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The Sword of Shannara: Inspiration or Plagiarism

It is natural to be inspired by the works of your favorite author when writing your own story. Needless to say, there are many books whose stories show signs of inspiration from older works leading to a contesting balance between seeking inspiration and plagiarism. One such book that skirts the border between the two involves Terry Brooks’ "The Sword of Shannara" often criticized to have plagiarized Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The book has nevertheless found its share of audience and was a massive success. I propose an article that discusses how Brooks took Tolkien’s fantasy formula and used it to provide major boost to the fantasy genre in the post-Tolkien era.

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    The increasing popularity of Royal Fantasy Fiction

    Analyse the texts that surround the current royal fantasy trend within young adult books. Worth noting Sarah J. Maas’s contribution and how texts such as Red Queen and others compare. Are there any archetypes concerning the female hero within?

    • Could also mention Amy Tintera's series. – Andi 1 year ago
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    • I have a game app on my phone that's basically reading different books, and a lot of them are royal fantasy fiction. I never thought about it before now, but that's a really cool observation! – csquie00 1 year ago
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    • ^ I believe you are talking about the app called Choices! They make visual novels, following various trends, such as royal fantasy. Specifically, one of the series is called The Royal Romance, which details a girl adventuring to the fictional kingdom of Cordonia with its prince. – EJSmall 9 months ago
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    Television adaptations becoming increasingly more popular for fantasy and sci-fi opposed to movies

    In the last few years the film/TV rights of roughly 90 different fantasy and sci-fi books have been bought up, with many of them having potential to see the light of day. Interestingly, TV seems to be overtaking movies for adapting fantasy. This may be due to the success of Game of Thrones, but I think it is also about the form itself, which allows a longer and more detailed story to unfold, opposed to fantasy movies that tend to leave out a lot of detail and feel rushed. TV in general seems to have lost the stigma around it, allowing for more nuanced adaptations that rival even the best movies.

    • Definitely mention The Expanse in the article somewhere. I believe it was also marketed as "Game of Thrones in space." I also agree generally in the assessment that with space operas and epic fantasies, TV shows allow for more details and decent pacing. – Emily Deibler 1 year ago
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    • I feel like it largely has to do with the fact that many fantasy works tend to be long-running series, and unless you want to cut a ton of material it's just easier to adapt series as TV shows than movies, or even a series of movies. – Debs 1 year ago
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    • Fantasy is much more suited to TV than film. In TV you can have whole episodes devoted to a particular element where you might get seconds of screen time in film. – LauramourFromOz 1 year ago
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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 2 years ago
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    • 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 2 years ago
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    • 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 2 years ago
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    • 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 2 years ago
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    The Future of Fantasy?

    Fantasy has remained a strong cultural presence from the days of Tolkein to now with Game of Thrones. Changes in the fantasy genre are unsurprising given an increased technological influence and shifts in societal attitudes. That begs the question: what is next for fantasy? Examples of current fantasy authors: Sarah J Maas (ACOWAR etc), V.E Schwab (Shades of Magic series) and others are definitely welcome (and even encouraged)!

    • One could possibly take a look on even indie fantasy films like say The Lost River and other such offbeat titles apart from the famous approved ones. – Vishnu Unnithan 3 years ago
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    • Traditionaly the Fantasy genre has been seen, and looked down on, as a primarily adolescent kid brother/sister of its more serious speculative counterparts, SciFi and Horror. Its audience was largely adolescent and its protagonists were cheifly adolescent - at least initially for most early fantasy tales were of the Bildungsroman or "coming of age" sub-genre. More adult works of fantasy didn't start appearing (mostly) till the later part of the 20th century and I think the future of fantasy has to be seen in this more adult light. Fantasy needs to "come of age" and tackle the more serious aspects and subjects of wider speculative fiction in the way that Science Fiction and Horror already do. – Harbinger451 3 years ago
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    The Missing Fantasy Book to Film Adaptations

    Why do some great fantasy/sci-fi series, great children’s or young adult novels, get launched into the film world only to fall flat and disappoint fans? There was one film made of A Series of Unfortunate Events (with Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep). One film of The Golden Compass (with Daniel Craig). One film of the City of Bones, and then a reboot into a TV series. All of these films arguably had great elements, some well-known actors, and were adapting a charming, exciting story, something that should be great on film. What went wrong? Did the movies just not sell enough at the box office? Did the filmmakers not see it as worth their time and money to make a follow-up sequel? Fans will always be disappointed when this happens – even if the movie did not live up to the book in some ways, they still want to see their beloved stories onscreen. There are still so many fantasy novel series out there that readers would love to see made into movies, but that never happen. Tamora Pierce is a major one – medieval fantasy has become a massive hit with Game of Thrones, so why wouldn’t her books make great films? What about Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies or Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series: wouldn’t these make timely adaptations to follow on from the success of the Hunger Games and Divergent? Perhaps certain writers need more support from their fans if they really want some film studio to get behind it. Arguably, young readers have had more power to catapult a book series and subsequent movie adaptations to success in recent years, so this is a relevant issue.

