Benjamin Baxter

Posts Tagged ‘fantasy kinda sucks’

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: My Admiration Does Not Lessen My Hatred One Whit

In Reviews on January 5, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Fantasy kinda sucks. As a longtime fan of the genre, I’ve somewhat earned some right to say that.

  • While “Harry Potter” is fun to read — excepting the fifth book — its colorful characters and whimsical settings are bogged down by weak writing.
  • “His Dark Materials” has similar strengths and flaws, and was worsened even further by the author’s tendency to proselytize.
  • “The Wheel of Time” cribs liberally from Tolkien — an author who wrote his books solely because he liked making up languages.
  • The worst of all of them is that “Eragon” series; it reads like it was written by a 19-year-old homeschooler from Montana. In part because it was.
  • Among good modern fantasists, Neil Gaiman tends to exhibit the same self-indulgent fascination with multi-pantheon crossovers in whatever he writes, leaving Terry Brooks alone above reproach; it helps that Brooks¬†doesn’t take his fantasy settings seriously.

It’s become a rule, therefore, that fantasy as a whole is a thin, shallow genre of fiction with especially egregious pretensions that it has meaningful depth and that it’s romanticism profound rather than transparent. Science fiction, unfortunately, is much of the same.¬†Fortunately, because the overall crappiness of fantastic literature is a rule, there are going to be exceptions. I just spent the better part of two days — almost spilling over into three — reading one of the most important and, dare I say, literary exceptions in recent memory. Read the rest of this entry »