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Generation Gap

One of my personal biggest obstacles when it comes to writing urban fantasy might be just a personal limitation, but I doubt I’m the only one.

Technology changes with mindboggling speed in the modern world. Thanks to that technology, trends change just as rapidly, propagating through the entire globe and being forgotten in spans of time that not so long ago would have been unthinkably brief. I am, personally, rather fond of various kinds of technology, although I confess to resenting being forced into constant upgrades that often complicate without necessarily improving things. Much of my time is spent online; I’ve found more friends I can relate to and trust that way than I ever have in person, including people I deeply care about from all over the world. The Internet offers a research resource that I could never have dreamed of years ago when forced to dig through often outdated books at the local library.

That said… I was born in the 70s, grew up in the 80s, graduated from high school in the 90s. I grew up in the country, not even in a village most of the time but usually outside of it on a farm; I saw peers at school but rarely had contact with them outside and then only the few friends that I felt I had anything in common with; much of my free time was spent alone with pets, although I had a limited choice of kids of similar age not too far away. My first computer had no hard drive, only two 5-1/4″ floppies, and MS-DOS, no Windows, and certainly no Internet; my brother used it for games now considered primitive, I used it for homework and writing. Read the rest of this entry


Assumptions: Culture and Technology

Along the same lines as my previous post about assumptions, but of a different kind:

Why is it that fantasy fiction is, with overwhelming frequency, set in a thinly-disguised version of Dark Ages, or possibly Renaissance, Western Europe? There are exceptions, of course, but this has become a kind of industry standard.

Even if there’s no sign of Christianity as such, basic Christian values as understood in the modern mainstream Western world (not the same values as understood in actual medieval Europe) are prevalent. Men have careers and literally wear the trousers; women stay home to mind the fourteen kids and cook the meals in long skirts, although they may have access to limited career options. Charity may be present, but shaming of single mothers or same-sex relationships or non-monogamy may also be present if acknowledged as possible at all. If you’re creating a world, rather than using a historical time period per se as your setting, then why swallow this whole instead of experimenting? I’m not suggesting anything as heavy-handed as having the men stay home with the kids and the women all have careers; it’s not a feasible idea, anyway, biologically. Why not make at least small changes in the social structure? It makes it genuinely your own world, instead of a generic medieval setting. Whatever aspects you want or need for your particular story, great, by all means keep them – but do it as a deliberate and conscious choice, not by default, and take a good look at the other aspects of the society that you might be able to play around with. Read the rest of this entry