Monday, 4 July 2011

The Shame of Reading and Writing Fantasy

It's curious how there is a certain stigma attached to an appreciation of fantasy literature, even after the enormously popular LotR and Game of Thrones productions. It's unavoidably escapist, usually somewhat luddite in its wilful ignorance of technology and frequently associated with LARPer types. I think many people fear being classified as geeks, dreamers or losers if they admit to enjoying fantasy.

Oh the shame! I know it, too. I rarely reveal to others what I read, and I have told only one person I know in the real world about the things I write. It took four months before I admitted to my partner that I'd written a fantasy novel. They laughed, asked if it had elves in it, laughed some more and then became rather serious. Especially when I informed them that they'd inspired one of the characters. Heh.

But fantasy worlds offer the perfect arena for any author to experiment. They offer wonderful contraints, terrible freedoms and the fanciful. The magic stuff isn't there out of some need for the inexplicable in our evidence-based world; fantasy authors often go to great lengths to explain the logic behind such systems. I think it's a way in which key characters, who might otherwise be powerless, can have an effect on the world. And after all, isn't that what we'd all like to do one day? Have our own effect upon the world?

Personally, I'd like to sell some bloody books.

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