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Links 1 through 10 of 77 by Shaun Green tagged fantasy

To criticize The Force Awakens for “recycling” the first three Star Wars movies—to complain that it’s “un-original” compared to that original work of genius—misses the point of the franchise so thoroughly and dramatically that this critical impulse seems more interesting to me than the movie itself. The one thing the original trilogy wasn’t was original. Similarly, The Force Awakens is great, but it isn’t interesting. The jokes are good, the action is organic and compelling, the characters are well inhabited by competent actors, and the cinematography and music is excellent and consistently inventive. But everything that puts you in the moment, when you’re watching it, falls apart as soon as you turn your brain back on. As experience, as ritualistic performance, as society-wide holiday, and as entertainment-industrial-complex, Star Wars is a strange and magnificent and disgusting enterprise. As original story, it’s total crap.

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The quotes above are from a person Mixon identified as a victim of Requires Hate, expressing her horror at the actions of Mixon and her associates. When the people you claim to defend condemn your actions in the harshest of words, reasonable people listen. It is my hope that my essay will help the people involved understand why that person is just as is disgusted by the actions of many people now attacking RH as she was from RH’s actions in the past.

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That is to say, I am about to speak of the violent, sexual abuse of children, and of the fantasies through which this traumatic subject is experienced.  In a way, of course, I'm speaking here about my own investment in this subject, albeit only indirectly.  And just because I'll be talking about delusion, about conspiracy theory, is no reason to assume to that I'm dismissing these fantasies, or suggesting that they belong solely to a special case of people.  I think we should take them seriously, because there is something disturbing about them, and because at any rate there isn't any august position from which it is possible not to be subject to fantasy, and its coordinates: the abused, the abusers, the horrified spectators.  Even those reacting to the moral panic have their own persecution/conspiracy fantasy.

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Heroism is at the core of most fantasy stories, but there’s a difference between being a hero and simply a weapon to be pointed at the world’s biggest threat. When heroes happily loot peasants’ houses and murder their way through problems, do they really deserve their title? If there’s any developer duo that should know a thing about heroes, it’s Lori and Corey Cole, creators of one of my favourite adventure series of all time – Quest for Glory. (The fourth especially is high on my list of best adventures ever, not least for its villain). In addition to those, they ran a dedicated School for Heroes for a while, and are currently working on the spiritual successor to the original games, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption – currently in a second Kickstarter after the scope moved from a relatively simple Roguelike on a basic engine into a full-on new adventure. I spoke to them about the complex characters in their games, offering real heroism, and returning to crowdfunding.

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Although I might not have known it, there was always a connection between my love of fantasy and landscape. The feeling I had as that 10-year-old boy picking up a stick in the woods near my home on the North Downs in Kent – a stick that could be a sword or an axe, a world of chalk hills and falling leaves that could be the wilderness in any story I wanted – is the same tingling sense of possibility I felt on the shores of Azeroth, and on the parapets of Lordran.

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Every teacher of creative writing in every American college and university is no doubt familiar with the tendency of young people, usually young men, to concoct gruesome narratives that take place in an edgily unspecified locale. Mayhem, awkward sentences, paper-thin characterizations, and complicated weaponry vie for the reader’s attention. But always there are the aliens, organic or machinelike or both, and always the accompanying rage and revulsion. The authors of these horrific fictions sit in the back of the classroom avoiding eye contact, rarely speaking to anybody. Shabbily dressed, fidgety, tattooed, hysterically sullen, they are bored by realism and reality when not actively hostile to both. When asked about their reading, they will gamely mumble the usual list of names: Neal Stephenson, Stephen King, J.G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick. But the name that I have heard most often mentioned in these litanies is that of H.P. Lovecraft, whom they revere. He is their spirit-guide.

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Until Total War: Warhammer comes along from Creative Assembly, the most ambitious and comprehensive Warhammer fantasy strategy game is a colossal mod for Rome: Total War called Warhammer: Total War – A Call to Arms. Over the course of five years, a high school student and a handful of volunteers tortured and twisted the aging Rome: Total War engine into becoming a full-fledged Warhammer game. Powered by an obsolete engine even when the final version was released a couple years back, and soon overshadowed by the news the Sega had acquired the rights to make a Warhammer fantasy game on PC, A Call to Arms could be seen as a classically quixotic modding effort. But if you look past the dated graphics, you’ll find that A Call to Arms might just be the most faithful adaptation Warhammer fantasy will ever receive on PC. It is a sprawling, ambitious, and scarcely-coherent effort to bring every ounce of Warhammer fantasy lore to life as a Total War game – and in doing so it captures the spirit of the old Warhammer fantasy universe better than official games might ever dare.

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Here is an essay. It explains a couple of things. Those things are “why I care about worldbuilding (for me)” and “why worldbuilding is worth caring about (for you).” So here are a whole bunch of weird things about my life.

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Consistently praised for his imaginative world building and florid prose, China Miéville is one of the most lauded writers working in genre fiction. However, the praise stops short — along with readers — at one crucial aspect of almost every novel he’s ever written: the ending. The narrative climax of any given Miéville novel is almost identical to any other of his disappointing endings: Just when it seems about to boil over, he suddenly cuts the heat and says, Look, it’s just water. [...] Other times Miéville’s endings have enough wit and ingenuity to not seem as pedantic as that, but whether or not they ultimately “work” for an individual reader, his persistent anticlimaxes speak to the ways in which he intervenes not just in the genre he is explicitly working in (science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, salvagepunk, detective procedural, or whatever else) but also in the novel itself as a genre.

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The Good people at Nerds of a Feather are currently experimenting with a couple of new formats including the Blogtable I was lucky enough to participate in earlier this week. The second format they have tried is called Perspectives and it seems to involve a number of bloggers responding to a particular piece or event. For reasons best known to The G, they chose my reviews of Terraform and Uncanny magazines as the basis for their first Perspectives. Whenever people respond to anything I write (particularly negatively, natch) my first instinct is to mutter about them getting the wrong end of the stick but this time, I was reminded of an old article by John Clute in which he talks about the wonders of ‘misprision’ and how someone’s decision to latch onto a meaning other than the one you intended can serve to open up interesting perspectives on the original piece. Plus… it would be a bit off of me to argue that the author is dead and then argue that people have failed to interpret one of my essays correctly! So rather than seeking to ‘correct’ their responses or ‘punish them for their impudence’, I’ll respond to their ideas directly and use them as an opportunity to clarify some of my own thinking.

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