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View Full Version : Fantasy: Elves and Dragons -- still fun or time for something new?


JSUCamel
06-08-2009, 02:09 PM
Brandon Sanderson is doing a discussion on the Borders sci-fi blog. You can head over there and discuss it with them if you want ( http://scifi.bordersblog.com/?p=69 ), but I was curious as to what our local TL response would be to this discussion:

Brandon Sanderson here, author of various epic fantasy novels. I’m happy to be here–thanks to Borders for giving me this chance.

The first topic for our discussion is one close to my heart. Long ago, when I was an undergraduate, I wrote an essay entitled “Kill the Elves” for the on-campus sf/f magazine. I’ve long been a proponent for fantasy going in other directions, growing beyond the traditional Tolkienesque archetypes that have become so common in the genre. I’m bored with elves, bored with dwarves, bored with quests for magical objects.

But is this just my cynicism speaking? Is this like trying to get sf to stop using space ships? Are elves, dwarves, and the other fantasy stand-by races such a vital part of the genre that, in pulling them out, we’d remove what makes fantasy fun in the first place?

What of the quest archetype? An irreplaceable piece of the genre, tied to the hero’s journey and coming of age? Or is it a crutch that has been rehashed so many times that using it changes a fantasy novel from original and fresh into reading like a video-game on paper? And if we cut out these parts, where does that leave us? Where is fantasy going, and what might it become in the next decade?

Speak out. I’ve got more than a few thoughts on this myself, and I’m curious to see where the discussion goes.

What do you guys think?

Brita
06-08-2009, 02:17 PM
Absolutely time to branch out!

I have always loved this genre because it is limitless, the ideas have no boundries, the plot holds no rules.

The idea of requiring certain archetypes in fantasy/sci-fi undermines the fundamental foundation it is built upon: unbridled imagination.

Break the mold and see where the next adventure takes us.

Ivhon
06-08-2009, 02:18 PM
I kindof agree. Its been some time since I picked up an elf book other than Tolkien.

I find myself being drawn to human dramas unfolding in worlds where the "fantasy" is simply not having familiar place names. Or maybe having some shamanistic "magic" that may or may not be so (potions and rituals...seers...with possibly dubious effects).

What was that Antonio Banderas movie with him as the Arab going to viking lands? That was fantasy...but no real magic.

Gilshalos Sedai
06-08-2009, 02:23 PM
The 13th Warrior, by Michael Crichton.


I actually don't mind elves. But I prefer them in the allegorical sense in that they're what we wish we could be and dwarves as the lower form of what we are. Sorta like the ego and id of the human psyche. And I can't say as I dislike the quest either. I am, after all writing a form of the Grail Quest. However, I do prefer it to be more than a quest. I want something that makes me have to think, not merely what Bryan calls a FedEx Quest.

Ozymandias
06-08-2009, 02:46 PM
This implies that there isn't any other kind of fantasy out there. Look at LE Modessit (who I increasingly love, despite some repetitive plots). I like him mainly because his magic makes sense and isn't random conjuring which we never necessarily see, but thats irrelevant. The point is that he's incredibly successful as an author and yet you don't see a single elf, orc, or dragon in his stories.

There already is plenty of branching out. There will always be a niche for elves and dwarves and dragons. But that doesn't mean thats all there is.

Jonai
06-08-2009, 02:51 PM
I don't know, I'll always be a fan of hawt nubile Elven maidens. I don't think it needs to be cut out of the genre completely, although I think you've got to have a good writer to pull off any kind of elf/dwarve/pure high fantasy mumbo jumbo. That being said, all my favorite series involve humans. Kind of miffed about Brandon dogging videogames though. Might just be the gamer in me talking but I've played some videogames which are better than some fantasy novels I've read (Hello FFIV). Speaking of videogames, hurry up SE I need FF13/14 and some front mission goodness.

