Fantasy Aficionados discussion

Discussions about books > Why read fantasy?

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Reuben (new)

Reuben | 21 comments I've been thinking about this topic a fair bit recently and would love to hear what you guys think!

One of my big reasons is definitely escapism: I noticed that picked fantasy back up about a year ago when I was going through some rough times as a distraction. Another good reason is the science-like sense go discovery I get when learning about a new world or new magic system -- it's fun to probe the limits of what's possible (and one of my favorite parts of reading Sanderson's books.) Another one I heard recently and liked was on Brandon Sanderson's blog -- I don't have the link at hand, but he said that one of the reasons he reads fantasy is to see what life looks like from other people's and types of people's perspectives.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts! Obviously there are no adding answers :-)

message 2: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Read | 156 comments I like fantasy because it allows me to step out of reality for a little while. It keeps my hope alive for knights in shining armor, fairy godmothers and magical solutions. I also love that it allows us to approach and think about issues that are difficult or touchy in our real lives.

message 3: by Reuben (new)

Reuben | 21 comments Wow, swipe fail... adding -> wrong.

message 4: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 183 comments I read Science Fiction and Fantasy because it has everything my life is not.

This is also why I rarely read generic fiction - It has nothing more than my life already is...

message 5: by Mpauli (last edited Aug 30, 2013 07:50PM) (new)

Mpauli For me, it's mainly two reasons.

The first is the "Sense of Wonder". In our age of information there aren't blank spots on the map. We know every place and, if we really want to, we can go anywhere.
Of course there are still a lot of things to discover, but they are highly specialized. If the Nobel Prize is given away these days, most of the time only those in the know can really appreciate what was achieved in bio-chemistry or micro-biology.
And this doesn't have the same sense of wonder as finding a whole new continent or discovering an ancient race of magic-wielding tree monkeys.

Fantasy can give us a chance to experience this sense of wonder, that has become absent from our daily lives.

The second reason for me is the sandbox character. If you want to write about religion, political systems or other touchy subjects, it's really hard to do it, without stepping on someone's toes unintentionelly.
I mean, it's amazing by what people get offended today. Magic in Harry Potter let's zealots go nuts. And it's made up.
Suicide bombers blow up cartoonists, people avoid movies, cause a horse got a cold on set, etc., etc.

Fantasy is able to touch a few difficult subjects by wrapping them in imagined worlds, trying to create societies, where you can ask questions without offending people.
Of course, as with every illusion, it's not perfect. Our world or its history will always shape what is created in secondary worlds, but it offers endless playgrounds for a lot of "What if" scenarios.

I'm always on the fence about the word escapism, cause I don't think that those characters from fantasy worlds have totally different problems than we have.
You might just be lucky to read about someone, who has a slightly different issue than you have, but if the villain is the dark lord, or your boss, doesn't really matter. The emotional impact of the arising conflict and how the hero/you solve it is the same.

message 6: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments C. S. Lewis said something like "It is not enough for me to have one life. I want others." And that's what fantasy fiction is for.

message 7: by Bryan (new)

Bryan | 33 comments I agree with almost all of these reasons, especially to do with tackling touchy real-world subjects.

Also, I'm not ashamed to admit that I just like swords. I've done a bunch of sword training and it was really fun, but the whole time I couldn't stop thinking, "Damn, I'm like the Grey Mouser! This is so cool!". Call me a child if you will, but I'd be lying by omission if I didn't bring that up.

message 8: by Reuben (new)

Reuben | 21 comments The ability to tackle touchy real-world subjects is an interesting one. I'd love to hear some examples of books that do it in an interesting way...

Also, @Brenda, I'll paraphrase another C. S. Lewis reference that I really like: in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Eustace (the "new school" boy) is encountering difficult situations for the first time, the narrator says something like "he wasn't a particularly courageous person, and he didn't even have the stories of old heroes to draw upon" because he had never read the books. I haven't quite used "what would Perrin do" in my life yet but having a list of example of people who have overcome difficulties is a good inspiration to have.

I always feel a little bit at risk, though, when incorporating myself into a story so deeply: I have to trust the author's perception of the world to be sufficiently accurate. It amazes me to think sometimes how much my perception of the world -- and all of ours -- are shaped by the experience we have, and how many of those experiences are not personal experiences but rather media of various sorts (books, movies, TV shows, even news articles to some extent) and therefore how much of our thoughts are shaped by what somebody else made up. Which all goes to say, I guess, books are dangerous and authors, y'all've got power so use it wisely :-)

message 9: by Reuben (new)

Reuben | 21 comments @Mpauli I think the biggest escapist bit for me is the "traditional" fantasy clear delineation of good and evil. Man, if my life had clear right answers, even if they were difficult to follow through on, it would be a lot simpler :-)

message 10: by L.Y. (new)

L.Y. Levand (lylevand) | 131 comments I agree with Mpauli. The sense of discovery is really what draws me, I think. That, and the good values a lot of fantasy characters seem to have. I'm a sucker for a good moral, lol.

I also love seeing the many different things that authors have created; aside form it just being plain fun, it gives me a new perspective when I want to create something as well. It's like drawing on the experience of another person to build something better.

message 11: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments I forget who it was -- may have been Lewis -- who said "Since it is certain that every child will meet with evil people some day, it is important that they know there are heroes." The man had a way with words.

colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) I guess, for me, it's the sense of wonder. The way I feel the world ought to be. I love the idea of magic and magical creatures. The wonderful, wild, weird and whimsical.

