Question! When in America did “mainstream” come to mean “completely outside the Christian world-view,” and how did we ever allow that to happen?
Christian fiction author T. Davis Bunn, with a string of best-sellers on his resume, decided a few years ago to write “a wholly secular fantasy”, Emissary, under the pseudonym of Thomas Locke; and a major Christian publisher decided to publish it.
Emissary contained every fantasy cliche known to man; it was a veritable thesaurus of cliches. Why in the world do fantasy writers do this??? I mean, it’s “fantasy,” right–and that means it’s supposed to be imaginative. Like, what is the freakin’ point of a thoroughly unimaginative fantasy? Why bother to write it? Why bother to read it? If you’re an experienced fantasy reader, you’ll already know precisely what sort of characters will appear in the story, you’ll know exactly what they’ll say and do on any occasion, and the only surprise you’ll ever get is if you drop the book and fall out of your chair trying to pick it up. If you even bother.
Also, many of these fantasy cliches, in addition to their thorough predictability, are basically pagan–not “Christian” in any sense of the word. Why did Mr. Bunn waste his talents on such bilge?
Fantasy matters because it has access to regions of the heart and mind not easily explored by other kinds of stories. It matters because it ought to be included in Christ’s Kingdom and put at the service of that kingdom, not reserved as a province of neo-paganism.
And I wonder if Mr. Bunn just stopped caring about such things.
I only get to see books that are actually published; and a lot of those are bad enough to dry up a good-sized pond. After many years of studying the matter, I don’t know why that should be. Unless it’s simply that so very few people can actually write a good novel, the supply can never catch up to the demand and a lot of pfud gets published because they don’t have anything better.
Suddenly the idea of a fantasy about a hard-boiled private eye is starting to look pretty good to me. I’ll betcha Anthony Boucher or Henry Kuttner could’ve done it standing on his head. “The dame came through my office door in a rustle of that fancy crinoline stuff like you see in the movies. Real class. But she didn’t open the door to come on…”
I mean, as long as we’re going to be writing bad fiction, it might as well be funny!
I read this book, and a couple other clangers, in preparation for an interview. I think it was with Joshua’s uncle, Kevin, on his internet radio show. I look back with amazement that any published book could be this bad.
Sometimes when adults write about teenagers, they come off as space aliens trying to write about human beings without having the slightest understanding of humanity, they might as well be writing about catfish. A book like this is an insult to every poor devil who ever tried and failed to get published. A monkey could write a better one, if you gave him a keyboard.
You owe it to yourself to give this book a wide berth.
The Know-It-All Elf and The Invincible Female Warrior–what would certain writers do for characters, if they didn’t have these worn-out cliches to fall back on?
Then there’s crazy dialogue. There’s only one thing worse than long passages of speech written in what the author images to be dialect. That’s long passages of speech in which the author wanders in and out of dialect.
The mystery of it all! We wouldn’t know these cliches for cliches if they weren’t crammed into books that actually got published–thousands of ’em.
I don’t know that characters in fantasy novels have names that are any harder to believe in than the names of college presidents. Clostridia Whittington Farnsworthy–names like that. Don’t tell me “Aragorn” or “Corsus” is worse than that.
I am forced to admit that great steaming chunks of fantasy fiction are totally worthless. I don’t care so much about the names. It’s the stead downpour of cliches that puts me off.
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.
This guy wrote great movie reviews, and fascinating appendices; but his retelling of Genesis turned it into a cliche-packed summer movie script. “Disappointing” is hardly the word for it. “Bowel-wrenchingly awful” is barely adequate for descriptive purposes.
At least it wasn’t as hard as reviewing a book written by a friend.
It’s bad enough, you populate your fantasy with stock characters whose every action and reaction is totally predictable. Bad enough you name your lead characters after popular pain reliever products. But to do both at once is to create something monumentally bad.
I find it hard to get my books reviewed because so many potential reviewers and interviewers say, “But that’s just fantasy.” Like it’s all verbal cliches and stupid unbelievable characters named Feen-a-Mint or Tylenol.