A Personal View

 


 

So what's so special about fantasy?

 

Many people seem to regard fantasy as fun to read, perhaps a little light relief in these troubled times.  While accepting that there is some truth in this, I think it goes a little deeper than that.

For me, above all else, fantasy is highly imaginative, literally magical both to write and to read. To paraphrase Elton John, 'It's as if something unknown had come into your life.'   According to Neil Gaimon, all fiction is fantasy.  I would modify this slightly to say that all fiction that contains an element of magic is fantasy. Fantasy, in its own inimitable way, while not factual must read as if it is true.  To paraphrase GK Chesterton, fantasy is more than true not because it tells us that demons exist but because it tells us that demons can be defeated.

Fantasy demands a lot of imagination from both writer and reader.  Epic fantasy creates a whole imaginary world, with rules of its own, yet obeying fundamental "immutable" principles.   It is very popular with children and women in particular. With children at a certain age, when they are coming to terms with the world and reading fantasy of the epic sort, it appears to involve a peculiar if interesting rites of passage.

Having written in several different fiction categories, and widely in non-fiction, I wonder if the intellectual interest of writing fantasy derives from two things: the breadth of creativity needed to create an entirely novel world, with all of its governments, rules, wars, different peoples, with their histories, and the creative freedom that comes from putting believable characters into such a challenging setting.

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