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Why is fantasy so appealling?

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Posts

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    yakul wrote: »

    Also, there isn't a whole lot of the character archetypes of "muscle bound men" and "large breasted women"...I'm not so sure about Tolkien, but Martin's series is far above even one descriptor. You cannot lump it into one category like that at all.

    Authors rarely describe characters as such, but just look at pretty much all book cover art that has characters on it, or your average Magic: the Gathering card.
    Cover art has fuck all to do with the contents of 90% of books, fantasy or otherwise. The artists don't even get to read the books they do the covers for.

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  • redxredx East Bumblefuck, PARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Morskittar wrote: »
    I find that style irritating and unpleasant to watch or play.

    That was also a poorly constructed sentence; the "gimmick" thing was a separate clause, examples being: "orcs that are noble and shamanistic" or "D&D, but with spaceships!".


    that's so fucking boring. Damn... I had all sorts of great Japanese and Anime fantasy stuff dredged up, spanning all sorts of styles and genres.

    I find that western CG artists lack style and their work tends to lack polish. The worlds the render tend to be drab. The character frequently down right ugly, and the depictions of women they create promotes typical patriarchal unreachable standards of beauty and frequently border on vulgarity.

    none of that really has much to do with fantasy though.

    Pretty sure blizzard is an american company anyway, and the style of FF games dates back to rather low resolution sprite days, and recently seems to have been toned down fairly drastically. Big hair and huge swords is an obvious reverence to cloud, and I don't believe the same lack of subtlety has been present in a while.

    I'm pretty disappointed. I was hoping to get to rail about how cultural differences like the widespread, though not particularly strong, belief in animism(Shinto) and related folklore allows for a greater integration of fantasy in modern settings. I kinda think it is a bit of a shame, that this kind of integration in the west can only be accomplish to any real degree by science fiction or occult stuff. and... like... a dozen other things...

    All I've got is a snuggle hammer.
  • redxredx East Bumblefuck, PARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    yakul wrote: »

    Also, there isn't a whole lot of the character archetypes of "muscle bound men" and "large breasted women"...I'm not so sure about Tolkien, but Martin's series is far above even one descriptor. You cannot lump it into one category like that at all.

    Authors rarely describe characters as such, but just look at pretty much all book cover art that has characters on it, or your average Magic: the Gathering card.
    Cover art has fuck all to do with the contents of 90% of books, fantasy or otherwise. The artists don't even get to read the books they do the covers for.
    source books maybe?

    yakul is actually recommending judging books by their cover? :?

    All I've got is a snuggle hammer.
  • Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    yakul wrote: »

    Also, there isn't a whole lot of the character archetypes of "muscle bound men" and "large breasted women"...I'm not so sure about Tolkien, but Martin's series is far above even one descriptor. You cannot lump it into one category like that at all.

    Authors rarely describe characters as such, but just look at pretty much all book cover art that has characters on it, or your average Magic: the Gathering card.

    The difference is that Magic: The Gathering has really cool artwork..and you still haven't proven how Martin has such stereotypical characters.

    I haven't found one yet.

  • MorskittarMorskittar Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    redx wrote: »
    I'm pretty disappointed. I was hoping to get to rail about how cultural differences like the widespread, though not particularly strong, belief in animism(Shinto) and related folklore allows for a greater integration of fantasy in modern settings. I kinda think it is a bit of a shame, that this kind of integration in the west can only be accomplish to any real degree by science fiction or occult stuff. and... like... a dozen other things...

    Sorry man. Though I think much fantasy works best within context of the culture that spawned it, I'm not opposed to quality examples transcending that. Anime-side (and sci-fi), I'd say Cowboy Bebop and a plethora of cyberpunk series blend Western theme and imagery with Eastern style and ideas quite well. Offhand, though, I can't think of many examples that are the opposite.

    The Blizzard comment was in reference to the fact that their style is a hybrid of--well--Warhammer (green orcs, morally-grey factions, the origin story, stupid shoudlerpads) and both American comics (in the exaggeration, hypersexed women, and all that) and JRPG/Anime excesses (like the sci-fi-hidden-in-magic spaceship stuff, hypersexed women, etc...). Basically, an Americanized blend of all popular fantasy with a strong dash of other pop culture tossed in. I think it draws from too many sources and collapses into a heap of stupid. Kind of a tangent, though.

    Are you familiar with Michael Moorcock? Despite his name being a breeding ground for stupid jokes, he strays into similar territory. His fixation on the eternal balance (or war) between Order and Chaos is certainly reminiscent of Asian mythology, and his hero's use of a giant sword actually predates JRPG tropes and stereotypes.

