Why We Love Our Genres

FantasyFantasy fiction

I love all kinds of literary genres; some more than others, yes, but I’ll pretty much read anything that’s set in front of me or recommended by someone I trust.  But if I had my druthers, I would proudly say that my favorite genre of all is Fantasy.

Yes, it’s Fantasy – and indeed, High Fantasy, that holds my tenderest heart.  From the beloved master J.R.R. Tolkien to the current master George R.R. Martin, to the spice of Jacqueline Carey and the sublime that is Neil Gaiman and the freakiness of China Miéville, to J.K. Rowling and Patrick Rothfuss and Mary Robinette Kowal, to Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Cherie Priest and Brent Weeks and so many more, Fantasy writers have allowed me to journey to so many marvelous, frightening and amazing worlds (even those that claim to be our own) of which I cannot myself even begin to imagine.

Fantasy is an escape, yes, but its more than that.  It’s the ability to go beyond, to remove constraints of what is and dream of what might be; to weave a story that can be believed while leaving convention behind, and that is nothing short of marvelous.  Fantasy may not be “real life”, but it allows us to experience a hyper life, as it were, and the best of it reflects the best of what is at the core of our own being, unencumbered by the mundane; and it is glorious, even when it is not.  Fantasy can speak to what we know in our hearts, even if we cannot bring it to pass in our lives, and in doing so, it makes what does come to pass a little easier to bear.

As George R.R. Martin once said:  “They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle Earth. ”   Amen, brother.  Amen.

-Sharon Browning

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