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Why fantasy?


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Much of our genetic makeup was built toward handling a more dangerous -- and therefore adrenaline-laced -- existence. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers and their biology was adapted to a life of peril. These people died almost as often as the security boys on the original Star Trek (Captain, I think I've found something....... AAAHHH!!).

 

Our lives today... a little less exciting. I think that there are feelings and emotions that go unused in the typical, hum drum, day to day city life. I think that people don't just 'escape' into books, movies, games. I think that they're filling the void that exists because they don't hunt mammoths.

 

Good fantasy fills the gap. It draws you in with characters that you can relate to. It subjects the characters to constant uncertainty and those two things, combined, produce the chemicals that would otherwise lay dormant since we no longer wake up and plan how we are going to keep our pack from running into a Sabertooth.

 

---ένας τύπος από ένα forum.

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Χμ... απαντάει το ερώτημα από βιολογικής πλευράς. Ενδιαφέρον. Δηλαδή μας λέει πως η δράση είναι στο αίμα μας; Μήπως όμως η φαντασία δεν σχετίζεται άμεσα μ'αυτά που λέει ο τύπος; Αυτά έχουν να κάνουν με τη δράση.

Εδώ παίζει και το θέμα για της σχέση δράσης-φαντασίας, αλλά μάλλον το πάω πολύ μακριά :p

 

ΥΓ: Αύριο δίνω μάθημα αδιάβαστο ακόμα και κάθομαι και γράφω στο φορούμι. Είμαι ένα κακάδι.

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Είπα να μην ανοίξω άλλο topic, γιατί αυτό το θέμα είναι παραπλήσιο. Δείτε τι λέει κάποιος για τη Φαντασία:

 

If there was one genre that could be considered almost limitless in its ability to do different things in the quest for depth and meaning it's speculative fiction. In pure, mainstream literature, the author is constrained to what could happen in the real world, thus limiting the ways in which he or she can approach different concepts.

 

The limits you're referring to are only those that narrowmindedness(of any group--readers, authors, publishers) towards the possibilities of the genre can create. Elves and dwarves and dragons do not fantasy make. Fantasy is very simply anything that steps outside of the bounds of what is plausible in day-to-day experience.

 

It irks me to some degree that there are so many people who don't want the genre to move forward, only to stay within the bounds that it has been in since its conception.

 

 

Σχολιάστε.

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Ως ένα βαθμό είναι σωστό. Πρέπει όμως να λάβουμε υπόψη ότι στους ανθρώπους που δεν αφήνουν το συγκεκριμένο είδος να αναπτυχθεί ανήκουν και αρκετοί συγγραφείς του είδους. Ειδικά όταν αντιγράφουν τους πλέον κλασικούς. Για παράδειγμα (προσωπική άποψη) ο Robert Jordan. Και δεν είναι μόνο θέμα αντιγραφής αλλά και συνέπειας στον αναγνώστη. Πόσα βιβλία θα βγάλει ο τύπος μέχρι να πει αυτά που έχει να πει? Απλά βλέπει ότι πιάνει και το έχει κάνει σαπουνόπερα. Αυτός βέβαια μαζί με πολλούς άλλους.

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kati paromoio syzhtousa xtes me kati kollimena atoma.To epixeirhma tous, itan oti einai allo h antigrafi, kai allo to na pairneis stoixeia.A kai to palio klasiko.''POU THN BLEPEIS THN ANTIGRAFH?DEN EXEIS EPIXEIRIMATA'' mazi me sxolia os pros thn dianohtikh mou anaptypksi, ka8os kai ta psyxologika mou problimata(?).

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Θα συμφωνήσω, εν μέρει, στο ότι είναι άλλο η αντιγραφή και άλλο το να δανείζεσαι στοιχεία. ΑΛΛΑ υπάρχει μια γραμμή. Πχ, αν μας κάποιος πει ότι ο Terry Brooks δεν αντιγράφει ξεδιάντροπα τον Tolkien αλλά απλά "δανείζεται" από αυτόν, τότε, ε, είναι λιγάκι άτοπο, πώς να το κάνουμε;

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Ναι, σίγουρα το να παίρνεις στοιχεία δεν είναι καθόλου κατακριτέο. Για παράδειγμα ο Lovecraft αλληλογραφούσε συχνά με τον Robert Howard και αυτό ίσως να απεικονίζεται και στα έργα τους, μα δεν τα μειώνει ούτε στο ελάχιστο. Εκεί που πραγματικά εκνευρίζομαι είναι με τις ατέλειωτες σειρές βιβλίων. Αυτό είναι καθαρά εμπόριο και αρπαχτή.

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allo otan o Howard pairnei stoixeia ap ton Lovecraft, kai allo na klebeis ton kosmo kai na to parousiazeis os diko sou... :p

Yparxoun kai oria opos leei kai o bardos.P.x gia ton jordan eixa dei kapou ena oraio post, pou deixnei poso moiazei ena biblio tou sto Lord of the rings.Ama endiafereste na pao na to kse8apso.