Davian93
06-08-2009, 02:57 PM
There can be good fantasy with elves/ogres/dwarfs/etc but it can't be pure Tolkien ripoffs like Shannara and Paoli's trash.

Though Brooks is at least a far better writer than Paoli.

Ishara
06-08-2009, 02:57 PM
Oh, I don't know. I think that there's certainly a place for dwarves and elves. GGK did some masterful work (imo) of reinventing the wheel there, for example. It's just that there's so much more to fantasy than that. Why must it be one or the other?

Davian93
06-08-2009, 02:57 PM
Oh, I don't know. I think that there's certainly a place for dwarves and elves. GGK did some masterful work (imo) of reinventing the wheel there, for example. It's just that there's so much more to fantasy than that. Why must it be one or the other?

If one were to start reading GGK, which book should I start with?

JSUCamel
06-08-2009, 02:59 PM
I'm kind of tired of the same old elf/dwarf/gnome/goblin/orc cliche, and the same old Gandalf/Raistlin character that does magic that nobody can explain.

I tend to find myself drawn toward stories that don't lean too heavily on the classic archetypes and rely more on a good story. Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series is a good example of a unique magic system that doesn't trot in simple variations of Gnomes, Kender and Gully Dwarves.

At the same time, I wouldn't be opposed to new twists on old archetypes. One thing R.A. Salvatore did (and did it very well) was twist the classic elven race into the dark elves that were the polar opposites of their surface-dwelling kin.

My favorite stories are often the ones where the authors take something known and twist them in an original way. I love Elantris (a twist on zombies), the dark elves (twists on elves), Wicked (twist on the Wicked Witch of the West), and many stories like that.

So I guess the answer is sort of both: I'm tired of traditional elves and dwarves, but if an author can use those archetypes in a new way... then I'm probably gonna like it.

Frenzy
06-08-2009, 03:03 PM
speaking of Sanderson, i have a question about his Mistborn series. i've read the first one, and i liked. It has a logical end, though an obvious opening for a sequel, of which there are two. i've read series which started out great, but then were murdered by a bad sequel (book 4 of Rice's Vampire Chronicles, for example).

Will Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages ruin the series, or are they worth the read?

Frenzy
06-08-2009, 03:06 PM
Does having elves, dwarves, etc. make it a fantasy novel? Has anyone used classic fantasy archetypes and written a murder mystery, crime drama, etc.

i know comedy's been done, with the Myth-adventures books.

Davian93
06-08-2009, 03:07 PM
speaking of Sanderson, i have a question about his Mistborn series. i've read the first one, and i liked. It has a logical end, though an obvious opening for a sequel, of which there are two. i've read series which started out great, but then were murdered by a bad sequel (book 4 of Rice's Vampire Chronicles, for example).

Will Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages ruin the series, or are they worth the read?

Worth the read for both IMHO.

BS's writing style is as follows: 400 pages of slow set up followed by 150 pages of non-stop action. He had the same breakdown in all 3 books of Mistborn.

JSUCamel
06-08-2009, 03:14 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed the second two Mistborn books. The second is probably my favorite of the three. They're all very good, as far as I'm concerned.

And no, you don't have to have elves or what-not to be fantasy.

The great thing about fantasy is that it's any other genre you can possibly think of -- BUT WITH MAGIC (or any fantastical made-up thing).

You can have a murder mystery -- with magic.
You can have a cheesy romance novel -- with magic.
You can have a suspense thriller -- with magic.
You can have a farcical comedy -- with magic.

It's all fantasy.

Essentially, there are no restrictions beyond keeping your audience believing in your world. The only requirement for a novel to be fantasy is to have some sort of fantastical element (other races, magic, unicorns, etc).

Last August, I read one of Jennifer Fallon's series called "Medalon". It was a really cheesy soap opera type story (but like soap operas, you can't just STOP in the middle!). Take out the Harshini (magical creatures that lived in the mountains, hiding from humans who wanted them dead), and all you had was a really trashy romance series set in a medieval period.

