Thursday, April 19, 2012
Yes. Most modern fantasy is a variation of the Tolkien theme. But while some fault with this, I love it!
I have many interests, hobbies, and activities. Some I do so for intellectual or spiritual stimulation and development. And others I do to take a break from this thing called reality. And reading fantasy is definitely done for the latter.
So it's not so important to me that a fantasy work is original, but that it's written well. And that I like the characters. Even if they are a bit two-dimensional. I can read a hundred versions of the orphan farmboy with a destiny and/or special power to defeat the world-threatening bad guy. As long as it's written well enough that I can get lost in the world and not be distracted by bad writing.
To me, escaping to a fantasy world is like going on a vacation. Every year we go to the Gulf Shore in Florida. And I don't get sick of it. Yes, it's the same thing, just sand, sun, and surf. But it's done well. And if we want to visit a different beach, it's still the same, but with some differences.
So it doesn't matter to me how similar the plot, location, and characters are between LOTR, Shannara, Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, Belgariad, or the countless others. I want to visit places based in the technologically-simple, Middle Ages milieu. I want to visit a place full of magic. I want to travel across scenic, unsullied, natural landscapes. I want to stop every once in a while and have a good meal around a campfire or in a smoky tavern. I want to delve into ancient, foreboding, dungeons. And I want do all of this in a mixed company of fun, moral, loyal characters.
Sure, when the convention is bent, or broken a bit, I can still enjoy the work. But it's still about the escapism and the characters.
And what classic fantasy character wasn't 2D? I would argue that even the most popular and quintessential ones were pretty straightforward. Frodo Baggins. Luke Skywalker. Harry Potter. And internal conflict doesn't automatically make a character 3D. Internal and external conflict can easily be either 2D or 3D.
Fantasy is different from "accepted" literature. Fantasy is based on fairy tale and myth. They are representations of the age-old dilemmas within the human experience. And sometimes this is best done with primitive, simple, child-like broad strokes. It's good against evil, man. And sometimes you gotta act these things out with dolls or action figures.
I don't get sick of eating General Tso, again and again. I don't get sick of visiting the same amusement park. I don't get sick taking walks around my neighborhood. I don't get sick of blues songs that all follow the same 12-bar pattern.
And I don't think I'll ever get sick of "travelling to Mordor with a few hobbits, wizard, and martially-experienced humans."
As long as it's done well.