1. Bainespal says:

    I believe that fantasy was once a male-dominated genre.  Now, women seem to read fantasy as much as men, and probably write it about as much as well, but I think it took decades for women to embrace the genre.  Still today, any list of the most popular high fantasy authors would have significantly more men’s names on in it than women’s — probably because men had outnumbered women in the fantasy writing world for decades.  Science fiction also was originally male-dominated, and it is also probably becoming much less male dominated than it once was, but I think science fiction is still more unbalanced than fantasy has become.

    I don’t dispute that a lot of adults might think of reading “fairy tales” as unmanly, from the generation of Tolkien and Lewis until today.  Fantasy might be starting to become a little more socially acceptable in general (which goes along with women accepting the genre), but throughout the 1900s, fantasy was solidly the domain of unwashed geeks, right?

    • Bainspal, I agree with what you’re saying about men reading fantasy more than women. It’s still true today, I think. In the CSFF blog tour, we have about a 50-50 ration men to women, although we feature Christian fiction and all the insiders agree that anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of those readers are women. So we’re drawing more men.

      However, I’ve read a number of comments from men who said they had to hide the cover of the book they were reading (heh-hem, naming no names, Fred. 😉 ) or who ignored a certain book because the cover made them think it was more romance than fantasy.

      So I think it depends. I think men like fantasy but have a different idea about fairytale.


  2. Sherwood Smith says:

    I think that fantasy is as popular as it was, if not moreso. Macdonald and his generation wrote in a certain style, which has become difficult (or boring, as the pacing is sedate) for the casual modern reader. I don’t think it’s the fantasy element so much as how it’s expressed.
    I find that if one says ‘fairy tales’ adults will think of Andersen and other tales, especially those published for children. But if we look at the big sellers, there is almost always a supernatural element–Stephen King, magical realism, whatever–that suggests to me that people are unconsciously seeking the numinous, the irruption of the Unknown into the tight, seemingly practical and oh so very rational boundaries of non-religious lives.

  3. Sherwood, your comment reminds me that the term “fantasy” has expanded so much. Now we include dystopian, steampunk, and urban right beside epic and fairytale. So do fantasy readers like all varieties of the genre? Unlikely. I suspect men may shy away from the types that seem lighter or more frivolous (Twilight, for example). I think we’d do the genre a disservice, though to suggest the re-telling of fairytales is somehow lesser fantasy. TV programs like Grimm have gone a long way to dispelling that notion, I think.


  4. B. K. Miller says:

    Well, here is one female who loves fantasies! 🙂 In fact, I’ve written a few myself!

    My book series, “Paraiso’s Warriors,” is in fact written for young adults ages 10-17, but I have had just as many adults enjoy them, too. Like you, however, I would never say they were written for adults because…. well, adults don’t typically proudly proclaim, “I read fantasies!” Since the main character in my books is a girl, I’ve probably had just as many girls as guys read and enjoy my books. However, since my books involve spiritual warfare, I was a little dubious at first whether or not girls would get into them.  I haven’t heard any negative comments yet, though! In fact, the worship pastor of my church read my first 2 books in about 3 days!!

    Personally, I love reading fantasies! There’s something about sword fighting and horses and evil villains that gets the blood going! And there’s a strong dose of reality in fantasies…. in fact, that’s what my books seek to point out: that “evil villains” are more a part of our everyday lives than we realize! (To find out more about my books, visit my website at http://BKMillerAuthor.com.) 

    C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and always will be. I get a lot of my inspiration from him…. as well as from Frank Peretti. Pastor Mark Jones, my church’s worship leader, calls me a “female Frank Peretti”! 🙂     

  5. Meagan says:

    My father loved fantasy.  He read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and had the books in our home as we grew up.  My sisters and and I are all adults and of the 5 of us only 2 (including myself) read fantasy on a regular basis and love it.  My Grandmother loved MacDonald and gifted us with his works, including his fantasy works, over the years for Christmas and Birthdays.

    The biggest problem that many people have when I try to interest them in the fantasy books I love is that they are too incredulous in the situation to allow themselves to be swept into the story.

    I let people know that I like fantasy books (clean ones) and promote them whenever I can – one of the perks of working at a library and someone asks me for a suggestion as they are tired of the same old books that they always read.

  6. […] I wonder. Is our perception of fairy tales changing? As Dean said in his post Friday, some guys feel as if their “man card” is at risk if they admit to reading fairy tales. […]

  7. Galadriel says:

    What really annoys me is how upside-down it all is. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories” states:
    But fairy-stories offer also, in a peculiar degree or mode, these things: Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, Consolation, all things of which children have, as a rule, less need than older people.
    For myself, there are some elements of scifi and fantasy which have more appeal as an adult. Even some modern programs acknowledge this:

    Elton: When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all, “Grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it.”  But the truth is: the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better
    –“Love and Monsters”

    There is strangeness to be found, wherever you turn. Life on Earth can be an adventure too… you just need to know where to look! 
    –Sarah Jane Adventures.

    As an “adult”, that’s why I read fantasy and scifi, and in a different way that I did even a few years ago.


What do you think?