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Η άποψή μου για τις σειρές: Δεν είμαι απαραίτητα εναντίον. Γιατί, όταν μπω σε έναν φανταστικό κόσμο, θέλω να μείνω αρκετά εκεί. Το ίδιο ισχύει και όταν γράφω: γράφω συνήθως σειρές (με εννιαία πλοκή), διότι θέλω να μείνω αρκετά στον κόσμο που έχω δημιουργήσει, θέλω να τον "εξερευνήσω". Ωστόσο, αντιλαμβάνομαι απόλυτα αυτό που λέει ο Μαλλεύς. Για παράδειγμα, ο Jordan: άντεξα να τον διαβάσω μέχρι λίγο μετά από τη μέση του 6ου βιβλίου, Lord of Chaos, κι εκεί τον παράτησα. Ως σειρά με ενόχλησε το ότι δε φαινόταν να έχει κάτι πραγματικά το τόσο μεγάλο να πει, ώστε να δικαιολογεί τον αριθμό των βιβλίων που έβγαζε, ούτε τον αριθμό των σελίδων σε κάθε βιβλίο. Έχει μια πλοκή την οποία --αν ήθελε-- μπορούσε να είχε, σίγουρα, ολοκληρώσει ως το έκτο του βιβλίο, αν όχι από πιο πριν. Όλοι περιμένουμε τον Rand να πλακωθεί με τον Dark One: όλα τα ενδιάμεσα απλά πιάνουν χώρο, όπως και κάτι άσχετοι χαρακτήρες που εμφανίζονται ανά δύο βιβλία για λίγο μόνο και εξαφανίζονται ύστερα. Με τον Erikson ή με τον Martin, από την άλλη, δε συμβαίνει αυτό. Είναι πραγματικά μεγάλη η πλοκή τους και δικαιολογεί το γεγονός ότι γράφουν πολλά.

 

Σχετικά με τις αντιγραφές από τον Jordan, έχει κλέψει και τον Tolkien και τον Herbert, αλλά, τουλάχιστον, δεν το έχει κάνει τόσο ξεδιάντροπα όσο άλλοι' έχει δώσει, κάπως, το δικό του στυλ, πιστεύω. (North, στείλε εκείνη τη σελίδα. Νομίζω ξέρω ποια εννοείς, αλλά δε θυμάμαι τη διεύθυνση.)

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Ναι Βάρδε συμφωνώ με αυτό που λες... Πάντως κατάλαβα ότι υπάρχουν δυο "ρεύματα". Αυτοί που δίνουν βάρος στη πλοκή και θέλουν να νιώσουν σε βάθος ένα θέμα κι αυτοί που αρέσκονται σε πιό γρήγορη εναλλαγή μοτίβου και θέλουν να ασχολούνται με πολλές ιδέες σε λιγότερο χρόνο. Αυτά είναι απλώς γούστα.

Προσωπικά προτιμώ περισσότερο τα αυτοτελή αναγνώσματα, μα αναγνωρίζω πως οι μακροσκελείς αφηγήσεις έχουν άλλη γλύκα μιας και δένεσαι πιο πολύ με τους χαρακτήρες και τον κόσμο...

Πως γύρισε πάλι το θέμα έτσι ε; :)

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Μέχρι στιγμής, ήξερα μόνο για hard scifi. Αλλά δείτε αυτό:

 

 

From Michael Swanwick's recent Locus interview:

 

I have frequently talked about what I call 'hard fantasy.' Hard fantasy is the core material: undeniably fantasy, nothing but fantasy, and not an imitation of anybody else's fantasy. It is the stuff lesser writers imitate. Tolkien wrote hard fantasy -- there was nothing like that before he did it. Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, E.R. Eddison's books, and Mervyn Peake's books are all hard fantasy. Works derivative of them are simply not. One example of hard fantasy is The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. China Miéville's work would qualify as being hard fantasy as well as New Weird. There's a lot of first-rate stuff coming out right now.

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Πολύ ενδιαφέρον. Δεν το είχα σκεφτεί έτσι ποτέ αλλά νομίζω θα συμφωνήσω. Θα ήθελα να διαβάσω τα τελευταία βιβλία που αναφέρει για να δω πραγματικά νέο “αίμα” στη σκέψη.

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Ursula K. Le Guin's BookExpo America Speech

 

Some Assumptions about Fantasy (http://www.harcourtbooks.com/AuthorInterviews/LeGuinBEASpech.asp)

 

 

 

 

It seems very strange to me to fly 4,000 miles to speak for ten minutes at breakfast. To me, breakfast is when you don't speak. At most you grunt. Nothing more than that should be required. I wish I could just grunt at you in a friendly, polite way that meant "Thank you all for being wonderful people who bring children's books to children!" and then sit down among a chorus of moderately appreciative grunts. However.

