So there’s another article on the perception of fantasy readers.
But even SF fans have it easy compared to followers of fantasy. These are the people Red Dwarf fans sneer at for being nerdy. They are the zit-ridden little brothers of the SF geeks, whose even-less-healthy obsessions include trolls, giving Anglo-Saxon names to phallic weapons, and maidens with magical powers.
Sigh. Firstly: the dude clearly hasn’t been to DragonCon – if nerds look like this, sign me up. But is it me, or is there too much debate about the image of fantasy these days?
I remember discussing the Gemmell Award with a friend recently, and we both couldn’t find much wide-screen discussion on the quality and content of the books, of the literature, of what it offers, the context within genre (the taxonomy even), the nuts and bolts and nuances of the text, standing the books alongside each other and digging deep. All that I’ve seen is Damien G Walter’s thoughts, but little else other than a report of the night, or a brief note on the winner, or those cool little axes (yes I do want one, but that’s not the point.)
Compare this with the Clarke Award shortlist discussion.
Rampant debates followed in various forums and blogs, and on occasion veered into a belle-lettristic circle-jerk (but that’s all part of the fun, right?). The point is, the books were being examined in ferocious detail, and that meant people are interested in SF as a literature.
So where is the wider analysis of the Gemmell Award books? Why hasn’t anyone cranked-open these bad boys (and girls – we are gender neutral here!) to open up a wider discussion on the merits of the books against each other, a real show-down to get people talking about what’s in the books, rather than talking about the people holding them?
I love reading fantasy fiction and all that it can offer, from the fast entertainment to the deep reflection, the challenging content. That sensawonder. But I think we can get caught up in the aesthetics of fantasy as a genre, rather than the content of the individual books. We’re asked to celebrate all that’s good about fantasy – and I’m totally for that – and I think the forums and blogs celebrate the genre well. The community throngs.
But how can we persuade those who look down upon us to treat fantasy literature with more respect if we’re not respectfully discussing these great books in detail ourselves?