Lately, I've been listening to a whole lot of this really awesome writing advice podcast. It's called Writing Excuses hosted (voiced?) by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor and Dan Wells, all of whom are successful authors.
I have read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy and Warbreaker. The really great thing about Sanderson is that his magic systems are structured and totally new. That's not something you see everyday in the fantasy genre. He's also the guy who was chosen to finish Robert Jordan's work.
Dan Wells wrote the trilogy beginning with I Am Not A Serial Killer. I did a previous blog on it here. Summary: It's amazing.
I never read Howard Taylor's webcomic but i've heard good things. It's called Schlock Mercenary.
My point here is that writing fantasy and science fiction requires skill and craft just like writing anything else. Hopefully, this translates to it having some sort of real value as reading material. All the people who dismiss speculative fiction and sneer about how they read "real literature" bug me because they don't seem to understand that.
I get the feeling that fantasy isn't taken seriously. "Duh", you say. And that's the problem right there. The attitude toward speculative fiction one of low standards and condescension. Even the science fiction community rags on fantasy. But some fantasy is REALLY FUCKING GOOD. I'll admit, some is ridiculously fucking bad. (Write another shitty vampire romance, and I will cut you.) Still, saying that fantasy is unintelligent or just wish fulfillment just says to me that you really don't know much about the genre.
Anyway, it's a pretty funny podcast, and even though I'm not a writer, it's interesting to listen and see stories and the art of storytelling in new ways.