I do like the tackling of issues and the analogies of real-world issues and all that other stuff, but you can arguably find that in any genre. Or, anyway, many genres.

But the reason I read fantasy is for the magic.

message 13: by Krazykiwi (new)

Krazykiwi | 11 comments Bryan wrote: "I agree with almost all of these reasons, especially to do with tackling touchy real-world subjects.

Also, I'm not ashamed to admit that I just like swords. I've done a bunch of sword training an..."

I hear ya Bryan, I like bows :)

My little brother was competitive archer. I was never anywhere near his level, but I did spend a great deal of my teenage years standing around at archery competitions, and the inevitable slightly drunken after-competition "look, I have a longbow" show and tell. And they let me try things, unlike the sword guys are ren faire who were all "no, little girls don't play with swords".

I'm still a sucker for any book with archers - as long as they aren't ridiculous. Irrationally enough I can suspend my disbelief perfectly well enough to believe the tiny female protagonist is riding a unicorn to battle, but it better not be a long bow she's trying to draw, especially while riding.

But it's also the sense of wonder, and the "I don't know what's around the corner". Even the most whimsical of realistic stories, I can take a guess, and what does come around that corner is rarely a complete surprise.

message 14: by Brenda ╰☆╮ (last edited Aug 31, 2013 11:56AM) (new)

Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 1409 comments I had a hard time reading in my elementary days....
Then I discovered fantasy books. Not that I couldn't, I just like a little magic...and yeah....swords are cool.

My question to those who don't read it is........
why not?

They often answer, "I only read about real things."

How boring for them, I have enough "real" every day.

message 15: by Reuben (new)

Reuben | 21 comments Well, "real" things are pretty neat too :-) Some history books might as well be fiction for the quality of the story they tell. But your point certainly stands.

message 16: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments We actually have an older thread on this very subject, if you want even more ideas :)

That said, I'll throw in my usual response--my real life and that of those around me has enough drama and angst. As I said to a nurse the other night, "why would I want to read something like Lovely Bones, when I have a mother right here caring for her child that's dying?" I don't need perspective on how that feels, or to vicariously experience it, or to go through a catharsis about it. I want to read to remember the magic, and to engage in flights of fancy. Or I want to read as a distraction. Or to enjoy lines that are clearly drawn, and good wins out over evil.

Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 1409 comments Reuben wrote: "Well, "real" things are pretty neat too :-) Some history books might as well be fiction for the quality of the story they tell. But your point certainly stands."

Yes.."real"......can be stranger than fiction....
And there are real things even in fantasy.
It was just a reaction that stuck with me.

message 18: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Young-Turner | 25 comments I agree with what others have said. I love the magic and the fantastical worlds--and the swords. I also like the idea of an ordinary person who gets caught up in a grand and wonderful adventure. Probably because I always wished that would happen to me.

message 19: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 197 comments J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a famous essay, "On Fairy Stories." In it he essentially says that escapism is good, because this is a vale of tears. Real life is not always fun.

message 20: by Robin P (new)

Robin P Reuben asked about the ability to tackle real-world subjects. Women authors have used fantasy that way for a while, such as Ursula LeGuin having a different type of genders in her world. The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood is a dystopia, not sure if it is considered fantasy, but she stated that everything in it was actually happening somewhere in the "real" world.

A couple others are The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri Tepper, and Native Tongue by Suzette Elgin. And A Door into Ocean, by Joan Slonciewski, is the most amazing model of a society so opposed to violence that they will sacrifice everything rather than turn to it. Even the classic Dune isn't so fanciful now that water shortages may be a big world issue soon.

I do have a weakness for swashbuckling & seafaring, that was fed by historical novels such as The Three Musketeers and Master & Commander. There's a lot of similarity between historical fiction like Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles and something like Game of Thrones (which is based on English history).

Fantasy is maybe the oldest form of story, if you think of fairy tales, myths and legends, they have magic and all kinds of creatures. A psychologist would probably tell us these stories satisfy archetypes and they follow the myth of the "hero with a thousand faces' found all over the world, as Joseph Campbell pointed out.

message 21: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (brunnstag) For me, I'd have to say I read fantasy for the escapism as well. I mean, real life is often rather dull, I live in real life. Why would I want to read about it? To me, it's the same as playing a human character in a roleplaying game. Why would you want to play yourself?

I do try to branch out into other genres at times, but they always have an element of fantasy to them. 'The Forgotten Garden', or 'The Distant Hours' are definitely not fantasy but they are fantastical!

Well that, and the swords, sorcery and dragons. Those are just too cool to not read them!

message 22: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 857 comments I like the imaginative quality of Fantasy, unique ideas are appealing to me. And the pure escapism of reading Fantasy.

message 23: by Brandon (last edited Oct 29, 2013 12:41PM) (new)

Brandon Berntson Jackie wrote: "I like the imaginative quality of Fantasy, unique ideas are appealing to me. And the pure escapism of reading Fantasy."

Agree completely. Foreign characters, foreign lands. A true limitless capacity for the imagination where absolutely anything goes on every level. That is imagination at its purest and creativity on overdrive. Nothing is more resplendent! That's the reason we read and write in the first place. At least that's how I feel about it. Boy, do I sound like a pretentious ass!

message 24: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I read Fantasy for escapism and for the ability to travel to other worlds. To participate in adventures and to meet new and interesting people.

back to top