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  • redxredx East Bumblefuck, PARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    nope. I'll look him up
    Western theme and imagery with Eastern style and ideas quite well. Offhand, though, I can't think of many examples that are the opposite.
    Pretty much anything with nuns or the catholic church.

    Like, Christianity, and it's mythology... they get it pretty horibly wrong quite frequently.

    Trinity blood... omg... the pope looks like a blond haired version of a Meiji.

    Tokyo Trib is pretty ridiculous as well, and is them trying to do gangsta, the result is pretty much camp.

    All I've got is a snuggle hammer.
  • yakulyakul Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    redx wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    yakul wrote: »

    Also, there isn't a whole lot of the character archetypes of "muscle bound men" and "large breasted women"...I'm not so sure about Tolkien, but Martin's series is far above even one descriptor. You cannot lump it into one category like that at all.

    Authors rarely describe characters as such, but just look at pretty much all book cover art that has characters on it, or your average Magic: the Gathering card.
    Cover art has fuck all to do with the contents of 90% of books, fantasy or otherwise. The artists don't even get to read the books they do the covers for.
    source books maybe?

    yakul is actually recommending judging books by their cover? :?
    Uh... no.

  • yakulyakul Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    yakul wrote: »

    Also, there isn't a whole lot of the character archetypes of "muscle bound men" and "large breasted women"...I'm not so sure about Tolkien, but Martin's series is far above even one descriptor. You cannot lump it into one category like that at all.

    Authors rarely describe characters as such, but just look at pretty much all book cover art that has characters on it, or your average Magic: the Gathering card.

    The difference is that Magic: The Gathering has really cool artwork..and you still haven't proven how Martin has such stereotypical characters.

    I haven't found one yet.
    Well Martin is a bad example, I meant from the origins of modern fantasy to the most recent, though I suppose I was really refering to Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance fare.

  • Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    That makes much more sense.

    Thank you. I do agree.

  • NexusSixNexusSix Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Dang... there's an overload of modern fantasy references in this thread.

    While we're talking about modern fantasy references, games and novels, let's remember Beowulf, and that we have the following progression: Tolkien's work has to tip its hat to Beowulf, Arthurian legends and Norse mythology, and once we dig that deep, we're going back well over a fucking thousand years. So, yeah, this shit goes much deeper than the progression of your WoW character.

    Tolkien, Lewis, Gygax and the WoW devs are just the folks who managed to update fucking ancient legends to our times.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    NexusSix wrote: »
    Dang... there's an overload of modern fantasy references in this thread.

    While we're talking about modern fantasy references, games and novels, let's remember Beowulf, and that we have the following progression: Tolkien's work has to tip its hat to Beowulf, Arthurian legends and Norse mythology, and once we dig that deep, we're going back well over a fucking thousand years. So, yeah, this shit goes much deeper than the progression of your WoW character.

    Tolkien, Lewis, Gygax and the WoW devs are just the folks who managed to update fucking ancient legends to our times.

    The fantastic (Both sci-fi and fantasy) is basically just modern mythology for non-believers.

    Which is what makes it so funny when English profs try to hate on it.

    Even though most of the most beloved literature of all time, especially of religious nature, is what we would consider fantasy today.

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  • MorskittarMorskittar Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    NexusSix wrote: »
    So, yeah, this shit goes much deeper than the progression of your WoW character.

    And that's what it really comes down to, right there. Whatever individual reasons we have, humankind has been into this stuff for as long as we could bang sticks together. Your WoW character (or D&D character or deep-seated love of Legolas) is just an extension of that age-old human fascination with what's just off to the side of being real.

    Redx; most of Moorcock's books aren't readily available in the US at the moment, other than the newest series. The new trilogy is interesting, but a bit... expository. Nor are they fantasy in the classic sense; the first involves the main character(s) gratuitously chopping up Nazis with a soul-drinking giganting sword. If you like Howard and similar pulp writers, though, you'll probably appreciate it.

    Supposedly the core series (the main six books of the Elric saga) is going to have a US re-release in the next year or so. And there's a movie in the works. Of course.

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  • Operative21Operative21 Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Well, here's my general take on the fantasy genre.

    I suspect that a good part of the appeal is the fact that within the fantasy genre, characters have a capacity to achieve greatness that is notably absent from other genres of fiction. Naturally, greatness can take a number of different forms depending on the setting and the characters. Anything from moral greatness, to saving the world, but you almost never see fantasy series about people struggling to live mediocre, routine lives. Fantasy characters are empowered, to be free from the limitations that we ourselves have.

    Now contrast this to regular general fiction, or even our own daily lives. How many of us can ever hope to achieve something that will be considered an act of greatness (well....outside of the occasional video game high score)? How many regular fiction works, are centered around characters who are struggling with the same issues we face in our own lives? Fantasy works, allow us to immerse ourselves in the lives of characters that can experience things we never can. They provide comfort in a drab reality that (often but not always) offers little more than bland routine (ie. wake up, go to work, come home, rinse and repeat).

