Several weeks ago while talking with a couple of friends, one mentioned how she had never read any science fiction. She said she had always felt the genre was similar to modern romance fiction. I really didn’t know how to respond to that, other than to feebly recommend several authors I thought she should read. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, because I know just how badly I failed in defending a genre I’ve been a fan of for quite some time.
Today I was reading Neil Gaiman’s blog and found he had posted the speech he gave at the Nebula awards ceremony. Neil succeeds where I so miserably failed.
I like Gaiman’s defense of “SF.” My favorite long defense of fantasy literature is probably Stephen R. Donaldson’s essay “Epic Fantasy in the Modern World.” It’s available on line:
Donaldson defines fantasy as “a form of fiction in which the internal crises or conflicts or processes of the characters are dramatized as if they were external individuals or events.” And he argues that fantasy is so popular because, unlike most modern literature, it rejects futility: “The characters in fantasy novels actually meet their worst fears; they actually face the things that demean them; they actually walk into the dark. And they find answers.”
My favorite short defense of fantasy is from Joss Whedon (the genius behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer):
“I don’t want to create responsible shows with lawyers in them. I want to invade people’s dreams.”