Fantastic Folks 5: Bug People

Invertebrates generally, and insect-like creatures specifically, do not feature in global mythology to the same extent as their vertebrate and humanoid cousins. Likewise, although vertebrates have inspired various fantastic peoples (generally in the form of shapeshifting monsters such as the Japanese kitsune or European werewolf), invertebrate equivalents are rare in the extreme, and most with…

Fantastic Folks 4: Trolls

Long before the term was being used to describe ethically deficient netizens, the trolls were vaguely defined mythological creatures of Scandinavian folklore. Nowadays, trolls of all kinds are rife in fantasy, taking up space on the page, being pointlessly mean, and generally bringing down the rarefied tone which Rothfuss and Martin have spent so long…

Fantastic Folks 3: Orcs

Last time, we looked at elves, because before then we had looked at dwarves. The eternal hate-triangle must therefore be completed, and so we shall have a look at the third party in this unceasing conflict: orcs, who are officially no longer always chaotic evil. Except, are they really? Were they ever? What even is…

Fantastic Folks 2: Elves

Last time we had a look at the tropes associated with dwarves in fantasy writing. We could not, therefore, go any further without looking at their counterparts and occasional rivals, elves. Tree Huggers Although the depiction of dwarves in modern media has been greatly influenced by Tolkien, he practically re-invented elves. Before Tolkien, the elf…

Fantastic Folks 1: Dwarves

The tropes associated with fantasy races/cultures are, it must needs be remarked, somewhat tired. Despite the occasional kick up the backside that they receive, the general trend in fantasy seems to be repackaging of the same old ideas, rather than the creation of new ideas. Some of this repackaging is good, and some of it…