All we have is now, isn’t it?
Some thoughts have been bubbling through the back of my mind regarding conservativism in SF and Fantasy, and a sense of nostalgia for the past. Let me preface this by saying, I don’t like boxes. I prefer playing with and pushing against the fuzzy boundary spaces between things – so defining certain things as ‘proper, true, and canon’ in the fantasy genre really bugs me.
This is a bit long overdue, but these two posts kicked off this train of thought: It’s amazing the things we know that are actually wrong by Kate Elliot, and Concerning historical authenticity in fantasy, or the truth forgives you nothing by Daniel Abraham.
Writers of fantasy are particularly prone to research, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. Dropping in bits of reality do help lend a sense of authenticity, and as writers, achieving a suspension of disbelief is important, but most of us are not historians nor archaeologists. If you’re like me, most of what you know about history is likely accumulated from books and movies, and that is problematic, because these sources need not be true. Likewise, written history is in no way complete. It has a point of view, often that of those who have conquered or are the dominant cultural institute, and it is not free from propaganda. Certain segments of society are at times purposefully erased, but it does not mean they did not exist, nor impacted the world. Archaeologists are filling in the gaps with research. Note: I’d recommend reading up on current archaeological research for a more rounded view, and see how historical writings are not always correct.
So, let us go to the past, or the pseudo-past; fantasy as a vehicle for indulging a longing for a better, simpler, time and place… or does it?
Really it depends on who you are. Honestly, as a woman with poor eyesight, bad allergies, there aren’t many historical eras that I know of, that I’d want to go back to, even just to visit. The world today is full of problems and is nowhere near paradise, but for someone like me, it’s probably the best era I could hope for, in terms of living out my dreams and or being afforded the simple freedom of choosing what I want to do with my life.
So I guess my point is that not everyone has the same sense of nostalgia, nor fantasies. Maybe this is why my writing turns out darker than I expect… I don’t think I could write about a farmhand leaving his idyllic life, to go on a great quest, then coming to long for his old life again. Some of us just get plopped out into the middle of the quest and the conflict, and what home we have we fight for and build ourselves.
Thoughts, scrambled, with a side of cute (because puppies make all things better)