marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

Weird Worlds

My last panel.  Discussing the use of really weird and wonderful worlds.  Mostly about instances of them.

One panelist thought that not all fantasy world were weird.  I think they are, a little, through a continuum.  Some discussion of whether a work has to be original to qualify as weird, and whether original, weird worlds soon go unrecognized for what they are because they are copied and turned to cliche

Earthsea, an audience member said, was wonderful for the original trilogy, and then lost it.  Much agreement that pushing the old work into agreement with her new thoughts had done much to damage it.

Oz I brought up as an example of the terrible danger for a writer of forgetting your weird elements and falling back on instinct.  Baum was in the habit of mentioning, up front, the color that each region of Oz was, to tell the readers where the story took place.  Then he would forget it.  Not to mention that he didn't keep it straight from book to book.  One audience member, a big fan, thought it was more the later writers, but Baum definitely did start it.  He didn't like writing Oz books, even the first was just another one in his many attempts, and he got thoroughly sick of them.

The advantages of the funny.  Take, for instance, Order of the Stick, and others of that ilk, which are thoroughly weird:  a setting where characters casually talk about their hit points and levels.  They are overwhelmingly comic.

Some discussion of whether wonder can last through series.  Dune was brought up as a work that appeared to have a thoroughly worked out weird world.  And then the sequel came.  How Pratchett had carried on, and whether they really were as weird as the original -- for people who had read them all.  I pointed out that he had jettisoned quite a bit from the first two, especially, to arrive at the final Discworld.  I also brought up Patricia McKillip, whose worlds are indeed weird and wonderful, especially with her wonderful lyric prose (even if it's sometimes too gorgeous for me to figure out what's going on) -- and whose works are all singletons.  I reused a metaphor:  they are like oysters and need their own shell.  And produce their own pearls, said an audience member.

Diana Wynne Jones's Tough Guide to Fantasyland came up as the ultimate to guide to the unweird fantasy story.  Which later inspired one audience member to hesitantly ask what's wrong with maps.  Inspiring much long discussion about the sorts of maps you are prone to find in fantasy novels.  Unlike Tolkien's, usually, they show absolutely nothing except what's going to be in the novel.  They do not open up the world for wonder, which makes it look thin.

Tags: arisia, sensawunda, world-building: general
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