Episode 48: Live with Gary K. Wolfe!

With Swancon upon us, Gary and I pre-recorded (!) a chat about epic fantasy and such. Enjoy!


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1 Comment

  1. Finally getting to this episode!

    I haven’t seen Game of Thrones yet (or read the books!) but I agree that Rome did a very good job of presenting interesting, balanced gender politics in a historical background. In particular, the use of sex as power was illustrated not only with the male characters, but with the women, and while there was a lot of gratuitous nudity, there was plenty of eye candy for those of all genders and persuasions. I think they did a marvellous job of presenting a version of history to a modern audience in an almost science fictional manner – showing us how different in some ways but similar in others the people of Ancient Rome were to today’s societies. The role of slaves was used cleverly in this regard – the gift of a well endowed male slave from Atia to Servilia had a plot point but also meant we as a modern audience weren’t stuck looking at just one kind of gender politics.

    I don’t believe that medieval (or historical) gender politics/attitudes are an essential aspect of epic fantasy, though they often become so by default. This is especially problematic when it is actually a very cod-medieval/historical society without even the natural variance of power/freedoms that some women of those times enjoyed. I think it’s really important for writers, especially those coming in now after so many decades of epic fantasy, not limit themselves to the social construct of history, imagined history or fantasy traditions – at least not without some serious consideration as to what else they could do.

    Recent Hugo nominee N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a really good example of a book which is working within the conversation of epic fantasy, but actively & openly working against most of its conventions. There should be more of this – and it’s certainly the kind of fantasy fiction I’m most interested in seeking out, just as I pounce upon fantasy which borrows from less thoroughly-mined historical periods.

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