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Topic: Who reads fantasy?

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Subject: Who reads fantasy?
Date Posted: 6/18/2007 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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  I am just curious. Most of my friends read a lot, but no one I know reads fantasy. They all look at me like I'm nuts if I mention it: "You mean fairy tales?" is what I hear most often.

 Even my husband laughs at me about it!

 I have a college degree, and a serious job---maybe that's why, I know when my work stress goes up, so does my fantasy reading!

  But why should we have such a hard time explaining this?

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2007 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
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I look at fantasy the same as any genre of books.  There is very light fantasy, that is pretty brainless and easy to read.  Good for when you're stressed or have a lot going on.  And then there's more involved, heavy fantasy.  Not any more brainless or silly than any other genre.

Date Posted: 6/18/2007 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 6,447
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Fantasy is the ultimate escape! I know when I read a fantasy trilogy or series I get really involved and almost live in that world the whole time I'm reading it. I think the same goes for romance or paranormals too. I read for entertainment. I don't want to read about real life stuff . There's enough in my life and in the news to more than make a person crazy if there wasn't some outlet.

 

Date Posted: 6/19/2007 10:50 AM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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I totally see what you're saying.

I think fantasy sometimes has a nerdy stigma attached to it due to its popularity among the stereotypical zit-faced, dungeons-n-dragons-playing late-teen-twenty-something, nerdy, single, mostly-male crowd. 

I think it's unfortunate in a lot of ways.  I only fit one of the above (male), (and possibly slightly nerdy too!), but I love fantasy!  There's a lot of great fantasy out there, and a lot more people would like it if they tried it.  Case in point:  My wife is in a book club with a bunch of ladies in the neighborhood.  When it was her turn she thought she'd shake things up a bit and recommend a fantasy (Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson) for the book of the month.  Most of the women in the club had never read fantasy before, but read this book, and enjoyed it.  My wife also noticed that many seemed surprised that they actually liked it because they categorized fantasy with mostly guys and/or geeks.  

 

Date Posted: 6/19/2007 2:03 PM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2006
Posts: 1,007
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I've been reading fantasy since I was a teenager.  What I've noticed is that people think I'm reading something lesser.  Not real "literature", but something trashy.  I also get "but you're so intelligent.  Why do you waste your mind on that stuff?"

At this point, I don't even bother to point out all the good fantasy I've read.  I just smile, shrug and change the subject.

Date Posted: 6/19/2007 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2006
Posts: 3,392
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The reputation of sci-fi and fantasy has been steadily improving over the last five years or so. I think that it will only improve now that there has been so much coming out of the two genres that have been commercially successful.

I say, if you are going to write fiction, why confine your imagination to make sure that everything conforms to regular everyday life? What fun is that?

Date Posted: 6/19/2007 5:38 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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I agree.  I think the rising generation of young Harry Potter fans will definitely help the fantasy genre as they get older and start looking for more grownup-oriented fantasy ...



Last Edited on: 6/19/07 5:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/21/2007 8:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2006
Posts: 50
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As a younger reader, I was definitely counted among the stereotypical zit-faced, dungeons-n-dragons-playing late-teen-twenty-something, nerdy, single, mostly-male crowd; now I'm in the average-skinned, dungeons-n-dragons-playing, early-thirty-something, nerdy, married, and mostly-male crowd!  If people ask me about my reasons for reading SF&F, I don't really talk about genres in general, I'll talk about specific books or authors I enjoy.  Some people like mysteries, romance, westerns, etc.-- we like fantasy.  

Fantasy is definitely enjoying a bit of popularity with the success of HP and the Lord of the Rings movies; who knows how long that'll last though, especially with all the derivative junk floating around.  The same thing happened in the late 70s/early 80s with Star Wars leading the charge... 

Date Posted: 6/22/2007 2:13 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,450
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I read some, but I'm a bit particular about the fantasy that I like.  I love the books of Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman.

