Posted by: Mish | September 9, 2009

Folklore, Sci-fi, and Fantasy

Although I’m a long-time fan of folklore and faerie tales I never really thought about how I would define them as separate entities, but then an occasion that laid them side by side never arose either. I see folktales as cultural explanations (mythology) while faerie tales portray actions and morals (fables). My thoughts are still kind of percolating from what was one of my favorite discussions at Anticipation. 90 minutes was way too short for the fascinating topics and questions covered. The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that I need to read both of the Orphan’s Tales. They’ve been in my Dread Pile o’Reads for months and the few chapters I’m familiar with are quite something. Anyway…

Folklore, Sci-fi, and Fantasy:

  • Folktales vs faerie tales.
    • Cat describes folklore as culture and how things work while faerie tales prescribe cultural behavior and show morals (ie. Cinderella).
    • Janet sees no difference between the two.
  • Have to understand culture and how they work to properly write about them, otherwise they’ll seem like characters in costume.
  • Folklore is constant through history and is always being born.
    • It’s sci-fi that naturally explains occurrences; we need reasons.
    • Biological and scientific roots.
      • Animals that shed skin as humans (ie. selkies).
    • It’s valid because people believe it.
  • The Orphan’s Tales are a completely fictional mix of faerie tales and folklore, akin to Arabian Nights.
    • “Can I take everything I know and do it backwards?”- Folklore created before writing the book; took stories apart and put them back together in strange shapes like legos.
  • “Everybody has folklore, no matter the class or culture.” ~Charles Seeger
    • Children create them all the time because it’s easy for them to make the leap.
    • Miami street children
  • Those that think folklore is too precious to change and want to preserve it -> It’s no longer folklore.
  • Folklore and superstition are both beliefs in things that aren’t understood.
  • Folklore is true to some extent at some point, it’s a structure to hang life on.
    • It doesn’t come from nothing, but is created by emotions and fears.
  • Society still lives in tribes and certain people have power and authority.
    • Bob the shaman vs a kid.
  • Terry Pratchett’s use of “substition”- something true but people ignore (Don’t pick the scab and it’ll heal better).
  • Urban legends known as wandering tales in Sweden.
  • If animals have knowledge and communicate, do they have folklore ?
  • Does there have to be some narrative and more than just knowledge?
  • Is all knowledge folklore?

Recommended reading:

  • Judith Devlin: the Superstitious Mind
  • Alan Dundes: Intro to Folklore(?)
  • Vladimir Propp: the Morphology of the Folktale
  • the Blue Lady(?)


  1. I’ve never actually thought about that! Is there a clear demarcation?

    If I were to give a definition, I’d say folkstories originate from our grandmum’s grandmum, and are myths that have been passed down through generations, which might have been true once upon a time.

    On the other hand, faerie stories are purely imaginative, and might not have such great historical significance?

    I really don’t know.

    Good luck with The Orphan Tales.

  2. They overlap and share some gray area. The dictionary basically defines folklore as traditional beliefs and legends of a people and faerie tales as fictitious, fanciful stories or explanations.

    Thanks. Once I get them it’ll be easy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: