It's no secret that I dislike the current trend in Fantasy. It's almost as if every author has decided they will up the misery and muck quotient and see who can make the nastiest world in which to force their characters to try and survive in. I'm sure it makes it a lot easier to come up with more believable incidents along the way in your plot.. certainly more believable than a random goblin attack or something.. but it sure dosen't make for an "entertaining" read.. at least not for me.
I don't read a lot of "Literature" I simply don't have enough hours in my life to be concerned with some fictional persons Mommy issues, or daddy issues, or erectile dysfunction or whatever it is that "Literature" is written about. I have my own problems, I have tooth ache and back ache and money troubles of my own. And I'm expected as part of a functioning society to care about the troubles of those around me as well. Modern humans are supposed to care about the troubles of others on the other side of globe, I do, but no more than anyone else.
I reject the idea that in order to be good, fiction has to be "Challenging" or "Make you think" when in reality what anyone who parrots those saws back at you means is "Makes you think like I do". You aren't supposed to read a book which is "Challenging" and think about it differently than them. And you certainly aren't supposed to dislike it. If you dislike it, then you are clearly too stupid to understand it. In other words, its dogmatic thinking. Everyone who dosen't like what I like and dosen't understand what I think I understand is an idiot. It's the same Emperor's New Clothes way of thinking which forces people to convince themselves into liking broad red brush strokes on white canvas #6.
Digression over, the point of this was that, in the thread in question. Some one made the comment "You wouldn't like living in the middle ages, Good, neither would I" and It made me think for a minute, surely the middle ages were a bleak period.. though modern research is beginning to cast doubt on the "Lovely muck over here" mindset. This of course is true. None of us alive today would want to live in the middle ages, so why do read books about pseudo middle age societies and not expect them to be just as brutal as the real middle ages were?
On the Society for Creative Anachronism's website they have a paragraph which, for me, explain the situation. Italics added by me.
You will frequently hear SCA participants describe the SCA as recreating the Middle Ages "as they ought to have been." In some ways this is true – we choose to use indoor plumbing, heated halls, and sewing machines. In the dead of winter we have more to eat than King's venison, salt pork and dried tubers. However, a better description is that we selectively recreate the culture, choosing elements of the culture that interest and attract us.
The process of picking and choosing which elements to include, is of course one of the greatest aspects of writing fiction. You can choose to exclude something which rankles your modern sensibilities and ostensibly those of your readers as well. You needn't purposefully include things which you find objectionable if you don't want too. Maybe modern readers really do want all the death and rape and mayhem and destruction. Maybe they do want all the muck and disease and rampaging anti-heroes.. I dunno.. I can't answer for them. Obviously some one wants them.. since there seem to be a lot of them. That or the publishing industry is spending too much time reading blogs and is thus becoming convinced this is what people want because it's what the group-mind of the blogosphere says is good.. thus creating a rather obnoxious loop and allowing some seriously deranged, cynical and nihilistic authors to get published..