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Does Indian Fantasy Need to Step Away from Mythology?

Contemporary (South Asian) Indian fantasy literature is heavily based on its rich history of culture and mythology. However, to grow as a genre (by creating stories that exist outside of/apart from our multiple readings of preexisting myths – stories that are original), does it need to explore stories and characters, other than the ones that already exist in cultural consciousness? (By this I mean the stories from mythology that are widely known [in India] and are passed on through generations).

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    Why Six of Crows is the most intriguing part of the Shadow & Bone series

    Netflix fantasy series Shadow and Bone are based on five books written by Leigh Bardugo. The first three are part of the so-called Grisha Trilogy, and the other two (Six of Crows) follow a different group of characters years after the events of the first three books. Showrunner Eric Heisserer said he wouldn’t have written the show without them, so the article could explore their particularities and why they’re so endearing to the story and the public.

    • I think part of the charm of the crows is that they are already an establised friend group. The characters didn't have to get to know each other as Alina did with the Grisha. It meant we could get into the action way sooner. On another note, the Crows are technically 'the bad guys; it is always interesting to see their perspectives – hannahclairewrites 5 months ago
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    • I agree with the establishes friend group. There are no character developments being made when characters interact with each other to become friends, rather, they are already aware of one another. – hafsakhan310 2 months ago
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    In fantasy, what are the advantages and disadvantages of populating a world with established and popular races such as elves, dwarves, etc.?

    Fantasy worlds, especially in a post-Tolkien setting, have tended to be peopled by many of the same types of beings: elves and dwarves, humans and orcs, giants and halflings. Many of these races, however, are reflective of real-world stereotyping at best and racism at worst. While of course most contemporary authors presumably do not mean to emphasize these negative associations and are merely utilizing shorthand inherent of the fantasy genre, the historical context of some of these races (especially evil or primitive races) still lingers. Steps have been taken by some, such as the publisher Wizards of the Coast, to challenge established norms of fantasy races and their characterizations. Nevertheless, the majority of fantasy still adheres to these popular tropes.

    But is an author in 2022 who includes an unfavorable caricature-turned fantasy race in their story responsible for its negative history? Are contemporary vampires, who are largely praised for the wide variety of lifestyles and peoples they can represent in fiction, meant to be equated with Rowling’s goblins, who are often criticized as being an anti-Semitic stereotype? Are we far enough removed from Tolkien and his fantasy archetypes so entrenched in the fantasy genre that they have left their racially-charged roots behind? Is it useful to keep reverting to using monolithic races such as elves, dwarves, and orcs as literary shorthand for character traits? Or do new races which are not monolithic needed to keep fantasy from stagnating? Is that even possible?

    In short, what are the advantages and disadvantages to continuing to use established fantasy races in the genre?

    • I think using actual quotes proving that the author has some racist ideal's would help establish credibility that Tolkien and other authors intentionally tried to create offensive depictions of other groups. This is typically the problem with this topic as for years people have tried to prove that Tolkien based orcs off (Africans, Jews, or Asians) with little success. This topic is not really new as this question came up in 2002 when Peter Jackson worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and again when the YouTube channel extra credits made a video saying that Orcs in video-games are an offensive depiction of black people. I am certain that some authors are actual racist and deliberately made fictional characters to depict a group of people. ( ex. H.P. Lovecraft was a known racist and homophob, but we have proof explaining that his work was based off his fears of other cultures/groups. Lovecraft also began to change his views later in life due to his friendship with a gay man.) Without that layer of definitive proof it is going to come across as speculation (I am aware of how Tolkien describes Orcs in The lord of Rings and The Silmarillion. But that doesn't prove he was delibrately basing them off of a particular racial group.) So, who ever writes on this topic should be careful not to simply state what Tolkien's intentions are with out proof. – Blackcat130 8 months ago
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    • "disadvantage" is a also a word,bit for my opinion,it's bad cause it might cause a lack of financial balance between humans and other creatures – Arlonavigne 8 months ago
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    • I believe the advantage comes from keeping fantasy stories accessible. For instance, although elves are portrayed in countless ways across the genre, they are grounded in specific conventions (pointed ears, slim-frame, slender etc.) which serves as a recognisable archetype from which writers build their narrative. It frees the writer from needing to outline, describe and explain an entirely new species. Alternatively, by choosing to utilise one such character, or 'species-archetype', the writer must adhere to these conventions in some fashion, limiting their creative choice to a certain, albeit, minimal extent. – Tea 8 months ago
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    • Personally, I think that while there is possibly a hurtful/harmful message behind the creation of some of these races, it is still fiction. At the end of the day Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc. don't exist outside of the context of the books. In our writing we are free to create new races, we don't have to stick to the old ones just because it's easy and they've already been established and people know them. As writers, we have the ability to undo or change the narrative on these things. – KGP5118 8 months ago
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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 4 years 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 4 years 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 3 years 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 3 years 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 3 years 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 3 years 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 6 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 7 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 7 years ago
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