I haven’t delved into fantasy reading since my youthful days enjoying Deltora Quest and The Hobbit, but recently one series has eaten my brain. Notably more adult than the aforementioned titles, George R. R. Martin’s phenomenally successful A Song of Ice and Fire has completely hooked me, an intoxication shared with my father and the topic of much conversation. I think the rest of the family is growing a bit tired of it, to be honest, but there is no rest for the readers.
Or the viewers, as anyone who has watched the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones will know. May I take the chance to say that I adore what that studio does, taking the budget and detail of a film and dedicating it to a long-running series, acknowledging that some stories are better told in television format and not crushed into movies (even if they do get three billion sequels) and that the television format can in fact support such a level of grandeur. They do, of course, make sure that their shows have as wide an audience as possible to pay for all this by filling them with fan service (read: a good dose of boobs every episode), but that is part of the package.
In any case, it is interesting to note that a fantasy series has become so wildly popular in this era of hard-bitten realists. But then again, fantasy can never go out of style, being the utmost form of escapism: we’ve had a fine example of this recently in the form of the hugely successful Skyrim, latest in the Elder Scrolls games which let the audience literally escape into the fictional world. There’s also The Hobbit, making its way around the world and drawing massive audiences (and not just to look at Aidan Turner’s pretty face, though that helps too), and its predecessors The Lord of the Rings trilogy which raked in academy awards and love.
So fantasy is still popular, if a little nerdy (and what’s wrong with that? Pah), which then reshapes the question to what makes ASOIAF stand out and attract its own overflowing and enthusiastic fanbase? Continue reading
There’s always that one character that gets a barrel of fan hatred dumped on them. Always, without question. It’s one of those rule of the universe things (others include: if you drop toast it will always land spread side down and get covered in carpet fluff and cat hair, if your infallible washing machine that has worked for 20 years ever breaks down it will be when you desperately need it, and if it’s possible for a cat to do, there are at least ten videos of it on YouTube).
Upon inspection, however, I’ve begun to wonder what exactly it is that magnetises so much bitterness towards these fictional people, especially from the loudest demographic of most fandoms: the young adult female bloggers.
Let’s begin with the example of Sansa Stark of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. I have yet to delve into the intricacies of this series and its fandom but from the periphery (tumblr is a wonderful thing) I can see that there’s not a lot of love for her. In fact, she’s one of the least popular people in the series, and the subject of a lot of whinery, mostly centring around the fact that she is “whiny” “shallow” “useless” and “annoying”.
It’s because she’s ginger, isn’t it?
You’d think fantasy and science fiction would be the two most widely different genres on the planet, but weirdly enough you’d be wrong. They kind of have a Tiger and Dragon thing going on, like those two characters that bicker all the time but everyone knows it’s really because they’re secretly uncomfortable with how similar they are beneath the surface (and someone somewhere is utterly convinced that it’s just repressed sexual tension).
Riddle me this: one of the great staples of fantasy is dragons, right? You can’t have an epic fantasy without them. Not even if you’re a hardcore deconstruction like A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, because even then they appear sitting on naked people.
So you have dragons moseying around your fictional world, breathing fire and stealing maidens or providing cryptic wisdom, or whatever you wish, and so it is definitely a fantasy. But what if it turns out that dragons are aliens, or the highly evolved, mutated form of the common iguana?
Then it would be science fiction.
Brain hurt yet? Mine certainly did. Continue reading