I don’t really remember the exact moment I decided I wanted to start writing—I came to it late and played with the idea off an on during college and through the early part of my professional career as a software programmer—but I do remember the moment that fantasy first fascinated me. It was in third grade. My best friend had read The Hobbit, and had recommended I read it too. So i did. And I loved it. I adored it. It was my first exposure to fantasy, and I remember how transfixed I was, not merely by the story, but also the maps and the covers.
The covers, if I’m recalling correctly, were these ones:
The world, as anyone who’s read them will tell you, is so wide and deep it’s easy to fall into. I loved the fairy tale feel of The Hobbit and the deeper, more dangerous feel of The Lord of the Rings. I even liked (not loved, it took me three tries and nearly a decade to finish it) the feeling of myth that The Silmarillion gave.
So when I started making up my mind that I actually wanted to write, I knew it would be fantasy. But the point of this week’s posts isn’t so much the origin of our writing and why we write it, but why we enjoy fantasy in particular. What it brings to the table.
I enjoy writing science fiction, but I have to admit, I find it too similar to our modern day world at this point. There was certainly a time when science fiction was little different from fantasy; it was just that one looked backward and one looked forward. Today those paradigms have been broken over and over again, and science fiction has stayed ahead of the technology curve, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so.
But for me, that’s only part of the problem. I enjoy looking back to another time. I enjoy the escapism of fantasy. But first and foremost, I find compelling because of the particular brand of agency it grants the characters (and so, to the reader). It gives a sense of power that we’ll never have in real life. And so, from this perspective, it’s fun to write about kings and queens; it’s fun to write about thieves and wizards; because in them we get to experience wondrous things, things we dreamed about as children. I think that’s why the buying market has trended away from science fiction and more toward fantasy. Readers are looking for the same things in fantasy that make me want to write it.
So while I enjoy science fiction enough to dabble, I doubt that I’ll ever write a science fiction novel. Fantasy’s what I love, and that’s where I’ll stay.Read More...