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Why Modern Fantasy Sucks (pt. 1)

SClawsonFeb 26, 2019, 5:19:34 PM

Before you leap at me with brandished daggers and sharpened pikes- surely for my blasphemous title (which is not clickbait in the slighest, I assure you) let me begin with this premise:

"Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over."                                  -Neil Gaiman

"No Paul, that's far too masculine and able-ist. We can't publish this!

Lizards with really hot breath. Demons and sorcerers that plague the land with their witchcraft. Cool swords with edgy names. Oceans with really cliche names. A plot oozing with 'isms and tropes galore. Sounds like your typical fantasy correct? When you imagine fantasy, you imagine a bronze-clad Conan slaying abominations in jungle temples, or perhaps a king burying his son after a lich-like life as Theoden. A genre based off poetic sagas and poems.

Except that's not what modern fantasy is. Let me provide you an excerpt from one of the highest acclaimed novels of the modern fantasy genre:

"It's not natural for women to fight. It's not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.” - Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Hmmm. This...this can't be a subversion. No, it must just be another dual-citizenship coincidence.

And that my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. Take only a moment to peruse on her reviews, and you will find that her 'inclusive, diverse, gender-role-repelling, LGBTQ+O9? perspectives are little more than injected Marxism in an otherwise inconsistent, atrocious pile of flaming garbage. And people eat it up like it's Thanksgiving leftovers. Gander at the top fictional books of the last decade and you will see that I am succinctly correct at addressing the issue here: the majority of fantasy authors since the post 1960's are women, can't write (or distinguish themselves from YA Fiction) and are turning people away from reading.

Perhaps we should believe that Steve Erikson, author of the 'acclaimed' Malazan Empire series, may be our saving grace with his radical egalitarianism:

But I will also suggest, as humbly as possible, that maybe we’ve had enough of the Eurocentric medieval settings for epic fantasy? Maybe we’ve had enough of patriarchy taken as a given? Or of stratified class systems that reduce the common person to sword-fodder? Or of pale-skinned heroes of civilization and the eastern horse-riding hordes intent on destroying said civilization?"                      - Steve Erikson

One without a mind geared towards critical theory will begin to question whether Steve is writing pure allegory when his characters seem to pop right out of a social justice Tumblr blog. The truth is that modern arts and writing are abundant in these types: Foucalt-lovers and radical Marxists guising their craft will little more than shallow caricatures and comparisons of misunderstood historical figures to fit the 'evil father' trope.The content of their work is equivalent to the floating sea of garbage located on the pacific, except those neon islands of compacted soda cans and Walmart bags will be relevant for more than a few years.

This all stems from the modern university. I went there once. It was not pleasant. 

Ok, without being facetious, my time at the state college I discovered that the writing and arts programs are indeed a breeding ground of monopolized Marxism. To break from the status quo without opposing them directly (at the time I was a soft-core liberal libertarian) is nigh career suicide. These hotbeds of atrocity and relativism would spawn an exact replica in kind: atrocity and relativism. Minus even the nihilistic approach to worldbuilding and character-writing, many of their drafts that I had to peer review and read were actual dumpster fires. Here are some examples of what I would encounter:

- A female Mary Sue protagonist who acted male in every facet of life, and the plot was subverted for her 12+ love interests at any given time.

- Evil father figure (antagonist)

- Magic unexplained/inconsistency 

> my entire college experience summed up into one portrait

Regardless, we should all be concerned. Fiction and the arts are not merely a means of expressing a certain opinion or wild tale. Civilization begun with a story told over the campfire in primordial times, the first historical documents in paintings on cavern walls. Tales stretched of adventure and perseverance, sorrow and joy, growth and destruction, all manner of fictions that allowed the mind to wander. Our religions and myths are built off of such tales to be passed down to the next generation with the cultural significance and impact that cannot be underestimated. We live our lives based off of tales. And when those tales are turned sour and twisted to serve as a sledgehammer for political allegory and subversion, it is our duty to fight back.

The time of awakening I believe has already occurred. But the next step is for us to take a long, hard look at the arts. If we do not, I fear the soul of our very civilization may crumble. 

At times like these, I often default back to a well-written piece of fantasy literature, one that we should all aspire to love or recreate:


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Thank you for reading. If this is something that interests you or you'd like to read more of, please leave me a comment below and I'll be sure to respond.

If you like old Sword & Sorcery novels with swashbuckling adventure, check out my book (link in profile)