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The origin of the phrase "Extruded Fantasy Product"
james_nicoll
Inspired by a conversation on LJ that touched on the origin of this phrase, I went looking for the first time that it showed up on rec.arts.sf.written. As near as I can tell, Joseph Major and William December Starr created the phrase in a thread dating from 1999.

Thanks James. I was thinking of doing that, but I hadn't got around to it. I just knew it was rasfw and not my coinage.
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What does it mean?
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I believe most dictionaries illustrate the term with a photo of Terry Brooks.

Cue Sea Wasp...
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Or Dennis McKiernan. His first published "work" was Tolkein, transcribed (poorly) onto flashcards, shuffled and redealt.

Pete Newell
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Or David Eddings.

The connotations of the term EFP depend somewhat on who is using it; but I think it's necessary to point out that EFP doesn't necessarily have to be bad. EFP uses a standard sheaf of fantasy tropes in standard ways, and so it's unimaginative to that extent -- but it's still possible to use those tropes well. Good EFP won't stretch you, but it can be a comfort read.
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It means long fantasy series that you haven't read but you already know just what they're going to be about.

Will the farmboy turn out to be a prince in disguise? Will the magical doohickey be rescued? Will the world be saved at the last minute from the terrifying legions of evil?

Yes.

Oh, well, that's all right then.
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Right. The books you don't even need to read because, well, it's obvious.
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Will the world be saved at the last minute from the terrifying legions of evil?

This can be an unresolved issue in open-ended series, since any kind of closure threatens to terminate the series prematurely (Herein defined as "before people bail on the series).

There is always "and then another, even worse horde of monsters appeared," which raises two questions:

"If each threat is more powerful than the last [1] and they appear at regular and frequent intervals, isn't it inevitable that one will eventually win?"

and

"If world-threatening events occur every few years or so, why is there still a world?"

1: There is the special case where a great power cunningly destroys the buffer state that previously protected it from obnoxious neighbors but I sure that that must be rare.
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"If each threat is more powerful than the last [1] and they appear at regular and frequent intervals, isn't it inevitable that one will eventually win?"

Didn't David Gemmell have the nomadic barbarians eventually win, sweep over the civilized lands, become civilized themselves and then have to deal with yet another group of nomadic barbarians?
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This is the structure of Doc Smith's Lensman series -- each time they stomp a threat, it turns out to be a minor side-show and they go on to face the *real* threat in the next book.

But it's not open-ended, anyway; well, except for that strange framing reference in the last book.
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Well, if each threat is more powerful than the last, then the same progression should hold the other way; the threats were progressively weaker as you go back in time. Go back far enough, and the World Conquering Threat could have been dealt with by a single farmhand, hoe in hand, in a single afternoon. Go back a bit further, and the entire Threat was eaten by a small dog.
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I vaguely remember an SF story like this. A bunch of aliens frantically try to warn us humans about an approaching great menace. It turns out the aliens are tiny, and the menace is vanquished by a tomcat.

I could have sworn the title was "Rough Beast", and there are several stories by that name, but none of the references look likely.
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Tiny invading alien fleet

(Anonymous)

2012-01-22 02:06 am (UTC)

Hi

I haven't read an actual science fiction story about a tiny alien flet that gets eaten by a pet animal while trying to invade Earth, but there is a very brief reference to such a fleet being eaten by a dog, in one of the early Hitchhiker's novels.

Either that's where your memory is from, or else Adams was referring to an older novel or short story which was about that.

--
Peter Knutsen
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I used similar reasoning with Moore's Law to estimate the processing power available to the Tin Woodman in 1900, the year The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published.

Turns out the Scarecrow isn't the only one who needs a brain.
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(I forgot I was reading a four-year-old conversation and posted a comment. Hello, people of 2007!)
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That's OK, it's nice to see how erudite and witty I was back in the day.
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This can be an unresolved issue in open-ended series, since any kind of closure threatens to terminate the series prematurely (Herein defined as "before people bail on the series).

My "favorite" form of that is when, after the Ultimate Evil has been defeated in the previous book and the new Even Ultimater Evil comes along, all the wise advisers who coached the plucky farmboy in destroying the Ultimate Evil say, "Oh, yes, of course we knew about the Even Ultimater Evil all along. We just never got around to mentioning it before now."

"If world-threatening events occur every few years or so, why is there still a world?"

I've speculated on this in the context of Buffy, where both Sunnydale and LA seemed to kick out roughly one world-ending (or world-permanently-altering) threat per year. Now, Sunnydale is a Hellmouth, so a certain amount of apocalypsism is to be expected; but it's not the only Hellmouth. And LA doesn't seem to have any particular eeeeevil associations beyond being a major population center.

So you have to expect that there are many other world-ending threats going on around the world at any given moment. And there's no reason to think that this just started once Buffy got Slayer-fied, so it likely goes back through history. And yet, as Oz once noted while waving around vaguely... check it out, the world.

Conclusion: either Evil is so unbelievably, spectacularly incompetent that even after thousands upon thousands of attempts they still haven't managed to push one all the way through. Or, the fix is in and the game is rigged on the side of Good.

Or -- and this one I find intriguing -- the world does end on a regular basis, but nobody ever notices.
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Or maybe evil won? At least locally and for the moment.

"Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

"Enemy-occupied territory--that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage." -- MERE CHRISTIANITY

LotR doesn't use this model, but Star Wars does, since at the start of IV, the Empire has won and is firmly in charge.
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"My "favorite" form of that is when, after the Ultimate Evil has been defeated in the previous book and the new Even Ultimater Evil comes along..."

Like in Dragonball Z?
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Let us be thankful for the Draka novels, which show us that over in alt-hist/SF land, evil sometimes triumphs.

(Aside: If someone has written a Daily Life in Mordor book, I'd like to read it.)
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You might want to take a look at Grunts! by Mary Gentle.

-- Ross Smith
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It's a good concept; I've just found it rather difficult to plow through. When I get home, I think I'll try it again. I love the idea of exploring cliched tropes from "the other side"... is it a sin and a crime for wanting to see it done well?
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I could appreciate the idea, but I quickly said the Eight Deadly Words about the characters.
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What are the words? (is all curious now)
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"I Don't Care What Happens To These Characters." Typically followed by dropping the book and never picking it up again.
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*nodnodnod* Understood, all too well, and yet another lesson in What To Avoid When Writing.
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Also, coined by Dorothy Heydt.
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"I don't care what happens to these people." Coined by Dorothy Heydt, of rec.arts.sf.written fame, to explain why she didn't finish a book. More details here.
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Jacqueline Carey's Sundering duology (Banewreaker and Godslayer) is a LOTR plot with sympathetic "bad guys". Not great, but may be worth looking at.
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"Will the magical doohickey be rescued?"

I read that as "magical donkey" which brings to mind some interesting ideas.

But Pratchett's probably already done it.


William Hyde (yes, I just had my eyes tested)
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That would be a much more interesting book!
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It's not in Brave New Words and I thought it would be.
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