Is Fantasy Fiction Too Safe? (via @mythicscribes, HT: @ciaraballintyne)

Philip Overby looks into his own enjoyment of Fantasy, and posits some reasons why fantasy writers might or might not play it safe when writing new work.

I guess you’re expecting me to say, “Ugh, I’m so sick of epic fantasy.” Actually, no. I quite enjoy these kinds of stories for the most part, and have done so for around twenty years or more.

However, I found myself in a bit of a quandary recently when I thought, “I’d like to read something a bit different in tone, structure, and scope.” So I started looking through my collection of books. Admittedly lots of fantasy.

I’m not much of a fan of fantasy anymore (particularly epic fantasy), having read my share of Eddings and Feist tomes in my youth. That doesn’t mean there isn’t huge scope yet in the fantasy genre, obviously. Philip explores this:

A question kept nagging me, though. For a genre as limitless as fantasy, why do I feel like I need to escape the genre to get something completely different? Could it be that fantasy is one of the safest genres out there? Is safe a bad word?


Why Fantasy Writers Might Try to Crack the Genre Open

  1. Fantasy is a limitless genre

  2. The potential exodus of readers to Young Adult fiction

  3. The ability of new writers to immediately distinguish themselves

and conversely:

Why Fantasy Writers Prefer to Play it Safe

  1. It’s easier to meet reader expectations

  2. The fear of being ignored

  3. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I’ve snipped out his detailed exploration of these points, so click through to check it out here:


One thought on “Is Fantasy Fiction Too Safe? (via @mythicscribes, HT: @ciaraballintyne)

  1. fantasy lit is too safe, soft and derivative because authors and publishers pander to the cozy, celebrity driven, soft, familiar and decorative narratives of the middle-class who are the only ones who buy literature or art as a product ergo the industry is driven by this commercial demand and by reasons of Return On Investment practices to censor, inhibit, not alarm or surprise their audiences by producing only standardised, short, fashion affected books that can indeed be judged by their cover alone, and their blurbs and corporate media support – furthermore to this process of banality fantasy as well as most new literate is all controlled by the small handful of major, big global publishing and media corporations who monopolize the market with their Stephen King or Matthew Riley pulp or by the current tsunami of only “amazing” novels by blond women under 30 getting past the gatekeepers (usually blonde females under 30). The publishers in corporate conjunction with worldwide TV news media always also like to run debut author rages-to-riches “news stories” about the very novels they are flogging. Every back-cover blurb always says the novel is great and to be at least bought first via its associated advertising and media influences and the actual reading of the book is unnecessary because for the fashion driven middle-class books and literate is a consumerist product only bought to display and maintain a standard of fashionable bourgeois status-quo. Otherwise fantasy is usually, like most novels these days, written in easy and simple first-person and being indulgent fantasy unrelated to reality it, for me, loses any empathy and all credibility because fantasy is all about the literal chronological plot with archetypal characters whereas literary fiction, whilst presented as a plot or story is all about the meaning of the story and the empathy between the lines. Like Moby Dick is not really about a whale whereas Lord of the RIngs is absolutely prosaic in its plot and about some vapid nerds taking for fucking ever to get a ring or some bullshit with every chapter a condense repetition of its overall plot written by Tolkien to be an example and archiving of previously employed themes and icons, Also one does not need to be a technically good writer or well educated in finer, academic English language use – in fact the dumber the language the great the common audience who can only take, read and hear anything and everything only literally ignorant of the other subjugations. finally I enjoy composing and ‘publishing’ my own short, social media copy-rants just like this one wherein the earnest cadence of my writing is its very intent in exhibiting that intelligence and opinion are merely cadence alone wherein the important, apparently genuinely intellectual and qualified tone of the writing is an artistic device to hide the fully disingenuous and utterly fine bullshit of my piece that otherwise I would’ve thought was way obvious. ian s.

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