Are there scientific ideas in fantasy books

It doesn't always have to be a war - ideas for other fantasy conflicts

Image: Section from the Bayeux Tapestry (Wikimedia Commons)

High and urban fantasy, science fiction and horror all have a noticeable tendency to portray conflicts that are evoked by violence and resolved by violence - even novels that try to leave the beaten path, such as the science fiction novel " Wasteland ”, rely on this formula, as Heike Lindhold aptly remarked. And the urban fantasy genre, for example, loves its supernatural detectives, who not only have a sense of intelligence, but also a lot of magical and ordinary ammunition and use them without great inhibitions. The high fantasy genre also has its stories of sooner or later very dangerous investigations - almost all of Brian McClellan's “Powder Mage” novels skilfully balance storylines in which a detective or spy is in the foreground and those in which it is about Soldiers and officers go to create a varied story. But sooner or later their stories lead to those of a great war.

Because in the secondary worlds of fantasy there is seldom peace: War is imminent, in full swing or people have to deal with the complicated legacy of won or lost battles. The latter is less common. This is just an observation, not a criticism. Wars are directly present in many people's lives and indirectly present in others - in the news we hear about armed conflicts elsewhere and past wars are partly responsible for the borders we live in and the languages ​​we speak. Unsurprisingly, the high fantasy genre is exploring its unique opportunities to grapple with the phenomenon of war. And this in turn opens up a multitude of possibilities to tell a wide variety of stories.

Of course this is not ubiquitous. The protagonist of Saladin Ahmed's “The Sword of the Twilight” is not only a tea lover, but also a man with a clearly defined job: Adoulla Makhslood hunts ghouls. Scott Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora" is a heist novel that is brutal in places, but where only a handful of people fight each other. Katherine Addison is famous for having written “The Winter Emperor”, a fantasy novel that is not about fighting.

Nevertheless, High Fantasy has a long tradition of war stories: "The Lord of the Rings" and the "Silmarillion", which in turn draw on poetic traditions that focus on heroic fighters, both tell stories of wars. And even “The Hobbit” ends in a great battle. The “hobbit” in particular emphasizes the tragedy and senselessness of the conflict evoked by pride and greed. Many more recent fantasy novels position themselves similarly critically, less through explicit comments from characters, but rather by indulging in descriptions of armies that have run out of control, leaving their protagonists with physical and psychological injuries that will accompany them for the rest of their lives.

Still other novels, such as Robert Jackson Bennet's "Divine Cities" trilogy and Ken Liu's "Silk Warriors" series, deal more with the after. The latter asks: what follows the overthrow of a tyrannical emperor? But even in "The Gods of Dara", in which the establishment of a just political order is in the foreground, there is a battle at the end. She seems strangely unmotivated, as if Liu had brought the rather pale opponents of his protagonists into play because he expected that fantasy readers would expect armies to collide, not because they actually interested him.

That raises interesting questions. With everything that high fantasy can do for dealing with war and even conveying pacifist messages, and with all the possibilities that wars (or the danger of such) open up for fantasy plots: is the expectation that it will come earlier in high fantasy novels or will later be about war, not meanwhile just as restrictive for the genre as it is inspiring? I'm always open to a good, respectfully told war story (some of my favorite novels are set against the backdrop of a war that is beginning / taking place / recently ended), but I've also thought about the potential for exciting stories in previously seldom used conflicts Secondary worlds.

For me, several criteria were in the foreground:

  • Is the conflict exciting and is there a lot at stake?
  • Does he touch experiences and questions that are also relevant in the real world?
  • Does it give you an opportunity to show the special features of the fantasy setting?

I immediately thought of 4 conflicts that I have seen relatively seldom in High Fantasy (at least as the main conflict), but which I imagine to be very interesting:

Over the next few weeks and months I will gradually upload articles on this.