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…

Writing Divinity

Spoilers for Divinity (computer game franchise). Whilst the denizens of the Internet are collectively baying for Baldur's Gate 3 to be released at long last, I have been replaying Larian's other darling, Divinity: Original Sin II (D:OSII), with a friend. I did not play the original, but have been reassured that, much like penny-farthings and…

Writing The Wheel of Time

Spoilers for The Wheel of Time (books series and upcoming television series) and Dune (pan-media franchise). N.B. In this article, I will be using various potentially contentious words, including sexism and sexist, in a general, even colloquial, sense, rather than the highly technical and narrow senses used in certain academic disciplines. That should probably give…

Writing Worlds of Darkness

Spoilers for all World of Darkness-related materials, primarily Old World of Darkness and Vampire: the Masquerade. 'It's not fan service, it's a gothic-punk indictment of the evils of fan service'.(Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines, promotional material) In 1991, White Wolf released the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade (V:tM), a self-described gothic-punk roleplaying game of…

Writing Good Places

Spoilers, AND I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW SPOILED THIS WILL BE SO GO WATCH IT IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY, for seasons 1 - 3 of The Good Place (television series). It's the most fun two adults can have on a sofa!(Ted Danson (left) as Michael and Kristen Bell (the other left) as Eleanor Shellstrop -…

Writing Nice and Accurate Prophecies

Spoilers for Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (book and television series). Pictured: The same man twice.(Good Omens, television series, promotional material) By their own admission, neither Gaiman nor Pratchett expected Good Omens to be as popular as it subsequently became. There is a nice and accurate reason why: it…