Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

No doubt many believe (or would believe) that my taste in fiction (I use the term widely to include not just books but also TV, films etc) is questionable at best and shallow or superficial at worst. Why? Well, I do tend to have an obsession for anything fantastical or mythical, be they the lofty tomes of Homer or an episode of The Vampire Diaries. Yes, yes, I enjoy serious mythological texts as well as what a lot of people mistakenly dismiss as “trash TV”.

It probably puzzles people even more given that my profession is one that suggests an affinity with hard facts and the “real” world. However, that in itself perhaps accounts for my fascination with tales from the distant past, supernatural creatures or fantasy worlds, far removed from what we term factual or realistic. All those created universes and the (mostly) imaginary people who inhabit them offer me my immediate avenue of escpape. To me, they constitute a relatively low cost and readily available holiday destination of sorts- a holiday of the mind, if not an actual one. The effects are just as rejuvenating and I don’t need to take a long journey or suffer jet lag, and the cost of buying books doesn’t hit the pocket all at once like an escape to the Caribbean, so overall seems easier to afford and justify.

Why do I love fantasy fiction so much? I believe that the main reason is that it depicts a world which is inspiring- there are epic battles between good and evil, larger than life heroes, inspiring tales of valour, love and sacrifice- all in all, it is as different a world from that dominated by coarse trade, vulgar language and petty politics that most of us abide by. The heroes in those tales always come through, be they human, supernatural or even Gods. They have their failings and weaknesses but their struggles against these, if not the eventual outcomes, make them spectacular. Ordinary people are shown to be capable of greatness. The women in these tales are not accessories in a patriarchal society- they are, or become, goddesses in their own right. Evil is depicted graphically, to shown eventaully always defeated by good or God. Love is not about domination or possession, it is depicted selfless and heartbreakingly poignant.

All in all, it infuses me with hope- a real requirement in a world that can often look very ugly indeed. So, it is not superficial to like fantasy fiction. Instead, I suggest it is superficial to dismiss something and not look at the underlying themes it is projecting (bravery, sacrifice, love etc) simply because it is not packaged as a documentary or showing us real footage of limbs being blown apart in a war zone.

I am happy in my fantasy land, brought to me by many such as the wonderful (late) David Gemmell, Bernard Cornwell, Tolkein, J K Rowling and too many other favourites to list here.


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