The Reality of Fantasy
Since I discovered fantasy at the young age of 10 (thanks to C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia), fantasy has held my interest and never let it go. I’ve devoured science fiction, historical fiction, paranormal, mystery, and thrillers galore, yet I always come back to fantasy. It just made sense that my works would go in the direction of the fantastical.
For many people, fantasy is a genre that is “unrealistic”. After all, our world doesn’t have magic, pixies, demons, centaurs, or elves, right? The Eye of Sauron and The Sword of Shannara are completely unrealistic concepts in our down-to-earth, black-and-white world!
I’d have to say that I disagree wholeheartedly…
The term “fantasy” is defined as “the faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable”. So, in many senses, the genre of fantasy does involve things that are, as the definition says, “impossible or improbable”.
But the best fantasy is based on reality. Take the A Song of Ice and Fire series by G.R.R. Martin (the books on which Game of Thrones is based). At first glance, it looks like a too-fantastical setting and plot. Dragons? Ice zombies? An impossibly tall wall? Magic? Unequenchable fire? Resurrections? How unbelievable!
Perhaps those elements are the unbelievable, but once you get past them, you see the correlations to reality. For example, the war between the various Houses of Westeros is VERY similar to the incessant wars that raged in Medieval Europe. The backstabbing, political intrigue, and murders is about what you’d expect to find in those days. The heroic villains and villainous heroes abounded during that time.
See what I’m getting at? While every good fantasy novel does have plenty of elements that are “fantastical”, they are fully grounded in reality and thus as real as a mystery or thriller!
Lloyd Alexander said it best, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
Yes, fantasy does involve plenty of imagination and invention. There will always be that element of “impossible” that you won’t find in other novels. Not even science-fiction pushes into the impossible as much as fantasy.
But who cares? It is through the pages of fantasy novels that we are better able to understand the world around us. We follow the struggles of characters who are fighting to survive in a world as harsh and cruel as the one in which we live. Their trials and tribulations may be different from our own, but what remains consistent is that fact that they get put through s**t just like we do. We can learn from their examples and “fight the good fight” just like they do. We can grit our teeth, bandage our wounds, and keep facing that giant or monster in our path.
Sure, our monsters won’t be 12 feet tall, spew fire, or poison us with a spell. Our monsters will look much more like massive debt, car accidents, and horrible bosses. Yet if the characters from our favorite fantasy books can cope with the world in which they live and all the crap that world throws at them, how much more can we when we’re not really fighting for our lives?
Yes, beyond the imagination and flights of fancy, there is a reality to fantasy that makes it a genre worth learning from!
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Bucelarii-Book-Lament-Fallen/dp/1535388668/
Andy Peloquin: Lover of All Things Dark and Mysterious
Andy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.
When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.
Andy’s first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.
Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.
His website (http://www.andypeloquin.com) is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.
He can also be found on his social media pages, such as: