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My Big Fat Theory

There's been some discussion in the NAW regarding the rise of a new standard (some say 'the standard') in the fantasy genre: The Big Fat Fantasy, a la Jordan, Eddings, Martin, etc. Many theories and countertheories have been proposed by SLF (if you're checking down the timeline, go to the Oct 25th and Oct 27th entries) and Savage (Oct 26th and Oct 29th entries), along with Jenn, Vera and others who've I've overlooked/forgotten. Theories have included the influence of Joyce, long = more comfortable, the need to rationalize the entire history of the world, the influence of Tolkien's excessive worldbuilding, the publisher's eye towards profit margin, and others.

Pah. Classic overthinking the situation. All right, most of them have points worth thinking about, but still. Like Occam's Razor, I've got an easier explanation: the rise of the word processor and the quality printer. In the Olde Days, when dinosaurs roamed the land, Authors had to grind out their work on typewriters. Made a serious mistake, or needed to clip (or add) a line or three? Retype the page. Suddenly realized the hero's motivations are murky at best, or the previous descriptions makes no sense? Retype the page, and likely the pages that followed as well. And authors working their first drafts in longhand definitely had to submit typed copy (another handicap for Lovecraft).

Word processors changed all that. Now the Author could cut, paste, revise, rearrange, add subplots, explanatory infodumps or local color left and right. Affordable laserprinters sealed the deal. Now changes could be made right up to the morning they took it to the Post Office, and all that's required was a ream of old-growth forest paper, a full printer cartridge, and something for the Author to do while the latest manuscript is printed. As has been said, it's easier to put stuff in than to take stuff out of a story (since we all love our words so), and technology made it even easier.