Yellowbeard
06-08-2009, 03:20 PM
2nd for the good recommendation on Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages. I think I liked the 2nd book best of all too.

The 13th Warrior by Michael Crichton was retitled to that when the movie came out and the novel re-released. The original book title was "Eaters of the Dead" and it's a pretty awesome read.

GonzoTheGreat
06-08-2009, 03:30 PM
Does having elves, dwarves, etc. make it a fantasy novel? Has anyone used classic fantasy archetypes and written a murder mystery, crime drama, etc.How about Terry Pratchett's Guards subseries of his Discworld books?
He definitely uses lots of classic fantasy archetypes with plenty of drama, crime, murders and the occasional mystery.
And his elves are quite original too, while being classic at the same time. As for the etc., you can find quite a variety of that in his books, so they seem to have everything you're asking for. Including fairly traditional dwarves.

Jonai
06-08-2009, 03:34 PM
New races, or twists on the archetypes are nice. Always thought J.V. Jone's Sull were pretty tight.

DahLliA
06-08-2009, 04:20 PM
I don't mind elves and dwarves and stories filled with archetypes as long as the story and the characters are "fleshed" out enough.

then again after WoT and the malazan series most other fantasy I try reading feels way to thin :/

but I think I would have liked WoT just as well if the ogier were elves and the aiel dwarves for instance

Zanguini
06-08-2009, 04:27 PM
I liked the first mistborn the best but then i like books which introduce a character to magic... cause it magic

GonzoTheGreat
06-08-2009, 04:27 PM
but I think I would have liked WoT just as well if the ogier were elves and the aiel dwarves for instanceGonzo imagines Sorilea, Amys and Aviendha sporting long beards.
I don't think it would be quite the same, to be honest.

Ishara
06-08-2009, 04:38 PM
If one were to start reading GGK, which book should I start with? ~tries to contain herself~

Depends. If you're looking for an excellent archetypical - with a twist - HIGH fantasy novel, then please start with the Fionavar Tapestry (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and the Longest Road).

If you want something with less out and out magic, then start with Tigana (based on Renaissance Italy - but with a twist) is a great place to start. Then A Song For Arbonne (based on the Albegensian Crusade-era France - but with a twist). Followed by Lions of al-Rassan (based on the Reconquista of Spain, but of course, with a twist). And then a two-parter, the Sarantine Mosaic, consisting of Sailing to Sarantium and then Lord of Emperors (Byzantium with Justinian and Theodora, kind of...), then The Last Light of the Sun (Vikings and Aenglish and Wesh, oh my!), finally Ysabel (don't read this one first. It's a departure into young adult lit, and only fits as an adult if you've read at least the Fionavar Tapestry).

I love reading them in the order that they were written, not only because of the changes in writing style and pacing - he strives to never write the same way twice - but because...then each one can successively be my favourite again.

I'd mail you a copy of the Fionavar Tapestry, but that hasn't worked out too well for e in the past...what with me never getting them back! :p

DahLliA
06-08-2009, 04:42 PM
Gonzo imagines Sorilea, Amys and Aviendha sporting long beards.
I don't think it would be quite the same, to be honest.

well. the parts involving them would cater to a more narrow audience I guess yeah :p

Crispin's Crispian
06-08-2009, 05:03 PM
I'm pretty much at the far extreme as far as these questions go. If a book has dwarves or elves or anyone called a Wizard, I put it back on the shelf. Dragons I can handle if they're treated the right way, but it's a fine line to toe.

Said best:
then again after WoT and the malazan series most other fantasy I try reading feels way to thin :/
Pretty much. I'm going to pick up Sanderson next time I go to the bookstore, so hopefully that won't be disappointing. :)

Lately I've been a bit disenchanted with fantasy (heh), so maybe I'm not the best judge.

Weird Harold
06-08-2009, 05:28 PM
There can be good fantasy with elves/ogres/dwarfs/etc but it can't be pure Tolkien ripoffs like Shannara and Paoli's trash.

