When Natasha and I spoke about her doing a guest blog entry on my blog I was very excited to have her voice speak through this conduit. She’s always been energetic and thoughtful about her approach to writing in the year I have known her. She has a video series on Youtube as well as your usual social media outlets. I suggest you follow her because she is bursting with ideas, and enthusiasm, which can be quite contagious.
Why the Literary World Needs Fantasy
By Natasha Lane
It’s no secret that when it comes to writing being considered literature, fantasy gets a swift kick in the head. Often so far stretched from reality, many snobs out there don’t consider any fantasy novel worthy of being called literature. “Lord of the Rings” is one of the most renowned book series in the world, some would even say it set the foundation for epic fantasy adventure, yet there are still those who would never equate it to works like “Pride & Prejudice” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a bunch of bologna. Like a ton of bologna with mustard. No, fantasy isn’t going to spout prose about the war of eighteen-whatever or directly discuss the human condition. It serves more of an elusive purpose than that and it’s complex in its own way which is why I’m here.
Here are a few reasons the literary world and readers need fantasy.
- Fantasy Makes Challenges In Reality Seem Easier to Deal With
Reading, like writing, can be a form of therapy. When your world is “crumbling” around you or you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions, it’s always nice to dive into a good fantasy read. The reason behind this is very simple. Other people’s problems distract us from our own.
Look at it this way. When a main character is being threatened by an army of vampires and her family is being held hostage by goblins, your issues seem a little easier to deal with. A great example is the “Hunger Games.” Not only does Katniss have to fill the place of her deceased father but she has to help her mentally ill mother, volunteer in the games to save her sister, watch her friends die around her, and take down a corrupt and cruel government while leading a rebellion. You know, the usual.
- Distances Real World Problems
Didn’t I tell you that fantasy is complex? That’s why while the genre is great for helping us minimize our problems and confront them; it can also do the reverse. When the real world conflicts seem to be too much, we can always hide in the pages of a fantasy novel until they become less of a reality.
A great example is the political tension in our country. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, we’re all constantly being bombarded with news, usually not very happy news (riots, fighting, racism, sexism, etc). We hear it directly from news channels, on our social media, from friends, from family members, and any potential source really. This constant negativity, this constant drowning is a lot to bear. With that said, why should anyone judge us for picking up the Harry Potter novels for a re-read if reading them helps us distance ourselves from the war, anger, hate, and worst in this world?
Another reason the literary world and readers need fantasy is because it provides role models for us to look up to. Not everyone is born with parental figures in their life and usually, these people (myself included) turn to others to guide them. It’s not uncommon for a kid with no mom or dad to look to their uncles, aunts, or maybe even teachers to fill that gap.
However, like any human, these people are flawed. One moment, they’re someone to be admired and the next we may not be sure why we ever looked up to them in the first place.
Humans are complicated, so, we’re always changing. This change can come in many forms including flip-flopping on political or social issues. Characters can be complex and toe the line of good vs evil, as well, but compared to people characters are more consistent. Less flip-flopping.
A great example is Noon from the “Noon Onyx” series by Jill Archer. Throughout the series, Noon goes through many changes and often she has to pick between the lesser of two evils. Still, she never does a complete 180 on her readers. Can she sometimes be unpredictable? I’d say yes.
Does she straight up lie to our faces? I’d say no.
Fantasy, like any genre, has a moral or lesson that can be learned from reading it. The difference between fantasy and other genres, especially the non-fiction, is that the lesson to be learned isn’t obvious. Sometimes it’s open to interpretation but this is what makes fantasy so awesome.
Each person learns differently whether the subject is academic or more like a fact-of-life lesson. For some people, being told directly playing with fire will burn you isn’t enough. They need the lesson to be disguised as an arrogant hero who goes to confront an infamous dragon.
Then, they get the point.
Learning is not always as simple as reciting history and or watching it unfold in front of you in order to form an opinion. Some people need to see it from a more metaphorical view in order to understand it. A perfect example is “Game of Thrones” which is heavily based on the English 15th century War of the Roses. Dressed up medieval history lesson anyone?
Okay, so, this one isn’t very original but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. We touched on this before but no literary genre offers escapism like fantasy (except maybe scifi). Fantasy is often so far from reality there’s no better way to leave the real world behind. And, at least when we fantasy readers decide to take a break from this often crappy world, we do it with a sword in one hand, a magic wand in the other, and tons of imagination.
If you’re looking for some other reason why fantasy is so awesome, check out this article on “The Guardian” titled “The Real Purpose of Fantasy.”
Natasha’s a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books (particularly fantasy if you hadn’t guessed), and a writer to her core. Her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is set to come out this spring. You can keep up with her on the social media links below.
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