My mom read the Lord of The Rings trilogy while pregnant with me. I was destined to love fantasy and become an author. So I did. Naturally.
My room had Hobbit decor. I thought Gandalf was the very picture of God before I could fully form a concept of God, and it has stuck. Ian McKellen became the face of God, of course. That’s odd because I’m rather agnostic. But, I guess you’d have to be to cast the part of God with any man.
I also grew up on Disney and other assorted fairy stories. Strawberry Shortcake was a mainstay with Care Bears and Rainbow Brite. I adored Science Fantasy too, like Star Wars, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galactica. (Ask me sometime about my dad and cylons.) Jim Henson is written all over this page, too.
Fantasy was a mainstay of my upbringing. Despite dark times, it was there to light the way. In fantasy, the hero finds the solutions needed and the darkness ebbs, making way for better days. Fantasy gives the reader (and viewer) hope.
The genre is an excellent place to play out social issues without pointing fingers at any one group who might be offended by it. Thus, the message gets through more easily. For instance, racism and social divide in the Dark Crystal is couched in a tale of fantasy creatures overindulging themselves on products from a group that gives their very life to provide such products, and an easily swallowed tale of good versus evil. It’s really about one side of a population enslaving another race, sucking out their essence to benefit their lifestyle, while the better-natured half wakes from their gentle and separate lives to realize they need to come together, heal the fissure and stop the slavery, because it’s destroying their world to both pretend they can be separate and allow these indulgences.
I bet you didn’t see that in those terms, because the story was told to you in palatable bites. Bigots really don’t like to see they’re the Skeksis. Frankly, the left (Urzah) doesn’t like to admit they allowed Skeksis abuse to go on, as they lived separate lives from it (the I don’t participate in racism crowd). In the meantime, the poddlings are being killed, waiting on the awakening of the Urzah. Is it an accident that the heroes are the last of their kind, wholly separate from this abusive dichotomy? Not at all. The hero (the eyes of the reader/viewer) has to be apart from that abuse in order for the message to clear the cognitive dissonance.
Anyway, you should love fantasy, because it gives the reader a chance to look at familiar situations with a new perspective, and one that doesn’t offend delicate sensibilities.
The scope of fantasy is also larger. The plot can be addressed in any setting, with any kind of person. But although it’s limitless in one respect, there are still rules to keep the story believable. That believability is determined by the author and how they set up their fantasy. There are expectations and absolutes in each of the sub-genres, and these need to be met. An author can bend the rules, but they cannot break them. That said, some fantastic break out books show authors pushing the boundaries of their field. So don’t let that deter you. Just make sure you maintain belief, whatever the parameters of your world are. For Trailokya, I went to established myths and found ways to connect them that was intriguing. Believers already exist, the possibilities have been discussed. I just posed that they were all connected, but in ways that suggested a vast conspiracy to hide the truths of why and how we are here.
Myths are another realm of fantasy. Many fantasy authors make up myths to go with their worlds, which lends an air of realism. Ever read the Silmarillion? It gives a much deeper understanding of Tolkien’s work.
You say you don’t like fantasy, but I bet if you gave it a try you would. It might just be a matter of sub-genre. Perhaps it’s a lack of trust? Sometimes, it’s the perceived stigma of the cultural group associated with these stories. Whatever it is that holds you back, you’re definitely missing out on some great stories that could help you come down from your headspace and view the world positively differently.
(I’ve had at least one person tell me that the ideas of Trailokya scare the hell out of them, and they can’t read things like that. I see that as a triumph! But. I really wish they’d take a look because of all the time I spent carving this world out. Dark fantasy and the paranormal are fantastic areas for further thought.)
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