Dennis McKiernan's Mithgar books (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_L._McKiernan#Mithgar_series) are based in a fantasy universe that is very Tolkien-like with all of the standard mythological beauties and beasties and, over the multi-millineum timline of the various series within the Mithgar setting, covers just moldy oldies as the loss of magic, the Elves retreating underhill, nearly invulnerable ogres and Dragons, et al.

The stories are all told with a fresh viewpoint on all the old themes, and like David Eddings's work are largely character driven.

On the other hand, Sharon Green has wriitten some entertaining fantasy books/series that are purely humano-centric and almost more science fiction (without any science) in the multi-verse settings for rather conventional "save the princess/world/predestined kingdom/et al" kind of quests.

In one sense, I do agree with BS that there are more than enough bad fantasies and tolkien-wannbe epics in th emarket today. It takes an extraordinary talent to succeed in that mode simply because of the amount of background noise in that sub-genre of Fantasy.

In a larger sense, though, I think it is a case of there being "only seven stories in the world"* so it is all in how you tell them. One of those "seven stories" is the Quest for the Holy Grail and almost all Epic Fantasy is a variation on that theme -- with or without Elves and other magical creatures.

* Different sources define the basice story archtypes differently so some sources say seven stories, some eleven stories, some say story groups rather than just stories.

Ishara
06-08-2009, 05:34 PM
Well, that's the difference between HIGH Fantasy and other fantasy. The magical creatures. Mostly...

But SD, please consider GGK. He wrote the Simillarion, he was steeped in Tolkein. He did it (High fantasy, dwarves etc) right. I swear to you.

Crispin's Crispian
06-08-2009, 05:38 PM
Well, that's the difference between HIGH Fantasy and other fantasy. The magical creatures. Mostly...

But SD, please consider GGK. He wrote the Simillarion, he was steeped in Tolkein. He did it (High fantasy, dwarves etc) right. I swear to you.
He didn't write the Silmarillion, he assisted, right?

Anyway, I will probably read something of his someday. I got 100 pages or so into A Song for Arbonne and got pretty bored. It was the only one at the library at time, so maybe next time I'll pick up The Summer Tree.

Dragon Thief
06-08-2009, 08:24 PM
I have a problem saying Elves/Dragons/Dwarves/etc are bad. I f you had to boil it down to one element, fantasy literature is about imagination - anything is possible. So saying those above elements make a bad story immediately reads to me as you saying that you don't think there's anything about those elements that can't be written well in an imaginative manner.

Does it change the fact that there's a bunch of books with those elements that suck? No, but neither does it change that there's just as many fantasy books without them that suck as well. I don't care so much as to what's in the story so much as I do that the story is good.

And good can be different things to me at different at different times- complex, thought-provoking (WoT, Malazan, aSoIaF) - humorous, witty fast-reads, (Eddings, Elminster stuff) or a story that came straight out of a DnD campaign (Dragonlance, Salvatore).

I'm also a big fan of the "twist" - a story that stands something on its head. The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of my favorites for that - turning Hell into good.

Brita
06-08-2009, 08:37 PM
DT- I agree completely. I am not against the archetypes, but in no way should fantasy feel constricted to stay within boundaries of these archetypes. Like I said before, the foundation for this genre is unbridled imagination.

Depends. If you're looking for an excellent archetypical - with a twist - HIGH fantasy novel, then please start with the Fionavar Tapestry (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and the Longest Road).

If you want something with less out and out magic, then start with Tigana (based on Renaissance Italy - but with a twist) is a great place to start.

I second both of those. I personally prefer Tigana, but thoroughly enjoyed the Fionavar Tapestry.

Birgitte
06-08-2009, 10:58 PM
Hey Frenzy, check out the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust. Vlad's an organized crime lord. Badass. :)

Uno
06-09-2009, 12:10 AM
Lately I've been a bit disenchanted with fantasy (heh), so maybe I'm not the best judge.

