MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:02 pm
Ok, so I have this awesome fantasy novel idea that I’m working on for some time now.
I’ve been getting vibes, though, that the frum publishing world doesn’t appreciate the fantasy genre. Some feel it can border on magic and other questionable halachic issues.
Is it possible to write fantasy without having those issues? What do y’all think?
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:21 pm
Libby Lazewnik has done it, hasn’t she?
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:23 pm
Really? What’s the book called?
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:26 pm
In her short stories. She has many anthologies of short stories. Some are fantasy. Anything Can Happen is one I remember off the top of my head.
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:28 pm
What makes it a fantasy? The setting, props…?
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:40 pm
Depends on the story. Like she has some characters that she keeps writing stories about, and you don’t need the previous ones to understand, but if you’re a fan of hers you’ll recognize them from other stories. So one set of characters involves these tiny people, like the size of a finger or something, and they have their own kingdom, living apart from the rest of the world whom they call the “Giants” because it is dangerous to associate with them… it’s really cute. Or she’ll have people have fantastical dreams in which they learn valuable lessons, like in Anything Can Happen, in which the protagonist finds herself in a world in which anything can happen if you want it to… Or she has her Mr. Chessed series, in which the protagonists fantasically travel to far away places to help the people there, often in fantastical ways. Then when they go home, somehow no time passed and they weren’t missed :-). It’s all different.
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 6:48 pm
Ok, so my question is — what makes supernatural or fantastical elements ok? Meaning, if there’s no outright magic involved, shouldn’t it be fine?
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 9:50 pm
I totally second that question, HappiWriter. I think where there’s clear outright prohibitions let’s say witchcraft, we might run into some issues. Also like demons or whatever which are officially real, my issue is that I’d have to research the holy heck out of it to make it believable to my frum readership. So I’d say avoid. Or make it SOOO clear this is not real. IDK how.
Also, let’s say you do a dystopian futuristic setting; the year was 3048. Well. Isn’t the world supposed to end and Mashiach arrive well before then?
“In a parallel universe” is that kfirah?
The greek gods – ok, that’s total kfirah 🙂
Or sci-fi where everone is a robot-brain or something. Um, are they Jewish? So is there like, mitzvos? Are theyhuman? What are the halachic ramifications? That would actually be interesting *musing*
like, zombie apocalypse- Rebbe! Are they considered humans? It’s a rodef, so I can kill it, right? haha
Halacha in the world of fantasy…
ok ill stop
MemberJune 10, 2020 at 10:18 pm
As a fan of sci-fi and dystopian fiction, I always had this question!!
Has it been done? Yes. I wonder if anyone else remembers the story that Mishpacha Junior serialized back in like 2007. Called The Inventors, it featured a trio of boys who travel to as far as 300 years into the future. At the bottom of every installment there was a disclaimer that stated something like, By the time this time period arrives, Moshiach will be here and the world will look nothing like it does in the story!
Sadly, I don’t think it ever got published ?
If it does, I’m buying it.
Personally, I’ve written a few near-future stories on my own, even as I believe strongly that Moshiach will be long here by then.
It’s fiction, after all.
At the same time, though, they aren’t very far-fetched. I haven’t been very daring, I guess for these very reasons.
Did anyone read Dare to Dream? The kid’s book first serialized in Binah Bunch. It’s fantasy but it has a very strong moral to it.
I do know of someone who didn’t let her kids read it though… we will always be skeptical of any bending of the truth, disclaimers or not. That’s a good thing.
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Word Warrior, LOL, Zombie Rebbe!!! I’m cracking up…
StoryLuver, I totally remember those serials. I think because they were so different, they’re extra memorable. My family didn’t get the Bina, but whenever I managed to get my hands on it, the first story I turned to was Dare to Dream.Maybe I’m just venting, but are the frum bookshelves doomed to be no more imaginative than shidduchim and mental health issues? There are so many wonderful subjects that can be explored through fantasy. Some people (like me) want reading to take them on a journey — far away from the problems of real life.
This is making me think about The Marvelous Middos Machine? Music coming out of a cereal box is certainly supernatural. I never heard anyone complaining about the Marvelous Middos Machine, though. Is fantasy only okay for kids? hmm…
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm
I think writing fantasy for adults is tricky in general…things like magic and time traveling usually resonate more with kids, no? I had this issue because one of my novel ideas involved a time machine, but I didn’t want to write a kid novel, but I wasn’t sure if the frum adult world would appreciate it so much. But it was a really cool idea…bottom line is, I’m also struggling with this Happi writer, which is why I guess I resorted to writing real life
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 6:48 pm
So there are a few separate genres here that may intersect: sci-fi, fantasy, and folklore. The last of which is more fantasy but I’m thinking not so much dragons as R’ Meir Uri Gottesman. (And a secular writer who I don’t know if I should mention or not comes to mind.)
Re sci-fi, I’m with the disclaimer: how can you imagine such a distant future without Moshiach? But I’d read it anyway. There’s a lot that I’ll read in Judaica that doesn’t interest me in secular, e.g. historical fiction.
But fantasy’s complicated. As frum Jews that hook that lends the book to sufficient verisimilitude to be able to keep reading? How do you do? Sc.i-fi theoretically could happen.
