Fantasize the Fantasy Tomorrow
It would be strange for any of us to question, with enough finality to afford asking, the liveliness of the Fantasy genre we can still recognize in the postmodern. But there would not be a reason for it, if it were not for the steady realization that figments of Fantasy, including C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, tickle at our youth with an aging, prodding relic; to consider J.R.R. Tolkien and his iconic collection of Hobbits and Elves battling the rage of the impending doom that is a Dark Lord, might sport little less than a comical jest for the fanciful thought. Reminisce briefly that the young wizard Harry Potter consumed the literary world for the average of a decade, and if you let them, the questions come naturally, as they should.
The genre continues to remain under fire despite achieving critical acclaim, long echoed from the forerunners to their successors, and tends to slip under the broader eyes of readers and critics in the general press. Some of what it suffers is the dismissive perception of the style; critical points have been argued about some of its generic and conservative outlines, often standardized within the high Fantasy aspect. This can be said true about the appeal to the powerful sorcerers and mythological environments; for while the imagination rules without bounds, the classic form easily grants us the most prominent picture of what true Fantasy, if there is such a thing, might look to us. So it can be said true as well, that while new Fantasy writers have had their share at cracking and shaping one of their own, the contemporary themes are often drawn too closely to the archetype, with little success to break off from it. So where the authors have constructed and rebuilt, the attitude of Fantasy has shifted: an antagonistic role to the classic model, and old tendencies replaced to make it appear so out of touch from itself.
So how do we begin with the questions; is there something wrong with the picture? What is changing in Fantasy?
To start with, the curiosity might be in the current model of written Fantasy, and with the Postmodern stamp now appearing on the works of many of these new writers. Following along various names and titles, some considerably popular ones have been attributed to the likes of Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, and others taking their place in the genre that remains incredibly ambiguous to most. For the aid of readers and writers, the concept of the Postmodernism in Fantasy is something that is better understood depicted in capturing imagery and description, rather than a ulterior explanation of the genre. As we understand it, Postmodernism was a reaction that emerged in the late 20th century as a movement counteracting the Modernist view of the various arts, and is associated to be in opposition of certain traditions recognized from that period. Specifically in literature, it is generally described as a deconstructionist interpretation, and averts the structural model that undermines more typical subjects into uniquely driven narratives. Whereas the Modernist influence of the writing portrays purpose and meaning into a story, it appears to dislodge certain literary boundaries, and experimentation is guided to appeal as a subversive element; the purpose, if any, to eschew the original format of the genre.
Though there may still be confusion over the apparent contrast in the elements shared between Fantasy and Postmodernism, an argument can be made for how this lends us an alternate approach to the reality on broader terms. As noted, the concepts bear little resemblance to one another, with the constructionist ideology and design that Fantasy thrives upon, and the Postmodern criticism that should counteract the nature of the genre it has seemingly settled with. But it has become an aid for recognizing that it is not Fantasy itself that has endured these changes, rather the model of perception towards it; in this case, the redefining of the way we read and enjoy the elements in it.
To elaborate further, it is best to reiterate on the idea that Postmodernism, while based on loose terms and not strictly defined, is certainly a thriving concept of interpretation, and can be especially useful to decode literature by the levels of style and art found in it. But it must be emphasized that Fantasy is not meant to compete with the ideal principles that Postmodern would normally dictate, and has no concrete relation to anything of the similar nature. Understand that a genre like Fantasy is not widely established by themes pertaining to these sorts of ideologies, and one should not think of what is considered Postmodern or Modern in the appropriate context of it. Only by connections tied by writers and readers have people recognized some of those qualities found in the art of Fantasy, revealing what truly pervaded in the content we see in the genre. Ironically, reminisce that these interpretations are reactionary to the outline produced in earlier works of the conservative values, though it replicates its similar format with a twist, and the base content often remains the same. It is clear these changes are born, but not seen, in the glaring eyes of the reader and writer, and it is there we can observe what is truly melding and shaping Fantasy.
Yet how does this answer our questions? It may be pinned to a point that Fantasy has not entirely endured any enormous kind of change, just embraced a style of art by those writing it. It can be asserted that the genius of Fantasy remains as strong as ever, and merely the way we see it has shifted over the course of time it has survived. By all good, this does not mean dismissing the influence of Postmodernism; it has been able to introduce refreshing, canny ways to think of previously explored and understood ideas, with some efficiency in many other genres including Fantasy. Though this being the case, there remains the collected wonder on the real changes of the genre, and where along the beaten path do we anticipate a potential resurgence in the future.
In regards to the changes in Fantasy, an issue seen is that many of these writers are often basing their work to subjects similarly found in their predecessors, with the topics commonly reflecting from mythology and popular titles of the past. While certainly an inspiration for many, there is a tendency for new literature, or Fantasy, to pertain to these same stories and features while branding it into a contemporary image as though refurbishing it into a new product, in the name of Postmodernism. An iconic model for this would be vampires, and the akin names of creatures famous throughout the genre, and the way the same idea is frequently borrowed to reappear as ever so shifted and unremarkable, to an extent. Attributed to the success from classic folktale and mythology, it is no doubt that the influence from these has continued to be a powerful force, though has permitted for the re-brandishing of unoriginal concepts drawn time and time again. To be subject to these restraints has done little for Fantasy to make the next big step; the kind of development needed should be breaking from these old expectations, and not necessarily confine writing to a certain style or interpretation.
Of course, to speculate the next brand of Fantasy is an incredible assumption to make by itself, with only enough foresight to imagine the possibilities that may come. However, the efforts in Postmodernism has had a helping hand in creating abstract and unique ideas, with the consideration of expanding these thoughts into unexplored heights, and encouraging the new writers to take these steps into the right directions necessary. It can be the same token for other genres, especially for Science Fiction, a genre that speculates realism by scientific measure in a fictional setting. For that example, and while a stifled boundary lies between them, it is by the nature of Fantasy to rest on the complete expectation of possibility, the imagination, and may incorporate similar ideals found in Science Fiction; their interweaving concepts may grow conjecture and opinion from one another. Although it is easy to dismiss that argument for the relevance of Fantasy to compare, it should not discount the value of imagination, simply in the face of a speculative science that behaves similarly on those grounds of fiction. Through the genres and their elements, a writer will learn to have every means of creativity available to them, and it is when they earn the competency to master its enchantments, the various tools such as Postmodernism may help to bring out the best in the Fantasy genre. At the end of the step, it remains for the writers to visualize the Fantasy as it is, or rather, what it will become, and by their hands should change come as naturally as it sounds.
However, it may only come in time to finally learn if Fantasy will remain the incredible force that it has, or change will take its course against the element. In spite of the retaliation it has faced in some of the cultural realms of the media, the off set numbers of writers and their readers, especially, have continued to be a devotion of growth and strength that has ensured a place for the Fantasy genre in literature, and with the success it has had, it may stay that way for a long time. For Fantasy, so long as tomorrow will arrive, there is little telling about what may come from it, just as long as there is enough left to the imagination.
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