There are very few fantasy novels I can envision myself reading nowadays. The entire genre strikes me as a bit cliche-ridden, to tell you the truth. Sometimes just looking at the cheesy titles in that section of a bookstore gives me shudders. It's all A Ring of Dragonfire, The Dagger of Balackabar, Throne of the Elven Heart, and so on. Rather depressing.

Gilshalos Sedai
06-09-2009, 08:09 AM
I'm pretty much at the far extreme as far as these questions go. If a book has dwarves or elves or anyone called a Wizard, I put it back on the shelf. Dragons I can handle if they're treated the right way, but it's a fine line to toe.

Guess you won't be reading my stuff then. :(


Well, as far as titles go, I suck at them. My working title right now is The Messenger. It had been Eye of the Raven.

Ishara
06-09-2009, 09:09 AM
He didn't write the Silmarillion, he assisted, right?
Well, the level of involvement of both GGK and Christopher Tolkein are actually quite the mystery, which after all these years implies that they'd like to keep it that way. Suffice it to say that while they had outlines for some pieces, there were huge gaps that found themselves filled and that GGK played a role in that.

JSUCamel
06-09-2009, 09:11 AM
When I write, I tend to take my favorite line and make it my title. A friend of mine does that, too. His latest play is called "Put My Finger In Your Mouth". Hysterical and grabs your attention.

Crispin's Crispian
06-09-2009, 09:53 AM
DT- I agree completely. I am not against the archetypes, but in no way should fantasy feel constricted to stay within boundaries of these archetypes. Like I said before, the foundation for this genre is unbridled imagination.
I don't necessarily think dwarves, elves, and wizards make a story bad. I just think they're tired archetypes and I don't want to read about them anymore. For me, it immediately invokes Tolkien and D&D, which is fine, but not what I want to read. Hell, even when I do get nostalgiac and break out the Monster Manual, I still skip over the sections on elves, dwarves, and men. I find that stuff boring.

Gil, if I found a book on the shelf that you'd written, I'd read it no matter how many dwarves are in it. :)

Brita
06-09-2009, 10:06 AM
Gil, if I found a book on the shelf that you'd written, I'd read it no matter how many dwarves are in it. :)

Awwww, that's so sweet :)

Gilshalos Sedai
06-09-2009, 10:20 AM
Thanks.


I am trying to at least twist the cliches rather than running with them.

Ozymandias
06-09-2009, 01:47 PM
humorous, witty fast-reads, (Eddings, Elminster stuff)

I have grown to hate Eddings (RIP). He shares with RJ the problem of having a single stereotype of female characters in his novel. In fact, its basically the same stereotype. The sassy, arrogant, obnoxious, and usually wrong female character who is usually wrong or at least willfully misinterprets either some or all of what the male characters say.

And, of course, you have the problem that the male characters in both worlds are almost invariably incapable or unwilling to match wits or ego with their female counterparts. Really pisses me off.

Crispin's Crispian
06-09-2009, 03:34 PM
Thanks.


I am trying to at least twist the cliches rather than running with them.That's good. Sometimes twisted cliches can be better than originality for originality's sake.

Zanguini
06-09-2009, 04:26 PM
The Tad Williams books werent too horrible and they featured elves and dwarves

RogueSavior
06-09-2009, 06:01 PM
I personally think Tad Williams is fantastic!

And Simon Green writes 'Mystery stories set in a fantasy world' very well, IMnsHO. Look for Hawk and Fisher, though his 'Tales from the Nightside' books, set in more of a modern-magic land aren't bad, either, though inferior to The Dresden Files in nearly every way imaginable...

Weird Harold
06-09-2009, 09:21 PM
The Tad Williams books werent too horrible and they featured elves and dwarves
I've never been a fan of Tad Williams but not because he writes about elves and dwarves.

