bbc merlin, brian jacques, c.s. forester, c.s. lewis, castaways of the flying dutchman, classic science fiction, dee henderson, dorothy sayers, dystopian fiction, fantasy, fiction, g.a. henty, historical fiction, immortality, irene hannon, j.r.r. tolkien, lori wick, post-apocalyptic fiction, redwall, romance, science fiction, speculative fiction, steven king, story dynamics, teens can write too blog chain, the hobbit, the lord of the rings, the sword of damocles, time travel, young adult/juvenile fiction
The prompt for this month’s blog chain was “What sort of fiction would you like to see more of?” My first thought would be, all of it! But I had to be more discerning. What sorts of fiction do I love? What sorts of fiction are under-written?
Personally, my favorite genres are fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian. I love to write in them. I love reading them. Some of them, though, already have hundreds of books, and though no genre is consistently well-written, some of these genres have more than their share of marvelous stories. But we could still do with more!
Fantasy is probably the oldest of these genres; the only sort of fiction that is older is probably historical fiction, though if you include fairy tales in the fantasy genre, fantasy is undoubtedly older. As such, there is more material in fantasy than in most of my other listed genres. (It has giants like Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, and so forth–how are you supposed to beat that?!) Still, I would like to see more well written fantasy, with original themes and ideas. (For instance, in my latest work in progress, Generations, the sequel of Loyalty, the premise is that magic has been locked away from the world in order to protect it.) I would like to see more fantasy along the lines of The Lord of the Rings, in which the power of the Ring threatens to corrupt anyone who holds it; I would like to see the type of fantasy in which it is emphasized that power is often dangerous and can be intrinsically evil, and the answer can be to not use it, rather than the sort of sword-of-Damocles persecution that often falls upon any character with magical powers in modern fiction. (Yes, I am including BBC Merlin in this condemnation.) Some stories can pull the sword of Damocles off well. Others, it just seems cliche.
I would also like to see more fantasy such as the Redwall books and The Hobbit, in which no character has actual magical powers. Bilbo has his ring, true, but barring that, no one is “empowered”, except Gandalf, and he’s not the main character. I also like The Hobbit because the there-and-back-again has a price. About a third of the original company dies (no spoilers; I’m not saying who.) I don’t like the sort of fantasy where there is no price to be paid.
I would like to see more historical fiction that is more focused on event than romance, such as the works of G.A. Henty. Despite the fact that no one often dies (except the actual historical enactors) in Henty’s works, they are still highly enjoyable. I very highly recommend the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, even though it’s for older readers, and should be partaken of in moderation. I would like to see historical fiction that’s more of a bridge between Henty’s style and Forester’s. I would like to see more French Revolution-era and more centered around the actions of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, especially since much of what there is involving the latter two is biased toward the English rather than the Scots–“the victor writes history.” That may be true, but it takes reading works biased in both directions to be truly balanced.
The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman trilogy isn’t historical fiction, per se; more like a crossover of the best of both fantasy and historical, but I would like to also see more of this sort of story, involving immortality and/or time travel. (Please don’t start with me on Doctor Who. Right now, I just don’t have the time for it 😦 ) It’s a fascinating sort of one-off story that has me intrigued; how would it be if more people took on this sort of premise and actually did well by it?
It would be nice to read more mysteries in the style of Dorothy Sayers, more complex and balanced and well-integrated. Few modern authors can pull off a good mystery as well as the late nineteenth and early twentieth century mystery writers, with the notable exception of Irene Hannon and Dee Henderson (who both classify their work as romance, but whose work also fit into the genres of suspense or mystery.) More on those two later.
