You ever stomp into your kitchen with attitude, tear open a bag of confectioners’ sugar, pour that Satan-powder on your counter, and snort that stuff up like you’re breathing your last? That’s basically what I do with dark-fantasy epics. Well, without the whole snorting Aunt-Jemima’s-cocaine part.
Those books are like a drug to me. I always love the struggle, I love the painful deaths of great characters who never got to achieve their dreams, I anticipate the big ol’ fights, and I relish being able to go to places that are not reachable via Delta Airlines. I gotta get my fix of bloody, scary fantasy somehow. And with so many stories being published on Amazon, it seems like I have truck-load of yarns to sift through. Yet, more and more I keep feeling myself growing disappointed with dark fantasy. K, this post is personal opinion so don’t rip my head clean-off, but I’ve gotten tired of a few elements I keep seeing lately.
What I am tired of in dark-fantasy epics:
Sex. Alright, we know our characters like each other, and sometimes they really like each other, but I don’t need to know every detail about the hokey-pokey they’re doing under the sheets. I mean, come on, Algorn Storm-son the Powerful (totally making up a cliché name here) sounds like a great hero and all, but the dude’s gotta have like ten-million STDs by now. The main baddie doesn’t even need to worry about being thwarted. He can just sit back and wait for our beloved hero to die of syphilis. Or maybe our main baddie has syphilis too and they both end up dying in their beds ‘cause no one could keep it in their pants. Sex sells. But not to everybody. Not to me. You can write-in sex, but stop making it graphic and stop shoving it in my face.
Politics. Everywhere I go, the media, the internet, the Arby’s cashier, and the bloated corpse of the dog I saw in a nearby canal are all vomiting out their political opinion and “expertise” right on my face. I practically need to dig a hole and bury myself in it to get away from all the arguments. With that said, don’t use your book to shove your opinion down my throat. Holy crap, everything I read now-a-days is political commentary on our current society. Maybe the “artistic-intellectuals” appreciate the craftily-interwoven “moral-message” threaded betwixt the plot lines and minutia of dialogue and witty banter, but I don’t. I wanna get away from that stuff. Why do you think I read fantasy? It’s not to be told that I need or don't need a homosexual character in the main hero’s party, or that in fact there is no black-and-white. It’s not to be told that “morality is a spectrum” and there is no distinctive good and bad. Or that I need to be reminded that the rich are always evil and the poor always noble. *K, there’s a little bit of that in my stories, but not all my rich characters are bad and visa-versa. I mean, I’m sure Valin’s got a pot of wealth hidden in his labyrinthian library somewhere.* Fact-of-the-matter is, I wanna escape reality through reading, not be reminded over-and-over that the author is an activist of some sort and has stopped eating meat since her college sorority-sister days.
If you don’t agree with me on what I said, great! It means you are a human who can think for his/herself. We differ in opinions and…who cares. I’m no apologist. I’m not going to change my mind because you got offended. You wanna argue back and tell me my opinion is wrong? Bite me.
So instead, here are four things I would love to see in fantasy:
1. More monsters I’ve never heard of. I want read about things I can’t even dream of. Some six-headed moose-centipede that travels through shadows? Sweet! A dragon? I put the book down. Done. Been there. But this dragon…had *power, unique trait, backstory, emotion, attitude*! It’s been done. Don’t go there. Use your God-given imagination and create something.
2. Different races. I’m not talking Asian, Middle-Eastern, or African. I’m talking no more (insert swear-word of your choice here) elves, orcs, dwarves, and faries! Quit copying Tolkien and trying to make it your own. Again, use your imagination. And if for some far-reaching reason, you musthave one of these mentioned races, at least quit with the clichés! Do like Larry Correia does and turn them on their head. I’m talking trailer-park elves as ghetto as they come.
3. Lore and history. People aren’t doing this wrong. They just aren’t doing enough of it! Some books will give you little hints and tidbits, but I wanna know about the great events! The genealogy. The many battles for power, the changing of territories, rise and fall of religions, and all those cosmic events. I drool just thinking of it! I want mooooore.
4. Strange lands and biomes. Same as lore and history. Not enough. I want more. More! Different too. No more deserts and winter forests. I want weird places. Petrified coral reefs drained of salt water. Areas where the sun never sets and shadows are solid and move on their own.
So if you’re a writer, please try that list and make stories including those elements. I want stories like that. I want to give you my money for that. Others do as well. The market is over-saturated with the same stuff. Change it up. If you’re a reader, support the guys that are already trying to make it happen. Until next time, this has been a blog post from someone with an opinion.
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