    • There are two possible answers to your initial question that you seem to ignore here, as many before you have. The first being that perhaps the film adaptations that have never gotten a sequel were simply badly produced or badly executed films and didn't succeed in captivating audiences the same way the book versions did. Or the second possibility, being that the books themselves simply cannot be adapted into films, because their structure simply will not allow it. A film has to be a certain way in order for the story to flow and make logical sense. Also, narrative description must be rendered into visuals in order for the existence of a narrator, in most cases, to be rendered unnecessary: as the old adage "show-don't-tell" is extremely important to keep at the forefront of any film project. Books like "Inkheart," "Ender's Game," "The Spiderwick Chronicles," "The Giver," and "The Golden Compass" make for captivating reading material, but they're often so dense in their descriptive language, strange and otherworldly in their tone and atmosphere, and sometimes very heavy-handed in their subtext and messages, that trying to adapt them into film results in much of these elements either feeling very off-putting and creepy because of how serious and gritty they are, or certain story elements and character interactions becoming laughable if not presented in the best possible way compared to how the book version does it. It's a difficult tight-rope to walk when you want a book adaptation to do justice for the fans, but you also want it to entice new audience members enough to warrant a sequel or two. The Chronicles of Narnia got two sequels, but the subject matter was such that even Disney gave up on it after two films and chucked the license over to 20th Century so they could try their hand at "Voyage of the Dawn Treader." But did that lead to films for the rest of the books? No. And that was likely in part due to the other books not revisiting the same characters from the previous stories, which is an issue that a couple of book series have: that being that later installments follow completely new characters from the last book, even if the world is the same. And doing that sort of thing in film is much more difficult, because you market films on the characters, not on the world or the writer's style. I could go on, but I'm rambling on as it is. Just a few possible avenues to go down when looking deeper into this subject. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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    • I know that The Giver was in production for what? 20 years before it was made into a film? A lot of it is about money, interest, timing. – Jaye Freeland 5 years ago
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    • A big factor here is that most novels - especially a series, such as The Golden Compass rely on progressive/continued reading for it to be interesting. Meaning, one film is not provocative to those who have not read the book, because it doesn't end in a logical manner the way other films do; they don't wrap up neatly at the end. Therefore, audiences would be forced to go see subsequent films for it to ultimately make sense and end in a satisfying way. Ending the first film on a cliffhanger or with unresolved questions does not hold their interest. Additionally, many series are just too long and detail-oriented for them to transfer successfully to film. Peter Jackson had to stretch the LOTR trilogy over three movies - about nine hours total - to get the full story in there, and there were still Tolkien zealots who were upset about missing elements left out, such as Tom Bombadil (with those films, I believe they were just so darn exciting that even viewers who hadn't read the books were interested in subsequent films anyway). In the case of Harry Potter, Rowling's first three books ended in a satisfactory fashion; they appeared to be stories in and of themselves, and didn't necessarily indicate there was more to come (we didn't hear "Voldemort is back" in any definitive sort of way for a while. Initially, we assume he is defeated entirely). Therefore, audiences who had not read the books saw them and enjoyed them as a complete entity in and of themselves. By the time the story progressed to the point where they knew there was a continuing story that was not complete, audiences were already hooked on the characters and unique fantasy universe, and wanted more. – Katheryn 5 years ago
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    • I think it has also got to be mentioned that the intent behind a film is very important - those films that flopped (Golden Compass - which should have been the Northern Lights! - and a Series of Unfortunate Events in particular) were clearly more money driven and dulled down, and did not appreciate and respect the original sources. – Francesca Turauskis 5 years ago
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    • Another question might be: does the film industry respect fantasy/sci-fi as a genre on its own, or is it simply adapting these books because they were popular? I hate to bring up the Sign Seeker film, but that in my opinion was the pinnacle of young adult fantasy butchery...(I am a huge Susan Cooper fan, so I may be biased) However, I would love to see this topic written! – sophiacatherine 5 years ago
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    • I think a lack of promotion or too much promotion adds to the question you pose. The City of Bones film was so over promoted to the point that I would change the channel anytime a related commercial would air, and I'm sure many other TV viewers would as well. Sometimes shoving something down someone's throat has the opposite effect promoters hope - it just makes people annoyed rather than intrigued. A lack of promotion also plays into this as not seeing enough of a film before its release will have less people showing up because they either never heard the film was coming out, or they simply forgot. – llsebben 4 years ago
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    The Moral Spectrum of Characters in Fantasy

    ‘Bad guy’ protagonists and ‘good guy’ antagonists. What fantasy heroes do you think of as anti-heroes or morally grey? What fantasy villains do you think were sympathetic or in the right? Explore the moral spectrum of different characters in fantasy and share the ones you thought were unique to the genre.

    • Firstly, no one "dwells into" things, they "dwell on" thoughts or "dwell in" caves. Secondly, I'm not 100% on what topic you're trying to delve into here. An exploration of the introduction of a moral spectrum in the fantasy genre? – Austin 5 years ago
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    • I altered it to 'dwell' because of I received this: Revision Rather than saying 'I am particularly interested', you can reword the sentence as 'Dwell into the graying area of morality...' – YsabelGo 17 hours ago I will return it to what it was originally and clarify the topic motive. – ChrisKeene 5 years ago
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