Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Step Sideways: So What’s Fantasy FOR?

For me, writing and reading Fantasy serves many purposes and has many pleasures.

For one, it enables mental exploration in a systematic way. It's like playing "what if" games and preserving that game for posterity. We play with the rules of a world and the ramifications and all aspects of the rules of that imagined world. By changing one small thing we develop a new premise. In fantasy, the premises are many and not ruled by the spatial, genetic, scientific laws of Earth.  One can play with languages, communication styles, moral codes, human talents, human genetics, and the races of the world. One can, in short, be not only a scholar, a historian, a climatologist, a worldbuilder, and a creator of religions...but one can be a God, creating one's own world.

Another purpose of fantasy is emotional. Fantasy comes from the heart. I tend to like romantic fantasy. Love involves heroes, heroines, codes of love, codes of honor and belongingness. All these aspects of love are present in the modern western world but fantasists prefer to explore love in other realms. The emotional aspect of fantasy deals with family, class, and caste. In this way, fantasy is not only a great way to affirm one's culture and one's racial history, but to examine the nature of family relationships and bonds.

I said earlier that in fantasy, the fantasy writer can play what if games based on changes to the scientific laws of Earth. But this isn't entirely true. There is fantasy that is spiritual. Religious fantasy often attempts to show the cosmological worldview of that religion's adherent. For instance, the writings of Frank Peretti often aim to  show the Christian idea about unseen evil spiritual agencies in the world. Oftentimes, these doctrinal worldviews are joined to the other concerns of the religious author.  For instance, while CS Lewis's Narnia series is about the basics of Christianity, his Perelandra series joins his Christian worldview with his ideas about "information and the media" Other Christian writers such as PD James, and Madeleine L'Engle join the Christian worldview with their concerns about the environment or Quantum Science. As for me, a Christian writer, I tend to think "fantasy" is closer to what the real world looks like. There are, of course, spiritual writers of different faiths because all believers in things spiritual don't share the same exact beliefs about what rules/forces guide or affect the Earth. There are also writers, such as India's Ashok Banker, who use the myths and legends of their country's spirituality as the basis of their fiction.

Get to know the other fantasy writers on the turntable.

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.

 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.
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