Post-Harry Potter

Ok, I confess I'm not the biggest HP fan. And I'm not a huge fan of fantasy (or "speculative fiction", which is apparently the new, in term). But even I knew better than the three speakers I heard Tuesday.

One claimed that the genre had only exploded with the publication of HP4. That prior to this, the only way fantasy books got published was to have orcs or troll-like creatures on the cover. That everything published was a bad copy of a bad copy of Tolkein, who created the genre. That almost no one was buying/reading Dianne Wynne Jones. That HP put paid to school stories, and that the stuff that's being published now is really good and experimental. That alternative history was coming into its own. That most of the stuff was being written by D&D players/lovers and is now being written by real authors.


I don't even know where to begin with this... H.G. Wells? Poe? Jules Verne? The Darkover series, sans trolls or orcs? Ditto Discworld (well, trolls, but no orcs)? Guy Gavriel Kay?

No school stories? Charlie Bone, anyone? It's not all good - and it's not all new. Paolini's Inheritance series is so clearly a rehash of both Tolkein and Donaldson. And what about the role of Fatherland in the development of alternative histories?

All this, off the top of my remarkably uninformed, usually uninterested head.

I left feeling depressed about the future of fantasy, post-Harry Potter.


Anonymous said...

Does "fantasy" here include sci-fi and horror? I have heard "speculative fiction" as a catch-all term lumping the three together, so I suppose Wells, Poe, and Verne are spec. fiction authors. But they're not usually referred to as fantasy authors, or even proto-fantasy authors, are they?

I guess I'd always bought the Tolkein-as-father-of-the-fantasy-genre (as we know it) line. Is there a better candidate?

Murphy Jacobs said...

I've got two anthologies to recommend

The Treasure of the Fantastic: Romanticism to Early Twentieth Century Literature edited by David Sandner and Jacob Weidman.

The American Fantasy Tradition edited by Brian M. Thomsen (less to the point, but still fun)