My blurb blitz blog tour for my vampire fantasy novel, Drasmyr, continues today. Every day until July 19th, I’ll be visiting a variety of blogs across the Internet where promotional material for my book will be posted consisting of a blurb and an excerpt, or so. At the end of the tour, one of the commenters on the tour (the tour sites, NOT AToastToDragons) will win a prize. Today we have: Dina Rae’s Write Stuff (http://dinaraeswritestuff.blogspot.com/)Please check them out and show them your support.
And check out the sponsor of the tour:
My blurb blitz blog tour for my vampire fantasy novel, Drasmyr, starts today. Every day until July 19th, I’ll be visiting a variety of blogs across the Internet where promotional material for my book will be posted consisting of a blurb and an excerpt, or so. At the end of the tour, one of the commenters on the tour (the tour sites, NOT AToastToDragons) will win a prize. Today we have: fuonlyknew (http://fuonlyknew.com/) Please check them out and show them your support.
And check out the sponsor of the tour:
In a fantasy setting, there are two types of evil: Evil of the individual and evil of the group. The first applies to singular characters of your novel, while the second can apply to entire races or cultures. In the first case, the evil, as noted in the prior post, comes from the individual’s character which is in turn formed by the individual’s personal ideological beliefs and such. In the second case, the evil comes strictly from the ideology of the group. It is the latter case which allows for things like racial alignment in D&D or in a world like Middle-Earth where all the orcs are evil.
It is worth noting, that neither individual alignment (we’ll just call it alignment for us gamers) is necessarily dependent upon group alignment, or vice versa. Just because the group alignment of orcs is evil, doesn’t mean this particular orc is evil (although it may be a good bet). Likewise, just because this particular pixie is evil, it doesn’t mean all pixies are evil (that’s not even a good bet). I never read the “Forgotten Realms” novels, but I believe there was a good drow elf named Drizzt Do’Urden running around (I just looked it up on the Net—there was). And that is a case in point.
Group alignment provides a simple way of setting up cultural conflicts in your book. The goblins are at war with humans because the humans are good and the goblins are evil. Pretty black and white. The benefit here is that the sides are well-defined as is the preferred victor. Although war in the real world may not always be so morally stark (although sometimes it is—think of WWII), in the fantasy setting there is nothing wrong with embracing such simplicity. Making it more complex (and perhaps realistic) by say dealing with wars between two good races makes it a little more difficult to determine who to root for. For myself, when I read of, say, human on human war, I get annoyed because it just strikes me as unnecessary carnage.
Individual evil is a whole other animal. One has to be careful when crafting evil characters for your story. Their purposes should be detailed and specific. They should be ruthless and cruel, but their goals and motivations should be complex and intriguing. One of my favorite evil characters (though I read the series when I was much younger) was Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance series, the dark mage who kinda-sorta-if he’d wanted to-became a god. He was deliciously evil. And, of course (perhaps I should have listed this first), I’m a big fan of my own Lucian val Drasmyr, the master vampire from my book Drasmyr.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.
I had another thought on this topic since the last post, so I’m extending the series to three parts. Basically, it deals with the difficulty concerning a strictly politically correct approach to race and the fact that any piece of literature will deal with a finite number of major characters. And by finite, I mean small.
Much literature consists of a protagonist and an antagonist and a variable number of supporting characters. In more recent years, we have seen the rise of multiple major characters. One of my favorite examples is the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. There are probably close to a dozen major characters in the series, maybe even more. However, that was a series spanning fourteen books and probably around 10,000 pages, giving the authors plenty of room to flesh out all the characters. Anyway, my point is that unless you intend to write a behemoth of similar magnitude, you will probably be limited to a handful of major characters in your story. Let’s say five.
How many races are there on planet Earth? There’s African, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, American Indian, and, I’m sure, a good many more. If we are going to take political correctness to its anal extreme, we should have representatives from every race among our main characters. But, clearly, that is impossible. There are too many races involved. We only have five characters and the incomplete list of races above has already reached six. We didn’t even include pygmies or Aborigines, and who knows who else.
Still, despite my harping, political correctness has (or at least did have) a point. Back in the 1950’s or so, most of the movies in the U.S. featured almost entirely white casts. And, I think if you take such in the aggregate that can be a problem. I’m sure it leads to a kind of psychological apartheid (as well as a more literal societal apartheid), particularly when there are large segments of the population who are not represented in the movies at all (i.e. blacks, American Indians, etc…). However, I think nowadays, we are so preoccupied with race and “diversity” we are going off in the other direction, insisting on diversity where it might actually do a disservice to the story in question. I must object when political correctness is used to justify an inconsistency with historical truth, such as in the movie “Thor” of my first post on the subject (not sure “truth” is the right word there, but I think you get my point—the gods of Asgard should have been white for historical reasons, not mixed for politically correct ones). Anyway, I think we have reached the point where, on an individual basis, we can set aside politically correct concerns and just tell good stories. There may be times when an all black or all white cast may be called for, and I don’t think the artist should be penalized for such. The needs of the story should determine the characters involved, not the latest trend in contemporary politics or literary groupthink.
Continuing on the theme of race in fantasy literature, I, once more, feel inclined to buck the trend. This is actually a completely different topic than what I discussed in part I, but it does belong under the same general heading.
A few weeks ago, I was reading a blog about race, racism, and fantasy literature (it actually, to a certain extent, inspired this series of posts, but unfortunately, I have lost the link). The whole point of the blog post was that fantasy literature featuring “inferior” or “monstrous” races implied that the writer was differentiating and “creating difference” or “recognizing differences” and was therefore racist. Basically, the upshot was that you can’t use orcs and goblins (or even dragons) anymore, because if you do, you are being racist. Seriously? Seriously? This is why people do not like political correctness. Holier-than-thou loons who pick at trivialities as if they are profound problems.
In my book, Drasmyr, the action takes place on the world of Athron. It is a fantasy world. With fantasy creatures. Although they have not appeared yet, I intend to use a race of creatures called goblins in later books. And they are evil. Ergo, there is conflict between the humans and the goblins. Not because the goblins have blood-red skin and bald, knotted skulls, and therefor look different from the humans, but because the goblins raid and destroy human villages for sport. I suppose, theoretically, the conflict between humans and goblins on my fantasy world could be paralleled with actual real historical conflicts between Race A and Race B on good old Earth which were eventually resolved when Race A and Race B began to talk to each other and trust each other, finding a way forward to peace, and so, such thinking would imply that the goblins and humans on my world could do likewise, but I can tell you, as the AUTHOR, that is not the case. The goblins are evil. They respect only strength; they kill amongst themselves; they think nothing of rape and murder; and they worship demons. They will never progress beyond that. Because I’m the AUTHOR, and I say so. And I want an evil race of creatures for the humans to fight and be in conflict with.
I mean, seriously? Was Smaug just a misunderstood capitalist? Oh, no, it’s capitalism that is the true evil, so Smaug couldn’t be that. But whatever he was, he was surely misunderstood. Never mind the city of dwarves he roasted, or the village of men he plagued. We just aren’t looking at things through his perspective. If only the dwarves had been willing to talk to him. They could have worked things out. Oh, that’s right. They did talk to him. They said, “Aaaaaahhhh!” a lot. And then they got eaten.