A Modest Suggestion

Discussing a recent Podcastle episode over on their forums, and talking about how I end up not enjoying “realism with just a touch of the fantastic” stories as much if I go into them expecting more overt fantasy, I commented that I might appreciate a heads-up in the story intro, telling me what kind of tale I’m about to listen to. And then, because CYA and all that, I said I wasn’t looking for an actual metric or anything, just, y’know, a hint of what to expect.

But screw that. I want a metric! Should it be dragons? One millidragon for your average “is it fantasy or is this person just crazy?” story, one kilodragon for gonzo over-the-top magic everywhere you look. Or to hell with a metric metric; let’s embrace the irrational organization of imperial units and say there are twelve garcia-marquezes to a tolkien, and eight tolkiens to a gygax. Or whatever. Use the comment thread to suggest what our units of magical measurement should be. Show your work. Extra credit for plausible-looking equations.

0 Responses to “A Modest Suggestion”

  1. mindstalk

    All I have to say is, groupig Brust’s Sun Moon and Stars, Yolen’s Briar Rose, and Dean Tam Lin together in one series of “modern retellings of fairy tales”, felt kind of like false advertising. “One of these things is not like the other.”

  2. wordweaver

    Hmm. I once actually devised a metric for listing the degree to which a story departed from reality on a scale of 0-7, with 0 being realistic fiction, 7 being anything really far-out – roughly, 1/2 was your “fantasy or not?” type of story, 1-3 was for stories with magical elements set in our world, depending on the type, 4-6 covered most typical fantasy set in invented worlds, etc. I don’t know if this scale is of any use to others, but the idea of using author names and other elements as units is fun – if each unit corresponded to their typical number on the scale, we’d have both irrational conversions between units and a coherent system. Each sub-genre could be defined by its preferred method of measurement – YA authors could measure in rowlings, urban fantasy writers in werewolves…

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