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← Fantasy's Spell on Pop Culture: When Will It Wear Off?

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Cartomancer

I number myself among the fantasy-loving hardcore. Indeed, other than academic books, I tend to read very little else. Well, there's sci-fi, though that's just fantasy in a different skin anyway. I'm a terrible melodrama junkie. Epic battles, powerful wizards, fantastical monsters, the fate of worlds hanging in the balance - sign me up for as much as I can get as often as I can get it! Indeed, I tend to prefer my fantasy worlds as exaggerated, bombastic, otherworldly and magic-soaked as they come. If there's any part of the genre I am not that fussed with it's the deliberately "low fantasy" end (which does, to an extent, include George R R Martin's stuff), which seeks somewhat to avoid the epic, romantic, magical stuff that I tend get off on.

Fantasy books, games, films, TV shows - I love the lot. Nerd? Absolutely! Geek? Sure, and proud of it! Dork? Well, if you like. Roleplaying and fantasy games have provided me with far more pleasure in this life than anything else. By a long chalk. Wouldn't take a girl out to see a fantasy movie? Why would I even want to?!

So I have to say that the recent offerings of the genre in popular culture have been welcome. Though I can't say I've noticed a change in popularity overmuch - my inner landscape has always looked like that! And it probably always will, even if the rest of the world ceases to find the fantastical stories I love as interesting as currently it does. Though I doubt it will. I don't really see much of a bubble at all.

The thing about fantasy is that it's not really a genre with a specific cultural appeal, operating on tropes that are relevant to particular historical moments. Indeed, it encompasses all genres, and absorbs new material all the time. One can have a fantasy crime novel for instance, or a fantasy romance, or the more traditional fantasy epic. One can have bright, hopeful, optimistic fantasy or dark, grim, pessimistic fantasy. Almost every type of storytelling is encompassed, to say nothing of particular aesthetics and inspirations (medieval fantasy, techno-magic, science fantasy, steampunk, alternative worlds etc.) so it is capable of being reinvented indefinitely to satisfy particular cultural preferences. The Odyssey could be considered fantasy writing, as could Beowulf, the Morte d'Arthur, The Tempest, Gulliver's Travels, or Dracula. I'm not sure there ever was a time or place when fantasy writing was not highly popular with large sections of the populace.

Tue, 02 Aug 2011 23:08:02 UTC | #857199