Now for sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, and speculative fiction. This is one genre in which I won’t particularly lament for the authors of yesteryear. There are a great deal of good authors out there in these genres, and each one of them has fascinating premises. This may be because the genre is comparatively young, and still going strong. It would be nice to see more science fiction in the style known as “classic science fiction,” only meant for younger readers. It can be hard to find good fiction in the young adult/juvenile sections; maybe reading Madeleine L’Engle has spoiled me? ;-P
About romance… Any regular reader of this blog will know that I don’t particularly care for it. It’s not always well-written. Some of it is very unrealistic. And I just don’t feel comfortable writing it. In any book of mine where there is romance, in order so it doesn’t suck I have to make it very subtle and let the action take hold. I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons in that regard, but… meh… with precious little success. However, if Dee Henderson writes more, I will read it. If I can find more by Irene Hannon, I will read it. The other day, because I was bored, I picked up a book by Lori Wick. Just Above a Whisper, I think the title was. It was partly suspense, but mostly romance. What do I mean? Well… I almost stopped reading several times, because the menace from the insane fellow was not close enough. It wasn’t emphasized nearly enough. I didn’t have an urge to keep on reading. The only reason I didn’t put it down was because it was cool in the basement, and I was bored. Call me spoiled, but I didn’t particularly like this book; I couldn’t see why the author was a bestseller. The plot focused more on the heroine’s personal psychological problems, and I didn’t feel the ominous overhang nearly enough. It wasn’t that well integrated and felt almost like a side plot; however, I think it should have been mixed up and made part of the main plot. I felt as if even I, with my lack of talent in the genre, could have done better. It was like a romance with a side of half-baked suspense. Irene Hannon and Dee Henderson don’t have these problems. Nothing important is ever sidelined in their books; the suspense is scary enough to keep you turning pages, but not enough so it keeps you up at night like a Steven King novel (even just a summary!), and the romance is well-balanced and peppy. I want to see more romance that’s well written, even if it’s just for the sake of all the romance fans out there. 😉 I would also like to see more romance that’s based more on commitment and deep friendship rather than shallow passion. Much of what I feel tends to be deep, but I also feel in terms of commitment (if that even makes sense.) Why isn’t there more romance that just speaks to people like me? Forgive me if I’m morbid, but I think this is representation inequality right here. (And I didn’t mean to rant about bad romance. Sorry about that. I don’t mean to bash books, either; I mean, Lori Wick has promise, but I think she needs a good editor and more practice. :-P)
Thanks for reading, and God Bless!
May 5th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/
May 6th – http://www.nerdgirlinc.blogspot.com/
May 7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
May 8th – https://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/
May 9th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
May 10th – http://randomofalife.blogspot.com/
May 11th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/
May 12th – http://www.fidaislaih.blogspot.com/
May 13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
May 14th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/
May 15th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/
May 16th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/
May 17th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
May 18th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/
May 19th – http://afoodyportfolio.wordpress.com/
May 20th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/
May 21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
May 22nd – http://www.brookeharrison.com/
May 23rd – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/
May 24th – http://www.oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/
May 25th – http://avonsbabbles.wordpress.com/
May 26th – TheUnsimpleMind (no web address)
May 27th – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/
May 28th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com/
May 29th – http://sunsandstarsanddreams.wordpress.com/
May 30th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ Announcement of the next month’s blog chain. 🙂
(Oh, by the way, before I go… does anyone know the difference between speculative fiction and sci-fi, if any? Thanks 🙂 )
Professor VJ Duke said:
I actually don’t know the difference. I’m really bad with genres.
I agree about romance–usually. Have you read Pride and Prejudice?
Oh, of course! Northanger Abbey is my favorite of Austen’s novels so far. Though I do like Sense and Sensibility. 🙂
Professor VJ Duke said:
Oh dear. Well, Windu wouldn’t read P&P!
For Force sake, what does Mace Windu have to do with drippy novels anyway??? Who even mentioned Master Windu?
I certainly did not. Pride and Prejudice is not drippy… is it?!
Just a little 🙂
Ahhhh…. 😛 I’ll tell that to Mr. Darcy. He’ll probably give me his not-amused look, which is even scarier than Obi-Wan’s.
I’ve seen it already – the look, not the movie. No feasible way is that scarier than Obi-Wan in a bad mood.
Professor VJ Duke said:
Windu is my hero, I think. It is drippy! It should be burned. I ripioed it once.
But Obi-Wan doesn’t get bad moods often, so Mr. Darcy’s haughty look is MUCH scarier.
You’d be horrified if I told you that the intrigue in THD is partially modeled off of Austen, wouldn’t you?
Spec-fic is a big genre, of which sci-fi is a part. Superheroes, some fantasy set in the real world (i.e. not Tolkien and Lewis), and utopia/dystopia all count.
I love Wikipedia.
You’re right, there’s just not enough good historical fiction out there – I got reduced one time to borrowing Wars Of The Roses books from my aunt – and then discovering they were invariably bodice-rippers. Sigh.
That is truly frustrating! Oh wait, I forgot to mention Sun Slower, Sun Faster by Meriol Trever, and Constance Savery’s novels… Both of which I very highly recommend. 🙂 Sun Slower, Sun Faster is time travel, but I’m calling it historical. ;-P
Me again. Read and delete. You have been nominated for the Liebster Award. Details at Nasriel’s.
Okay. Thanks. 🙂
Reblogged this on Icedmocha34.
God bless! 😀
You too. 🙂
Liam, Head Phil said:
Really good points here. I agree, the everyman style of character without any powers would be an interesting sight in epic fantasy– and everyone needs more Brian Jacques style.
🙂 I like characters who don’t have powers… Characters who do must have them in moderation in order for me to enjoy. 🙂 ooh, what about a character who doesn’t have powers among a whole slough of those who do? 😛
Liam, Head Phil said:
That might be fun. That’s basically The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson. Or Steelheart, also by Sanderson. It isn’t unheard of in the world, although there should be more of it.
