Here is my confession, which many would maybe never guess: I love fantasy and science fiction. It started as a young girl, when I was intrigued by Grimms Fairy Tales. My parents used to also read Aesop’s Fables to me. The illustrations in these early books depicted great stories and parables, usually of the old ages, when things took place close to nature. The extraordinary in these stories–the unbelievable, the wondrous, the frightening adventures, the brutal power of our natural world combined with the fist of magic or a hero’s strike–held me captive. And this fantasy escape evolved into future worlds too. I was a kid when the first Star Wars movie came out, when Dune came out. These stories filled me with the kind of wow, awe, and wonder that defined good fiction to me. Oh, I went on to discover other genres, becoming an eclectic reader, but my first loves are still my main loves, especially fantasy novels. The Hobbit was the first book I remember reading in grade school. I wanted to live in a hobbit house (still do!). To this day my favorite movies are based off the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
These early books made me want to understand different cultures and mythologies. When I went to college and majored in English, I took on a second major: anthropology. I studied many cultures from around the world and embraced how people believe, live, and survive. Having always been enamored by Mediterranean cultures, specifically Spanish and Greek, I began writing what might have been an epic novel that created an Iberian mythology.
In my adulthood–another confession–I also immersed myself into the fantasy worlds of games: Baldur’s Gate, Morrowind, Neverwinter Nights, World of Warcraft, Everquest, Rift, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, etc. Seems that many of these games are geared to those who have a lot of time on their hands to play, in order to really get far. Time is a precious commodity these days, so I am not currently playing anything–and only during a window of time when I was waiting on my Canadian landed immigrant status to go through did I have time to raid and amass nice gear. Turns out the modern world’s gaming population can be nearly insufferable; it’s like squishing every racist, bigotry, anti-scientific, or fundamentalist comment from news articles into a bawling mess of guttural blobs. Based upon my experiences playing these games, I actually started writing a series called the Lost Ages, under my pen name, but I found short stories a hard sell, and stopped the series while I think more on where it might go.
A few years back, I turned my previous incomplete novel about Iberian mythology into an MMO gaming idea, which was a good one-hundred pages long, but I kept it to myself. Meanwhile, my current novel about an oil spill is at a dead standstill, despite having a few fits here and there about writing more on it. While the message is important, it is hard (for me) to write political fiction without it being boringly didactic, and I recognize that challenge. I keep thinking that maybe I just need a break from that writing. I want to get back to writing about fantasy worlds, which I’ve been on and off writing for the past decade or so. It doesn’t help either that I’m currently reading Song of the Vikings, by Nancy Marie Brown, an excellent description of Snorri Sturluson (who Tolkien was inspired by) and his life, including his writings of the Prose Edda, which created Norse mythology as we know it today.
Speaking of fire and ice, recently, in our Google+ group, someone brought up the fact that “Game of Thrones” was secretly about climate change. I had watched the first episode of the series some time ago, and knew it was something I would really get into if I kept watching–but, out of fear of spending so much time in front of the tube, I put it off. I kept putting it off. The idea that this show might be secretly be about climate change intrigued me. Author George R.R. Martin talked a little about that in an Al Jazeera interview a couple years ago. Yet, in an interview at Nerdalicious, the following statements were made:
Finally, in a stunning revelation, when an audience member put the ridiculous question, “JRR Tolkien strenuously denied that his books were in any way an allegory for World War II, have you ever been accused of writing about climate change by proxy? You know, it being a bit of a thing in your works, the long Winter?” George replied, “No, I haven’t, not until now,” and continued, “Like Tolkien I do not write allegory, at least not intentionally. Obviously you live in the world and you’re affected by the world around you, so some things sink in on some level, but, if I really wanted to write about climate change in the 21st century I’d write a novel about climate change in the 21st century.
One could say that today climate change invades every story–whether or not the storyteller intends to pass that along–just because it’s the world we live in. Similar to the pastoral and other close-to-nature living of yesteryear. When Martin began the series with A Song of Fire and Ice in the early 1990s, we knew about climate change and it had been addressed already in storytelling, particularly in science fiction. But it’s a stretch to assume everything that we want to be is intentionally about climate change, and it is good to respect the author, even if we, as readers, are not passive when reading. We take away much the author may not have intended.
After summer vacation this year, and entertaining family, I finally had a chance to breathe. Summer is slow at work, and other things are caught up–so starting last week I began to watch the rest of “Game of Thrones”. Of course, it is a beautiful show, one that is so honest in its narrative that it is brutal to our modern aesthetic–yet still true to human nature world-round. I really like the fantasy elements the best: the children of the forest, the Others, the magic. Having natural resources to be in such abundance makes me feel nostalgic for something I never had. The worship of nature gods is interesting from the ancient past, not so much the modern day gimmicky ways. The acknowledgment that cutting down of sacred heart trees was wrong; trees should be shrines!
Anyway, this in-depth saga really hits home in every imaginable way. I thought about it during my run this morning. Somehow I broke my 5K record by three minutes in the morning sun and heat while deciding that I really want to write a subtle eco-fiction saga in the fantasy genre. What great thoughts running gives!