[MUD-Dev] fantasy cliches

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 17 14:06:48 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

A good book for those looking to avoid cliche fantasy is _The Tough
Guide to Fantasyland_, by Diana Wynne Jones.  It's ostensibly a "tour
guide" for people going to Fantasyland (this being a fantasy world,
not the Disney thing), but it's actually more of a humorous dictionary
of fantasy cliches.  For example:

HORSES are of a breed unique to Fantasyland.  They are capable of
galloping full-tilt all day without a rest.  Sometimes they do not
require food or water.  They never cast shoes, go lame, or put their
hooves down holes, except when the Management deems it necessary, as
when the forces of the DARK LORD are only half an hour behind.  They
never otherwise stumble.  Nor do they make life difficult for
Tourists by biting or kicking their riders or one another.  They never
resist being mounted or blow out so that their girths slip, or do any
of the other things that make horses so chancy in this world.  For
instance, they never shy and seldom whinny or demand sugar at
inopportune moments.  But for some reason you cannot hold a
conversation while riding them.  If you want to say anything to
another Tourist (or vice versa), both of you will have to rein to a
stop and stand staring out over a VALLEY while you talk.  Apart from
this inexplicable quirk, Horses can be used just like bicycles, and
usually are.

Much research into how these exemplary animals come to exist has
resulted in the following:  no mare ever comes into season during the
Tour and no STALLION ever shows an interest in a mare; and few Horses
are described as geldings.  It therefore seems probable that they
breed by pollination.  This theory seems to account for everything,
since it is clear that the creatures behave more like vegetables than
mammals.  It also explains why the ANGLO-SAXON COSSACKS and the DESERT
NOMADS appear to have a monopoly on horse-breeding.  They alone
possess the secret of how to pollinate them.

And another example:

INSECTS are almost nonexistent, possibly as a result of the WIZARDS'
WAR (see also ECOLOGY).  Parasitic insects such as LICE and bedbugs
have mostly been stamped out -- although fleas are still popular --
and only HOVELS occasionally manifest houseflies.  Small numbers of
bees must exist, since honey is often served by friendly WIZARDS and
people who live in CLIFF DWELLINGS, and so must silkworms, because so
many persons wear silken garments.  Otherwise, almost the only
recorded Insects are the mosquitoes all Tourists complain of in the
MARSHES (in stinging clouds (OMT)).

(OMT) by the way, is Official Management Term, and is indicated by a
superscripted OMT, much like a trademark symbol.

The book is still in print, and I've seen copies of it in bookstores

       |\      _,,,---,,_    Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
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