Author Topic: Truly unique fantasy worlds  (Read 1647 times)

Ruthie

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Truly unique fantasy worlds
« on: January 11, 2011, 05:00:25 AM »
I debated whether to post this in Brandon's forum, or the writing group forum, or here, and ultimately decided I wanted the discussion to go in a broad direction.

I recently finished reading WoK and was struck by two seemingly opposite thoughts: 1) the world seems completely unlike anything I've seen in a fantasy book ever, and entirely unlike earth, and 2) the culture still seems vaguely medieval European, like pretty much every fantasy book I've ever read.

What I've wondered for years, actually, is whether there's a market for a fantasy novel where the characters' culture is totally unlike European culture. Like, what if a novel based its culture on the ancient Mayans? Or the Chinese? I mean, the possibilities aren't endless or anything, since I think a fantasy set in a hunter-gatherer society would have less potential for being epic, but there are advanced societies to choose from outside Europe. I guess Egypt has been explored too somewhat, so maybe I'm overgeneralizing.

Or maybe it's been done and either I just have missed those particular novels or they haven't done well because nobody wants to read a fantasy novel about people who are vaguely Chinese. This question is of specific importance to me because I'm seriously considering doing a major revision of my current fantasy novel to set it in a non-European culture. I'm wondering how much of a mistake (or great idea) it would theoretically be.

WriterDan

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 07:54:42 AM »
The topic of non-Medieval settings has come up on the board before.  So, a little searching would probably do you some good as far as finding a few options for stories with those kinds of settings.  I'll echo what I've said before though:  if you haven't read Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet (which has a decidedly asian feel to its setting) you're really missing out on great story-telling.
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clockworkfish

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 04:47:59 PM »
I think it is a fantastic idea.  The fantasy genre could use more of this type of thinking.

Bookstore Guy

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 05:32:09 PM »
You can find pretty much anything.  CRYSTAL RAIN has a tribal feel to it.  You can find Urban Fantasy with just about every slant in it.  You just have to look around.  Read China Mieville.  NONE of his fantasy feels like medieval European stuff.  Read Guy Gavriel Kay - his recent UNDER HEAVEN is a lot like the Tang Dynasty of China. 

As far as hunter-gatherer societies, Jean M. Auel has done this in her historical fiction series.  Kathleen O'Neal Gear also has to a lesser degree with Native American Historical Fiction.  I'm sure if you looked hard enough, Dan Simmons prolly has too--let's face it, the guy has done just about everything.

I imagine the reason you feel like you read a lot of stuff set in European-ish worlds is because most of the authors that are mainstream are are European decent.  If you find novels translated from authors in other countries, you'll likely get a very different flavor than the main authors of the US, Canada and the UK (a huge majority of our reading).
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maxonennis

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 06:17:17 PM »
The Fade by Chris Wooding features a subterranean society because the surface of the world gets too hot with two suns for human habitation. It doesn't really fit in any existing human cultures, but there are actually many fantasy novels with cultures based on Eastern societies it's just that the market for those books isn't as large as compared to the medieval European type so they don't tend to get as big a push in marketing, but they're there.
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Sigyn

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 07:23:40 PM »
Lian Hearn's series is essentially Japanese, and it starts with Across the Nightingale Floor. Steven Erikson's Malazan books have a lot of different cultures, some of which are European-like and others which most certainly are not. Michelle West has something similar going on in her Sun Sword books. Martha Wells Ile-Rien books are set in a fantasy, kind of Edwardian time period (so European but not Medieval).

And I have to second the recommendation for Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet.
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Ruthie

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2011, 04:01:57 AM »
*going crazy adding stuff to her goodreads list*

Thanks, guys! I'm excited to try some of this stuff out.

Patriotic Kaz

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 08:16:58 AM »
I was about to say read Erickson, heh. His stuff has a hell of a plot but is very world heavy, which you would expect from an archeologist. However to read his books you better adore complex plots and everything that comes with them, including the parts that seem to drag a bit. One of my favorite series but it isn't everyone's cup of tea by far.
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hubay

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2011, 06:17:22 PM »
(another bump) hope this isn't ticking anyone off, but Id rather have a bunch of topics on the front page than all of "freddies" promotional tshirts.

cromptj

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Re: Truly unique fantasy worlds
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2011, 08:43:19 PM »
The thing about fantasy is that almost all different worlds are unique if perhaps rather cliched. It is part of what makes it such a great genre. If you want a very original world, I would recommend Dune. It is sci fi but it really is a classic.