‘Gritty is Good?’ (Nah)

There’s a new movement in fantasy literature, summed up as “Gritty is good” by my fellow blogger, James, at “Fantasy in Motion” ( http://fantasyinmotion.wordpress.com/). James defines it: “[T]he current trend in fantasy is to practically brutalize your heroes before letting them win (or die).” And, “Our heroes now are almost anti-hero in nature. We’re meant to root for the thief, the assassin and the mercenary.”

Not me, pal.

James holds up Game of Thrones as the exemplar of “gritty” fantasy. I think Game of Thrones is dreary. I mean, the bad guys always win. That’s not fantasy. That’s New Jersey politics.

If I want “gritty,” I can just look out my window.

Gritty is the gavones next door cursing each other and pounding each other until the cops come to cart them off.

Gritty is your town, your state, and your country being “governed” by thieves, liars, perverts, and swine.

Why, as a fantasy writer, would I ever want to create a place like Camden, NJ? There already is a real Camden, and it’s horrible. Why, as a fantasy reader, would I ever want to collect ugliness, cruelty, treason, etc? I can read about it all I want to in the newspapers. Turn on the TV or the radio, and there it is.

Here’s something that I do like–gritty on the outside, but gold underneath. Toshiro Mifune was a genius when it came to playing characters like that. Remember Strider, in Lord of the Rings, who turns out to be Aragorn, the king?

In all too much of real life we get grit on the outside and not gold, but grot underneath: dirty on the outside, and even dirtier on the inside.

I don’t want it in my fantasy.

Leave a Reply