Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Fantasy is Different - Seth Reid

Why is Fantasy different?
Why is fantasy different from other genres such as romance, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, or horror? The answer to the question is simple yet complex. Fantasy is different, and in some opinions, better, than other genre’s because of many things, primarily four reasons.

First of all, fantasy has nearly no limits. The book is only limited to the author’s imagination. This does vary however among different types of fantasy. In epic fantasy, or high fantasy, the story takes place in a completely new world than ours. Examples of high fantasy would be Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, the White Lion Chronicles by Christopher Hopper, and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Examples of general fantasy would be Dragons in our Midst by Bryan Davis and the Harry Potter Saga by J.K. Rowling. In epic fantasy you have next to no limits because it takes place in a completely different world that you can do anything you want with, this element alone makes fantasy a very unique and entertaining genre, however it is not the only reason.

The second, and for some, the primary reason is because fantasy offers an escape from reality. This happens in most fictional stories and books, but the effect it has in other literature is multiplied in fantasy. The reason is that fantasy has a way of captivating readers in ways others fail. The reason it does this is not something you can explain to someone who does not like the genre, or someone who simply has not yet read a book in the fantasy genre. It’s something that every reader of fantasy knows, but something that cannot be explained through words.

Another reason, while it is not the principal factor in the answer to this question, is still a contributor. This reason is simply that fantasy is historical. Fantasy has always been around, and will continue to be around. It is traced back to Rome and beyond when the genre fantasy didn’t necessarily exist, but rather the idea of mythology. However, mythology and fantasy are not the same, but some of the themes are the same. Mythology is often associated with paganism, however, fantasy in general is not associated with paganism, some books are, but the genre in general is not associated with paganism.

And lastly, fantasy is just natural. That varies with epic fantasy and general fantasy, as it does with limitations. However, fantasy stories are very adventurous, giving readers the thrills of exploring new worlds and lands never seen before. Kids daydream about exploring unseen lands some day, only to find later in life that most everything here has been explored at some time or another. That daydream carries on into their adult years. This dream comes true in fantasy books, fulfilling their want to explore strange lands and see new places. With our modern culture, this is a hard task to accomplish as industry has left our world hugely modernized. Not to say modernization and industry is bad.

In all, fantasy is a very unique genre. It is virtually boundless, an escape from reality, historical, and fulfills a natural yearn for adventure. In Christ,

~Seth Ried


  1. Hi!
    This is a good post--but I would beg to mention what I believe to be the biggest, most important reason for Fantasy: Symbolism.

    I see symbolism as Fantasy's purpose. Yes, it's limitless. But not really. There is nothing new under the sun, and neither will people enjoy a book which has nothing a reader can relate to or understand.
    Yes, it's an escape. There's nothing wrong with wanting to read a book and "escape" for a little while--God gave us nights and a Sabbath rest--but if that's the main purpose of Fantasy, then we find ourselves leaning more and more distastefully from the surroundings and time God placed us in, and from His Word. I read an article about the movie "Avatar" (which I haven't seen yet) which talked about how people are enamored by the movie world, and after they leave the theater, the beautiful work of God's creation he placed us in seemed drab and lifeless. They become depressed because they want to go back into that make-believe universe. One could make parallels between that and Paradise, but from what I've heard about what goes on in Avatar's world, it's a far cry.

    Fiction must have a Godly purpose, otherwise there's no point in reading stories that never happened about people who never existed (for Fantasy, in places that never existed either). There has to be a message--something edifying that we can extract from the experience. And it is my belief that Fantasy stories are just real-world stories told in symbols. That's why I personally fuss so hard about things like good dragons, witches, monsters, etc.

    Aaaanddd...I feel like I just preached a sermon. :-/ Sorry about that, I know on the internet it's hard because the conversations are faceless--y'all can't see by my face that I don't mean to lecture, but to converse. I'd love to hear what y'all think of my view.

    I'm really enjoying the site!
    ~Hannah L.

  2. And as for those who would see escape as a bad thing--if you're wrongly put in jail, wouldn't you want to escape?

  3. @Hannah, As I said in my post. Symbolism is the key. In secular and in Christian. That's it's purpose and that's why I love it!

    Avatar was secular. And for a secular writer he did his job. He made his audience fall in love with his world. Or well...the digital guys did lol. You can't blame them....they don't know Christ.

    But yes, Christian Fantasy always has a message. I think.

    I love your view :D And we added some of the things you touched on in my article lol

    @Galadriel, oooooooooh I like that :D


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