Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#173) -- Fantasy and Wonder

What is your working definition of fantasy as a literary genre?

I know a lot of folks define their fantasy by the proliferation of elves and orcs and fairies (oh my), or by the travel to mysterious worlds that are defined more by magic than by science. I, however, prefer to define it by how much said fantasy story plays into and upon a sense of wonder in the reader. There's a sort of fantastic "what if" at play in true fantasy for me.

What if my boring life could get exciting when I entered a magical wardrobe?

What if an invalid is the savior of a mystical land?

What if I could fly a dragon on a daily basis?

What if the girl of my dreams was a star that fell to earth?

What if my brother was Ananzi the Spider?

What if...

And so it goes.

Sure, that gets into the other slices of fantasy, such as urban, high, etc., but in each case, the appeal isn't in the setting so much as in the way it draws on my sense of wonder and what if, and to me, that's what makes fantasy fantastic.