August 16th, 2009


Missed oppportunty

Spec fic is not the lowest rung of the genre ladder. In terms of respect, probably romance gets a good deal less, but we are definitely not the golden tower to which most MFA candidates aspire. So when a respected outlet like The New Yorker runs a piece called Seven Essential Fantasy Reads, it looked like a promising opportunity for the fantasy genre (which often gets no respect, even from science fiction writers and fans) to let folks know what's going on in the genre.

But it's not. A New Yorker staffer basically asked one of his friends, "If I've read the big books, what's next?" (Note: he defines "big" as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Twilight, Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Dark Is Rising.) The article is really just one guy's list of what he likes to read. Yes, he's a fantasy fan, but he's also one guy (a PhD candidate in physics) with very specific tastes. It's not an effort to reveal what's going on the in field or what books are winning prizes, or what varieties of fantasy are being published. Yes, he likes fantasy, but mostly only epic fantasy, so there's no mention of urban fantasy (Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman) or anthropological fantasy (Ursula LeGuin) or any other flavor. No offense to the books listed; I'm sure they're good reads. I have read the Robin Hobb book, and it is a good book indeed, but this article should have been called, "What My Friend Hugh Recommends."

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