Avoiding the cliche

Over the holidays, I read both Clive Barker's Abarat and Diana Wynne Jones' Tough Guide to Fantasyland. There's more connection than you might think - such that I'd almost think that Barker wrote his book while paying careful attention to Jones'.

The Tough Guide is essentially a listing of cliches and common mistakes in fantasy, from the Anglo-Saxon Cossacks to the Wizard, and the use of horses as motorcycles, which incidentally breed by apparent pollination. Abarat manages to contain - as far as I could see - almost none of these, with the possible exception of a Dark Lord, although he's a touch too reasoned and actually used as a secondary protagonist.

By way of this, it fell it a little flat for me. While I recognise that nonstop cliche is irritating, some of the cliches are more archetype than annoyance, and achetypes are good and useful things to hang stories on. Limyaael over on livejournal provides rants about various cliches and mistakes in fantasy as well - but she's still working within the archetypes. Barker steps outside them, and I'm not sure that his book gains from it.

Comments have been disabled on this post due to comment spam. If you wish to post a comment, please drop me a line via email, or comment on the newest entry, and I'll enable them again for you.

Posted by Drew Shiel at January 10, 2005 7:19 AM | TrackBack

AddThis Social Bookmark Button