Fantasy makes the world go around
Fantasy novels and stories have exponentially gained popularity over the past years. And sales of the novels continue to rise, even surpassing other genres like science fiction. But what makes fantasy have this increasing appeal as far as readership is concerned?
Once in a while everybody wants to escape from reality. A good fantasy story will be the best and cheapest bet. Fantasy is escapism on the move. This is a perfect getaway leading us to escape temporarily from our disjointed miserable lives. Fantasy takes us into those realms where the most potential catastrophe to be confronted in life is next alien invasion, not some looming deadline; where each problem may not have simple solution though it has its own magical, superheroic, wizardry solution. Fantasy is a kind of magic that includes the type which involves spaceships, superpowers and fancy gadgets. Who does not crave for some little magic in his or her life? This is the reason why when we were kids, we needed Santa Claus to be real. This is a primitive instinct normally crushed by onslaught of adulthood plus the desire to be ‘real’. But fantasy novels awaken the magic in us. A good fantasy story is a story about humanity.
Regardless of the bigger than life incredulousness and saving humanity/Universe rhetoric which most fantasies normally thrive on, the stories, and here I mean the good and enduring ones, are stories that at their core are about humans-their challenges, victories, defeats, emotions, courage and flaws. Escapism is quite fantastic, though it has some limited shelf life. And the best type of fantasies in books usually are those dealing with real human pain, real human tragedy, real human bonds and real human sacrifices even when it is operating in some strictly unreal realm. We relate closely to their emotions. This is because whilst we might not have to be forced to sell our souls so that we save our beloved ones often, we all do make sacrifices for those we deeply care for. We all deal with emotional mess which is human relationships while struggling to everyday find our own balance. Reading about our heroes doing the same, even though they have superheroic capabilities provides us rationalization plus validation we often crave for.
Fantasy is also therapeutic. Often all it takes to begin our healing is some excuse to cry when our adored hero jumps in some mythical fire pit! Lastly fantasy provides us hope which is our biggest addiction. In this world where errors are taken as sacrilegious and perfectionism coveted, fantasy allows us to believe that even those considered the best, having the best resources, and even magic, are capable of making mistakes. But mistakes don’t imply the end. Therefore, fantasy provides us hope that regardless of mammoth odds we are facing, and how dwarfed you’re by superfluous forces in your life, still you can win, or at least, survive. All heroes are flawed and they sometimes make terrible mistakes regardless of all the gadgets and magics in their possession. And all heroes overcome eventually the odds stacked against them, emerging victorious. This is a possible endorsement of courage, resilience and hope in life. And it also explains why fantasy attracts its own type of maddening love.