Fantasy and Taters

Hello fellow readers and writers,

I’d like to address an age old argument: Potatoes in Fantasy.

Image from Lord of the Rings.
Gollum asks, “What’s taters, precious? What’s taters, eh?”
Sam replies, “Po tay toes”

Potatoes in Fantasy?

There’s an argument that potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, and other non-European food don’t belong in medieval fantasy.

The argument goes that a fantasy should stick to it’s temporal cultural roots. Since potatoes are a South American food, they shouldn’t exist in a European inspired fantasy.

It continues to go along the lines of dragons being a fantasy element and potatoes being a real like element that having the first makes it fantasy and the second lazy writing.

Potatoes, apparently, hurt an audience’s suspension of disbelief.

What’s your opinion Éric?

I think that if you are writing a historical fantasy or any form of historical fiction, you should make sure to avoid anachronisms.

I can even see the argument for gritty, or realistic fantasy trying to be as close to it’s cultural inspiration as possible.

No, really, what do you think?

Okay fine. I think no potatoes in fantasy is overly didactic, ridiculous, and extremely condescending. I think it’s another way to gatekeep and I think it leads to people who don’t know shit complaining about false anachronisms.

If a damned potato throws you out of a fantasy story, then maybe you should consider only reading historical novels.

The 11th Doctor points at Strax the Sontaran and says, “I’m the clever one, you’re the potato one.” Which is honestly how I see the condescending pendants that make this argument.

In my opinion, if you want to write french fries into your fantasy, go right ahead. I’m a fan of kitchen sink style fantasy (throwing everything into it including the kitchen sink.)

We’ve been giving King Arthur full plate armour for the past hundred years, so why the hell shouldn’t we use potatoes?!

Do you disagree?

Éric

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2 thoughts on “Fantasy and Taters”

  1. If your story and world is consistent, I don’t care about potatoes, tomatoes, or the roasted seeds of the ikalichin plant that can only be harvested at night but are oh-so-delightful and somehow a staple of breakfast. Build the world how you like it.

    If your story is a fantasy world, I _do not care_ about how it matches with our mundane world.

    If your story in our mundane world, then ideally, it will match the time & region the story is set in – but I don’t really care that much if it doesn’t, either. The caring goes up as the importance goes up. Unless somehow, the potato is critical to the plot and story arc, I’d have to really, really work to care.

    Reply

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