Far-off places! Daring swordfights! Magic spells! A prince in disguise!
A blog friend of mine recently wrote a post posing the question, “Why fantasy?” Other than the fact that the obvious answer is, “Uh, why not?” I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. (As the newest BDH poster, you should know this about me. I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff. I’m kind of the worst about it. I’m super annoying to be around in real life because I’m always living in my head. Daydreaming is for amateurs. What I do is more along the lines of Xtreme Reverie, complete with a bangin’ guitar riff.)
So I got to thinking about fantasy and why I love it so much. All fiction is make-believe, really, but fantasy (and all of its various subsets and related genres such as science-fiction) is make-believe without limits. Anything can happen. ANYTHING. And that’s why I love it. For some fantasy provides an escape from the toils of the everyday and I won’t deny that it’s played that role in my life. I didn’t really get into serial fantasy novels until I was about fourteen and feeling deeply jaded and misunderstood about everything, usually followed by a dramatic sigh. And you know what? Terry Brooks totally helped me deal. So did Tamora Pierce, J.K. Rowling, Diane Duane, J.R.R. Tolkien, you name it, chances are I probably read it. (Except for the Wheel of Time books. Never could get into those.) Sophie Hatter taught me how to be comfortable within my own skin and Alanna of Trebond told me how to stand up for myself. As a side note, Alanna also taught me more about flirting than any school dance ever did.
As I grew up, the fantasy became less about the escapism and more about sheer possibility. Nearly always there’s the theme of overcoming insurmountable odds to win the battle. I say “nearly always” because that leaves a little bit of wiggle room, but honestly? It’s ALWAYS there. My love for serial books morphed into a love for serial TV shows, which I really feel is the best of both worlds. Asking me to pick between books and TV would be like asking me to pick a favorite Weasley.
Fantasy feeds my imagination and that, in turn, gives me a reserve to draw from when I create things. I hear a lot of talk from my teacher friends about fostering imagination in kids, but why doesn’t anyone ever do anything about fostering imagination in adults? Fantasy doesn’t take away from the fact that there are truly horrible things that happen in this world or even the fact that there are some pretty wonderful things that also take place. I believe that real life and fantastical life can co-exist. (Just like narwhals and unicorns.)
So I feel completely safe in assuming that you all have some experience in the field and I pose the same question to you. Why fantasy? And why does it matter?