Pentangle’s Cruel Sister was a formative album for me, its title track in particular. It’s an old murder ballad about two sisters vying for the affections of a knight who has come to court the elder, but truly loves the younger.
“Magical realism” can be a misleading term. There is a nonsensical quality to magical realism in literature; mystifying content which isn’t realistic at all. In high fantasy, magic makes internal sense, like an alternate science.
One of the great attractions of traditionally escapist genre fiction is the scope of the story. These are stories about big movements of history: plots to overthrow kings, bring down gods, reign in forces of nature or supplant the basic elements of the universe.
Science fiction writers like to build elaborate traps for their characters. When they think they have no recourse and no future, where do they find the will to act and what do they do?
Spring is not a good time to read horror, and Ann Radcliffe (1764 – 1823) knew it. She was an advocate of dark and stormy nights, shrouds of mist and unearthly beings; feeling obscurity was required to put the mind and “poetic spirit” in the right place to feel true terror.
Presenting good secondary worlds in short fiction can be a challenge. There simply isn’t a lot of space for worldbuilding.
There is a moment in David Stevens’s “My Life as a Lizard” (Crossed Genres #15) when the protagonist laments, “Why do I keep doing shit no one would expect me to?” It’s a moment of pure honesty from the narrator, as he isn’t talking about his actions in that moment.
Place is, arguably, the element that defines speculative literature. When we speak of science fiction and fantasy, we speak of other worlds and other lands, places which are made up.