You see, I'm no dork or geek. Supposedly, at least that's what I've been told for years, that kind of crap only appeals to that sort of people. Guys like me are not supposed to read, let alone enjoy, fantasy books. I'm considered a cool and intelligent fellow, and that should, according to many, preclude me from liking such drivel. For some unfathomable reason, I always have to "defend" myself when some begin to question how such a rational and cynical Law Grad can waste his time reading that shit. How can this outspoken, politically incorrect guy who's so into international politics, who rants against Leftists and socialism, can even deign to open such novels?
For the simple good reason that I love it. SFF has been blowing my mind for over two decades, and I have no plans to quit reading such works any time soon!:-) Yes, it's escapism for me, and fuck M. John Harrison for thinking that there's something wrong about that!
As I mentioned, I'm constantly trying to find ways to explain how great fantasy can be. Alas, I'm afraid I haven't convinced a great many haters over the years. . . Be that as it may, I'm currently reading GRRM's excellent Dreamsongs, and there's a quote from the author which I need to share with you guys. It was taken from Pati Perret's The Faces of Fantasy:
The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real ... for a moment at least ... that long magic moment before we wake.
Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?
We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.
They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to middle Earth.
More eloquently than I could ever hope to do it, George R. R. Martin was able, in a few sentences, to capture the essence of what fantasy means to many of us.