our earliest myths through Shakespeare, to Tolkien to modern
writers including Dennis
McKiernan and Kim
Harrison, we love tales of wonder and magic.
ancestors, such tales were a means of exploring their world
– of answering questions that otherwise seemed to have
caused the wind that stirred the leaves in autumn? The passage
of the Wee Folk, the fairies that we could not see.
your faithful cow suddenly cease to give milk? Perhaps the
milk was being magically stolen by a neighbor who was a witch.
Or you'd angered some fae spirit, and this was its revenge.
his boat across the sky, bringing the sun to light each day.
Even today, when we know why winds blow – and have veterinarians
who can tell us why the cow won't give milk – many of
us still love our stories of magic and magic-wielding beings
… our tales of elves and dragons …
online poll asked responders why they like fantasy –
with five possible boxes to check, including one for those
who don't like fantasy. Of 72 responders at the time I found
the poll, 22 percent had checked the “don't like it”
others, 55 percent said they like fantasy because they can
“get lost in another world.”
“deals with strong themes” and “the plot
(of fantasies) is more exciting” each drew 7 percent
of the responses, and 4 percent of responders read fantasy
because it's “the most stimulating” of genres.
I would be among the “get lost in another world”
crowd. I've always read fantasy for the escape it offers,
the chance to live – even if only briefly, and only
by proxy – in another world.
where Magic rules. I'd love for magic to be real – and
possible. I love watching the great magicians, the illusionists
… David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, Lance Burton,
Doug Henning – Harry Houdini.
never wanted to be a magician. I don't want to know how they
create their illusions. I want to bask in the momentary …
well, illusion … that what they do is real.
transports me into the world I'd love to live in.
there would be drawbacks to living in a world where magic
is possible. I joke that, given my Irish temper that flares
especially on the roadway when someone cuts me off or pulls
out in front of me with only inches to spare between my fender
and theirs, if I could wield magic …
would be a lot of toads behind steering wheels.
gives its readers a chance to explore other worlds, other
options. Other realities. It stretches our imaginations, pushes
us to think outside the box that is the reality we know. The
best fantasy leads us to see ourselves and those around us
in entirely new ways. It invites us to suspend belief, and
look at everything as though we're seeing it for the very
if all of the creatures that inhabit our myths and legends,
our dreams – and worst nightmares – were real,
and what if they should return to our world? Or what if they've
been here all along?
if there are worlds apart from our own where wizards cast
spells for good or ill – and dragons reign in the skies?
if the gods of our Greek and Roman and Norse mythologies are
real – and their children live among us?
our imaginations can conceive, tales of fantasy can make real.
fantasy is about more than magic. It creates a sense of wonder
in ourselves and the world – whatever world –
it presents to us.
most important of all – it's fun.