So you can read my books

Saturday, April 13, 2013

O as in OBLIVION as in Where are American Fantasy Characters?



LORD OF THE RINGS done American-style with sex, betrayal, violence, sex, lies, political intrique, sex ... ah, you get the point.

But GAME OF THRONES got me thinking ...

The characters of Fantasy books are well known, even to those who never read the genre.

The heroes and villains, their stories and the lessons learned from them, are common knowledge. And the reason for this is that in the modern world, particularly in the West and the United States,

Fantasy has become our mythology.


a collection of fables, legends, and myths

that tell stories about the culture, about its values, and how the people living in that culture are supposed to act,

and what type of person they should strive to be.

Yet if Fantasy books make up much of our mythology, 

then I also think that we, in America, have a problem.

The problem is that

most of our Fantasy isn't written by Americans about American culture and values.

Even American Fantasy writers write like they're British.

 George R.R. Martin

is hailed as the American version of Tolkien,

yet his series takes place in a mythical world styled after medieval Europe, and has characters that usually seem pretty British to me.

When HBO went and turned his popular books into an even more popular TV show,

they filmed it mostly in Wales and Ireland, and used a cast of mostly British actors who all speak and look and talk like Brits.

American Fantasy authors don't write about America.

We don't have anyone writing stories set in the lush Mississippi delta, or the Rocky Mountains, or the forests on the East coast, or among the redwoods on the West coast.

There aren't Fantasy books discussing and questioning American social issues or our notions of heroism,

like our obsession with vigilantly justice so prevalent in our westerns and action films.

We don't have Fantasy characters that are symbols of what to strive for as Americans.

Well, there is that one nobody,

talking about a haunted jazz club in New Orleans

and its undead Texas Ranger owner,

contesting his brand of vigilante justice with the undead historical rulers of America ...

But more of that tomorrow.

What do you think?  Are there any major American fantasy writers who have written famous stories set in America?


  1. Good point! Fantasy settings are usually medieval, which implies Europe. Someone needs to get busy writing to change that.

  2. Alex:
    My RITES OF PASSAGE and ADRIFT IN THE TIME STREAM takes place in New Orleans and in the Gulf of Mexico. I tried for a historical fantasy set in 1853, which made of America a land of contesting myths and monsters. FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE and CREOLE KNIGHTS takes place in New Orleans in 2005, extending the war between American myths and monsters into our present. But I am just an unknown. :-)

  3. I'm always amazed at how many Americans don't read some of their best authors shunning J. Kerouac, and others from the Beat era, and authors like H.S. Thompson, and Fitzgerald. (as an expatriate, I can say that) Taste is subjective, but these men had their finger on what was happening in their country at the time they lived in.

    I would love to read more about the stories from our western places, what New Orleans has been like over the decades, and what little-town USA did before technology bogged us all down and bit into our leisure time.

    Just sayin'. . .

  4. I have to say, I didn't know what nationality Martin was, but I would have assumed he was British. You have had authors like Twain and Steinbeck who mythologised the American landscape, but I suppose there isn't really anyone doing that now.

  5. D.G.:
    Yes Kerouac, Hunter Thompson, and Fitzgerald are pretty much forgotten. THE GREAT GATSBY movie may spotlight Fitzgerald for a short season

    In UNDER A VOODOO MOON and THE RIVAL, I spotlight what New Orleans was like in 1834 in customs and mind-set.

    In RITES OF PASSAGE and ADRIFT IN THE TIME STREAM, I focus on what America was like in 1853 and what horrors England and Europe spawned in the early 1800's. I also detail the culture and customs of the times. I even throw in William Faulkner in the New Orleans of the Roaring 20's!

    I like to think people don't know the fun prose and odd historical facts they are missing! :-)

    Like you, I thought Martin was British as well at first! Sadly, no one reads Twain or Steinbeck anymore. Hemingway is only a little better read. Sigh.