An English Lit graduate with nerdy interests and a chronic daydreaming problem. Always happy to find new topics to waffle about.

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    Is Fantasy Necessarily Medieval?

    When we think of the fantasy genre, it’s almost always in a swords-and-sorcery way. Knights, enchanters and mythological beings dominate fantasy stories, whether in books (such as a Song of Ice and Fire), TV shows (such as Merlin) and video games (such as the Final Fantasy series). Even fantasy stories set in modern day often betray medieval influences (e.g. Hogwarts castle and the Sword of Gryffindor in Harry Potter). But is this always the case? Are there any high-profile fantasy stories that are not based on/heavily inspired by medieval Europe? Is the fantasy genre branching out into different cultures/time periods, and is this successful?

    • Great topic! I'm wondering if one of the differences between science fiction and fantasy has to do with this question that you're asking. Fantasy seems often (nearly always?) to look back to the Middle Ages whereas science fiction seems often (nearly always?) to looking forward and to the future. – JamesBKelley 6 years ago
    • Urban Fantasy like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the anime Bleach, could be a good reference for alternative fantasy! Both these shows have their roots in traditional (eastern and western) fantastical roots, but they adapt the old stories and concepts to the 21st century which is actually really refreshing. – Dimitri 6 years ago
    • Interesting question. A quick Google search tells me that fantasy genre is primarily defined by magic or supernatural elements. I think that, because the Medieval age has been historically associated with witches, alchemy and whatnot, it's naturally become the basis of most fantasy stories. It seems almost inescapable, that relation between fantasy and medieval. That being said, the TV show Charmed includes morally good witch sisters in a modern setting, the show being a huge success. So maybe fantasy isn't necessarily medieval so much as it borrows medieval concepts, like witches and knights and whatnot. – Starfire 6 years ago
    • I think mostly this comes from our association of magic with the medieval period a la Merlin/King Arthur, etc. But I think more and more we're seeing people with 'super powers' that we would consider magical in science fiction. This probably isn't the best example but Doom is a video game about space marines but involves opening a portal to Hell. I think much of this depends on how you define 'fantasy', but I would say this is definitely leaking into more modern sci-fi books, but perhaps we don't call it 'fantasy.' – tolkiensocietykc 6 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Great article. I particularly enjoyed your discussion on Ted Woolsey and the impact of his translations. I know that there are many fans of FFVI and Chrono Trigger (which he gave a similarly dubious localisation) who regard his rendering as the only true rendering, usually because of his original interpretations of characters and their dialogue.

    As for the sub vs dub debate, I’m firmly on the side of dubs. While everyone is entitled to their own preferences, I do think a lot of die-hard sub fans tend to forget that subtitles also require a conscious translation that will by definition deviate from the original script.

    Are you a Sub or a Dub?

    Intriguing article with an apt selection of case studies. I was delighted to see Chrono Trigger mentioned at the end, and it would have been fascinating to see that explored in more detail. Not only is it one of the earliest examples of a time travel paradox game, it also explores other philosophical questions such as euthanasia, fatalism and the existence of a higher being. I also think its take on time travel is deeper and more mature than in Ocarina of Time. Good job on the whole though!

    Video Games That Ask Deep Philosophical Questions

    Fascinating contribution. Emma is probably my favourite of Austen’s novels, and the psychological subtleties exhibited in the narrative are a big part of why it’s so engaging. Exploring character judgments through the lens of thin slicing is inspired, and made me reflect on the topic. It’s certainly true, as you say, that Harriet Smith also displays fallible thin slicing, but I think what’s interesting about this is that she gained her techniques from Emma. Towards the beginning we see Emma subtly imparting her judgments about Robert Martin and Mr. Elton to Harriet, which she picks up on. Because both of these are erroneous, this affects Harriet’s ability to thin slice for the rest of the novel. She entirely misinterprets Mr. Knightly’s gallantry, for instance, which leads her to believe that he might be in love with her.

    Great article. I’d be intrigued to see a follow-up exploring thin slicing in other Austen novels. Marianne’s interpretations of Willoughby and Col. Brandon particularly come to mind here, as well as the eponymous ‘pride and prejudice’ as sources of thin slicing affecting bias.

    Thin Slicing in Jane Austen's "Emma"