So I've been thinking about fantasy worlds lately. I mean, with the state of the world, it's not hard to understand why, right? But I wanted to dig a little deeper. What is it about fantasy worlds that appeal so much? Some of us love escapist reading, or exploring new worlds, and some people don't as much (I won't even get into the people who don't like to read). But for those of us who are attracted to fantastic worlds... the question is why?
Well I imagine there are as many reasons as there are people, but I do feel that the sense of escape is a big one. The world can be a stressful place, even before a worldwide pandemic, and of course even more so now, so it makes sense that a lot of people would want to escape, to explore a world without viruses or other mundane elements. And by that I mean the day-to-day mundane things like going to the same (often boring) job or whatever. Isn't it so much more exciting to explore that dark cave or soar through the stars?
The other thing is the sense of wonder a fantastic world provides. Tolkien is famed for the sheer breadth of imagination he brought to his world, but there are so many others. And it's not just fantasy worlds. Many of us marvel at the wonders of science fiction, the sheer imaginative sprawl of speculative fiction, whether it's near futuristic or set years in the future. Who doesn't want a world where diseases are manageable, where people can live longer lives, with less drudgery?
For some there may be a spiritual element as well. Tolkien, again, was Catholic and is known for having his faith inform his worldbuilding. Narnia of course comes to mind. But whether you're religious or not, one can find meaning in a well designed fantasy world. For others it may be the hope and optimism that the future presents. The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet and other hopeful, forward-thinking SF books fall into that category. The truth is- as stated above, there are a million possible reasons. Everyone's reason is personal to them and valid.
For me, fantasy (and SF) allow me to explore a world I otherwise will never get to. There are limited opportunities for me to pick up a blazing torch and enter a vine- shrouded cave, or to see a dragon in the night sky, obscured by moonlight. To stand on an observation deck and look out at a nebula, or hear the screeching of a dinosaur in the night. Fantasy allows us, for a time, to be someone else, or be somewhere else, and honestly- for that reason it's priceless.
I used to hate fantasy. I couldn’t find a book that really clicked with me, and everything seemed so boring. But, in the past year, I have taken such a liking to the genre. I think it’s a combination of a few things, but one being the escapism aspect in what is not a perfect world. Fantasy books take away my anxiety. It’s like the best medicine.ReplyDelete
Fantasy can be hit or miss. I like the worlds even though not all fantasy is my cup of tea. Escapism is so important! I think it's perfect for anxiety...Delete
Fantasy is one of my favorite genres. I agree with you that fantasy allows you to explore a world that we can't gain access to. Love the post.ReplyDelete
Beena @ Beena Khan
Thank you! That is definitely one of the draws for me...Delete
Fantasy isn't my top pick for genres. I liked LOTR and loved ASOI&F but I don't generally read epic and high fantasy. I think I find a lot of them too slow to get into the main plot. I do like interesting worlds in any genre Westeros, Piloria, Hogwarts/Hogsmeade, Middle Earth, Narnia etc.ReplyDelete
I don't read nearly as much fantasy as I used to! I love a good fantasy setting though. And yes to Piloria! I need more time there!!Delete
This would be a really good time to try The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet again. I need a good hopeful read.ReplyDelete
It is such a hopeful read!Delete
I think that Narnia was my first experience with fantasy as a kid. You're right. It really does provide a way to experience an opportunity that we will never have. The books also feel empowering to me. Definitely a genre that appeals to me right now. Great post!ReplyDelete
Exactly. And I love empowering reads right now also, for obvious reasons! It really is nice to be able to explore worlds we otherwise never will. And yay Narnia :)Delete
I love the idea that impossible things can happen in fantasy, I'm always holding out hope that unicorns and dragons are real, lol.😁ReplyDelete
Wouldn't that be great???Delete
I agree, fantasy worlds provide a great escape. I even like worlds where everything is worse than my real life because there's the excitement of knowing the characters will be able to improve their situation and move into a better reality. Great post Greg!ReplyDelete
That's a great point. Sometimes the fantasy worlds are WORSE but at least they get better!!Delete
That's exactly why I like to read fantasy and sci-fi. I get to immerse myself in magical worlds that don't really exist and take adventures it would be impossible to take in real life. Escaping from the real world for a little while, especially now, is just an added bonus. Great post!ReplyDelete
Exactly. Exploring other worlds and the escapism are huge draws for me!Delete
I love getting lost in a good fantasy world. A few recent favorites are the worlds from Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett, Jade City by Fonda Lee, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Hill, and Titanshade by Dan Stout.ReplyDelete
Those are all worlds I need to check out. :)Delete
I am not a big SFF reader, but I appreciate the magnificence of some the worlds I have visited via a book. The big picture of the world can be awe inspiring, but for me it all the details - the rules, the history, etc, that really impress me.ReplyDelete
I don’t read a ton of fantasy, but when I find a good one, I LOVE it. I think I like fantasy worlds because they’re new and different. They have different problems and different landscapes. It’s a nice break from the boring real world.ReplyDelete
Aj @ Read All The Things!
