Genre shifts

This post on The Blog That Time Forgot mentions in passing (and not with agreement) the possibility of J.K. Rowling eventually having a greater impact on fantasy fiction than Howard and Tolkien.
In terms of writing style and subject matter, probably not.
On the other hand, I was working in a bookstore when the books first caught on and I think Rowling has already had a substantial impact. The boom in Y/A fantasy has been huge, and I can’t think of a more likely reason (for example, Diana Wynne Jones books have been out for years, but they weren’t anywhere near as widely available before). It reminds me a lot of when the Lancer Conan paperbacks inspired several brawny barbarians in the seventies, though I think the quality’s a little higher.
I have no idea how she’ll play out over the long run, but that’s still pretty cool (quite aside from the fact I like the books a lot).
And then I got to thinking about other non-literary influences in fantasy:
•Dungeons and Dragons. I read a theory some years ago that D&D has been a major influence on fantasy since the seventies, and the writer had a point (I’ve made this observation before—sorry if you’ve already read it, or if you heard it somewhere else). In 1930s otherworld fantasies, magic was rare, most of it was evil and the hero rarely threw any around (as opposed to sidekicks and allies). Today, most of the fantasies I see have lots more magic, and it’s quite common for the hero to be a wizard.
•Vampire: The Masquerade. Before this RPG, did we have vampire clans, societies, or courts and tribunals for those who transgressed the rules? Occasionally (Marvel’s Dracula and DC’s I … Vampire, for instance) but it really has accelerated since then, I believe.
•Buffy. It’s hard not to see a connection between Joss Whedon’s butt-kicking vampire slayer and the butt-kicking women in the current wave of “urban fantasies.” Though it could also be the Anita Blake influence, I suppose.
All this is subjective and not backed up by rational analysis or statistics. But take it for what it’s worth.

2 Comments

Filed under Reading, Writing

2 responses to “Genre shifts

  1. Pingback: Authenticity, canon and Arthur | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Power and Ritual: Magic in Fantasy (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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