Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What? We're Defined?

I'm not certain whether I should laugh or be distraught. Check out this definition I found on Wikipedia:

The definition of a fantasy author is somewhat diffuse, and a matter of opinion
- Jules
considered H. G. Wells to be a fantasy
author - and there is considerable overlap with science
fiction authors
and horror
fiction authors
. However some notable part of the output of the following
writers leans more to the fantasy end of the spectrum:


So Verne considered Wells to be a fantasy author, did he? I wonder, just out of curiosity--what did Wells think of Verne?

Whoa. I could ponder the ramifications of that for hours.

At any rate, did anyone notice that the definition of fantasy author is not actually defined? Apparently, we overlap with scif-fi and horror---and that's it. Wonder what they say about fantasy.

Fantasy is a genre
of art that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a
primary element of plot, theme, or setting. The genre
is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by overall
look, feel, and theme of the
individual work, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three
(collectively known as speculative
). In its broadest sense, fantasy comprises works by many writers,
artists, filmmakers, and musicians, from ancient myths and legends to many recent works
embraced by a wide audience today.
The genre of fantasy is generally
distinguished from other works that may use things believed to be impossible by
its internal consistency (the marvels do not alter their behavior without reason
in a work) and its presentation as true in its context.[1]

Oh that speculative fiction I see thrown in there?

So if fantasy differs from the rest of the speculative realm due to its overall look, feel, and theme then how do fantasy authors differ from their speculative brothers and sisters?

(Pauses while the inevitable comments about my overall look and feel get thrown into the ring...)

I think it may have something to do with "...use things believed to be impossible by its internal consistency...and its presentation as true in its context..." In a nutshell, a fantasy author finds a way to make the impossible credible. Sure, the willing suspension of disbelief must be applied to all speculative fiction if it is going to work, but what about fantasy requires MORE, not only from the author but from the reader as well? I thought about this for a while and this is what I came up with---*snicker*

Okay, the thing that makes true horror work (for me at least) is the sneaking suspicion that it COULD be possible. The psychological horror of a movie like Halloween works for me in that context; I can picture some six-year-old loon like Michael Myers. I can also imagine that somewhere in the world, that psychic link exists between siblings....ergo, the entire premise becomes credible to me.

Science fiction, on the other hand, operates (0nce again, let me toss out the *this is me* disclaimer) on what MAY be possible in the future. Think about it: do any of us really doubt that someday we'll perfect lightspeed technology? I don't. Once they managed to clone a sheep, my disbelief was willingly--and permanently--suspended.

But fantasy---ah, fantasy!---operates from the premise of what we each WISH for. What kid doesn't wish desperately for some magic way to get back at his/her parents or tormentors? I know I did! This hidden vein lies dormant in all of us. Look at the success of Harry Potter. Doesn't it speak eloquently of that wish? By the same token, don't we all wish to influence events around us through the use of mere thought?

Sooooooooooooo---reaching through the broadest spectrum of speculation, perhaps then a fantasy author is one who takes the secret wishes of humanity and makes them into reality.


Yeah that works.