 

It was suggested that I tell you things like how I create children's books and why, and how my books are part of my life. That is exactly the kind of subject that I can't even grunt about. I don't know anything about how or why, only about what.

 

So, what are my books for kids and young adults? All but one of them are fantasies, including the new one, so I will grunt about fantasy.

 

Some assumptions are commonly made about fantasy that bother me. These assumptions may be made by the author, or by the packagers of the book, or both, and they bother me both as a writer and as a reader of fantasy. They involve who the characters are, when and where they are, and what they do. Put crudely, it's like this: in fantasy, 1) the characters are white, 2) they live sort of in the Middle Ages, and 3) they're fighting in a Battle Between Good and Evil.

 

Assumption 1: The characters are white. Even when they aren’t white in the text, they are white on the cover. I know, you don't have to tell me about sales! I have fought many cover departments on this issue, and mostly lost. But please consider that "what sells" or "doesn't sell" can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If black kids, Hispanics, Indians both Eastern and Western, don't buy fantasy—which they mostly don't—could it be because they never see themselves on the cover?

 

I have received letters that broke my heart, from adolescents of color in this country and in England, telling me that when they realized that Ged and the other Archipelagans in the Earthsea books are not white people, they felt included in the world of literary and movie fantasy for the first time. Worth thinking about?

 

Assumption 2: Fantasy Land is the Middle Ages. It isn't. It's an alternate world, outside our history, as its map isn't on our map. It may resemble mediaeval Europe in being preindustrial—but that doesn't justify its having no economics and no social justice. Nor does it explain why nobody there ever feeds or waters their horses, which run all day and night just like a Prius. The best send-up ever of this fifth-hand Tennyson setting is Monty Python's "Holy Grail," where horses are replaced with coconuts. Whenever I find a fantasy that is set in a genuinely imagined society and culture instead of this lazy-minded, recycled hokum, I feel like setting off fireworks.

 

Assumption 3: Fantasy by definition concerns a Battle Between Good and Evil. This is the one where the cover copywriters shine. There are lots of fantasies about the Battle Between Good and Evil, the BBGE, sure. In them, you can tell the good guys from the evil guys by their white hats, or their white teeth, but not by what they do. They all behave exactly alike, with mindless and incessant violence, until the Problem of Evil is solved in a final orgy of savagery and a win for the good team.

 

Many fantasy movies and most interactive games go in for the BBGE, which partly explains the assumption about books. And it's true that in fantasy, character is often less important than role (also true of Greek tragedy and much of Shakespeare, where role and character can be the same thing). Carelessly read, such stark stuff may appear to be morally simplistic, black-and-white. Carelessly written, that's what it is. But careless reading of genuine fantasy will not only miss nuance, it will miss the whole nature and quality of the work.

 

This is what's happened over and over to The Lord of the Rings—even in the film version, where, though Tolkien's plot is followed faithfully and the Ring is destroyed, the focus on violent action and the interminable battle scenes overshadow, and perhaps fatally reduce, the moral complexity and originality of the book, the mystery at its heart.

 

As for my stuff, how anybody can call it a Battle Between Good and Evil is beyond me. I don't write about battles or wars at all. It seems to me that what I write about—like most novelists—is people making mistakes and people—other people or the same people—trying to prevent or correct those mistakes, while inevitably making more mistakes.

 

Immature people crave and demand moral certainty: This is bad, this is good. Kids and adolescents struggle to find a sure moral foothold in this bewildering world; they long to feel they're on the winning side, or at least a member of the team. To them, heroic fantasy may offer a vision of moral clarity. Unfortunately, the pretended Battle Between (unquestioned) Good and (unexamined) Evil obscures instead of clarifying, serving as a mere excuse for violence—as brainless, useless, and base as aggressive war in the real world.

 

I hope that teenagers find the real heroic fantasies, like Tolkien's. I know such fantasies continue to be written. And I hope the publishers and packagers and promoters and sellers of fantasy honor them as such. While fantasy can indeed be mere escapism, wish-fulfillment, indulgence in empty heroics, and brainless violence, it isn't so by definition—and shouldn't be treated as if it were.

 

Fantasy is a literature particularly useful for embodying and examining the real difference between good and evil. In an America where our reality may seem degraded to posturing patriotism and self-righteous brutality, imaginative literature continues to question what heroism is, to examine the roots of power, and to offer moral alternatives. Imagination is the instrument of ethics. There are many metaphors beside battle, many choices besides war, and most ways of doing good do not, in fact, involve killing anybody. Fantasy is good at thinking about those other ways. Could we assume that it does so?

Presented at the Children's Literature breakfast at BEA

Chicago, 4 June 2004

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

 

 

Ursula Le Guin

 

 

 

 

 

Available Now

 

Changing Planes

 

Coming in September

 

Gifts

 

Coming in October

 

Very Far Away from Anywhere Else

 

 

Visit Ursula Le Guin's Web Site

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