Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Coming Out, Of the Wardrobe If You Will

So I am going to have to admit it once and for all. I have in the past tried to hide my unfortunate prediliction (as some would say) but I now know that it is time to come clean. To be honest about what has happened, and come to grips with being on the fringes. Ever since I was a young girl, I have been conflicted, but I must be true to myself.

You see, I am an avid sci-fi/fantasy book reader.

Oh, a chair you say? Here you are. Yes, yes, I have a paper bag somewhere. I have heard that it helps to put your head between your knees.

I blame my sister.

You see, my sister was the quote, unquote "geek" of the family. She was the die-hard D&D player, not me. She was extremely bookish, extremely smart. She is super-intelligent, and she somewhat has that kind of disdain for us "ordinaries" that some of those people have. I wouldn't call it a superiority complex, she just thinks she's smarter than like, 98% of the population. And I guess her Mensa membership would qualify that. She was the one who got me started on these books at a very early age. Being five years older than me, I managed to get my hands on some very sophisticated books at an early age due to her willingness to check out 15 books at a time from the library. And hey, its not possible to read all those at once, so I would surreptitiously go through her stacks and pick the ones that looked interesting.

Oh, it started out innocently enough. I mean, if you really think about it, most children's books are of the fantasy genre. The most obvious and recent examples being the Harry Potter series, of course. I am thinking that the first sci-fi/fantasy book I read was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Yes, I know all about the heavy allegorical meaning imbued by its author. But, isn't it interesting that he chose that type of storytelling to tell of the redemption of Jesus? Hey, it worked, and that whole series is extremely popular. Then it was onto The Black Cauldron, A Wrinkle in Time, and I was soon reading every book of my sister's that I could get my hands on.

I have always had an open mind about literature. I have a degree in English Literature, for goodness sakes. I have read more than my fair share of "classics." From Chaucer to Melville, Wharton to Thoreau, I have analyzed and written about them ad infinitum it seems.

But when I really want to relax with a good book and enjoy what I am reading, I often turn to sci-fi/fantasy. It annoys me greatly that the genre is considered trite and inconsequential by quite a few people. I will never understand why some people would be willing to pass up a good read just because the literature is not necessarily rooted in "our world." Well, in my opinion, the reading of fiction is a pure form of escapism. Why do we care if the location is another planet or another realm? If our "real world" was all that great, we wouldn't be trying to read and get away from it!

Good books are good books. They manage to transcend the rather silly (if you ask me) notion of "genre." They take you on a great journey, one that you are glad that you stayed up much past your bedtime to finish that last chapter, dammit.

So the next time you see a book with a cover of a dragon or elf or something of the such, try not to dismiss it so summarily. You may just be doing yourself a favor.


WordsRock said...

You have, I hope, read Robin Hobb? If not, get thee to the library and check her out. Start with her Mad Ship series because it rocks.

One good suggestion deserves another. Please share your favorite fantasy author with us.


blueyedtracy said...

Good for you Gina!!!

Hi there. Hope your back is doing better. I have a sister-in-law who also loves sci-fi/fantasy reads . . . . she's pretty darn smart too. Yeah, I agree with Suzanne . . .who is your favorite author?? Any you could reccommend for a beginner to the genre?

Anvilcloud said...

I am currently re-reading the LOTR to Cuppa at night -- five pages at a time. We're now getting close to Mordor.

I prefer the fantasy side of sci fi/fantasy, but I have pretty well given up. I have read Lewis, Eddings, Brook, Donaldson, Kay and others. I think Donaldson is a great writer, but I'm not too sure about his most recent foray back into Thomas Covenant.

There is a real tendency for fantasy writers to play with us, like Robert Jordan in his Wheel of Time series that is now in its eleventh volume. While the first few volumes were interesting, I gave up around volume 6!!

Suzanne said...

Don't worry, it's healthy to be so open about one's inner life! Other than the Big Names (LOTR, Narnia, Harry Potter), I haven't read much scifi/fantasy, but I definitely see their appeal.

I like your new About Me blurb, by the way!

Piece of Work said...

Hmmm . . .I am not much for sci fi myself but that is possibly because I lack imagination. I prefer novels set in the United States, in contemporary times, with a female protagonist. Boring!