I know, this is very different from every other day of my life.
…my biggest pet peeve is with stories and novels that lack specificity–specificity of place, time, culture, even ethnicity. The reader is given a default medieval Europe-type setting, filled it with random, unspecified peasant or royal types, no discernible culture beyond “they believe in magic” or “X fantastical creatures/races are real”, but not much else. Yes, there are characters who have personalities and Do Things and are specific, and the plot they find themselves in is spelled out, sometimes in great detail, and all of this is good. But it does not excuse the fact that the author has not done the work of creating a fully realized world, because so much of it is left nebulous, or left for the reader to fill in themselves. And I feel this makes for bad fantasy.
I would like to note that though this commentary came about because of the many, many, many conversations I had with folks surrounding the story posted on Monday, this commentary is not specifically about that story. I am speaking to the trend. Also, this is not the first time I’ve said something along these lines:
An editor can shout from the rooftops all he or she wants that they would love to see more stories by women, or by minorities, with female and minority characters. However, writers will not believe them if they look at the magazine and see nothing but Blandy McWhitey White in Blandy McNeighborhood in America or Blandy McMedieval Europe or Blandy McDefaulty Man in any setting anywhere.
I’m particularly proud of the phrase “Blandy McWhitey White”.