Is the Fantasy Bubble Ready to Burst?

You know, if fantasy’s dying, then Sean Bean is out of a job!

Yesterday E. D. Kain posted on TheAtlantic.com, “Fantasy’s Spell on Pop Culture: When Will It Wear Off?” an article about how the booming success of fantasy books and adaptations in the last decade might soon come to a slow-down, if not an actual end. How will authors and producers top the fame of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Twilight, and the recently acclaimed HBO series “Game of Thrones,” based on the novels by George R. R. Martin?

I believe that the answer regarding fantasy’s future is deceivingly simple: Those who only enjoy the movies are more likely to grow tired and bored with similar releases, but true fantasy fans will always be ready to support both the classics and the next big thing. I have not read/seen Game of Thrones, (I hear great things about the series, though!), but I’m familiar with all the others I listed and then some. Everybody goes through phases with their interests, as I progressed from animal novels like White Fang to fantasy sagas like His Dark Materials to chick lit like the novels of Sophie Kinsella.

But fantasy is something that I always return to, eager and enthralled by worlds much different than our own. I admit that I love fantasy more than sci-fi (because I prefer elves, magic, and sword-and-bow warfare over robots and aliens any day), but both genres represent escapism. Kain is right: Fantasy has gone mainstream. Fans are no longer just the mouth-breathing, D&D playing nerds in their moms’ basements. But that stereotype to me is offensive, as if all the “cool” fantasy fans will abandon the genre as soon as it gets too popular, like some sort of literary hipsters.

There are hardcore comic-books fans that will still get giddy over the latest Spiderman and Superman comics, no matter how many movies they remake. The same applies to fantasy: some fads like vampires and werewolves will come and go, but the genre will continue to grow and thrive as long as the true fans keep reading…and writing. The bestsellers of this decade have made fantasy-writing even more of a challenge. We shouldn’t be looking for a Harry Potter replacement, but a story that breathes new life and excitement into the genre. And those stories are out there, just waiting to be discovered…

So what are your thoughts? Has fantasy hit a dead end, or is it just getting started? Which stories prove promising, and which ones are just overrated? And perhaps most importantly–what IS fantasy? Has the genre grown and evolved, or have all the crossovers diluted what constitutes true fantasy? Let me know!

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7 thoughts on “Is the Fantasy Bubble Ready to Burst?

  1. I’m a fantasy fan, and even more of a paranormal fan. Despite having read the genre for more than a decade, I don’t plan to give up on it no matter what the trends do. You are right that it is escapism from the real world. I love it and always want more. I’m sure there are enough others like us that it will not ever entirely go away!

  2. I don’t want to see authors trying to top the fame, I want to see them creating good fantasy literature because they want to. It gets pretty noticeable when authors start trying to write what will sell instead of remaining true to their story. Not every fantasy series will be a Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings.

    If books are to be made into film, the films need to be done well. Let’s face it, the film version of Golden Compass was absolutely terrible in comparison to the book. I was quite impressed with Game of Thrones thus far because it managed to remain true to the books.

    As far as books go, I’d avoid Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind. I think they’re both overrated and don’t really know how to write, just tell a story. Lots of people do like them, but they just didn’t cut it for me. George Martin’s a much better writer. I haven’t started reading him yet, but I’ve heard good things about Brandon Sanderson. If you like urban fantasy, Charles de Lint is fantastic. Patricia McKillip is good if you like a fairy tale feel. Robin McKinley is good for fairy tales retold. For sci-fi that reads like epic fantasy, Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is an awesome classic. I’d like to see a more modern movie version of it, although I haven’t seen the old one.

    Fantasy is a pretty broad term that has a lot of subgenres. It can span everything from a LotR-type epic saga to fairy tales to magical realism, and there’s a lot of crossover between fantasy and sci-fi.

    • I completely agree–authors should follow their hearts, not the bottom line! If the stories are good, the money is sure to follow. And thank you for mentioning the travesty that was the The Golden Compass movie! That book was one of my absolute favorites, and if they weren’t going to address the religious themes properly, they shouldn’t have made the film at all! Grrr!!! Sorry, I could rant about that epic fail all day! (I’ll probably blog about it later, haha!)

      I am pretty limited with my knowledge of adult fantasy, so thanks for all the recommendations! I’ll be sure to check those authors out! And feel free to send in book reviews of your own!

  3. I’m a fantasy fan and I think that fantasy will stay and grow even more popular.

    The Lord of the Rings and Narnia were mid-20th century books that became even more popular in the 2000s (with the movies), and with new Harry Potter and The Hunger Games recently, fantasy is becoming very popular.

  4. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Related Facts About Me | Book Club Babe

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