Can fantasy tell the truth?

There is nothing wrong with escaping reality now and again. Like a well brewed ale, or a good malt whisky, a finely crafted escapist fantasy can be a thing of joy and beauty. But while the occasional tipple can be a good thing, most of us recognise that a bottle of Jameson’s a night is unhealthy for body, mind and soul.

An unfiltered diet of escapist fantasy blockbusters can be similarly unhealthy. As master anti-fantasist M John Harrison expresses it in his essay The Profession of Science Fiction while discussing the appeal of fantasy to young children terrified by adult life, “Many fantasy and SF readers are living out a prolonged childhood in which they retain that terror and erect – in collusion with professional writers who themselves often began as teenage daydreamers – powerful defences against it.”

Read more in The Guardian

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

3 thoughts on “Can fantasy tell the truth?

  1. Waded through the Guardian commentary. As usual, it’s closed to comments by the time I get there. I find myself most in agreement with Nukapai (who’s right down the bottom, if anyone is interested). As for some of the others…there are some very snob fascist people reading the Guardian! Dunno why they don’t read the Telegraph instead.
    On the topic of lack of emotion in genre fantasy, it’s my impression that some of it is actually quite soap-operatic and emotionally OTT. Family sagas, crown prince rebels against his duty, etc. The whole problem with criticism of any fictional genre is massive over-generalisation, which is all too often based on snobbery. Too many insecure people out there, whose real interest in the arts is to use them to make themselves out to be better than their neighbours.



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