"No science fiction/Fantasy". I see this a lot in some agents descriptions. The only responses I got to my emails so far have only been to tell me "Sorry, we do not do fantasy." Well, for a long time I didn't really consider my book fantasy. However, to the rest of the world it looks like it is.
So, what makes it fantasy. Its fantastic themes, its existence in a world I made up. Well, can you not apply that to any book, really? Any fiction I mean, when does a world start being fantastic. If I wrote a crime thriller that occured involving people that never existed and that was solved in an entirely ludicrous manner could I be accused of having written a fantasy book?
The answer of course is no. Its a genre thing, of course. Its pidgeon holing, sadly. Just because my book has a knight or two in it it is lumped with all the tolkien wannabes. All the psychological development and work on my characters doesen't count. All the locations I described are no longer "real?". The more I think about it the more it all confuses me. Fiction is not real, it is all fantasy. My book has dragons but they are referenced only in the art of the world and in visions of the main character, but you see the word dragon and you instantly think "Fantasy." I'm just as guilty of course, but its not right. The dragon is an instantly recognisable symbol of age, wisdom and power. That's why I chose it. No wizard is riding it around like a giant pony, no knight is setting out to kill it. My book is entirely free of cliche (well, nothing glaring) But it falls into a genre that consists mostly of cliche. Was this a dooming move?
In the book I am currently writing there will be no mentions of dragons or knights. It will be set in an alternate reality of sorts in a contemporary city. Safe so far, let me tell you the rest.
It will chronicle the main characters descension from his "Tower" both physicaly, at first and the mentally. Now, this sounds fine. But, I was compelled to add the "colossus", one of his original works and something he must now undo. This colossus is a giant mechanical construct which will most likely be running amok at some point in the story. So, the question is. Does this cross the line into fantasy? It has just as many fantastic elements as my first novel, kind of. The main diference is the contempory setting compared to the quasi-medievel setting the first. Because I use these things to express my ideas does that somehow put me in the same boat as "The elf wrestles the ork part XXXXXVI".
Anyway, so I guess I'm a fantasy author. Crap.