President of the Rings – politics and fantasy

Just so you know: there’s politics in my fantasy world, because there’s politics everywhere.

To which you might well reply:
“We’re overrun with politics now; can’t we have a break please? I like my fantasy to make me feel better not worse!”

Sorry, fantasy is the real world now. However, politics doesn’t have to be all bad – honest

The politics in Widergard (Wider-earth, gedit?) is different, not just because it was the elves that introduced democracy when they returned from Overseas, but because Widergard is a modern(ish) world with many different races. You know, the usual suspects: men, elves, dwarfs, goblin, trolls etc, who all now have to get on together.

That’s what politics is all about after all, isn’t it? Getting on together – or at least it should be.

You think we have problems here? Just imagine trying to draft a Race Relations Act when there are six different races? Well, seven if you count the Pix, but nobody really does – which is strange as they are some of the oldest inhabitants of all these fantasy worlds.

They don’t get a lot of press the Pix – I think writers worry about them bringing down the tone.

Continue reading President of the Rings – politics and fantasy

The Natural History of Elves, Dwarfs, Men, Goblins, Gnomes and Trolls

The Paleoanthropological Relationships That Exist in the Hominini Lines of Middle-earth like Fairylands

The current resurgence of interest in the more recent history of worlds like Middle-earth, (often classified as Fairylands) in books such as ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’, has come at a time when academic research into the field has also never been more fertile. Perhaps the productive area of investigation has been in the understanding of the Paleoanthropological relationships that exist in the Hominini lines of ‘Fairyland’ and how they relate to what is known about our own (Homo sapiens) developmental history. This article will give a necessarily brief review of thinking in the field and highlight some of the more interesting ramifications especially as they relate to Widergard.

No Fairies in Fairyland
The name of Fairyland is of course a misnomer and harks back to a period when our limited level of understanding of the Realm lead to several suspect classifications of the Hominini species present, including the rather nebulous class referred to as ‘fairies’ – a rag-bag group which could include elves, ‘pixies’ and even gnomes. It is interesting that although current revisions have excluded this division, the name ‘Fairyland’ still remains a useful reminder that there does exist a large body of study of the realm that predates the admittedly revelational works of modern authors. Whether it’s called Fairyland, or indeed other names, places such as Widergard continue to fascinate.

The family tree of the Hominini of Fairyland is given in Figure 1. Although some parts of the relationships are perhaps more controversial and speculative than others, particularly in the dating of the divergence of the dwarf/elf branch from that of gnomes, goblins and men, in general it provides a useful framework for further discussion.

fairy1

Continue reading The Natural History of Elves, Dwarfs, Men, Goblins, Gnomes and Trolls

Happy Hogswatch! The problem with Fantasy Holidays.

Happy Hogswatch – the problem with Fantasy Holidays.

Fantasy holidays, by which I don’t mean a month in the Seychelles, but a holiday set in a fantasyland, can be quite trick. Actually I had a month in the Seychelles once and it was a lovely place, but I could never get over the fact that they had ‘Bus Stop’s written on the road. Not randomly, at actual bus stops, but it made the Seychelles just slightly like a tropical Croydon.

Holidays in fantasylands then, as I realised recently, are difficult to set up. Except for Hogswatch of course. Hogswatch, and the scary Santa that is the Hogfather, are fantastically realised by Sir Terry because they are actually what the story is about (mostly). If, as a writer, you just want to slip a holiday into your story – along the way as it were – then it’s harder. The reason is that holidays are events with long histories that are steeped in a society or culture’s history. Christmas didn’t happen overnight after all, and neither did Hanukkah or Diwali.Detective with snow

As a writer you need to embed your holidays in your world’s culture. You are generally OK handling a ‘mid-summer’ or even a ‘mid-winter’ festival, but New Years can be tricky. I’m, still rather in favour with a new year starting on the first day of spring myself. Such seasonal events are relatively straightforward although they can appear a bit ‘weak’ and unimaginative. Other events need careful thinking about because they might bring up the dreaded subject of religion and religion in your fantasy books is something you may not want to get into.

In Narnia, famously, it was always winter but never Christmas. But as the Witch’s hold is weakened along comes Father Christmas, but shouldn’t he actually be Father Aslanmas?

You might not want to go there. Just think how ‘Game of Thrones’ would have suffered with a tagline of ‘Christmas is Coming.’ Not the same is it?

So, I think I might be writing a ‘Winterfest’, unless inspiration strikes. Until then: Continue reading Happy Hogswatch! The problem with Fantasy Holidays.

Way Back Elf

WOW! Can it really be 3 years today since the self published version of A DEAD ELF came out? Then Harper Voyager come along just weeks later, pick it up for publication and it becomes a #1 Epic Fantasy Bestseller!

Yes it’s true!

dead-elf-cover

 

Here’s the original cover – designed by a wonderfully talented friend – which is as fantastic as the totally different cover designed by Alexandra Allden! How lucky I am to have two great covers!

Continue reading Way Back Elf

World Building Gone Mad?

I love a good bit of world building. I not only want to smell the coffee, I want to know which estate the beans came from and through what small cat-like creature they may have passed through. This is one of the reasons that I was excited by the title credits to the recent TV adaptation of the ‘Shannara Chronicles’. There was a sort of ‘evolutionary’ family tree of how the races, elves, gnomes, dwarfs etc, developed in Brooks’s post-holocaust world. Top world building, even if it was difficult to imagine how exactly all this went on in such a short time period, or why elves were just seemed to be people with pointy ears. I’m sticking with ‘Shannara’ though and see how it err… evolves.

Shanara opening credits

I did wonder if I might have gone a bit far when I delved into the ‘The Paleoanthropological Relationships That Exist in the Hominini Lines of Fairyland’. This examined the ancestry of the particular races that people my own world of Widergard. Not only that but it equates dwarfs, elves, ogres etc with what we know of our own past ‘humans’. Too much world building though I wondered?

Judging by the response though, apparently not. Readers do love an obscene amount of detail about the places they invest their leisure time reading into – including evolutionary family trees.

lord of rings family tree

So if you want to know what really happened to the Australopithecines and Homo habilis go have a look at my longer article on the fab SF Signal.

Continue reading World Building Gone Mad?

Meanwhile back in the Citadel…

The Dragonette ’57 convertible steamwagon was not facing any competition:

Keen Steamliner - cool!
Keen Steamliner – cool!

“I collected my wagon early the next day. It’s a racing-green Dragonette ’57 convertible; the last model with the little wings and the air-trimmed front end. Daddy’s pride and joy, with marble interior finish and leather ragtop. It did my heart good just to touch her. Sceech the grease goblin had done a good job on the shoes, and I took off in a reasonable frame of mind. I had slept pretty well and though I didn’t feel like a million crowns, well at least I didn’t look like buried treasure.”

Continue reading Meanwhile back in the Citadel…