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The Rarity of Perspective

One point of debate that I've become involved in from time to time is the subject matter of fantasy literature, specifically about just how "fantastic" the events that make it up really are.

A few of my own readers have mentioned the "pretty disturbing" happenings in the first two Aona books- not in a bad way by any means, but it got me thinking about what what constitutes "disturbing" in the first place.

One of the peculiarities of modern "society" is that the general public remain easily "outraged" and yet the animalistic behaviour of a large number of people (supposedly members of that same society) indicates that we have in fact lost the plot completely and are gently sliding towards a state of amorality and chaos (or a totalitarian state run either by egomanic opportunists or religious fanatics- or, as I believe is more likely, all of the above). Every week some news story breaks that confirms once again, people have found even more depraved and violent ways to destroy one another- whether that’s the unstoppable epidemic of abuse and rape perpetrated by and on young people throughout our green and pleasant land (that’s the UK, but you can pretty much substitute any country you like here), or kids used as cannon fodder and strapped to tanks in Syria, or the constant terror felt by the people of Afghanistan, caught between torture and repression on one side and bombings on the other… or even on a less extreme scale, the state of utter corruption evident in every echelon of “authority” from politicians, and phone-hacking journalists who would literally kill for a story if they thought they could get away with it.

My point is that I doubt I could write anything as casually unpleasant as the reality of modern society, even if I tried.

I do think, however, that in fiction, any escape is a good escape- even if, as is the case in my books, the world is under threat from several completely different strands of evil and survival is, shall we say, a challenge that not everyone is up for. I would hope it’s a lot harder to become desensitized to the story- after all, it’s just a book, it isn’t twenty-four hour media being drilled into people's skulls. It knows nothing of the endless, breathless rush of constant consumerism, constant networking, constantly being “switched on”, or the unstoppable need to buy and be bought- because in our intrusive and brightly-lit "real" world, all things have a price and nothing is sacred- but within the confines of an imaginative work, one has the ability to reshape the way that things work to an extent.

Because my characters are people rather than heroes, by necessity their psychology is influenced by the behaviour of actual people in analogous situations. They are human, after all. Well some of them are. But the quite different world and vastly different situation I think makes something which is, in a way, less grimly hopeless than the situations beamed at us by the intensity of modern media on a continual basis.

One comforting thought for the distant future (which, ironically, is the place from which Aona's story comes): even in a few hundred or thousand years from now, stories will still be told. The situation and the mechanics may involve nothing more than a cave and a fire and a little imagination, but that's the seed from which worlds other than this may grow.

Comments (1)

  1. Jenna:
    Nov 05, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Really thoughtful piece, agree you would be hard pressed to create anything as horrible as what we see on the news

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