What is it about fantasy that attracts so many into it? I believe it’s a natural escape mechanism that allows people to avoid the sometimes harsh realities of life. Author Llyod Alexander said, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
Both of those sentiments are correct. Fantasy is the one genre that encompasses anything and everything, from historical drama to science fiction, all of these can be defined as some form of fantasy. James Cameron’s Avatar is a great example of that as he combined the futuristic science fiction of space travel, genetic manipulation and scientific exploration to tribal mysticism and spirituality.
The late Terry Prachett said, “Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.” Just reading that quote brings so many images to mind of stories I’ve read over the years. It speaks volumes about how fantasy stories have evolved over time.
When man first started to explore beyond their normal boundaries, their minds started to see things and explain them in terms of what, today, we would call fantasy. Strange fish in the water were called sea monsters and ominous sounds from the woods were made by goblins or faeries.
I think that’s why Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft are such popular games. They take the heart of fantasy and bring it to life by immersing the people into the story. Sometimes you’re part of the story, sometimes you create the story yourself. In either case, it is the fantasy that makes it all possible, in your mind and your dreams.
Alexandre Dumas wrote, “When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.” Throughout human history, we try to explain both good things and bad by blaming them on gods, monsters or otherworldly creatures. We escaped the horrors of the real world by putting the responsibility on something we couldn’t explain.
These unexplained phenomenon fell into myth and legend in the stories we know them as today; and today, authors take those stories and turn them into something new and exciting. I took that approach with the Forever Avalon series. I took the legend of King Arthur legend and combined it with all the magical tales of faeries, dragons, wizards and Elves.
This is why I love to use fantasy as the medium for my storytelling. By bringing together these myths and legends into the modern world of today, I’m able to tell these stories for a mew generation. As long as we keep telling these stories, they will go on and on forever.
Professor Jack Zipes from the University of Minnesota said, “Fairy tales, since the beginning of recorded time and perhaps earlier, have been a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor.” That’s what makes them legendary. That’s what makes them fantasy.