In recent years fantasy novels have become increasingly dark and gritty, as authors try to replicate the phenomenal success of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.Fantasy author Craig Shaw Gardner has mixed feelings about this trend, known as “grimdark.”“I love some of the grimdark stuff,” Gardner says in Episode 303 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.“But it does tend to get depressing after a while.”Gardner is best known for a completely different style of fantasy—”funny fantasy,” in which lighthearted banter, talking animals, puns, and slapstick humor tend to predominate.The genre’s heyday was the 1980s, when humorous fantasies by authors such as Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin, and Gardner himself achieved bestseller status.
The new movie Ready Player One is a rousing crowd-pleaser about videogame geeks banding together to save virtual reality from the clutches of an evil corporation.But writer Carol Pinchefsky notes that the idea of gamers presenting a unified front on anything feels sadly dated in the wake of Gamergate.“The [movie] speaks to a time when just meeting someone who knew Tolkien’s Elvish was enough to make them your automatic best friend, and we don’t have that anymore,” Pinchefsky says in Episode 304 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.“The proliferation of geek culture has brought out some very ugly things about it.”Kent Bye, host of the Voices of VR podcast, reports that virtual reality simulations continue to be plagued by the same sort of harassment that defined Gamergate.“If I were to sort of boil down Gamergate and the trolling online, the trolls start to use other people’s emotions as if it were a game, and because it is digital it’s not real, and so it’s just a fun expression of your own free speech,” he says.