Tor.com content by

Janni Lee Simner

Know Your Faeries: Friendly, Fierce, or Fatal?

What’s a faerie?

When I ask this question, the answers often fall into two categories.

“Tiny winged bodies fluttering among the flowers,” says Juanita Havill, author of Grow: A Novel in Verse, speaking for one camp of faerie readers.

“Magic, glamour, and deep cold danger,” says Sarah Zettel, author of the American Fairy trilogy, speaking for the other.

Flitting nature spirits or inhuman bearers of dangerous magic. These two threads run through much of contemporary faerie fiction. The smaller, flightier faeries might seem the more benign, but even Tinkerbell, one of the most famous representatives of the type, tried to kill Wendy before putting her life on the line to save Peter Pan. Miniature winged faeries are as much associated with fierceness and mischief as with flower appreciation.

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Running Away to Bordertown

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed of running away to … Minneapolis.

That doesn’t sound very romantic, doesn’t it?

To be fair, it didn’t have to be Minneapolis. I was also open to running away to Seattle, or Eugene, or Ottawa. If you’d asked me why — if you’d somehow gotten me to admit to my running-away-dreams in public at all — I’d have said it was because those were the places all the writers seemed to be. As a very new writer myself — a writer still not quite sure that real people even could be writers, though I’d blown the last of my student loan money on a computer in hopes that I was wrong — I desperately wanted to be around other writers.

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Arranged Marriages and Dystopian Fiction

I was recently reading Ally Condie’s dystopic young adult novel Matched, in which the tightly controlled Society the protagonist lives in determines everything about her life, right down to who she’s to court and marry. This isn’t a new trope in dystopic YA—it can be easily traced back to Lois Lowry’s The Giver at least, probably goes back much farther, and appears in adult dystopic fiction as well.

As I read, I found myself thinking about how unlike in a traditional romance, where arranged marriages can at least sometimes turn into true love, in dystopic fiction arranged marriage is much more often used as a quick and easy sign that a society is broken—because if you’re being told to marry, the world you live in has to be pretty bad, right?

[It’s never been that simple, historically]

Series: Dystopia Week