Date Posted: 6/22/2007 11:08 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2005
Posts: 378
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I used to read exclusively scifi and fantasy only.  Then I branched out into the paranormal romance genre.  I seem to be reading more of that lately than anything else but I had a lot of catching up to do.  LOL  I just got tired of waiting years for the next books in series to come out.  It was killing me.  ie. Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Kate Elliot.  Although Jordan has a darn good reason.

Date Posted: 6/22/2007 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
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I used to read pretty much nothing but fantasy when I was a kid. I've branched out more now: alternate history, scifi, horror, chicklit... The list goes on.

I never really felt stigmatized for reading fantasy so much as I did just for being a book nerd in general. But as the years go by I've come more and more to terms with my nerdiness. I am one with my inner nerd. :)

I think fantasy's beginning to gain a widespread appeal beyond what it's known before, partly due to the tidal wave of Harry Potter fans that are and will be reaching adulthood over the next ten years or so and bringing with them a firmly entrenched love of fantasy, and partly due to the wild success of LOTR and other fantasy movies over the last several years. We're going mainstream! Ahhh!

Date Posted: 6/23/2007 9:24 AM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2007
Posts: 1
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I'm right there with you on waiting for the next in a series to come out.  At one point I accidently ended up buying a second copy of one of Jordon's books because it had been so long since I read it that I forgot that I already had.  About 100 pages into it I had an eerie since of Deja Vu that I was predicting the plot twists 20 pages ahead of time - went back and looked in my closet and sure enough!! I had the other copy right there!

I love fantasy - my husband doesn't understand, but with two degrees in the 'hard sciences' I'm up to my ears in reality, and it's a nice retreat to move to a world where the physical laws aren't immutable.  The stuff by Modesitt is pretty good, too - nice to see someone approach magic from an engineering angle.

Date Posted: 6/23/2007 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2005
Posts: 378
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Love Love Love Modesitt.  he is an automatic buy for me.  I've got all of his books in hardback but one and that's only because i'm having a heck of a hard time finding it for a reasonable price.  I like both his fantasy and his hard scifi.

Date Posted: 6/23/2007 1:20 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2007
Posts: 6,501
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I feel like lots of people WOULD like fantasy if they tried it, but there's a social barrier... till a fantasy novel somehow gets fashionable and then lots of people read it, because being in fashion makes it OK and defuses the "zit-covered nerd" thing. The Harry Potter books are maybe the biggest example; "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" was a bit that way; and back 15-20 years ago Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Mists of Avalon." It was amazing how many non-fantasy readers I knew who loved that book, which I personally didn't consider either great Marion Zimmer Bradley or great Arthurian fantasy (I could name half a dozen of each that I like better).

I, too, belong to a book club, where a couple of other people read fantasy and SF but the rest don't, and a couple of us have occasionally shaken things up by choosing SF. I never dared choose fantasy, though, because it's even higher on the supposed "trash" scale; and I pick interesting/highbrow SF, like Sheri Tepper's "Grass", because I don't have the courage to buck this kind of thinking totally. It's kind of too bad, because I'm pretty sure lots of people would like fantasy and SF if they tried it!

Date Posted: 6/25/2007 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2007
Posts: 15
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I got into fantasy early reading young adult novels like the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I moved away from the genre for a while as I got older, but then I discovered it still has a lot to offer me. Sometimes I like the 'trashy' generic fantasy quest type books, but there's a lot of really good writing out there too. I am interested in world-building and explorations of culture (you get those a lot in SciFi too). I also like the semi-historical settings that are in a lot of fantasy.

I guess I find that SF&F provide a lot of fuel for my imagination. Conventional drama just doesn't give me as much to think about. And I don't want to read the kind of great literature that I'd need a discussion group to understand, even though those would be thought-provoking, since I read to relax.

I am a bit of a nerd, but I'm a girl so I don't completely fit that stereotype. I get the impression that the gender ratio of fantasy readers is really about equal. At least, I know a lot of women who read fantasy.

Date Posted: 6/25/2007 12:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2006
Posts: 1,443
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I guess Im mostly the stereotypical nerd reading Fantasy figuring I still play D&D, read Fantasy and am a software engineer although the whole zit thing is long past :)

 

Kevin

Date Posted: 7/23/2007 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2007
Posts: 113
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Last Edited on: 1/16/08 10:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/24/2007 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2007
Posts: 9
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I started reading fantasy in my teens.  We lived in the middle of nowhere and I'd read everything in the house (including the entire Encyclopedia Britanica) and so I raided my younger brothers bookshelf.  He was just getting into Dragon Lance and Forgotten Realms and I was hooked.  Right now I'm re-reading Terry Brooks - Shannara and Magic Kingdom.  :o) 

Date Posted: 7/26/2007 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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My tastes tend toward the more "literary" in both mainstream fiction and science fiction/fantasy. I think a lot of people don't really understand what fantasy is.  They assume that it's all funny names (with the random apostrophe thrown in), medieval settings with magic thrown in, and pure escapism.  But there's a lot of "serious" fantasy out there - serious both in terms of literary content and in terms of contemporary themes and settings.  

I also think that lots of people read fantasy who don't think that they are reading fantasy.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes fantasy, only they call it "magical realism" for example.  There are others, but he's the one that I always bring up because of the Nobel prize.  It's hard to say someone isn't writing serious literature when they've won that.

 

Date Posted: 7/26/2007 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2006
Posts: 871
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I agree with Kari.  One author, I can't recall the name, liked to call it speculative fiction.  Think beyond LOTR, 1984, Slaughterhouse-five, and Looking Backward;  consider current bestseller The Road by Cormac McCarthy,  possibly any story that has a scientifically unexplainable event as part of plot, or historical fiction with undocumented persons/events.  Consider any fiction set in future like Children of Men by P.D. James, or set in alternate history.  Recent bestsellers shelved in literature asked what if U.S. did not join WWII, or what if Jews settled Alaska instead of Israel.

Date Posted: 7/29/2007 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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 I love magical realism as well! But it's even harder to explain.

 Anyone have any suggestions, other than Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

Date Posted: 7/30/2007 1:53 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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I got this from Wikipedia, and I haven't read most of the books on it.  But it should give you some authors and titles to look at:



Last Edited on: 7/30/07 1:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/30/2007 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2006
Posts: 871
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That is a good list.  Perfume by Suskind is awesome and soon to be a movie.  House of Spirits is Allende's best and closest to Marquez in my mind.  Just finished a Murakami book and would recommend him if you like very modern fiction.  The Tin Drum is a bizarre movie.  More often associated with Latin American authors, I see magical realism as being normal fiction describing the normal world we all know and love but with some supernatural twist.  The movie Pan's Labyrinth reminds me of that.

In Murakami, After Dark, a sleeping woman is drawn in to an unplugged TV and is trapped but freed with the help of her little sister ,in the morning, of course, all seems like a dream.    In Perfume, the protaganist attempts to extract essence of young virginal women in to a perfume. 

I just acquired here 2 Louis de Bernieres novels described as magical realism as well.  Senor Vivo and the Coca LordThe War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts.

Date Posted: 7/31/2007 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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I am always on the lookout for new fantasy/sci-fi books and authors.

This probably started with my obsession with "The Chronicles Of Narnia" when i was just a little kid. My mom bought me the whole box set when i was about 8 and i still have them... i know The Silver Chair has pages that i have to keep from falling out of it, and my son would love to read them, but i think i'll buy him his own copies rather than risk my childhood books being ruined, haha.

I love Robert Jordan... i really hope he gets to finish his series.

Just recently found Terry Goodkind.

Stephen R. Donaldson was quite a find... with his First and Second "Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever".

There are sooo many great authors out there.

I love Fantasy for it's ability to whisk me away from reality and into a new realm of wonder and well, magic. I think it is something a lot of people lose touch with when they grow out of childhood, but me, i suppose i'll always be a child at heart. I just can't get into non-fiction most of the time. I live in reality, why should i have to read about it?

Date Posted: 8/11/2007 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2007
Posts: 113
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Last Edited on: 1/16/08 10:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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