Time for another attempt by me to ramble on randomly about fantasy and see what falls out. No planning for this blog. I should be in bed already!
If you don’t have time, the title sums it up and you can stop here! (Added this line in last, haha!)
When I consider characters, dilemmas, conflicts, and challenges, they always come dressed in handwoven cloth and chainmail, against a backdrop of grass and stone. I have written contemporary fiction, but I inserted Lucifer, so how contemporary was it?
When I have philosophical musings, or consider current cosmological theories, fantasy universes are born. I have a few different universes based on alternate versions of astrophysics, because it is fun, and while I definitely do not understand the physics properly it isn’t the detailed understanding that matters to me there (though I do earnestly like to learn more of our universe’s origins and operation), it is the inspiration it engenders. It is a very rich breeding ground of ideas for me. Ideas beget ideas, no matter where they’re from, in my experience. The important thing is that the ideas are growing, living things, that could themselves inspire others to have their own vivid imaginings. When I read articles about the first ever sales complaint on a piece of akkadian cuneiform, an absolutely fantastic historical fantasy story was instantly born out of my consideration of the posssible consequences of that writing. I really should write that down. Probably make a solid short story as it stands now, easily open up into something more with a bit of work. I went straight to court intrigue, wealth and power, and a desolate man on the run from a vengeful newly crowned king. As you do.
I also think I am a storyteller at heart, a creator of tales, and the fabric of fantasy is the most primal material from which to craft a story. Once upon a time is not fantasy, but so often it is a prelude to the imagined land of yore, before the rigid rules of our world became so structured, a peek back into times where the universe that people interacted with was more fluid, more unexpected, where humanity was not necessarily at the apex of the evolutionary tree, and stood to be taught harsh lessons by other entities. The capricious gods a stand in for the unyielding dominance of tectonics and weather over our ancestors’ lives, where years of hard work, even generations, could be wiped out by flood, or famine: El Nino turning the rules of agriculture upside down and destroying civilizations, tsunami or vulcanism ignoring centuries of building to flatten or bury it in an afternoon of chaos.
Our ancestors recognised how helpless they were, and had a healthy respect for the dangers that lurked around the corners of their world, just off the map, but always ready to invade. Fantasy can also embody that danger, have characters live in a world that knows it exists in a fragile balance, often ideological in fantasy, rather than environmental, but the lesson remains the same – value what you have, do your best to safeguard it, defend it if necessary.
Of course you can choose to write fantasies that reflect today, where the world is dangerously complacent about its stability, and believes there is no reason what is known now will not continue forever. I hope that is true, but history shows us many examples of civilizations who expected to march on indefinitely, only to fall apart. Often in a shockingly short period of time. Of course, resilient humanity carried on, and built anew, a process itself filled with story possibilities.
So maybe that’s another reason I write fantasy, to explore those ideas, among many others. That’s the thing – this blog barely scratches the surface of where ideas can wander, what story seeds they can drop. These were the grander schemes, but just as important can be the microcosm of family life, of personal beliefs and actions, and how they can interact, what they can reveal, when wearing homespun cloth and chainmail.
My advice, if I have any, is to stay curious, and keep learning: the more you stimulate your mind, the more material it has to work with to create something strange and beautiful. I like that. I like that a lot.