Feb 28

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Banging on the Walls of the Fantastic: (But no one’s home…)


"I told you he doesn't like visitors..."

I just finished reading a fascinating blog post on the morality (or immorality) of contemporary Fantasy literature–and its perceived decline. Heady stuff here (make sure you visit all the links to get a full picture).

Apparently, this discussion/argument has gone on for a while. And unfortunately, like most religious and political debates, it seems to have begun a slow descent into minutiae. However, I find the essential core of this discussion fascinating.

Especially, as a writer…

Is fantasy literature nothing more than escapist “crack” for lonely citizens who are trapped in a bleak and painful reality? Or is there some essential part in the fantastic? A mental vitamin that we need to be happy, and become well-adjusted members of society?

Is there something immoral in the recent re-telling, and recycling of ancient myths and folklore? Has fantasy literature become socially deviant (even decadent) because contemporary authors are re-imagining it with an ever-increasing level of realism?

And realistically, can an “epic-hero” even exist anymore in our modern society? Can that trope of ancient storytelling survive in an environment where “good” and “evil” has passed away, and everything (even our protagonists) is now painted in shades of grey?

Do we still need the structure of ancient myths? Or are epic adventures in strange and fantastic places an old, and dated, method of storytelling? Has the hero’s journey finally soured for the citizens of the new digital frontier?

IS fantasy escapist? Is it just a vehicle that allows us to run far away from the problems of our contemporary lives? Or does it, in fact, help us understand them better?

And how about science fiction; is it just a Frankenstein creation of the fantastic? Is sci-fi just a new package for fantasy? One wrapped up in the shiny trappings of science and our current, limited, understanding of the universe we live in?

Will science fiction help us resurrect our old mythologies; retool them, and make them relevant to us today, while we explore the vast unknown expanses of space? Or are the ancient stories of our ancestors simply a familiar blanket, keeping our subconscious warm and safe, all-the-while trapping us in a straight-jacket of narrow-mindedness, and banality?

These are just a few of the questions I found myself asking, as I zipped back and forth between blog posts.

Who knows…maybe in a few years, I might discover a few answers.

But, more than likely, I’ll just find myself overwhelmed by more questions…

Permanent link to this article: http://peterusagi.com/2011/02/28/banging-on-the-walls-of-the-fantastic-but-no-ones-home/

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