East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes


No, this is not about the Jimmy Buffett song, or album.
It’s about something I realized last night, after spending 1.98 euro on two historical novels – I’ve been reading more historical novel than usual this last year, and while my science fiction reading remained steady, it’s fantasy that is taking a dip. Given the choice, I’d rather go for an historical novel, or a history essay than for a fantasy book.

So I started to wonder why, and came to the conclusion that I have three factors to blame…

  • First factor: as I grow old, I have no more time for trilogies made of seven 1000-pages books, that seem to be the default format of fantasy these days. And indeed, I mostly go for short story collections, or for one-shot novels. Shorter works allow me to try many different authors and worlds, instead of chaining me to some overblown storyline.
  • Factor the second: I have enough sociopaths in my real life to want to spend my leisure time reading grimdark, and I don’t care to be told that grimdark is the only true fantasy out there and all the rest is cozy fairy tales for wimps. In this sense, some authors and more importantly their fans have helped me steer away from many recent titles.
  • Final factor: while I find the idea of “hard fantasy” and magic-poor settings fun, if I want to read a book about the War of the Roses I read a book about that, and not a fantasy version with the names changed and dragons “because dragons are cool”. Incidentally, I am not even sure dragons are that cool anymore, all things considered.

As a consequence, I foresee a late-winter/early-spring reading time with more historical novels, non-fiction and mysteries than fantasy. But sometimes we need to detox – when all of a sudden every story we read starts feeling exactly like the last.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

  1. Yeah, I’m kinda tired of fantasy, too, but I get that readers still love it. You: science fiction and history. Me: science fiction and horror. Occasionally, I’ll get so wound up or scared by my normal reading genre that I’ll read something soft and sweet, like a Christian mystery novel or an interesting nonfiction book about butterflies.


    • I an also reading more horror than I used to, especially ghost stories and folk horror. It’s good, for a change.
      And thankfully there is still a lot of fantasy that goes against type, and it’s fun to read – but it’s also hard work finding it.
      And I am seeing a lot of ads, on mailing lists and Amazon’s “also boughts”, for cozy mysteries featuring witches – the covers are all the same, done with clip art, but one of these days I’ll waste a buck and try reading one.


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