  • JohannenJohannen Registered User
    edited February 2007
    I think it's because it provides an escape from everything that weighs down on you in the real world. You see people conquering impossible odds and horrific fears. Death is also a mystical thing in the world of fantasy, where there's magic and nothing is explainable by science.

    It allows you to go into a world where you don't have to do work all day, but instead you can picture a warrior or warlock fighting horrible foes for a living.

    Wasn't Narnia a metaphor for the kids escaping the horrors of having to live through the times of the War by mentally escaping to a world of magic and mystery? Also, Aslan being Jesus made me giggle for some reason.

    You just know the Jews would've listened a lot better if jesus had been a big talking lion.

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    A era's fantasy stories tell an awful lot more than what gives people an escape from regular life. They reflect the value system of the culture at them time by impressing them on a different setting. Same goes for Science Fiction.

    One of my film professors said it best when he said Sci-Fi and Fantasy may seem to be the most outlandish genres but they are inevitably the most tied to the era that produced them.

  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The fantastic (Both sci-fi and fantasy) is basically just modern mythology for non-believers.

    I would argue that some sci-fi isn't necessarily mythology, but more of a format for introspection of the human condition. I don't think fantasy or mythology necessarily include this as their foremost goal. Certainly, they have excellent stories and reflect some amount of the culture of the day, but few take the tack of Philip K. Dick, for example. There's not a lot of pondering over what it is to be human.

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  • Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    *shivers* Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and A Scanner Darkly both chilled me to the bone. PKD is just amazing.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The fantastic (Both sci-fi and fantasy) is basically just modern mythology for non-believers.

    I would argue that some sci-fi isn't necessarily mythology, but more of a format for introspection of the human condition. I don't think fantasy or mythology necessarily include this as their foremost goal. Certainly, they have excellent stories and reflect some amount of the culture of the day, but few take the tack of Philip K. Dick, for example. There's not a lot of pondering over what it is to be human.

    Note that I put it "Fantastic (Both sci-fi and fantasy).

    There's fantastic sci-fi (Star Trek, etc), and then there's 1984 et al.

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  • wookieeArmourwookieeArmour Registered User
    edited February 2007
    1. Fantasy, like sci-fi, is a way to tell timely political stories without using the real names and places.

    2. People like elves.

    3. It's very very rare when you find a good fantasy story. 97.8 percent are just tolkien rips or bad amalgamations (blizzard).

    4. what?

  • MorskittarMorskittar Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    3. It's very very rare when you find a good fantasy story. 97.8 percent are just tolkien rips or bad amalgamations (blizzard).

    Putting objective analysis of quality aside, is it possible and fair to say that Warcraft is more relevant to modern people, as it's grown from modern interests?

    Is Tolkien's non-commentary (:roll:) on WWI and industrialization more relevant to modern audiences because it's better written or more original; or is Blizzard's bubblegum-hybrid of pop culture, fantasy tropes, and accessible cartoon styles more relevant because it reflects us and our tastes as a whole?

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  • wookieeArmourwookieeArmour Registered User
    edited February 2007
    warcraft is just a mishmash and isn't even an interesting story.

    If i want a hybrid of pop culture and fantasy I'll go read some warhammer stories, thanks. They at least do it with some style.

    Tolkien is always relevant.

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Because real life is boring for many people.

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  • MorskittarMorskittar Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    warcraft is just a mishmash and isn't even an interesting story.

    If i want a hybrid of pop culture and fantasy I'll go read some warhammer stories, thanks. They at least do it with some style.

    Personally, I agree 100%. I kinda see Warcraft as Warhammer for those with different interests than my own (and ones that I have a general distaste for). Bad or silly anime, pop and classic video game references, American-style WACKINESS!OLOL for the former; history, rambling expository metaphor, 70's/80's metal, and British dry puns for the latter.

    That being said, for the majority of those into fantasy around the world, it would seem that something like Warcraft hits closer to home than Tolkien (or hybrid shared-world settings, like Warhammer or D&D).

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  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The fantastic (Both sci-fi and fantasy) is basically just modern mythology for non-believers.

    I would argue that some sci-fi isn't necessarily mythology, but more of a format for introspection of the human condition. I don't think fantasy or mythology necessarily include this as their foremost goal. Certainly, they have excellent stories and reflect some amount of the culture of the day, but few take the tack of Philip K. Dick, for example. There's not a lot of pondering over what it is to be human.