I agree with many things you mentioned here. I love reading fantasy simply because it's nice to go on an adventure that is otherwise not possible in real life :) It feels great and refreshing. Sometimes it makes me wish that our world was a really cool fantasy world :) I love this post.ReplyDelete
jillian @ jillian etc.
I can definitely see the appeal of fantasy and sci-fi worlds more than ever during these times. It can definitely be nice to read about worlds where you don't have to worry about the things we have here. But, even though it's not exactly what you were saying, this is kind of why I like reading about supernatural creatures so much, I think. I'll never get to hang out with vampires and djinn and merfolk in real life, so it's fun to read about them, and it feels like a whole nother world or life.ReplyDelete
The long-anticipated discussion! 😉 You did a great job with it!ReplyDelete
"I mean the day-to-day mundane things like going to the same (often boring) job or whatever. Isn't it so much more exciting to explore that dark cave or soar through the stars?"
Ha! That's exactly why I don't read YA contemporary novels...unless they are REALLY quirky. And I don't read adult contemporary novels AT ALL. I want to forget everything about adult life...unless it's an alternate life.
The funny thing is, I love sci-fi but I'm not a fan of fantasy (with some exceptions). I don't like medieval worlds, kings and queens, etc. The escapism level is probably the same, except in space (and in the future) there are no rules! or that's how I feel anyway.
I love fantasy stories! Like you said, they're a great way to escape our normal everyday lives. And while those stories often talk about bad things (monsters, war,...), they offer us some reprieve from the stuff in the real world that could threaten us. If that makes sense :DReplyDelete
Strangely enough I was thinking about something very similar just the other day, mostly related to the way my reading has suffered during the recent 'crazy' times and trying to figure out why that is and I think for me it's tied into escapism definitely. So, why am I not reading as much - maybe because the world currently feels like a strange sci fi novel itself! Maybe I need to read a book out of my usual comfort zone instead. One about normality, families, going to work, everyday things. Lol.ReplyDelete
Yes, there's something about the wonder of a fantasy world that really appeals to my sense of imagination. It's nice to get away from the mundane for a while and think about all the what ifs!ReplyDelete
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
I love the creativity and the wonder of fantasy worlds. I love seeing how authors imagine different worlds could be, or even just our world, slightly tweaked. The possibilities are endless!ReplyDelete
I don't read much fantasy or science fiction but now does seem like the time to read it and I can definitely see why it pulls so many people in right now.ReplyDelete
This is such a great post! Very thoughtful, and I think accurate. I know that I read fantasy worlds (or sci-fi, or whatever) because it's definitely more thrilling than my current mundanity. Or I mean, was. Because now our lives have turned into a (very poorly written) apocalypse plague book that Amazon couldn't give away for free. Which, in a sense, is all the MORE reason to read about much more clever worlds!ReplyDelete
I haven't read anywhere near as much fantasy as I should, but I think the appeal is the escapism. You get to explore a fantastic world, which may not be real, but feels real while you're reading. I think it feeds my desire to see new things while in the comfort of my own home.ReplyDelete
Great discussion, Greg. Fantasy has a way of pulling me in like no other genre. I wouldn't say I love it more than my other favorites, but it is the most likely to result in my walking around in a reading fog when I have to set the book aside for awhile. It's definitely great for escape. I also think there is a lot of appeal to seeing the characters come up against and overcome huge odds--often of the world ending variety. There is a sense of hope in that. I also think it gets us to think outside the box and explore ideas and beliefs different from our own more easily than it is to do in real life--and then that can translate to real life. I don't know if that makes sense. I know what I mean, but am not sure I'm saying it right. LOL Anyway, that's my two cents.ReplyDelete
People always look at me strangely when I say I don't read to escape. Ha ha. Reading is just something I do, like eating. My slant is the exploration, like you mentioned. I love flexing my imagination. The real world can become boring if you don't have the time or the means to travel a lot. The hope element is important to me, too. And one can learn a lot about the world and the human condition from reading an author's viewpoint in their works of Fantasy. 😊ReplyDelete
Great discussion post. 👍✨
I love, love, LOVE fantasy! It's my preferred genre these days! There's nothing quite like losing yourself completely in an imaginary world. Like you said, you get to see and experience things you wouldn't IRL. Ride dragons, break a curse, defeat gods... it's amazing.ReplyDelete
Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?😷 💬