The latest trend in Fantasy that just annoys the hell out of me is that it is getting to be a pain in the butt to sort past all of the "misunderstood vampires" variations cluttering up the Fantasy shelves.

Uno
06-09-2009, 09:33 PM
The latest trend in Fantasy that just annoys the hell out of me is that it is getting to be a pain in the butt to sort past all of the "misunderstood vampires" variations cluttering up the Fantasy shelves.

I don't even want to think about the misunderstood-and-emotionally-deep-and-mysterious-and-of-course-sexy-vampire-wearing-all-black-clothes cliche. It's too painful to contemplate.

tworiverswoman
06-09-2009, 11:08 PM
On the other hand, Tanya Huff did a terrific series involving a vampire who was the bastard son of Henry VIII, currently making a living as a romance writer. The Blood books are really pretty awesome - and since Blood Price was written in 1991 I think it doesn't count as part of the current crop.

Pratchett has ... fairly traditional dwarves. I don't know whether to rofl due to the understatement here or due to the completely wrong idea that you'll get from those three words...

I have a very wide tolerance for what makes good fantasy. It is pretty irrelevant to me whether or not it contains Fantastical creatures or High/low/elemental magic, or "center of the earth as a hollow-ball" stereotypes. The ONLY thing that matters is -- does it get my attention early? Does it HOLD it? Does it read pleasurably? Does it have a worthwhile ending?

I recently finished a story by Simon Green called "Shadow's Fall." I was tickled by the blurb on the cover: "I think this is some of my best work. Simon R. Greene" Gotta love rampant self-promotion... And the story was fine - right up to the last chapter, which ... well - I can't call it a "cop out" because I'm pretty sure this was the intended conclusion from the beginning. But it made the rest of the book seem ... pointless. I really want to complain about a very specific line but it would be too damn revealing. Drat.

As for whoever asked if someone used elves and dragons in a new way, try the Garrett, P.I. series, by Glen Cook. "Sweet Silver Blues" was written in 1987 and introduces the character of Garrett, (if he has a first name, or maybe a last name, I don't think we ever hear it), a war veteran and private investigator a la Sam Spade. As Wikipedia says, the books are written in a very film-noir-ish style. They are very funny, and also sometimes pretty serious. I'm not going to try to describe them further. Try them. I think you'll like them.

Weird Harold
06-10-2009, 01:27 AM
On the other hand, Tanya Huff did a terrific series involving a vampire who was the bastard son of Henry VIII, currently making a living as a romance writer. The Blood books are really pretty awesome - and since Blood Price was written in 1991 I think it doesn't count as part of the current crop.

I'm pretty sure she's still writing in that universe and her success is pretty much the start of "the current crop."

It may be that the entire series was re-released in paperback and I just had to dig through reprints to find the latest in another series of hers.

That's another pet peeve, not restricted to Fantasy: Omnibus editions of old series combining two, three or four books I've owned for years as individual volumes marketed as "new" books in the series -- Jennifer Roberson's Chronicles of the Cheysuli is being released in omnibus editions and Lois McMasters Bujold is releasing omnibus editions of the early books in her Vorkosigan universe instead of writing a new volume, just to name a couple.

JSUCamel
06-10-2009, 01:51 AM
I LOVE the Cheysuli series! I used to own all of them, but the other day I was moving my bookshelf and I realized I've only got four of them now. Now that was a good fantasy, cliche-defying series. Good stuff.

Hopper
06-10-2009, 06:41 AM
I'll second Camel's opinion of the Cheysuli series. I re-read them every so often. I still want a lir, preferably something that can fly.

Gilshalos Sedai
06-10-2009, 07:38 AM
I <3 the Cheysuli. Haven't gotten Bryan to read them though.


Tanya Huff only wrote six books. I own the omnibus editions because I missed them when they were out the first time. They are very good. Laurell K. was also very good until she started to write porn.

yks 6nnetu hing
06-10-2009, 07:46 AM
There's dragons in Hobb's books and I thought that interpretation very originally yet traditionally done.

