So Why Don’t I Like Fantasy? Beats Me . . .

There was a post on Carla’s blog the other day about historical fantasy, and as I mentioned on the comments section there, I’ve never cared for fantasy. I’ve been trying to figure out why. It’s not that I have a Gradgrindian aversion to fancy; after all, there’s a miniature Christmas tree in my kitchen that opens up its mouth (yes, its mouth, cleverly concealed under its branches) and sings “Jingle Bells” when you wave a hand in front of it. It’s not that I’m a religious fanatic who sees something sinister in Harry Potter; quite the contrary. But for whatever reason, fantasy, as well as science fiction, has never appealed to me.

In the end, I suppose it’s like chocolate ice cream. I don’t like it. I know lots of people love it. I know there are excellent varieties of it. I’ll buy it for my family. I’ll even make an effort to eat it now and again to be polite. I’ll never attempt to dissuade someone else from eating and enjoying it. But I just plain don’t like it. Give me vanilla any day.

That being said, I’m not immune entirely to fantasy, it turns out, at least not at the level of wanting to see what happens next. I volunteer at my daughter’s school library shelving books once a week. I come in at the same time a second-grade class comes in for its library hour, and part of the hour, of course, is story time. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been listening, with the second graders, to one of the librarians read a volume in “The Magic Tree House” series. The series, from what I can tell, involves a couple of modern-day kids who go to, well, a magic tree house, and get transported back into the past. Once the kids reach the past, there’s always some crisis that only they can solve.

Anyway, in this volume–I haven’t caught the name–the kids have been taken back to Camelot, only to find that the denizens of the Round Table are having a perfectly miserable Christmas, evidently because the leading knights have gone missing and none of the people left have the courage to go looking for them. Our modern-day kids, being a plucky pair, immediately volunteer, and just yesterday, they located the missing knights, who have all been put under some sort of a spell that makes them dance endlessly until they dance themselves to death. When the bell rang yesterday, the kids had hit on a solution: join the dancing circle, keep from falling under the spell themselves, and pull the dancers out of the circle, thereby breaking the spell and return everyone to Camelot. Things were looking dire, though, because it appeared that the kids might not be able to resist the spell themselves . . .

I hope this is all wrapped up next week, because I really don’t think I can wait until after Christmas break to find out how this all ends up.

8 thoughts on “So Why Don’t I Like Fantasy? Beats Me . . .”

  1. I would have classified myself as a non fantasy reader, but I have found some really good fantasy that I really like this year…’s interesting to be able to look at how much your reading tastes change during a year!

  2. I’m very choosy about what SF and fantasy I read. I take an age in the bookshop, read snippets, flicking through, trying to work out if I’ll like it. There’s such a range of approaches and general variation.

    On the other hand, I don’t mind watching either SF or fantasy on the TV. Mind you, I guess I can just switch channels or switch the TV off.

    But if I’ve bought a book …

  3. I never read fantasy, either. (I’m going to have to disagree with you on the chocolate ice cream issue, though.)

  4. I like Fantasy and SciFi as genre, but I don’t read everything that’s in the stores. It must have an interesting concept of world building and characters I care about, and be somewhat well written. Also, I’m not a fan of endless series. In SciFi, I want to be able to understand the technical/genetic/whatever background.

    Thus stuff like Robert Jordan or the Shannara books are ruled out, while Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is on my keeper shelf, as is most by David Gemmell – his elements of pulp fiction are fun. And of course, there’s Tolkien whose LOTR started me on Fantasy, Guy Gavriel Kay, GRR Martin, some of Sara Douglass (though not all she writes). I like some of Heinlein’s SciFi books and the first Dune volume, or McMaster Bujold’s unusual MC Miles Vorkosigan. And I keep finding interesting things by less well known authors, like Wen Spencer’s Ukiah Oregon books taking place in the future, or Tamara Siler Jones’ gritty Dubric mysteries in a Fantasy setting.

  5. That story sounds fun!

    I like the chocolate ice cream analogy. Books are just as subject to personal taste as food, or clothes, or colours, or whatever.

  6. I volunteer at my kids’ school library, too. I wasn’t able to do it this semester, but I hope to go back in January.

    I’ve been reading the Magic Treehouse series to my boys. My favorite is the one in which they go to the moon in the future. There are several good episodes, though.

    I do like fantasy, but not all of it. I love Tolkien, of course. I loved many of the Narnia books (esp. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). Harry Potter. Now I’m reading Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider to my boys, and we’re enjoying that. I really like sci-fi, too, but I prefer to watch a good sci-fi series than read about it.

  7. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, folks! Tuesday is when I get to find out whether the kids save the dancing knights or not . . .

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