clearly make better novels than they would comics. And some of my ideas positively demand to be comics.
For a while, I toyed with the idea of writing a manga influenced series. But I’ve changed my mind on that. For one thing, Deb Aoki’s recent posts on About Manga have explored the problems of “original English language” manga publication very well. To be honest, unless something changes, it is nigh impossible for “OEL” to even begin to gain in popularity. I hope that is not the case, but I’m not sure how the situation can change.
Another problem with me doing manga style is that I’m a writer not a drawer. I wish I could draw, but I don’t have the talent. My lines are crooked and never look right. I’m not very good at it, period. So, I’ll need actual artists to work on the art side of it. And manga style is largely a melding of the role of writer and artist.
Finally, the more I think about the differences between manga and American comics, the more I’m convinced that I’m split. I like the storytelling style of manga. But I love the artistic style of American comic books more. And when I envision my embryonic comic book series, I see it being a series that would be carried in a comic book shop.
Now that I’ve got all of this hashed out, where do I go from here? Well, there is publication. I’ve looked into traditional publishing in addition to self publishing. Honestly, I don’t think self publishing is the way I want to go. If I were to go the route of self publication, I would demand of myself as nearly professional level of editing, book design, etc. that a traditional (and more experienced) publisher can bring to bear. Honestly, I don’t have that kind of money. And I don’t have a sense for business (yet). So, I think a more traditional publisher is the way to go, at least for now.
So, that’s it for now. There’s a few things I want to do before I go to bed in an hour and a half. But there is one thing I want to do before I leave: a taste of the posts coming as I march to our two hundredth post. Next time will be the Howl post. Then comes a post on research. And I’ll cap off with Post 200- Why I love Fairy Tail.
Well, since it is so near my bedtime, I’ll leave you with a goodnight.