Its not like an Andy Hardy movie-- "Hey Pablo, let's throw us a new movement! I'm thinking we can call it Cubism... you in?" We can self examine until we disappear into our own navels, but the truth is we all need to be taking chances and thrashing away as we write what we write. For me it means leaving behind many tropes that seem fuzzy. I find it very unlikely that you will see me writing anything with elves, dwarves, half-anythings, Dark Lords, farmboys of destiny, a "noble" nobility, or using the word "mage" or using any setting that seems even vaguely "jolly old England" or some twice removed derivitive.
I want fantasy that kicks my butt, that has me standing in the backyard looking at the stars with tears on my face and my heart thumping, like The Ship of Ishtar did to me when I was 11 years old. I want stories about heroes, who will do what ordinary men wouldn't or couldn't, who do what they must and pay the price, where the last man standing tells the tale of his fallen comrades, and weeps because he failed to join them. I want the moral ambiguity of poor choices and the fight every step since to rectify them or die in the attempt. I want a hero who, like Conan, will grab the girl and let the jewels fall, but curse into his cups every night that follows for the missed treasure. I don't want to read about pure, knighly Elves--- I want Long John Silver with a cutlass in one hand and the other outstretched, asking me as a true shipmate to sign articles and come aboard.
I write fantasy about big, dreadful, human choices, and that is what I want to read. The heroes I want to read about wave as the Farmboy of Destiny rides off to face the Dread Lord of Despair, far away in the Dark Lands, and while FoD is saving the world sleeps with his girlfriend, absconds with Parish Library fund, and fast-talks his way into the Bandits Local 410 and, after stealing an election via 2 slit throats and a stuffed ballot-box, becomes the Bandit Cheif in time to lead them to save the village from the marauding Huns so that FoD has something to come back and look down upon.
Or through greed and ignorance, give up any chance of happiness and instead wanders bitterly looking only for hope or an end to pain, blighted and alone, until some small thing allows them to find redemption, not for themselves but for others, in some small way.
The difference between King and the spatterpunks was that King forgot to make it hurt. Same for the Cyberpunks--- Gibson remembered that the real thing that unites us is not wonder or hope, but the universality of shared tragedy. It has to hurt, somewhere. Your characters must need to be at a point where some true human pain is revealed, and through that examination of the human condition, some answer given, while acknowledging the fact that when the story is done, there was a price paid by the characters as well as the reader.
Monday, April 14, 2008
So where is S&S going? Joining a discussion
If you aren't regularly visiting SFReader, you might want to give them a try. Some very interesting discussions there, from folks at a variety of experience. This topic has been going on for several weeks at my forum there. You might want to take a look---