Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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#TotallyNotFantasy

Okay, this is funny: Michael Underwood has a post up at Geek Theory.

See, a few days ago, Kazuo Ishiguro defended his new book The Buried Giant by declaring that it is certainly not fantasy — it just uses fantasy tropes to explore deep issues.

As you can imagine, this assertion raised some hackles. The post at Geek Theory collects a bunch of tweets responding to Ishiguro. Lots of them are delightfully snarky:

Scott Lynch: Why no, this novel isn’t fantasy. It contains psychology and allegory and stuff like that, you see.

Elizabeth Bear: You’re secretly writing economics texts disguised as rollicking adventure fantasy capers.

That one particularly made me smile, because did you happen to ever read F Paul Wilson’s An Enemy of the State? It is totally an economics text disguised as an SF novel.

Anyway, Steven Brust: My work is #TotallyNotFantasy. It is …I mean the magic…the story reflects…just shut up. It isn’t.

Martha Wells: In my writing the shapeshifting lizard people are #TotallyNotFantasy – they’re metaphors for like, sex and issues and important stuff.

And so on. You should click through and enjoy lots more.

Of course, as Michael Underwood points out, this “It’s totally not fantasy” thing has been around for a good long while. Look at Atwood.

Ursula K LeGuin has a post up about this as well, at Book View Café.

I see, btw, that some people are defending Ishiguro by saying he didn’t really mean to imply that fantasy is trash, unlike real writing which is ART. I dunno. To me, it sure sounds like that is exactly what Ishiguro meant:

Ishiguro: “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

Yeah, wouldn’t want the Readers That Matter to mistake your beautiful allegorical novel for fantasy. God forbid.

But the tweets are fun. I’m sorry I missed this hashtag while it played out in real time.

And btw, MY BOOKS are #TotallyNotFantasy. They’re about loyalty and trust and love and family and all that stuff that has to do with real human relationships. Totally literary, really! The dragons are just surface elements.

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