Posts Tagged ‘Epic Fantasy’

Setting a new world record, Bryan Thomas Schmidt is now the first person to have written two guest blog posts here. His first was about creating relatable characters. I’m honored that he wrote another significant post for me and Dionysus in the bar, this time on a perennial question in fantasy and science fiction circles: what is epic? Btw, the second book in Bryan’s Saga of Davi Rhii was released just yesterday. The man writes epic-fun space opera, his work ethic is epic-inspiring, and he is an epic-awesome friend. We hope to see you in the comments!

Before I turn this over to Bryan, here are some other great posts on this subject from the fantasy side. N.K. Jemisin wrote one of the most interesting things I’ve read on What is Epic Fantasy? Chloe Smith at Fantasy-Faction covered good ground in “What Makes Epic Fantasy ‘Epic’?” And Clarkesworld featured what is indeed an epic discussion of epic fantasy (and because there’s always a sequel, part 2) featuring 26 popular authors, one agent, and an editor discussing the heart of Epic Fantasy. I’ll add some quick thoughts to the comments on this post.

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The Returning by Bryan Thomas SchmidtWhat does it mean when a story is described as epic? Epic fantasy comes to mind as do historical epics, and epic romances. These are common associations in which people use the term “epic” to describe stories or genres. But in science fiction, space operas are the typical subgenre with which the term “epic” is most associated. Per the dictionary, epic means “long story; long poems about legendary heroes; sagas or prose epics about famous men and women, especially of medieval times; synonyms: heroic poem, legend, narrative, saga, tale; antonym: short story.

Okay, so now that we’ve clarified that. Yeah, right, doesn’t help much.

When I interview authors and ask them to describe epic fantasy, terms like “high stakes,” “good versus evil,” and “save the world quests” are commonly thrown out. George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice and Fire, the basis of HBO’s popular Game Of Thrones TV spectacle is epic fantasy. So is The Lord Of The Rings and stories like Wheel Of Time, Terry Goodkind’s Sword Of Truth, Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance. The list could get quite long, but you probably get the idea. So let’s look at what’s epic on the science fiction side: Star Wars is considered an epic saga, along with Frank Herbert’s Dune series, TV series like Babylon 5FarscapeBattlestar GalacticaStar Trek, and Firefly, even Arthur C. Clarke’s famous Space Odyssey novels.

What makes these stories epic?

Epic stories take place on a large scale. They typically occur on more than one planet or across an entire continent or planet (in epic fantasy and historicals) with large casts of characters and complicated storylines. Political maneuvering tends to play a big role as do romance and battles against incredible odds and very ruthless antagonists. Heroes may work in groups, typically just a few in number, or they may work alone. Usually there is a mentor character of some sort and a sense of coming of age for the protagonist in some way, although exceptions do exist.

Epic stories tend to have large set pieces: scenes with large armies or many ships or vehicles or people involved, most often in battles. They tend to have lots of action and melodrama, although this doesn’t have to be of the exaggerated community theatre-type. Often differences in ideologies play a part such as the Dark and Light sides of the force in Star Wars or the different parties chasing the One Ring in Middle Earth. Quite often large families are involved or at least several generations of a family such as the Skywalkers, the Baggins, the Rahls, etc. Many times a member of the family has betrayed the rest or the family has split into factions. Sometimes there’s a lost prodigal. And sometimes there’s romantic competition.

The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Last but not least, epic stories tend to have many creatures. This can take the form of mystical beings like dwarves, elves, trolls, etc. or aliens from other planets. Usually they are sentient beings and can communicate with each other somehow. Often they conflict over culture, needs and goals. But they all tend to be players in the larger drama in some way. Whether historical or fantastical,  epic stories always project a sense of history, a largeness, as if the world and its populace have existed long before the immediate story and will exist long after. There’s a historical stage on which events take place, whether real or make believe and its implications for the larger world and its inhabitants tend to be high stakes. Overall, the story tends to involve a quest or journey the outcome of which has bearing on a lot more than just one individual’s life.  In adventure fantasy, like sword and sorcery, you might have a lone hero saving damsels or fighting bad guys to win glory or prove his honor, but the outcome is much more about his personal journey than the entire history of the world or planet itself. Epic stories tend to involve earthshaking consequences for the whole world itself.

All of these are common themes one can find in epic stories as we tend to encounter them today. I’m sure you’ll recognize many of the elements from the stories mentioned but I’ll bet you can think of other stories with these elements. Moses’ The Black God’s War and my own Saga of Davi Rhii are epic stories, for example. What are some other elements I didn’t mention which you think should be on the list?  What are some of your favorite epic stories and why do you like them? I look forward to dialoguing with you about that below.

In Bryan’s second novel, The Returning, new challenges arise as Davi Rhii’s rival Bordox and his uncle, Xalivar, seek revenge for his actions in The Worker Prince, putting his life and those of his friends and family in constant danger. Meanwhile, politics as usual has the Borali Alliance split apart over questions of citizenship and freedom for the former slaves. Someone’s even killing them off. Davi’s involvement in the investigation turns his life upside down, including his relationship with his fiancée, Tela. The answers are not easy with his whole world at stake.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

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26
Nov

Free at iBooks and Amazon.co.uk, For a Limited Time

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Ebooks, Giveaways, My Work

The Black God's War (Novel)Short and sweet today. My epic fantasy novel, The Black God’s War, is currently free at Amazon UK and at iBooks/iTunes. I’m not sure how long it’ll remain free, so if you’re in the UK or if you use iBooks, please my guest and download a full copy of the novel. Reviews are appreciated, but never expected. Enjoy!
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The Black God's War: A Novella Introducing a New Epic Fantasy

Free at Amazon! The Black God's War: A Novella Introducing a New Epic Fantasy

Want to win a free kindle e-reader (or a $100 Amazon or B&N gift certificate) just for tweeting or sharing this blog post on Facebook? Or win $100 for your favorite non-profit charity in the U.S.? The details are below.

