Thoughtful Thursday: 2011, The Best Year for Fantasy Ever?

Fellow Fanlit staffer Ryan and I were discussing what a stellar year it has been for the fantasy genre. In fact we were so bold as to say this may very well be the best year of fantasy ever. I thought for today’s Thoughtful Thursday I would build a case for 2011 being the best year for fantasy ever, and then see if you readers could provide other years that might be contenders. There is also the possibility that you agree with Ryan and me, and if you do, then just say so.

Releases: George R.R. Martin, China Miéville, Patrick Rothfuss, Jim ButcherLev Grossman, Joe Abercrombie, and probably more that I’ve missed. They have all had highly anticipated releases this year. All have been very well received. Has there been a year with as many best sellers in Fantasy? The only year I think that would come close was last year. Once you consider that both Rothfuss’ and Martin’s sequels released in 2011, it kind of puts the year over the top.

Sales: If you go to Amazon Bestsellers right now you will see 4 fantasy novels (and one fantasy box set) in the top 10. That’s been the trend all year so far. Only 2 months have had no fantasy in the top 10 list in Amazon sales. In the NYT Bestseller list, a fantasy novel has held the #1 or #2 spot on the Fiction Hardback list for 10 weeks so far this year. Out of the 39 weeks of bestsellers in 2011, only 12 weeks have not had a fantasy novel in the top 10.

Film/Television: Harry Potter ended and Game of Thrones started… All the Marvel Comic book movies… Conan is coming out this year too.

Press/Media: I don’t have numbers to quote here, but I definitely noticed an increase in fantasy’s media presence this year. With all the Game of Thrones stuff, plus Harry Potter…I’ve heard little else it seems. I won’t even touch on fantasy’s ever-increasing internet presence that seems to grow year by year.fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

That’s my case for 2011. Has there been another year with as much going on for fantasy? Have we peaked? Will next year be just as big? I do suspect the popularity of fantasy will reach a saturation point. However, I think the days of hiding the fact you are a fantasy fan is at an end. We will choose a random commenter to get a pick from our stacks.


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JUSTIN BLAZIER (on FanLit’s staff September 2009 – September 2012) Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on Tolkien. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. Justin lives in a small home near the river with his wife, their baby daughter, and Norman, a mildly smelly dog. He doesn’t have much time for reviewing anymore, but he still shows up here occasionally to let us know how he feels about stuff.

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16 comments

  1. SandyG265 /

    I agree that this has been the best year for fantasy that I can remember. In addition to the adult fantasy titles mentioned there has also been a large number of YA fantasy titles released this tear.

  2. I have also noticed, I think, a suddenly increasing number of fantasy titles being released on audio. It may be the “availability heuristic” — I’m just watching closely for them now, but I think it’s more likely that there’s more demand for audiobooks now that everyone is already carrying around devices that play them.

  3. had to fix the 214 week typo…lol. I wish there were 214 weeks in half a year…I’d still be like 3 or 4 years old..lol.

  4. And Blackveil, Kristen Britain’s fourth in the Green Rider series released in February. Wooohooo!

  5. I was just thinking about this myself! From a book standpoint, besides the releases already mentioned, there was a new Jacqueline Carey novel, new Robin Hobb, new R. Scott Bakker, new Daniel Abraham, new Alan Campbell, new Robert V.S. Redick, and yes, even a new Terry Goodkind ;)

    Yet to come: new Terry Brooks, new David Anthony Durham, new Richard K. Morgan, new Ian Cameron Esslemont, new Brandon Sanderson, new Diana Gabaldon, new Christopher Paolini, new L.E. Modesitt, Jr., new Janny Wurts, new Terry Pratchett, new Kate Elliott, new C.S. Friedman, etc. Heck, I’ll even throw in new Clive Barker since his has a new Abarat book coming out.

    Then there are all the debuts. While 2011 doesn’t boast anyone in the same stratosphere as Patrick Rothfuss—hype-wise—I can’t remember a year when so many new authors made their debut in the fantasy genre. And it’s not just the sheer numbers either. It’s the quality.

    Finally, there is my most anticipated novel of 2011. No, it’s not A Dance With Dragons. It’s The Crippled God by Steven Erikson.

    And just imagine if A Memory of Light and the new Scott Lynch had managed to come out this year!?! Even without those titles, 2011 is going to go down as an awesome year for fantasy fans :D

  6. I don’t have evidence for this, but I feel like respect for fantasy is at a high. It feels like there are fewer pooh-poohers and more people who have become SFF fans in spite of themselves. It seems like every time I talk to someone, they turn out to be geeking out over something SFF. I think more people are open to it right now.

  7. Gary Chambers /

    And just imagine if A Memory of Light and the new Scott Lynch had managed to come out this year!?! Even without those titles, 2011 is going to go down as an awesome year for fantasy fans :D

    I thought the new Scott Lynch WAS this year? November something, I thought, and I can’t find any news saying that it has been delayed. Say it isn’t so!

  8. Well, everything does go in cycles. I can’t remember which author it was that said it -we interviewed him- but he was saying how fantasy is the IN-genre right now, which is why we see so many authors of other genre’s writing a fantasy books. He said a few years ago it was, mystery-thrillers.
    When a book has huge run-away success, like Harry Potter, -and the throw in the Lord of the Rings box-office hits- its sparks an interest. Those books get gobbled-up and the masses want more, so we get more fantasy books, which means more successes, which brings in more fans, which means the demand grows even more. Unfortunately, like everything else, this will have to peak, and the genre will get a little tiresome, as far as the masses are concerned.
    But the upside of that could be, enough die-hard fans will be created during this time while fantasy is the IN-genre, to make for a big enough demand to last for a generation or two to come. Seems to me like anything that becomes a big enough trend, never seems to shrink back down as small a following as what it had before.

    That’s my thinking anyway.

  9. Regarding The Republic of Thieves, it was listed on Amazon UK as a November 17, 2011 release, but I’m 100 percent confident the book won’t come out then. Amazon UK’s release dates aren’t very reliable and Gollancz is notorious for changing their release dates. Plus, considering that The Republic of Thieves is not even listed in Random House’s Spring 2012 catalog, I expect it will be around early to mid-2012 before the novel actually comes out. Perhaps even later…

  10. There has been a continuous surge in the popularity of the fantasy genre in the last few years. I know a lot of people feel their beloved genre has been hijacked by ‘tweens’ and the popularity of YA fantasy novels, but people have a right to like what they like and love what they love. It’s silly to feel that what we love is tarnished by the affection of others.

  11. SandyG265 /

    I think that the number of YA fantasy titles being published is a good thing. Todays YA fantasy readers should eventually migrate to more adult fantasy titles helping to provide an ongoing audience for authors.

  12. moe99 /

    Yes!! To whoever mentioned Daniel Abraham’s new series that debuted this year. The Dragon’s Path was a great read and well deserves to be put in the honors list.

  13. The Hubs points out that there are a lot of fantasy-world video game releases this year, and forthcoming. Dragon Age II, Morrowind, Oblivion III, etc.

  14. I definitely agree, my to read list is getting absurdly long this year. So many books I have to get to.

  15. Definitely this year has a certainly a lot more going for it in terms of fantasy releases than usual. I have so many books on the to read pile that are 2011 publications. Also I’ve already read more fantasy novels this year than I had in recent years and its only August.

  16. moe99, you have been randomly chosen from the comments. If you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks). Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

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