Back in about 1979 or so, in my teenage years, I found myself in the oddest of arguments with someone who’s name I can’t recall, but I do remember that he smoked mind-boggling amounts of marijuana. I can’t say he was a pothead or stoner, because quite frankly that just doesn’t capture the scope of the amounts he consumed. Cheech & Chong amounts.
Damn, I went and got distracted again, you’d think by now you leaned to rein in my digressions, but no, there you go being an enabler. Wink
Anyway, so I was discussing the seeds of a concept I had for not only stories, but this way-too-cool game I found out about called Dungeons & Dragons. First of all the Sinsemilla Kid wasn’t at all approving of D&D, he said it would do weird things to my mind.
Oh sweet irony.
But, his main objection, as he thumbed through the latest issue of Heavy Metal was with a notion I had that the bad-ass sword-swinging knights in vast amounts of steel and leather would be men and women that had proven themselves in huge nasty battles with each mile of entrails and barrel of blood lovingly documented.
I said I was a teenager, you expected anything else?
So, the aforementioned weed-chimney looked at me like I was insane. “Chicks can’t be knights.”
Wait-a-friggin-minute… did he just look up from Heavy Metal, a magazine depicting women that made Barbie look properly-proportioned, and telling me that my notions of fantasy reality are skewed? Ok, this is a debate I’ve had many times, but I once again raise my standard and say “DOWN WITH THE CHAIN-MAIL BIKINI!”
One of the more interesting parts of writing fiction, especially fantasy is that you get to build an entire world, you draw the maps, place the oceans and mountains and forests, and then you tweak and tinker and consider things like would jungle and desert be found in close proximity? What creatures will there be, and why? Its not enough for me to know there is a dragon, but how they came to be, and what can they do, and how hard would one be to kill?
But how does one justify women in something that could only be referred to as a chain-mail bikini? I mean is it that hot there? Why doesn’t it cover the more likely targets for an attacker, like the gut and lower back? Padding. No I don’t mean a female warrior should stuff her bra, I mean that chain resting on skin is nearly no protection at all. And with the little bit of her covered she’s going to chafe, sunburn, windburn, roast, freeze and attract the attention of everything that could be considered the wrong sort for miles around.
Fantasy has to have fantastical elements, but a woman dressed like that is only handy for attracting the interests of teenagers and teen-agers that grew up and now have really bad comb-overs and only emerge from their mom’s basement to go see who’s wearing the hottest Xena costume at the upcoming Con.
Well, that may be harsh, but c’mon!
The formula that makes fantasy work is having a proper mix of the real and the fantastic. Build a world that has understandable structure and laws so that when the really weird starts to happen the reader doesn’t roll their eyes.
It’s a little something I like to call blue-collar fantasy.
By the way, women can be knights and kick some serious ass.
© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.