Why I Write Fantasy (with just a pinch of Sci-Fi)

This week, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is asking what we love about the genre we most frequent, as writers. Click here to join the fun!

I’ve talked about my journey into writing fantasy before, but it bears repeating (especially when it’s the topic of the month). I came to fantasy very late. I never read much fantasy when young, though I suppose some favorites (like Bambi’s Children or Rabbit Hill) would classify as fantasy, just because the animals spoke.

I mostly read historical fiction growing up (Little House, Anne of Green Gables, everything Louisa May Alcott and American Girl), and I watched a lot of science fiction. I grew to appreciate the latter’s specificity of how things work and the way the world affected what could and couldn’t be done, and I loved the characterization and dialogue of the former.

And then I started writing. I began with a historical retake on Robin Hood (which one day I will finish) and then got this idea for a different story–one set in modern times, with the concept of…well, they’re basically fantasy powers, but at the time, I was trying to make them scientific. I had no real room for fantasy…not yet.

IMG_7600 by AngelaSM

But then I started reading fantasy, starting with Tolkien and progressing to The Chronicles of Narnia and The Green and the Gray and progressing to great stories like the Penny White Series and Turquoiseblood and Journey to Aviad, and I discovered that…actually, I really like it, when blended with a healthy dose of science (I’ve never been big on magic, unless the “magic” comes from the way the world is framed). Here are some of the reasons why:

  • You get to make up the history. New worlds, new cultures, new heritages are all expected. What better way to enjoy all the trappings of historical fiction without having to endlessly worry about “getting it just right”? I can go back and make the King Arthur and Dracula legends “as they should be” without having to worry about what did or did not actually happen in the world around them.
  • You get to make up how your physics works. Nothing outlandish, or course, but if I want a world where hand-to-hand fighting still exists because projectile weapons have issues around certain substances, I can make it happen. This gives me plenty of scope for thinking out the logistics.
  • You get to focus on people. With pure science fiction, there’s an expectation that we will investigate technologies and explore the science side of things…and as a writer, that’s never been what most fascinated me. It was always people and relationships, and in sci-fi/fantasy blended, I can get the people focus without losing the logic of sci-fi.
  • The physical world is only the beginning. I love how fantasy opens the door of imagination to what else lies out there, to the idea that matter is a starting place, but not the end-all of the world around us. I think it’s a great vehicle, as a Christian (more on Fantasy and Christianity here), and I love the symbolism and metaphor and metaphysical trappings that are part of the fantasy genre.

So there’s my thoughts on the subject and why, sometime in the next few years (hopefully I can get everything written to my satisfaction by then), I’ll be publishing the first of a series of sci-fi fantasy books. (I’ve been writing them for the last twelve years, trying to get the details right, and I’m getting close…I promise.) 🙂

 

Copyright 2018 Andrea Lundgren

Image by AngelaSM, Creative Commons

11 thoughts on “Why I Write Fantasy (with just a pinch of Sci-Fi)

  1. Why we write fantasy instead of ‘serious’ fiction is a question we get a lot, don’t we?

    Personally, I think fantasy is as serious as any other genre. We need the same skilfulness and the same techniques preparation to create a fantasy story than to create any other story. If anything, fantasy requires an even stronger sense of logic to make something that doesn’t exist feel realistic.

    But I also think that fantasy is always, always about reality. It’s a deforming mirror, but still a mirror of what we live.
    I just read yesterday in an article that one of the greatest novels about WWI isn’t ‘Farawell to the Arms’ or ‘Nothing New on the Western Front’, but it’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’. A provocation? Not as much I one would think 😉

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    1. I’m not that big a fan of Greek mythology, though I did like The Green and Gray, but that was Greek mythology with a twist. And I did read Twilight, though I thought the plot was more compelling than the characters…but that’s a discussion for another day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting perspective on the fantasy genre. I think you and I would have gotten along as kids. I loved all of the books you mentioned. Historical fiction was my thing. I haven’t really outgrown it, only expanded on what I read. But I’ve never really enjoyed sci-fi or fantasy, for one reason or another. I tried to read Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia but never really got into them. My husband loves them, though. Maybe they just need to grow on you over time. Maybe you (I) can learn to love them if I just keep trying… 🙂

    Best of luck on the publication of your books! Twelve years of writing is a lot of writing!

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    1. They may be a “you have to time it right” thing. I know that was me with Pride & Prejudice. I tried it when younger and didn’t like it, not until I saw the movie and was older.

      What sort of books have you expanded into reading?

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