I love good fantasy; but there’s enough truly rotten fantasy published every year to line the whole world’s bird cages several times over.
Not that it’s anywhere near the only thing that bad fantasy gets wrong, but it is perhaps the most annoying thing: its treatment of women. If a female character in a stupid fantasy is not The Invincible Female Warrior, you can be sure she’s in for a hard time.
Fantasy is a powerful tool for communicating the intangible, especially to children. As a fantasy writer myself, using fantasy to serve an evil purpose is something that makes me quite truly angry. But it should always make you mad to see something good twisted into bad.
Sometimes I’m afraid it’s just me, and everybody else is just crazy about buxom tavern wenches, invincible female warriors, know-it-all elves, all-powerful wizards, and bad guys who always win. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so much of it in fantasy. (Yeah, Game of Thrones, I’m talking about you.)
I will not reveal the name of this fantasy novel, because the author is really quite a nice guy; but it remains the gold standard for how to annihilate fantasy. It does this in just a single line of dialogue. The dwarf turns to the elf and says, “We must learn to value other lifestyles.”
Back when every word I wrote got rejected, it used to drive me plum crazy to see all the howlingly awful books that were being published. Even some of the best-sellers! Stories that made no sense. Prose that read like a six-year-old wrote it. Stuff that read like a space alien wrote it, after taking a two-hour course on how to imitate humans.
Hundreds of writers have tried to imitate C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. This is the latest effort.
The “Earth Priestess,” as you may have guessed, is really the White Witch, come back to Narnia to liberate its oppressed minorities from the religious hegemony of Aslan, the Lion. The book is to be published by the Democrat National Committee.
“If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em,” said DNC factotum Bill Z. Bubb. He neither confirms nor denies that the author, “Iso Smart,” is cover for the writing team of Al Gore, Chelsea Clinton, and a couple of space aliens.
In this Chronicle, the White Witch overthrows Aslan by exposing him as a transphobic, Islamophobic, micro-aggressing biggit, and the Minority Peoples of Narnia rise up and banish him to the wild wastes of Flyover Country. There is much about this edition of the White Witch that strongly resembles Hillary Clinton: like, for instance, the power her voice has to etch glass.
Mr. Gore was asked how he found the time and inspiration to write a fantasy (if indeed he did write this), when he’s been so busy with the release of his other fantasy–oops, sorry: I mean his non-fiction book–It Would Be Just So Cool to Take All Our Orders from Brussels, co-authored with John Kerry. “I’ve always wanted to improve on Narnia,” he said, “especially in regard to Saving the Planet and promoting feminism and alternative families. I’ve always felt the White Witch–and of course she’s not a witch, that’s just a label that biggits throw around–was the most admirable character in all those books. She represents the female spirituality of The Planet, with Social Justice for all.”
Mind-numbingly creative, The Earth Priestess Brings Social Justice to the Workers comes up with truly unexpected twists–like Dwarf Lives Matter, making the Marsh-Wiggles pay their fair share of taxes, and forcing Centaurs to perform gender re-assignment surgery, to name a few.
Lewis’ Pevensey children having all died in his last Narnia Chronicle, The Last Battle, The Earth Priestess introduces a new group of children from our world–Shawonka, Hussein, Wu Wei Shu, and Glyptodonna, whose two dads are busy campaigning for More Gay Rights. “We explore what American families will look like after one more of our people serves as president,” says Bill Z. Bubb.
All proceeds from the sale of The Earth Priestess Brings Social Justice to the Workers will go to the Clinton Foundation.
Again, yet again, I plead with my fellow fantasy novelists: enough already with the rotten writing! Please don’t do it anymore. Please!
Do what? Please lay off the following:
Don’t try to write your book as if it were a graphic novel–that is, a flaming comic book. Just for once try to write as if you thought grownups might read it.
Don’t make all your characters talk like you think teenagers talk. Come on, now–a lot of teens are nowhere near as dumb as all that, and the ones who are, are not going to read anything anyway. Do try to lift your dialogue some distance above the level of a text message.
Don’t resort to the bleeding obvious. I mean, don’t call the bad guys “bad” or “diabolical” or “reprehensible,” etc. Don’t editorialize about your characters. “And then the nefarious villain, Maalox the Dwarf, snickered evilly, distorting his tremendously ugly face, and spoke with unpardonable disrespect to the beautiful princess with nice knockers and incredibly lovely blond hair that was like something indescribably beautiful, ‘Hah! You’re all tied up, now you can’t do your jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks…” If I never again read anything like this, it’ll be too soon.
Try to avoid, in your narrative passages, such contemporary slang terms as “taking them out” or “being there for her” or “got a problem with that,” and all the rest, too depressingly numerous to mention.
Please don’t write like this anymore. It gives fiction a bad name, and contributes to the non-development of the reader’s brain. It might even actually kill off brain cells–we’re waiting for the research to be published.