I hate to admit it but at times I get tired with the current "there are no REALLY bad guys and the end isn't always happy" general *idea* of fantasy. Not that the other extreme is much better :P seirously. a really good villain is all you truly need to make a book readable. None of that cliche "evil entity with horns" nor the opposite of "the evil guy/girl has reasons for being evil, let's all understand him/her and sing Kumbaya before he/she is reformed and/or killed tragically". I want a villain that's a psychopath serial rapist and lapdog torturer but not in a madly insane kind of way (just a slightly madly rational kind of way) but then, adapted to Fantasy.



I might be somewhat disturbed.



And I want the good guys to be fallible but not pointedly in only one or two ways or at least in some other ways than point blank stubbornness. Being perilously clumsy or having a constant foot-in-mouth syndrome, now those are much better character "flaws".

Gilshalos Sedai
06-10-2009, 07:53 AM
I think all writers should keep The Evil Overlord List (http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html) firmly in mind when writing.

Crispin's Crispian
06-10-2009, 08:59 AM
I want a villain that's a psychopath serial rapist and lapdog torturer but not in a madly insane kind of way (just a slightly madly rational kind of way) but then, adapted to Fantasy.



I might be somewhat disturbed.

There's nothing wrong with torturing lapdogs. Regular dogs are another story, but lapdogs...

Davian93
06-10-2009, 10:26 AM
I think all writers should keep The Evil Overlord List (http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html) firmly in mind when writing.

But then we'd have no Star Wars...or any other cheesy sci-fi/fantasy.

I love that list...still a classic.

Davian93
06-10-2009, 10:39 AM
Always a key consideration:

69. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.

Imagine how many issues would be resolved if that were the case.

another good one:

98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

Brita
06-10-2009, 10:51 AM
No Fair! Work firewall has blocked the Evil Overlord List. Dammit!

Davian93
06-10-2009, 11:17 AM
No Fair! Work firewall has blocked the Evil Overlord List. Dammit!

The Top 100 Things I'd Do
If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord

1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.

10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

13. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

14. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

16. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."

17. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

18. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

19. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.

20. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

21. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.

22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

24. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

25. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

26. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

31. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

32. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

33. I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.

34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

36. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

37. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he's my trusted lieutenant.

38. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.

39. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.

40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

42. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

43. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

44. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

48. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

49. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.

50. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

51. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess' cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.

52. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

53. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.

54. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

55. The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention.

56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

57. Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.

58. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

59. I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.

60. My five-year-old child advisor will also be asked to decipher any code I am thinking of using. If he breaks the code in under 30 seconds, it will not be used. Note: this also applies to passwords.

61. If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?", I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

62. I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.

63. Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.

64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

65. If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.

66. My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

67. No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.

68. I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.

69. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.

70. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

71. If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty and see if he/she should be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.

72. If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable superweapon on them.

73. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.

74. When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.

75. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.

76. If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

77. If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutentant, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of earshot before making the offer.

78. I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

79. If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch, as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into limited-edition commemorative coins.

80. If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.

81. If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.

82. I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.

83. If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.

84. I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.

85. I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."

86. I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.

87. My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.

88. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.

89. After I captures the hero's superweapon, I will not immediately disband my legions and relax my guard because I believe whoever holds the weapon is unstoppable. After all, the hero held the weapon and I took it from him.

90. I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

91. I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment is finished. It might actually be important.

92. If I ever talk to the hero on the phone, I will not taunt him. Instead I will say this his dogged perseverance has given me new insight on the futility of my evil ways and that if he leaves me alone for a few months of quiet contemplation I will likely return to the path of righteousness. (Heroes are incredibly gullible in this regard.)

93. If I decide to hold a double execution of the hero and an underling who failed or betrayed me, I will see to it that the hero is scheduled to go first.

