I'm trying to write a story and the main focus is these four guys who call themselves the princes of suburbia. Only problem is I don't really know where to set it. My first instinct was to set it in some kind of foreign world but I'm wondering if that would be too weird, because obviously they would have to come from our world. Write now I'm mostly still in the early idea stage, but I was wondering if it would be weird for somebody from our world to go to a decidedly foreign (and probably fantasy world).
The other issue about this is one that I've had with fantasy for some time. I really don't like how much magic is used in fantasy, and this often seeps into my own writing (my first novel, which I consider fantasy, had absolutely no magic in it). Does having a world with a different history but the same physical principles still qualify as fantasy and is it really believable?
I know this is old ground, and I'll probably get old answers but I want to see what people say before I start trying to say what I'm not asking for.
This is SO my same question. I'm interested to see what people have to say as well.
It seems in speculative publishing there are extremes--magic fantasy in an entirely different world or historical/contemporary fiction in our world or future-heavy sci-fi in whatever world it wants--but not much in the wide spaces between.
We'll just have to be trail-blazers, bladeofwords.
I'm all for swords without the sorcery, so long as they are wielded well. I think the distinction between what Blade, DJV, and Monolith are discussing and alternative history is that there is no real connection to earth history or geography at all. There may even be little or no connection to earth's biology. Since there is no point of departure, it is not really alternate history. But frankly, the incessant use of magic has been a real turnoff to me in reading fantasy. I'd love to see more good fantasy not rooted in magic, and I'm slowly working on a story that I consider nonmagical fantasy.
Posts: 491 | Registered: Oct 2004
I think this kind of story would be very welcome in today's marketplace. Editors are constantly looking for something fresh, and the highly romanticized sword & sorcery tales and space operas on futuristic starships have been done thousands of times. So yes, write it, submit it--you'll probably have a better chance of getting published than with a "traditional" fantasy tale.
That said, I have nothing against magic in fantasy, myself. I actually like it, but here's the thing--I hate magic done boringly. Look at the slew of D&D novels, for example. Magic should be defined much more concretely, in my opinion, and should do something unique and interesting. If the magic user is just waving his hands and muttering random words and a fireball comes shooting out, that's boring, stereotypical fantasy. Fantasy needs more than that these days, unless you are writing stories set in the Forgotten Realms.
[This message has been edited by AeroB1033 (edited February 17, 2005).]
Okay, well it appears that my first question has been answered pretty well (at least I'm content because I buy Aero's answer).
This still leaves my second question, is it believable that the main characters be from our world even if there is little (or no) magic as we know it? How much explanation would be needed for the reader to buy it?
So far your only rationale for having them come from our world is so you can call them "Princes of Suburbia". This seems weak to me. You would really need to convince me. Why do they have to come from our world for your plot to work? How are you justifying this?
Call this speculative fiction. It fits as well as any other label. You could even call it slipstream if you include enougb of that genre's elements.
Sometimes science is considered magical. Remember, to races of earlier times, scientific phenonema were considered magical. I know you know this, I only say it to make the point that, were you to base your magic on real science, it will seem plausible in any setting. Although your characters may be in the dark, your reader would probably buy it. They would know something the character didn't. They would know why the magic worked and may enjoy watching your "princes" blithely stumble along, close to the brink of disaster. Magic doesn't have to always happen because of a magic amulet or an ancient spell. If it is science-magic, it can happen as the result of air pressure, gravity, invisible light waves, or a chemical reaction. Does this make any sense? I don't think I'm explaining this very well. Judith
Posts: 142 | Registered: Jan 2005
quote:This still leaves my second question, is it believable that the main characters be from our world even if there is little (or no) magic as we know it? How much explanation would be needed for the reader to buy it?
Have you ever read a book called To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Phillip Jose Farmer? It pretty much does exactly what you just said, except that there's an explanation. And it's a great explanation. I recommend the book to everybody.
Also, A Conneticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court does something like what you're talking about.
Of course it's possible to write a story in a fantastical setting void of magic, and of course it's possible to send a regular guy from our world over there.
[This message has been edited by theokaluza (edited February 18, 2005).]
If they got there by a non-magical means (like testing a prototype teleportation device or something) then it is clearly SF. If they got there by a magical means, that still doesn't mean that you have to have a lot of magic being flung about in the other world. After all, the magic worked on this world too, and we don't have magic being flung about all over the place.
You could leave the means by which they got from one world to the other basically unexplained, as long as it was clear that it was something that was simply unexplained. A Conneticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court takes this road (though magic does come into play later). You could even make it an unexplained entity like a mysterious person or door or something like that. As long as your characters react properly to the events that led to their journey from one world to another, it is up to you how "explicable" those events are.
On a more fundamental note, I think that yanos has a good point in asking whether you have any reason for what you're doing. You say that you had some questiong as to whether this should be set in another world at all, which suggests to me that you don't really need to set it in another world. Since it is an implicit promise when you set something in another world that the basic differences between that world and our own are an important part of the story you're telling, it might be a good idea for you to clarify in your own mind whether there are such elements in what you're doing.
Not only is it acceptable to put your contemporary characters in a fantasy setting, bladeof words, but it's been done so much in the past that you'll have to work to make your story rise above the rest of the "Suburban Dude in a Fantasy Kingdom" stories out there. It's almost a whole sub-genre, actually.
Posts: 1528 | Registered: Dec 2003
In fact there is a pretty nice D & D manual called 'Urban Arcana'.
But here is an idea Since they are the "Princes of Suburbia" Set it in Suburbia. Remember OSC says not to go with your first Instinct. As to anything being too weird, Speculative fiction is all about weirdness.
If you can make it work, if you can rationalize it enough to yourself (even if you don't put all of that rationale into your book), people will buy it. It's just a question of whether or not you can make yourself believe in it. If you buy it, you're much more likely to make your audience buy it, too.
Posts: 437 | Registered: Feb 2005
I don't think I'm understanding the questions exactly. But I have thought of a couple:
Why are these guys called "The Princes of Suburbia"?
What is the basic plot you are going for?
Because I don't know the answer to these two questions I can't really think what the solution might be. The princes of suburbia could be any number of things, each option lends itself to a different plot copncept.
i.e. Gang of anarchist teenagers from suburbia bent on destroying the idea of middle-class America (Something Ă la "Fight Club").
Group of guys caught up in a fantasy role playing game who slowly become the personas they are acting out. (See below note about D&D).
Middle-class America types who work their way up into the "nuveaux riche" and into positions of power effectively ruling over Suburbia.
I could come up with a lot more, but these are a few ideas that came to mind based on what I've read in your posts. I like the title and the possibilities are intriguing.
Just thought of another question:
What is it about your idea that prompted you to set it in a foreign world?
Because of the whole "Suburbia" thing, I can understand why you want to set it in our world, but I don't know what you actually want the story to be about, so I can't suggest ways to flesh everything out. You could try an alternate dimension/reality thing (sort of like that show "Sliders").
quote:I was wondering if it would be weird for somebody from our world to go to a decidedly foreign (and probably fantasy world).
This reminded me of an old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon show. These kids go to an amusement park, go on the rollercoaster or something, and end up trapped in the D&D universe.
[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited February 20, 2005).]