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 7:22 pm
There was a fantastic Sci-Fi by Etka Gitel in last week’s Binah.
Call me naive, but personally, I don’t see how fantasy is so much more problematic than realistic. We have to avoid Kefirah and any halachically problematic material in whatever we write, and we always want for it to be in tune with our values.
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 7:36 pm
Yeah over the years I have definitely seen a bunch of magazine short stories that were sci-fi. Brings to mind Yael Mermelstein’s “The Society” which we read in 10th grade literature, lol.
Speaking of, she wrote some good fantasy/ sci-fi books: The Face in the Mirror and Separate Orbits.
I think it can definitely be done if you do it right, like Esther said, the problems remain the same.
I’m just wondering what’s taking so long because I almost felt like I was always the only frum sci-fi lover out there.
Just curious, what’s Zombie Rebbe?
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 9:25 pm
[quote quote=18860]There was a fantastic Sci-Fi by Etka Gitel in last week’s Binah. Call me naive, but personally, I don’t see how fantasy is so much more problematic than realistic. We have to avoid Kefirah and any halachically problematic material in whatever we write, and we always want for it to be in tune with our values.[/quote]
But fantasy is stuff that cannot happen. Vs sci fi, which could happen. (Btw, I should have said re sci fi, you have to be a science type to write the stuff. You don’t have to know Asimov’s laws of robotics klar but you do need to know some basics. Which I don’t have a clue about. So I would be the ideal reader!) Zombies, wizards, dragons, intelligent animals…this gets a bit dicey hashkafically. Somehow it works for kids but for an older audience? I wonder.
MemberJune 15, 2020 at 10:30 pm
There is a jewish fantasy trilogy called Elisha Davidson, very well written (I only read the free sample). I can’t in good conscience recommend it though because it’s based off of some fictionalized version of kabbalah and– I would think— seems to be problematic hashkafically.
AdministratorJune 15, 2020 at 10:45 pm
What would you ladies say to me asking the one and only Maya Keinan to do an interview here on Masterpiece? She is a hebrew speaker, but I could do simultaneous translation, and I think it would be SO fun!!!
MemberJune 16, 2020 at 12:11 am
What would I say?
MemberJune 16, 2020 at 2:26 pm
So there was an article in the Binah last week I think? Am losing track. Anyway! It was written by Etka Gitel Schwartz and it was…futuristic? Sci-fi-y? Fantasy? Whatever you wanna name it, it wasn’t your typical magazine story. I think it was titled ‘Back to Earth’. Check it out! I tore the article out and saved it. The main character (Tzvi?) was so skillfully portrayed and the futuristic elements were extremely interesting. A non-futuristic-now-turned-fan speaking here. I figured you frum fantasy writers would enjoy that piece and would be happy to know I loved it! So I got faith in you ladies. Lemme see what you can come up with!
MemberJune 16, 2020 at 4:22 pm
What about a fantasy world without wizards and magic — sort of like M Kenan’s Khazar.
Or a fantasy world with no dark magic, just different laws of nature…
Is that hashkafically okay?
MemberJune 16, 2020 at 5:26 pm
[quote quote=18916]Or a fantasy world with no dark magic, just different laws of nature…[/quote][quote quote=18916]What about a fantasy world without wizards and magic — sort of like M Kenan’s Khazar. Or a fantasy world with no dark magic, just different laws of nature… Is that hashkafically okay?[/quote]
There is something fantastical about M. Kenan’s Khuzari world. But is it really fantasy? It was all within the realm of possible, wasn’t it?
MemberJune 16, 2020 at 8:24 pm
[quote quote=18926]We had a discussion about this previously on masterpiece. The consensus was that it is a fantasy. You can see the discussion here. (I’m not sure how to link to a specific post. You’ll find the part about fantasies at the end).[/quote]
Oops. Hit report again. What’s my excuse, it’s not like it’s on a phone.
There is something alternative realityish about it, but why is it not just incredibly well-researched (I hope) historical fiction, sketchy on the history because we don’t know a lot about the Khazars but I assume heavy on the history in the sense of no anachronisms, could have happened? With all sort of literary deceits, archetypes, etc.?
But ok, let it be fantasy. This kind of fantasy doesn’t seem to have any hashkafic problems
MemberJune 17, 2020 at 8:39 pm
Who here read Sender Zeyv’s books Aleph Shin and Ten Lost? They are so unique plotwise that they probably need their own genre.
If you’re looking for escapist fiction this is it.
MemberJune 18, 2020 at 12:19 am
[quote quote=19000]Who here read Sender Zeyv’s books Aleph Shin and Ten Lost? They are so unique plotwise that they probably need their own genre. If you’re looking for escapist fiction this is it.[/quote]
Ten Lost? Never heard of it. And his books – there’s also Every Man a Slave – are definitely sui generis.
MemberJune 18, 2020 at 12:36 am
Sui generis? I had to look up what that means 🙂
Ten Lost is the prequel to Aleph Shin- the backstory, if you will.
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 11:34 pm
Ooooh! M. Kenan? I’d love to “meet” her!
But for us Americans, we have to remember that it was Libby Lazewnik who did the masterful translation into English on that series.
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