94. When arresting prisoners, my guards will not allow them to stop and grab a useless trinket of purely sentimental value.

95. My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cellmate tells the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead of opening up the cell for a look.

96. My door mechanisms will be designed so that blasting the control panel on the outside seals the door and blasting the control panel on the inside opens the door, not vice versa.

97. My dungeon cells will not be furnished with objects that contain reflective surfaces or anything that can be unravelled.

98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

99. Any data file of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45Mb in size.

100. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

Nazbaque
06-10-2009, 11:48 AM
I'm not bored with elves or dwarves or whatever. There is plenty of fantasy without them. What I am tired of is extremely bad stories with magic/elves/dwarves/etc dumped into the fantasy genre instead of being burned.

That being said I don't really even agree on elves and dwarves being fantasy constants. Magic is in it's many forms. And dragons are. Not elves and dwarves.

Brita
06-10-2009, 12:04 PM
Thanks Dav!!!

Ishara
06-10-2009, 12:23 PM
Awesome.

Jonai
06-10-2009, 12:27 PM
I'm not bored with elves or dwarves or whatever. There is plenty of fantasy without them. What I am tired of is extremely bad stories with magic/elves/dwarves/etc dumped into the fantasy genre instead of being burned.

That being said I don't really even agree on elves and dwarves being fantasy constants. Magic is in it's many forms. And dragons are. Not elves and dwarves.

I think elves being pricks is an elvan constant though :P

Nazbaque
06-10-2009, 01:21 PM
Oh yeah that's one of those givens. Elves are arrogant. Dwarves are greedy. Trolls are stupid. Basic characteristics.

Weird Harold
06-10-2009, 01:53 PM
I <3 the Cheysuli. Haven't gotten Bryan to read them though.


Tanya Huff only wrote six books. I own the omnibus editions because I missed them when they were out the first time. They are very good. Laurell K. was also very good until she started to write porn.
You must mean only six in the Blood series, cause I have seven in two different series and I don't own any of the vaimpire series. and there is one other series I want to buy but haven't gotten around to.

Gilshalos Sedai
06-10-2009, 02:57 PM
Well, yeah, only in the Blood series. Tanya Huff is a very prolific writer.

tworiverswoman
06-10-2009, 11:06 PM
Not just prolific, but cross-genre, too. I also love her "Valor" series, which is Space Marine warfare. Gunnery Sergeant Kerr is not to be trifled with.

There are Five Blood books plus, I just discovered, another book which is a collection of short stories with the same cast. And then she wrote a spin-off series "Smoke and..." (Shadows/Mirrors/Ashes) starring one of the lesser characters in the Blood series -- those are fun, too.

And I flatly love the Summoning series. How can you not love any book with a talking cat? Especially when he's so true to "catdom?" (i.e., most of what he says is "feed the cat...") The Title "Long, Hot Summoning" is just too awesome, in my opinion. :)

Weird Harold
06-11-2009, 01:33 AM
Not just prolific, but cross-genre, too. I also love her "Valor" series, which is Space Marine warfare. Gunnery Sergeant Kerr is not to be trifled with.

Isn't Tanya Huff just one of her pen names, too, or am I thinking of another writer?

Gilshalos Sedai
06-11-2009, 08:09 AM
Probably another. I'm not aware of any other names she writes under.

Weird Harold
06-11-2009, 11:44 AM
Probably another. ...

I was thinking of Robin Hobb/Megan Lindsholm.

Speaking of Robin Hobb, the Liveship trilogy is an interesting dragon tale that isn't really about dragons.

Ozymandias
06-11-2009, 11:50 AM
I was thinking of Robin Hobb/Megan Lindsholm.

Speaking of Robin Hobb, the Liveship trilogy is an interesting dragon tale that isn't really about dragons.

I wasn't a huge fan of Robin Hobb. The writing style was refreshingly different, I thought, but that was the main part of the attraction. I'm not sure I'd read another set of books.