Monday, February 8, 2010

What the High Fantasy Genre Reminds me of...

The high fantasy genre reminds me of an inbred Dalmation. Allow me to explain.

Ever since The Lord of the Rings eclipsed the pulp fantasy that came before it, it's been copied over and over by writers who think the word 'epic' means never ending doorstop fantasy sagas. Each generation is worse than the last, the primary examples being Piers Anthony, who has written over 30 books in what was supposed to be the Xanth trilogy, George R.R. Martin, who takes four years to put out a volume with no end in sight, and Robert Jordan, who cashed his chips before he was finished milking the Wheel of Time for all it was worth. Runners up include Brandon Sanderson, who has turned the "last" Wheel of Time book into at least three books.

So why the inbred Dalmation metaphor? Most of the fantasy writers who came after Tolkien seem like fantasy is all they've ever read and all they've ever written. Inbreeding, in other words. Without an infusion of new DNA into the family tree every once in a while, you end up with progressively more inferior versions of the original, like a twitchy inbred dog with bad hips and a brain that's only 60% of what it should be. For every Perdido Street Station or American Gods, there are ten Wheels of Time. I don't see the fantasy genre getting a quality addition to the bloodline any time soon.

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