High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, and Whatever the Heck This is Supposed to Be

Folks that are big fans of categorizing things have a lot of fun with fictional material. What genre is this? Does this count as high fantasy, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, or low fantasy, like the works of K.J. Parker? People might just as easily be asking “who in the hell is K.J. Parker?” Beats me. I Googled “examples of low fantasy” and their name popped up. I don’t read any of this kind of stuff, I just write it. I eagerly look forward to the day when my name is mentioned in a book club or academic setting and listeners react with “who in the hell is that?” and some hapless nerd, bless their heart, will have to explain why the saga of Grundoon is simply a must to read, and if you can, do so in the French translation, because it just carries so much more weight. That’s my aspiration, right there. The mere mention of my name starts a conversation in which one person sounds like a pompous ass, and everyone else starts thinking about croissants.

What then, is this sort of stuff, all of this Slothjemia nonsense? According to most definitions, it falls nicely into the low fantasy category. There are some elements, admittedly, that smack of high fantasy, but at it’s core it is low fantasy. There are villains aplenty, but no skulking dark lord seeking world domination or destruction. Spirituality is a key theme, but there are no gods running amok, wrestling mere mortals, and stealing their women. And most importantly, the multiverse is a huge, beautiful thing, rich in texture and magnificence, and yet when it all simmers down, everyone has to poop. That is about as low as it gets, right there.

I suspect that everyone would love a turn at being heralded as the next J.R.R. Tolkien, what with creating almost singlehandedly an entire classification of literature, but that is a pretty high bar to get across. A more reasonable goal would be to be the next K.J. Parker, who I’m sure is a wonderful person, and not at all prone to fits of cyber-rage against a wee blog that is astonishingly popular in India. More than likely, though, I will be christened as the next Amanda McKittrick Ros. This, I can live with. I always liked the color purple.

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