If someone were to ask why I like Fantasy, I would have to say that I agree with what Brandon Sanderson said at the 2010 ALA conference. If I remember correctly, he said that Fantasy to him was not about escapism. That statement immediately resonated with me. On the one hand, it does feel like “escape” to travel in our minds to exotic places we could only wish to visit, but it does not have to be seen that way. Speaking for myself, the reason I love stories in the first place and the reason I like telling stories is because I like people. There is no need to “escape” life.
Rather, I look at Fantasy as a safe place to consider the human struggle of good versus evil unencumbered by the history and politics of the real world. With it I can explore issues of friendship and home, vengeance and forgiveness, prejudice and acceptance, without having to worry about the complications of tribalism. As some college English instructors can attest, there are some adult students out there who feel they cannot “relate” to essays and stories about people raised in different cultures or who happen to be a different gender or age from themselves. Fantasy forces us out of our comfort zones of “normalcy” and teaches readers how to relate to the “foreign.”
But beyond the intellectual aspect, the biggest reason I love Fantasy is because it is just plain fun. I love creating characters who live in fantastic places and worlds where magic exists and dragons fly the skies. I do not need to escape there, but I sure do like to visit.