Thought About Speculative Fiction…



It’s strange how sometimes, in your searches for some kind of information or another, you stumble on something else entirely, and make an amazing discovery.

I was looking for a quote from GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, one that I was trying to recall word for word, a quote about books and reading (for the record, it’s this one: A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one) but among the search results I also  saw a link to a quote about fantasy, a fascinating insight into this writer’s mind.

It’s taken from THE FACES OF FANTASY, by Patti Perret, containing photos of more than a hundred speculative fiction writers, taken in moments of work or leisure. Each picture is accompanied by the thoughts of each portrayed person, a peek into the minds of authors like Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, Robert Jordan, Ursula Le Guin, and many others. Including George R.R. Martin – and here is what he wrote:

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real… for a moment at least… that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”

Dreaming does not mean escaping (to mis-quote another giant like JRR Tolkien), because dreaming means to open your mind and look beyond any barrier, mental or otherwise.

This is the kind of find that makes my day a little special…

8 thoughts on “Thought About Speculative Fiction…

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