I’m feeling blessed. Around midnight on Tuesday night, Amazon made my novella free for the US and the UK. It was downloaded about 3,000 times during the first 24 hours after this change. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly half the total downloads I’ve had over the first 9 months since I released the book (across all e-bookstores). In just 24 hours.

I’m a lucky guy.

To celebrate this and to thank the ebook gods, I’m giving away a free Kindle 3 -or- black-and-white Nook (the winner chooses either the Kindle 3 or the B&W Nook). You’re welcome to enter my drawing for this prize. I’m also going to choose another winner, who will be able to choose a registered non-profit US charity; I’ll donate $100 to the charity of that person’s choice. You can enter multiple times, and here’s how:

Kindle 3

1) Share this blog post on Facebook. You can use the “Share on FB” button at the bottom of this post. As long as your FB account has at least 50 friends or fans, this counts for at least one entry. If your FB page has 500-999 friends or fans, this counts as two entries. If your FB page has more than 1,000 friends or fans, this counts as three entries. You can collect double points for posting this twice, as long as your two FB updates are at least 24 hours apart.

Btw, here’s the link to this blog post, in case you need it:

http://bit.ly/kOUmUO

2) Retweet this blog post using the button in the top right, or RT one of my tweets about the contest. If your Twitter account has 25-499 followers, this counts as one entry. If your Twitter account has 500-999 followers, this counts as two entries. If your Twitter account has 1,000+ followers, this counts as three entries. You can collect double points for tweeting this twice, as long as these tweets are at least 24 hours apart.

3) Write a blog post about this giveaway on your own blog. This counts as two entries.

4) Sign up to get email notifications of new blog posts, using the sign up box at the bottom of this post (even though it will give you an error message when you sign up–but if you get that error message you actually signed up correctly). This counts as two entries. If you’ve already signed up for these notifications, then you can state that to get two entries.

5) Digg this blog post using the button at the bottom. This counts as one entry.

6) Share this blog post using Reddit. This counts as one entry.

7) Share this blog post with StumbleUpon. This counts as one entry.

Nook

Many folks tweeted about my free novella earlier on the 11th, before this blog post was written. Each of those kind people will also get a free entry, and these people are welcome to enter again using the methods above (they can also tweet twice more to get extra entries).

Enter as many times as you’d like (following the above guidelines). The only other rule is that you have to add a comment to this blog post to let me know how you got your entries. For example, you could add a comment that says:

“I tweeted this twice to my followers (my account has 300 followers), wrote a blog about it, and shared it via Reddit. I think that counts for 7 entries. Laterz, I’m going square dancing.”

If you don’t add a comment to claim your entries, your entries won’t count in the drawing. I’ll draw for the two winners either a few days after Amazon’s free promotion of my ebook ends or on June 15th, whichever comes first.

You’re also welcome to check out my free novella, The Black God’s War from Amazon US or UK (my upcoming debut novel by the same title, The Black God’s War, should be out sometime between June and August). Of course, the novella is free on Amazon for now (I don’t know how long that will last), and if you’d like another version for a different e-reader, the best place to get the most recent version of my novella is at Smashwords. I wouldn’t recommend getting the current version from B&N or iBooks (or Kobo or Sony or Diesel), because the versions they have are older. Amazon and Smashwords are the best places to get the latest version. If you read it, then of course you’re welcome to write (or not write) an honest review at Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, or anywhere else.

Thanks a lot for reading this and for participating (if you’d like to)!

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Just before the start of the “The Continued Viability of Epic Fantasy” panel at World Fantasy Convention 2010, I got the idea to ask the panelists if I could film the panel and put it on YouTube. It was thumbs up all around (though David B. Coe threatened in entirely good humor to sue my ___) and so I managed to film it even though the conditions for doing so weren’t ideal. All in all, the video still turned out fairly well, though. I was in the middle of the aisle, trying to get the five panelists on the screen without capturing too much of the attendees. I also didn’t have my tripod, so the angle was a bit low (the camera sat on a chair, propped up by a legal pad).

But hey, it worked out all right.

Left to Right: David Drake, John R. Fultz, Blake Charlton, David B. Coe, Freda Warrington. I had to upload the panel in four parts to fit within YouTube’s limits.

I’ll have more coverage from WFC 2010, including another video of Michael A. Stackpole interviewing Dennis L. McKiernan (here’s part one, two, and three of that). I also conducted audio interviews with Guy Gavriel Kay, Michael A Stackpole, Laura Resnick, Daryl Gregory, and Elizabeth C. Bunce, and those will be posted at AdventuresInSciFiPublishing. You can also find direct links to those interviews here on my site.

Enjoy the panel! It was a fun and lively one.


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It’s time to share the love. Here’s an Amazon Listmania list I just created: Great Epic Fantasy or Paranormal Works by Indie or Small Presses. Feel free to Tweet this ->

Names that you will find here include:

D. Nathan Hilliard, David Dalglish, Scott Nicholson, Adam Slade, Michael J Sullivan, Brendan Carroll, Valmore Daniels, David Wisehart, Zoe Winters, Julia Knight, Monique Martin, David McAfee, Daniel Arensen, Derek Prior, and K.C. May.

Cherish them. Kiss them sweetly. They will kiss back. They will not tell.
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