New poll - Humor

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


First, let's comeback on the previous one.

In my last poll, the question was : ''Is innovation overrated in Fantasy?''.  That questioning came from the talk generated by the release of more traditional Fantasy novels and more recently, the comments for The Emperor's Blade by Brian Staveley. You can return to the post here.

The results are in and while at first the yes was 'winning', in the end, the no received more votes (67% voted no).  I thought that the results would have been closer.

I think that the good news about these results is that many authors, not to say a majority, are trying to innovate in the Fantasy field. Hopefully, there's still enough 'old school' writers coming up with traditional Fantasy to quench the thirst of the conventional or long-established tropes savvy.

If it's not broken, don't fix it? It seems that's its not applicable for the Fantasy readers. Authors beware, you ought to come up with ways to twist the genre and spice it up!

Any thoughts?

***



To the next one.

The idea for my next poll also originated from one of my latest read, or I should say, audiobook. The book in question is The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes. The book is not a parody of the Fantasy genre like the Diskworld books by Terry Pratchett or the Xanth series by Piers Anthony but let's say that as they did, Weekes is playing with the tropes and with a whole lot of them. Necromancy, talking war-hammer, elves, unicorn, illusionist, thief you name it! However, tropes are not my topic, I already covered that in a previous poll.

This type of Fantasy book has to exist, it deserves its place in the genre. I haven't read much of Pratchett and Anthony since its not really my cup of tea ('parody-wise') even if when I consider the movies, I realize that I enjoyed some of Mel Brooks parodies and really liked The Princess Bride, which is originally a book by William Goldman. However, I think that books with a significant level of humor are really refreshing, mostly so in the current wave of 'Grimdark' and military Fantasy or even generally speaking for the Epic genre. Even so, dark humor is present more often than not in these sub categories. It's a great tool playing an important role in the tone of a novel and the overall enjoyment of a work.

Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, Luke Scull and even Richard Morgan are all well versed in this biting humor and even sarcasm (for me, Abercrombie's the king). Steven Erikson, in all his seriousness can make you laugh more than most author and when the Malazan marines or the duo of necromancers are involved, there's always funny stuff around the corner. I remember having a great time, many grins and several laughs when reading the Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Mat Cauthon from the Wheel of Time series was funny most of the time.  Alex Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse can also guarantee a considerable dose of chuckles and good puns. 

Let me ask you your opinion in the form of three question:

Is humor fundamental in Fantasy literature?

Do you like funny/parodic books?

What type of humor do you prefer?

None
Sarcasm
Satire
Irony
Biting/Mordant
Dark/Gallow/Morbid
Parody/Spoof
Puns
Caricature/Exaggerism
Toilet

(making a list of the types of humors is not obvious, you can challenge this in the comments...)

I would answer that yes, it is fundamental, I don't really like parodic books and my favorite type of humor in Fantasy would be sarcasm.  What about you?

4 comments:

Bob R Milne said...

When it comes to Fantasy, the form of humour that works best for me is Dark/Gallow/Morbid. It just seems to lend itself naturally to the genre.

Andy Remic played with it in The Iron Wolves, as did Lee Battersby in The Corpse-Rat King and The Marching Dead.

Jesse Bullington nailed it in The Enterprise of Death, but I fekt he tried a bit too hard in The Folly of the World (although I still enjoyed it).

Amos Tayts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Stewart said...

I remember buying Black Prism by Brent Weeks solely because of a line on the first two pages, something to the effect of "He heard a wolf howling not so far in the distance. It was a beuatiful sound. The kind of beauty that makes you shit your pants".

I think humour as as intrinsic to fantasy as it is to any other form of literature. To be able to make the reader laugh, even if humour isn't the central purpose of the novel, will increase the chances that they like and therefore buy the book.

One place where I think humour can work best is with conversation/banter, even if it's an internal monologue that a character has with himself. Glotka from Joe Abercrombie's trilogy is a great case of that. Daniel Polansky and Scott Lynch are two other authors I can think of off the top of my head that do this well.

Ingrid Wolf said...

I think every kind of humor is good when it matches the character who is using it. For instance, I'm by no means a fan of dark humor, but I simply enjoyed all those remarks by Dolorous Edd in A Song of Ice and Fire. It's his specific sense of humor that makes him so vivid and interesting to follow.

As to the humor in author's speech, I can't think of any examples that have truly impressed me. I don't like parody books, actually.

So far I stick to the view that humor in good fantasy books is the prerogative of characters. In real world, most people joke in the situations they find amusing. When characters do it too, it makes them more real.

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