Why has the imagination been sidelined in literature?

Imagination is a powerful force for progress. So why has it been sidelined in the one place it should be most welcome – literature. In his now famous quote, Albert Einstein claimed that imagination was more important than knowledge. When Einstein wrote those words in 1929, those who knew about such things might have saidContinue reading “Why has the imagination been sidelined in literature?”

How Fighting Fantasy beat traditional stories

In the three decades since Fighting Fantasy began, games have changed our concept of story forever. When I was 10 I wanted, for a brief period, to be a professional Fighting Fantasy player. I was so fascinated with the now-iconic green-jacketed gamebooks, emblazoned with the legend “Thrilling fantasy adventures in which YOU are the hero!”, that I hatchedContinue reading “How Fighting Fantasy beat traditional stories”

Are we already living in the technological singularity?

news has been turning into science fiction for a while now. TVs that watch the watcher, growing tiny kidneys, 3D printing, the car of tomorrow, Amazon’s fleet of delivery drones – so many news stories now “sound like science fiction” that the term returns 1,290,000 search results on Google. The pace of technological innovation isContinue reading “Are we already living in the technological singularity?”

The Great Escape

Digital technology allows us to lose ourselves in ever more immersive fantasy worlds. But what are we fleeing from? The only people who hate escapism are jailers, said the essayist and Narnia author C S Lewis. A generation later, the fantasy writer Michael Moorcock revised the quip: jailers love escapism — it’s escape they can’tContinue reading “The Great Escape”

Harlan Ellison : The Interview

Originally published in The Guardian. When Damien Walter tweeted he’d ‘literally kill’ to interview the multiple award-winning author Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman replied ‘What if the person you had to kill was … Harlan Ellison?’ Here Ellison talks about running away from home, the rights and wrongs of paying to read books and how hisContinue reading “Harlan Ellison : The Interview”

Do you know why you write fantasy?

In his 1916 essay (not published until 1956) The Transcendent Function the psychologist Carl Jung describes his system of ‘active imagination’, the technique at the heart of the psychological process he named individuation. Put very simply, active imagination means to dive down in to our imagination and to bring back from it visions, dreams andContinue reading “Do you know why you write fantasy?”

Ursula K Le Guin : stories for the ages

The power of Le Guin’s work will surely guarantee it an audience for centuries to come. A century from now people will still be reading the fantasy stories of Ursula K Le Guin with joy and wonder. Five centuries from now they might ask if their author ever really existed, or if Le Guin wasContinue reading “Ursula K Le Guin : stories for the ages”

The battle for geek culture

As a fan of fantasy fiction, it’s been entertaining watching mainstream cultural critics’ baffled responses to Game of Thrones, which has surprised many by becoming the biggest show on TV this year. Gina Bellafante of the New York Times was among the first to come a cropper when she made the rash statement that noContinue reading “The battle for geek culture”

Secondary World Problems

You know, those things which are only an issue if you happen to be the denizen of a world created in the imagination of a jobbing fantasy author. Or an ageing English academic. Or a frustrated fan trying to turn pro author. A secondary world always tells you more about the inside of the authorsContinue reading “Secondary World Problems”

Why English culture is bewitched by magic

From Merlin to Harry Potter, English magic has a long tradition. But what does it say about today’s culture? English occultist, bohemian and author Aleister Crowley defined magick as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will”. Crowley’s will was aided by the inheritance age 11 of a tidy fortune,Continue reading “Why English culture is bewitched by magic”