Recent A Dribble of Ink interviewee Daniel Abraham (check the interview HERE) has been detailing his experiences at the mysteriously named “The Symposium”, where he sat in with authors such as George RR Martin, Ian Tregillis and Melinda Snodgrass.
Why does this matter? Because he’s got a lot of interesting insights into writing.
One topic he tackles are the definitions thrown at novels, something I’ve gotten into a couple of times at various places on the ‘net. More specifically he tackles the concept of “Second-World Fantasy” (or “Epic Fantasy” as it might be better known as).
Definitions are tricky by nature, and offering one up gives the impression of having solved a puzzle. What is Epic Fantasy? Well, this is, and anything that doesnâ€™t fit the definition isnâ€™t. That kind of proscriptive rigor is doomed, but being doomed doesnâ€™t take away from the essential dignity of the effort. Iâ€™ll just take a moment to point out that what Iâ€™m saying here isnâ€™t intended to tell the reader what they should think but rather to clarify what I do. When I say Epic Fantasy, I mean this. If you mean something else, please do make that explicit. Thanks.
Epic fantasy is (1)fiction in (2)an ahistorical setting with (3)magic, and usually but not exclusively with (4)preindustrial technology. I should say that I donâ€™t draw a distinction between Epic and Heroic. If you do, youâ€™ll want to make that explicit. (The homonculus waves its arms in rage at my refusal to stand and fight. Hard life, beinâ€™ a homonculus.)
I’m frustrated at the concept of rigid generalizations when people try to cram a novel into a particular subset of Fantasy, why can’t a novel just be judged on its own merits instead of the reputation of a hair-brained subset genre. It’s nice to see someone like Abraham tackle the subject.
This is only the first of a planned six articles based on the discussions held at “The Symposium” and Abraham gives you a rundown of the rest of them in an earlier post. It’s definitely worth taking a look and seeing what some of minds of some great authors can do when they all sit down to shoot the shit.
You can find the sub-genre article HERE.
You can find the overview of the articles HERE.