Friday, June 07, 2013

Grimdark and Noir

I asked the following question on facebook:
Do women write grimdark fantasy? Do women read it?
One of my facebook colleagues asked me what I meant by grimdark. I wrote:
You know, I'm not sure. I call the Blade series that Kelly McCullough is writing "noir fantasy." I think "grimdark" is related. I guess I'm thinking of George Martin's series, Patrick Rothfuss... I read Kelly's books, but I haven't read Martin or Rothfuss... I think I would include Doug Hulick in "noir."
The colleague then told me (and he really knows science fiction and fantasy) that Martin and Rothfuss are not considered grimdark. Martin is epic or heroic fantasy.

I replied:
Okay. I don't know what grimdark is, then. Maybe I should stick to "noir fantasy," since I sort of know what it is. I like noir. I grew up on Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. But I find it interesting (and surprising) to read fantasy that is dark and gritty and reminds me of Chandler...

I did the obvious thing and Googled grimdark. It comes from gaming, specifically the game Warhammer, and has spread. The Cthulhu Mythos and the Dresden Files are described as grimdark in the sites I read. It describes fiction set in a dark, violent, unpleasant environment...

I just came across a forum discussion of the term. Several people discussing said grimdark was over the top grimness and darkness and violence, and that it was an adolescent idea of reality.
Another of my facebook colleagues said she had the impression grimdark was rather too full of misogyny and violence toward women. "Rapey," she called it.

So I'm not sure where this leaves the conversation. I think there's a lot of dark fantasy around: vampire and zombie fiction; other forms of horror; stories from the Cthulhu Mythos, which has oddly reappeared; dark epic fantasy; grimdark, which is over the top grim and dark fantasy; noir fantasy, which I see as a mixture of fantasy and tough guy detective fiction...

Well, we have been at war for twelve years -- an undeclared and illegal war, in which many civilians have been killed, and many American soldiers have come back badly damaged. This must have some effect on the society. And all around the world, we see economies contract, and ordinary people get increasingly poor, while a tiny group of the very rich grab most of the planet's resources. And we know Global Warming is making the planet less habitable.

I guess all of this could produce a dark and grim fiction.


Blogger delagar said...

Plenty of people consider GRRM grimdark fantasy, I believe.
There's been a big pushback from his (male) fans against using the term for his fiction, mainly (I think) because of the other implications that go along with the term -- that is, grimdark is considered hyperviolent, rapey, unrealistic, and misogynistic, while GRRM's fan base (especially his male fanbase, I think) want to believe his fiction is realistic.

Over among the feminist SF blogs, posts have argued against (especially) his series the Song of Ice and Fire being very realistic, with the thesis being something like "Lots of raping of women and murder and torture of everyone does not equal realism."

9:24 AM  
Blogger delagar said...

Here are a couple readings:


9:27 AM  
Blogger Leslie Bates said...

Eleanor, are you still using word Perfect?

I have about 2,080 words of a cross between Starship Troopers and the Vietnam War on file.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

I'm completely Word these days. I have to convert to Word to send stories out, so I might as well write in Word.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Word Perfect might well be a better word processing program, but I am stuck with what the editors use.

8:09 AM  
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