I’m reading “Ranger’s Apprentice” and loving it. 😀 I will have to check out Sanderson’s novels. 🙂
Liam, Head Phil said:
RA is awesome, but do check out Sanderson. Flanagan is good, but has bad days– Sanderson is consistently amazing.
Ah. 🙂 I’ll have to see what I can do.
Nominated you for the Liebster! Yeah I know you were just nominated at the same time as me, but this award is basically designed to go around in circles 😛 and anyway you deserve two at once 🙂 http://darklinklightlink.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/liebster-award/
Thanks, Sheikiah. 😛
Hmm. Now I don’t know who to nominate next! 0_0
Haha, yeah…Not me, though! 😛
Okay. i’ll see who I can. ;-P
Tara Therese said:
Good post! I enjoyed reading all your points. It’s interesting that you’d like more fantasy without characters who are magic. I’m writing a fantasy story without magical characters and I wondered if it wasn’t fantastical enough. But maybe not everyone wants something so fantastical?
I believe speculative fiction covers fantastical genres (including sci-fi) whereas sci-fi is simply sci-fi. Hope you get what I mean!
Tara: Thanks for your comment! 😀 I personally love writing characters with powers, but I also like seeing characters without powers in a world full of magic–they can still be awesome, and it is a sign of inner strength that they’re able to cope with a world full of magic they can not touch. Unfortunately, I’ve never had inspiration enough for any story which is specifically about a character without magical powers in a world full of them–perhaps I should start a story about a young wizard-knight who consciously stops using magic, thanks to maybe a vow or some such thing? 🙂
Tara Therese said:
Your idea about the knight is so cool! I’ll read it if you ever write it. 🙂 What about fantasy with no magic at all?
Like the Redwall books? 🙂 It would be pretty cool… I don’t know yet, but I’m reading “Ranger’s Apprentice” and it’s great so far. 🙂
George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has a lot of “everyman characters” – it’s high fantasy, but magic plays a tiny role. Basically, it’s just medieval Europe… with a few dragons. But it doesn’t really rely on magic.
Thanks for the recommendation. 😀
Of course! No problem.
Gwen Coppertsone (Lily J) said:
Good post! I definitely agree about mysteries and historical fiction. I hadn’t heard of those mystery authors, so I’ll have to check them out!
😀 Thanks! And I’m excited to recommend them, especially Dorothy Sayers–she is REALLY good. 🙂
Brooke Harrison (@1bro2syd) said:
I love fantasy, too! And I agree there definitely needs to be more of it. 🙂 Great post!
😀 Thanks. Fantasy is awesome!!!
Miriam Joy said:
For historical, French-Revolution-era fiction, have you read “A Place Of Greater Safety” by Hilary Mantel? It focuses specifically on characters at the centre of the revolution (Camille Desmoulins, Maximilen Robespierre, Georges Danton) and is factual in events, while remaining a work of fiction. It’s not easy to read, nor entirely logical in how it’s written, but it’s good if you’re into really hardcore historical stuff. Not least because it’s like 900 pages long or something. 🙂
I have not read it! I will have to check it out! 😀 You’ve probably read “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “A Tale of Two Cities”, so I will recommend “In the Reign of Terror” by G.A. Henty. His works are harder to find now, but if you look they’re not quite out of print. 🙂
Miriam Joy said:
Thanks, I’ll have a look. Yep, I’ve read the other two, though The Scarlet Pimpernel was so many years ago that I remember nothing about it. And there are a couple of sequels to it which I also have but haven’t read, so I’ve got some Orczy material to keep me going while I see if my library has Henty’s books. 🙂
No! You don’t remember the events of “The Scarlet Pimpernel”?! 0_0 I am one of a few (basically a cult following) who practically worships Sir Percy. 😛
Oh, before you read: Henty’s work is mostly fairly light reading. Nothing very dark happens, and just about everyone has a happy ending. The main characters generally wind up being forced to leave or choose to start a family before the cause is lost. So, it’s very suitable for younger readers, but not so much for older people seeking a more complex darker’n’edgier world.
Miriam Joy said:
Hmm, okay. I’m better with books without happy endings — I like me a few tragedies.
Well, I was about twelve when I read it, and I’m eighteen now, and I’ve probably read several hundred books in the meantime so … no, I don’t remember much. Except his disguise at the end, so I guess I can ruin the plot for myself without actually remembering the book, spoiling any chance of re-reading it afresh. Sigh…
Ah. I like tragedies, occasionally, but I can’t read books which get really gruesome…
Oh. 😛 That’s sad…
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