Author Topic: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog  (Read 1665 times)

Nessa

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"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."  -  Mark Twain

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Munin

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2010, 09:38:32 PM »
Interesting.

I agree with how nice it is to be able to summarize Mistborn's concept like that, but I've found that there seems to be an easier way to summarize Way of Kings than he thinks.

Personally, I describe it as "the world turned post-apocalyptic five minutes ago... and no one has realized it yet".

Of course, I have no idea if that description is true of the series as a whole, but it's the impression I get from the first book.
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2010, 09:45:39 PM »
I wouldn't describe it that way at all.
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Inkthinker

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2010, 03:18:50 AM »
This is neat stuff. Though I'm with Peter, I don't see how you describe the world of Kings as having just turned "post apocalyptic five minutes ago"... if it's considered "post-apocalyptic" at all, it would have happened in the far past with the most recent Desolation, no?

Munin

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2010, 03:45:30 AM »
This is neat stuff. Though I'm with Peter, I don't see how you describe the world of Kings as having just turned "post apocalyptic five minutes ago"... if it's considered "post-apocalyptic" at all, it would have happened in the far past with the most recent Desolation, no?

I suppose, yeah.

It just sounds more interesting than "is currently turning post-apocalyptic, and no one's realized it yet".
There's a difference between what's best and what's right. What's best might be different tomorrow or the day after, but right and wrong will stay the same after a thousand years.

Inkthinker

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2010, 04:07:37 AM »
Wouldn't that just make it "apocalyptic"?

Or maybe "pre-apocalyptic"...

Munin

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2010, 04:18:52 AM »
Like I said, not particularly interesting.
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Nessa

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2010, 07:13:13 PM »
Some people took issue with Brandon's article. For example: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2010/09/14/postmodernism-in-fantasy-a-correction/

Seems like an over-reaction and intentionally not understanding what he was trying to say. What do you guys think?
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."  -  Mark Twain

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SnagglezMaw

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 01:45:59 AM »
Some people took issue with Brandon's article. For example: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2010/09/14/postmodernism-in-fantasy-a-correction/

Seems like an over-reaction and intentionally not understanding what he was trying to say. What do you guys think?

Agreed. If the original was as meaningless as he stated, why did he make post about it (a post about a meaningless post would make that post meaningless, no?)? I thought Brandon's article was a good read; getting to see what goes on in the minds of good authors is a nice treat.

zarepath

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 04:28:30 AM »
I agree and disagree.  I liked getting into Brandon's head; I think one of my favorite things about him is his frankness about how he approaches his writing. 

But the criticism was absolutely merited.  For a New York Times bestselling novelist to make a blog post titled "Postmodernism in Fantasy," and then go on to say he knows nothing about postmodernism and then butcher the term all over the place to suit his essay... that should be criticized. 

What Brandon should've done, in my estimation, is make all the same points without using the terms postmodern, postmodernism, deconstruction, and especially not "deconstructionism" (which is not actually a real term).  There was nothing wrong with any of the points he made; the essay was interesting, and such, but there are entire schools of thought based on Postmodernism, and for him to clumsily butcher the term in a post that titles itself "Postmodernism in Fantasy"... something just needed to be said.  Not necessarily as an enormous "OH EM JEEZ UR WRONG ABOUT POSTMODERNIZM" outcry, but as a dialogue that says: "Look, we got famous authors who are slinging this term around, and they're not doing it justice.  Here's what it REALLY is."

I look forward to someday reading a real essay about actual postmodernism in fantasy.  Sanderson's obviously not gonna be the one to write it, though.

luminos

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2010, 06:23:21 AM »
Sanderson is an awesome guy, but I cringed when I read this essay.  Of course, its not really his fault that he got stuff wrong, because post-modernism has become a trendy phrase that 90% of the people using it have no real clue what it actually means.  Sanderson seems to be using the TVtropes version of the phrase, which is not what the literary version of the phrase is about.  The big problem may just be that he confuses post-modern methods for post-modernism itself. 

Sure, the post-modernist is known for using various methods involving playing with audience expectations, doing experimental stuff, lots of weird humor, etc. but what this misses is that they aren't post-modern because of the techniques, but because of the motive for the way the techniques are used.  The post-modernist is a person who through whatever bizarre process actually believes the self-contridictory phrase "This statement has no meaning", and take it at face value.  Thus, the methods of playing up self-contradiction for irony, of messing with expectations, of any the other tricks they are fond of are a coping mechanism, to help hide the sheer stupidity of that belief that is at the core of their understanding.

Even if one were to simply refer to the techniques when talking about post-modernism, and to just say that this is what they mean by post-modernism, that person would still be making an error.  Much of the "post-modern" techniques have been around for over a thousand years, so it is a bit misleading to say that one is post-modern just because one uses these techniques.

Brandon's writings are not post-modern.  I would not enjoy reading them if they were.

guessingo

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 12:26:50 PM »
Very good essay. Shame I don't live in Utah so I can take Brandon's class. Maybe one of these days soon, BYU will get with the modern world and let him put the class online. Berkley, MIT, and the University of Washington have a lot of classes online.

zarepath

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 09:13:34 PM »
If you scan through the comments at the reaction post, Brandon wrote a nice reply basically saying "okay, yeah, you're right, I was pretty flippant about how I defined it."  Good on him. 

Also, if you read through the comments and filter out all of the "this is why I don't like Brandon Sanderson," you come across a lot of interesting thoughts about fantasy and real postmodernism, if anyone's interested. 

guessingo

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2010, 01:58:19 PM »
does anyone know if any fantasy/sci-fi authors teach a class on this stuff in Northern Virginia? It would need to be a night class. Something similiar to what Brandon does at BYU?

c0rr0s10n

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Re: Postmodernism in Fantasy by Brandon at Scalzi's Whatever Blog
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2011, 07:53:49 PM »
My brain hurts trying to boggle this one out. I read B.S.s explanation of postmodernism and thought it made sense, then all these other posters are replying with: "that's not what it means" and "it means this illogical over-thought answer"

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