Sunday, January 14, 2007

Idle Thoughts

A day or two ago, I read a short story in a magazine (I won't mention the name to be fair about it) that was a pretty entertaining tyrant-turns-good yarn ... or would have been, except it was unnecessarily graphic and sexualized. Nothing crucial to the plot was contained in the off-color mold; it would have been a far stronger story had it made its point without ninety percent of the references. I'm mystified why the author thought this was a good tactic to take; I'm even more startled that a magazine would take such a tale unexpurgated.

On the other hand, a more disturbing trend. I wonder who decides the difference between profound and silly or fractured in short fiction, and why I keep falling on the other side of the line. While I come to reading for fun more than to be challenged, I also am a smart reader and I have to wonder ... if I don't get it to the point where I don't even have a glimmer of it, much less a sense of, "Well, this feels like it would be interesting if I could put the pieces together," who does?

Of course, there is also an equally unnerving trend in fantasy short fiction that seems to shun worldbuilding and fully realized other-realms in favor of urban fantasy and close reinterpretation of mythic elements. While I enjoy both, I find it sad that it seems harder to find this bread and butter that, to me, is what fantasy is ultimately FOR.

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