    I've always considered comic books to be the modern day version of Norse/Roman/Greek etc mythology. I mean, you got your big larger-than-life colorful characters with powers over nature, got your light characters, your dark characters, and when you really get to know them they're really just normal guys who like to shapeshift into animals and screw virgins sleeping by a lake.

    Or something.


    As far as sci-fi goes, I don't know if I can think of an analogue for it from pre-Industrial times. Up til recently it seems people have been more interested in the legends of the past. Although Scifi is really pretty broad, just going from Star Wars to Star Trek brings in some major differences in story themes.

  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The fantastic (Both sci-fi and fantasy) is basically just modern mythology for non-believers.

    Which is what makes it so funny when English profs try to hate on it.

    Even though most of the most beloved literature of all time, especially of religious nature, is what we would consider fantasy today.

    English profs tend to hate on it because there are a few prominent fantasy authors who seem to have gone, 'oh hey, fantasy is easy to write/excludes us from writing realistic characters' and have simply written the most boring, inane crap barely passing itself off as literature.

    Whereas I love mythology, I love fantastical creatures and I love fairy tales, there are very few modern fantasy authors I find really digestible. Of course, there are terrible fiction writers out there too, but the general fiction market is a lot more saturated and contains a wider range of titles in general.

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  • Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    For English profs it's best not to say that fantasy novels are "literature."

    Though I probably couldn't disagree more.

  • LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Real life is boring and/or unpleasant, and fantasy is generally more exciting and awesome. You can discuss specifics forever, but that's how I'd summarize it for me. I like an escape to something more vibrant, more pure, and more satisfying sometimes.

    For example, of late I've been a huge fan of Bleach. It's fading a bit now that the endless formula is so laid-in (and I know the author could do better), but my love for this anime/manga series is rooted in the superhero formula (real guy gets superpowers, what happens next, and wouldn't life be a lot cooler if I were him?), along the various tensions at play between characters and everything else surrounding that one basic classic comic book idea. Throw in an evolution into lone-man-against-the-world (an idea infinitely appealing to me, though ultimately highly unrealistic) and a general level of bad-assery that you don't get in real life, and there you have a month-long obsession.

    Fantasy is obviously an escape, but as to why exactly it is better than real life, I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it. To my mind, the word "simple" doesn't quite cover it. A good fantasy can, after all, have many clashing moral ideas, tensions and ideas in play, so that "simple" only really applies in a limited way. I think "pure" is the best word. It brings along only the things designed exclusively for the reader's pleasure.

    Ultimately, I think everyone loves a good story. It's pure entertainment. And when I'm being entertained, I'd rather not be reminded of things I don't consider entertaining, like real social issues, but I definitely do like to be reminded of things associated in my mind with a less mundane life, like swords and sorcery. (Perhaps if I lived in medieval times it would be the other way around? I imagine shooting sword-wielding oppressors might be a very appealing notion.)

    And for the record, I fucking hate Dragonlance.

  • MiSTieOtakuMiSTieOtaku Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Hot Elf Chicks.

    Actually, the reason fantasy is so appealing is just that: fantasy. It's an escape to an alternate place where courage, honor, bravery, excitement, and danger aren't just words you read on your newspaper or hear talked about in some movie. It's the part of the human spirit that craves those things yet isn't able to have any of them, at least not without looking rather odd in the attempt.

    I don't know if humanity craves for dragons and hot elf chicks, but those images have become particularly popular with a genre that embodies those noble aspects that people aren't generally capable of expressing in modern life. I think, if people were willing to be honest when asked, they would say that they wished they could have more excitement in their lives.

  • TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I kind of suspect that a lot of the distaste for fantasy as a literary form is because a lot of popular fantasy is, to put it crudely, rather masturbatory. The hero is clearly an author/reader stand-in, is Too Cool For School, doesn't have any limitations that last longer than a chapter or two, an ever-expanding list of awesome powers, gets all the women, blah. This is just as boring in fantasy as it is in, say, James Bond, but at least James Bond can't up and summon God to get out of the villain's death trap. (Before anyone points out that James Bond is insanely popular, remember that his best movies are the ones where he gets the snot kicked out of him the most.)

    Good fantasy, though, is about people more than it's about dragons or wizards. They still have limitations, but they're different limitations, and using different props is a good way to approach a story differently. How many teens read X-Men and started thinking about intolerance in a way they never would have reading about the Civil Rights movement? How many people would willingly read a philosophical essay on what causes evil and whether evil people are redeemable, compared with the number of people who read about Gollum and, more importantly, thought about it afterwards? The escapism is a big part of the appeal, of course, but I suspect that being able to look at the world a different way is a large reason for the endurance of great fantasy.

  • CrimsonKingCrimsonKing Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Because magic is fucking sweet.

    This sig was too tall - Elki.
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