Yeah, I always found the idea of hybrids interesting, too. I remember there being mentioned a goblin-pixie hybrid, but I'm not sure what else. But it seems pretty natural that there would be others. Like, maybe you'd have a fairy who's an elf and a quarter pixie, or a half pixie, half sprite. I really like the concept of hybrids, because it creates a lot of potential for a broad range of fairy 'ethnicities,' with various unique combinations of features. (You get an even broader range when you start thinking about how different fairies have different ethnicities related to the continents they live below—for instance, Holly's mother is described as a European fairy, I think [meaning Holly is also European, I would guess; though, uh, my memory is hazy on all that x3], while Dr. Argon lives under the United States. So I imagine you'd also have fairies who live under Africa, and South America, and so on.)
World-building...That's definitely true. You don't get a rich sense of the fairy world like you do of a world like in Tolkein's work, or Harry Potter. (Yeah, I would definitely place HP as an example of extensive and powerful world-building. The rules of the world are very detailed and consistent, and the settings have incredible atmosphere. For me, how they relate and interact with the real world is part of what makes it so compelling.)
Honestly, though, for the most part, I don't know I look at the lesser focus on world-building in Artemis Fowl as a flaw in the series. Artemis Fowl may be partially fantasy, but I think the story falls more into a crime genre overall, and when you're writing a crime novel, the approach and emphasis is very different from fantasy. In fantasy, your selling point is creating a new and fascinating world that the reader can explore at the same time as the main character. So to keep your readers engaged, you really have to do that part well. (Same with futuristic science fiction type stories.) On the other hand, in crime fiction, the readers are going to be more interested in the clever evil plots of the villain, in learning about the underworld, and the interesting gadgets the main characters use. All of which I think the AF books do brilliantly. AF does have a lot of fantasy/futuristic elements, but I think its focus is more on the crime side, so I think the way the story is put together makes sense.
Personally, when I was reading the series for the first time, I wasn't really that interested in finding out much about fairy culture, and it was entirely the crime aspects that drew me in. (It was only after I got a bit obsessed that I started going back and wondering more about how fairy society works, but in the beginning, that wasn't the part of the story that I was interested in.)
And actually, Colfer did work in quite a bit of world-building on the fairy side—but it's more in the form of tantalizing hints here and there than really concrete information. You get a sense of a broader political and economic set up (the hybrids thing is a good example of a hint of a more diverse culture than maybe we are exposed to, and also Holly and Foaly's dry comments about fairy government bureaucracy), but you're left for the most part with an impression that fairy society is actually quite similar to the human one above. You get just enough to have a vague picture of the fairy world. I think Colfer chose to handle the story this way deliberately, not because his imagination couldn't have supplied him with a lot more detail on how fairy society is set up if he had wanted it to, but because he chose to use the space he had available to focus instead on world-building where the real-life crime world is concerned, because he decided AF's selling point was it's crime aspects, and he wanted the books to have that kind of feel.
Not to say the AF series is perfect, by any means, or that more world-building in certain places (particularly in the later books, as GM said) might not have enhanced the series. But I think bringing a story like AF up to its potential is a lot more complicated than it might seem like. (Sometimes, I think too much world-building can actually detract from the story. Even if the writing is really good in and of itself, it may not work quite right given the expectations laid out in a particular genre. AF may not be the top example of fantasy world-building, but then, very likely any book that tries to be the best at everything will lack focus, and won't work very well as a whole.)
Oh, Brandon Sanderson's work is a good example of fantasy with pretty impressive world-building. I was pretty much floored when I read Elantris, and the Mistborn series is quite good. (With each book of that one, the world just keeps getting bigger and bigger.)
Yeah, it's really hard to compete with Tolkein. X3 His work pretty much created an entire genre...Almost every fantasy work you read now shows his influences in some degree.
Btw Merv, I'd be interested to hear that fantasy literature lecture. ;9
“After all, absolutely no one can help but suspect a criminal, liar, and manipulator of committing crimes, lying, and manipulating. And of course, no one is more aware of that simple fact than Artemis Fowl.”
Opal sets into motion her most diabolical scheme yet, to frame Artemis and turn his closest friends against him. Only this time she has a new calculating partner who knows Artemis better than he knows himself. [An Artemis Fowl fanfiction, set after The Atlantic Complex.]
...Shameless self-advertising, guys! C;
(And if you're really bored: AF fanart. ;J)