How Dark Do You Go?

 

I happened to read a piece by author Walter Jon Williams discussing his newly released novel the other day and it got me thinking. You can read the full article here but the part I’m specifically thinking about is paraphrased below:

Fun has been a little hard to find in fantasy of late. Post-Game of Thrones and its well-deserved success, shelves have been so flooded with works that concentrate so exclusively on violence, violation, and despair, that the term “grimdark” has become a commonplace. I decided to provide an alternative… 

…because I simply don’t find it convincing to write a world where only bad things happen and where happiness is impossible. Tragedy and misery may be part of the human condition, but so is laughter, song, and romance… 

The reason this struck a chord is that quite a few of the books I’ve been reading lately (or having read to me, courtesy of Audible) could be classed as grimdark. Or at the least, to have grimdark elements.

Speaking purely for myself, I tend to like grimdark because it fits more with my view of humanity in general (I’m a Swift, rather than a Pope). Turn on any news channel or go to any news website and it seems like you can see 15 horrible things before 5 minutes have passed.

But, at the same time, Mr Williams is right. That’s not all there is. Good things can and do happen. If anything has shown me that, it’s the recent escapades of our eldest cat Diesel. I think sometimes I’m a bit too slow to recognise the better things in life and dwell too much on the negative.

I haven’t yet determined how much that outlook colours my own writing but, looking at the series so far, the majority does lean more towards the darkness. Maybe I need to look for places to even things out a bit and inject a little lightness.

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