Saturday, June 13, 2009

Did Harry Potter Kill the Epic Fantasy?

I was wandering around the blogsphere yesterday and came across a post that mentioned that Publishers no longer want Epic Fantasy. Oh, the horrors, the horrors, the horrors. This was almost as bad as having to dispose of the allegedly Dead Possum yesterday!
I love to read Epic Fantasy. Love, Love, Love! I cut my teeth on Tolkien and have been hooked ever since. In recent years, I noticed less and less Epic Fantasy books on the bookshelves at Borders. Where were the extra thick books of Epic Fantasy? Where were the trilogies? Where were the books I could immerse myself in for weeks on end, reveling in magical worlds where Elves walked the lands, Wizards wielded mighty magic, and Dragons might appear in the clear blue sky? Where were the Epics that fed my ravenous appetite for reading?
Guy Gavriel Kay - The Fionavar Tapestry (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road), Tigana, A Song for Arbonne, and The Lions of Al-Rassan. Tad Williams - The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower. David Eddings - need I say more? Marion Zimmer Bradley - The Mists of Avalon. Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time series (never-ending series, I might add). There are so very many more authors/books that I could list.
The problem is: the list is growing shorter.
Why? What caused the shift? Was it Harry Potter? Did that little wizard with the scar wave his magic wand and dissipate Epic Fantasy? Did the rise of vampires suck the blood out of Epic Fantasy?
If Publishers (for the most part) aren't accepting Epic Fantasy, what's an Epic Fantasy writer to do?
Write, of course! Write the next best Epic Fantasy and revive the genre. Don't Let It Die!
I think genres go in cycles, and right now, Epic Fantasy is in a downward spiral. I believe there is hope in saving the genre. I have to believe there is hope, because I have the next great Epic Fantasy brewing in my mind right now.
Once upon a time, all I wrote was Epic Fantasy. One day, I switched to writing about today - here and now - but never lost my passion/desire to write Epic Fantasy. Perhaps Harry waved his wand at me? Maybe I was having a psychic moment and knew that the Age of Epic Fantasy was briefly waning, and I needed to focus on the here/now. Maybe Pinocchio is a real boy!
Whatever the reason for the death knell of Epic Fantasy. I truly believe that writers of Epic Fantasy must not give up the quest (like how I worked that in?) for publication. They must write, write, and sell their books so that once again avid readers of Epic Fantasy will have a whole selection to choose from, rather than a handful of books.
p.s. as normal, Blogger is screwing with my formatting because I added a picture . . . which is why I'm going to quit adding pictures. Still, I love the above picture, so just bear with Blogger's crazy attempt at formatting!


beth said...

The thing is, Harry Potter isn't epic. It's fantasy--but not epic. And the vampire tales are the same. These are two totally different audiences. The kids reading HP and Twilight aren't going to read epic. At least imo!

Scott said...

Beth - I think the problem is that Harry and Twilight aren't Epic, and yet the success of those books brought about the demise (temporary, I hope) of Epic Fantasy. The shelves are overflowing with books similar to Harry and Twilight, and yet not so much with the Epic Fantasy that was once prominent.

As for those kids . . . well, as they emerge into adulthood (as have many who started reading Harry at age 12 with the first book in the series) perhaps their interest will go toward Epic.

Tad Williams has the Shadowmarch trilogy - third book due in the next year or so - and George R. R. Martin has his Epic series, so all hope is not dead . . . just in need of some CPR.


PJ Hoover said...

I don't blame it on HP. It seems to me in general that "genres" are being shunned. No more vampires. No more werewolves. No more epic fantasy. I think this is to cut back the huge amount of incoming submissions editors and agents must get. But a great book in the genre will still find a home.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oooooo, Scott, I love your theories. Vampires sucked the life out of epic fantasy! Too cool for (vampire) school. There seem to be a lot of those schools these days.
I love fantasy, and there's nothing like a lengthy, well-developed epic. I posted a comment on my blog that Ellen Datlow made on the future of speculative fiction that I found calming. I don't think epic fantasy will die, and, you're right, it's a challange to us to write some killer tales. I'm making myself a follower, I like your style.

Robyn said...

HP brought about the temp, demise of epic fantasy, because kids switched to reading those types of books which led to a decrease in the publication of those books by editors. They don't want what the kids won't read. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Can't add to the discussion since I never got into the whole HP thing.

Glynis said...

It's a phase, someone will write something new and bam, we are back on Epic Fantasy track again. :)
As you say the little folk who are reading HP, will grow and want something meatier one day. :)

Scott said...

PJ - I agree with you. I really think things go in cycles and the time for the Epic Fantasy is just not right now, but perhaps tomorrow. I just remember the days when I had so much to choose from when I went to the bookstore regarding fantasy. Not so much any longer.

Tricia - perhaps Epic Fantasy is on a well deserved vacation to Atlantis, pre sinking days of course. Thanks for dropping by and following.

Robyn - agree!

Angie - the Harry Potter series is actually very good. I think I began to read it about the time Book 3 came out. It is definitely interesting to watch the characters grow.

Glynis - it's a sad, sad phase when the books I most like to curl up with on a rainy weekend can't be found at the bookstore. Perhaps that's why I keep reading the ones on my bookshelf. : )


Robyn said...

Have fun in Florida. See you next week. :)

Litgirl01 said...

You and adding pictures to blogger! LOL It looks fine actually. No mention of margaritas though. :-(

Tess said...

I always got lost when I read epic fantasy. Too many characters! I guess my brain just doesn't work that way. My husband and daughter love them, though.

Scott - in your honor, I had my dog do the drawing for last friday's contest.

Icy Roses said...

I consider HP to be urban fantasy--really intense urban fantasy. And well, urban fantasy seems to be doing extremely well, as of late. So I don't have any theories.

I have to admit that while I love the classic epic fantasy stuff (Narnia, LotR), I'm not a fan of modern epic fantasy. Maybe I feel like elves etc. have been a bit overused. Maybe if someone writes a really good one that puts a unique spin on things. Maybe. Good post.

SJDuvall said...

I know you wrote this post weeks ago, but I was catching up on my favorite blogs and this one struck a chord. I wrote, and toiled away on an epic fantasy (book one of a trilogy) and not a single agent has shown the least bit of interest in it. Eventually, I had to let it go for a little while. Take a break from it. Because it was either my writing or the fact that agents aren't interested in epic fantasy right now, and both solutions were quite depressing!

Scott said...

SJ - I truly think the publishing industry has decided to pass on Epic Fantasy, except from well known established authors, right now. It's sad, really. I love a good Epic Fantasy, even one with Elves. : ) Don't give up hope. Keep writing your Epics, even if they must take a back seat to something else right now.

The Epic Fantasy will rise again!


Trevor said...

I am trying, Man! Just sent the first book of my epic trilogy to Daw this morning. 750 pages of warriors and wizards and magical creatures. I am 1/3 of the way through book two.
Now it is just up to the editors at Daw to be in a good mood the day it arrives. I really do believe that if they read it, they will be interested.

If not, there is always the other big publishers, but I know it is a crap shoot out there right now.

Niki Bond said...

As an epic fantasy writer, I completely agree about never giving up. Epic fantasy is a great genre, and I hope that it rises again soon. I'm currently trying to get an agent for the first book in an epic fantasy series, but if no agents accept it, I'm going to self-publish it.

Personally, I've never been one for urban fantasies (though I do love Harry Potter, but I suppose that one's a little different than most urbans)... So, even if doesn't get me far, I'm never going to stop writing epics. I hope if you read them one day, you enjoy them. ^^