Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales’

The “Logic” of Fairy Tales

The other night, my husband was reading the small, mobile one Rapunzel. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, a pregnant woman craves the lettuce in the witch’s garden next door, and the witch says she can have it if the witch can have the child once it’s born. (And then there’s long hair and towers and “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” and all that.)

Me> Why would anyone agree to that?
Husband> Do you mind?

But, honestly, why would you agree to that? The story says they’d been trying to have a child forever, so why would they give it up for some pregnancy cravings?

There’s other bits of the story that I have issues with. Rapunzel is just one of the fairy tales we’ve gotten for the small, mobile one, and reading them often reminds me that fairy tales seem to come with a healthy amount of ignoring common sense and logic for the sense of telling a tale or teaching a moral.

But, as Genevieve Cogman points out over at the Tor blog, while fairy tales are often passed off as tales of morality, unless you meet certain requirements, you’re pretty much screwed. You have to be the youngest, or have a certain set of virtues, or possess certain protective charms.

I think this may be why reworking fairy tales has become so popular. Because fairy tales don’t make sense, because characters make plot decisions that have no basis in logic or even emotion, because the villains have no motivation besides being wicked. And that makes us curious. Why, after threatening to kill the miller’s daughter in Rumpelstiltskin, does the king decide to marry her? Why the reliance on “love at first sight”? Why does the wolf go through the charade of being Grandma in Little Red Riding Hood? (What is a “riding hood” and why wear it for a walk?)

(I actually explored the Rumpelstiltskin question in one of the first anthologies I ever did.)

What do you think, Squiders? What’s your favorite example of fairy tale unlogic? Also, share your favorite redone fairy tale in the comments.

Subgenre Study: Fairy Tale Fantasy

Once upon a time, there was a writer who wrote a writing/reading/scifi/fantasy blog, and she and her pet Landsquid and the Landsquid’s nemesis the Alpaca all decided to go to a coffee shop to get some peppermint mochas.  All seemed to be going according to plan until the Alpaca attempted to eat the pastry display and then…


Fairy tale fantasy runs the gamut from original works that incorporate fairy tale tropes to retellings of classic fairy tales, but like many of the subgenres we’ve discussed, there’s very fuzzy lines.  Sometimes you read something and it just feels fairy-tale-y, you know?  But it’s subjective.  Some people consider Lord of the Rings to be a modern fairy tale, based on the mythos it has inspired, but a lot of people just consider it to be epic fantasy.

It really makes you wonder where the line is drawn.  I mean, most fairy tales, while not written down until the 1800s, are based off of folklore that had been passed down for generations, and if you think about it, the Lord of the Rings is as well; Tolkien certainly didn’t invent elves and dwarves.  But by that argument, you can take any truly influential story and assign it fairy tale status, which is diluting things.  (I admit I am in the LotR =/= fairy tale camp.)

(=/= means does not equal for those of you who didn’t spend a million years taking math in high school and college.  Just to be clear.)

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the fairy tale retellings, which don’t necessarily follow the classic fairy tale format but are based off of stories that have been around forever.  Some of these have been rewritten to make the protagonists stronger, or to explain plot holes in the original, or to make things darker (though one can argue that some tales are dark enough as it is.  The originals contain rape, cannibalism, murder, torture, mutilation, and suicide).  Fairy tale retellings have appeal because they take something that almost everyone is familiar with and twists it in some way, which I admit appeals to me greatly.  (Did you play Epic Mickey?  The “evil” Sleeping Beauty song is my most favorite thing in the world.)

Some authors who have fairy tale fantasy books include Robin McKinley, Jasper Fforde, Gail Carson Levine, Margaret Atwood, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, etc.  This is a popular subgenre.

What are your feelings about Fairy Tale Fantasy, Squiders?  I admit it’s one of my very favorite subgenres.

Whoops (and a Fairy Tale Anthology You Might Like)

Sooo.  It’s Sept 19.  And I know, weeks ago, that I said that today we would discuss Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire today, but it turns out that I am not actually capable of reading a 700-page book in the three days between when I stumbled home from Peru (thankfully malaria free) and this morning.

I also freely admit that I spaced it completely, between stumbling home, my high school reunion, my nephew’s birthday, the inlaws visiting, and apparently hanging out with friends Friday night that I actually cannot remember at all, and I wasn’t even drunk.

Anyway, that’s a long-winded way to say “Sorry, Squiders, I am a cad and we will do Goblet next Monday instead in all its portkey-y goodness.  Here is something Potter-related to tide you over until then.”

While I have your attention, I want to point you in the direction of a fairy tale anthology myself and my dear writing partner Sarah have put together.  It’s an awesome mix of brand new tales and twists on old favorites and is definitely worth a look.  Once Upon a Spork can be found on pretty much all internet platforms for your reading pleasure.

So, to summarize: Goblet next Monday, excellent anthology for you to read available now (click the link!), and no landsquid were harmed in the creation of this post.