Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I just can't let fantasy go

Sometime in 2013, I finished Augustus by Anthony Everitt and absolutely loved it. This had been the first non-fiction book I'd read since I finished The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins back in 2008. That's a full 5 years from one non-fiction book to the next, and I realized after reading Augustus just how much I liked expanding my mind and what I read and decided to make an active effort to read more non-fiction. I even changed my Goodreads what books do you like? section and said, "I use to be strictly a fantasy/scifi fan, but I have since been trying to open up and am more interested in expanding my mind than my imagination these days. I crave knowledge and the feeling of exploring true creativity in a world I can get lost in."

Two years later, here I am, 60% of the way through The Name of the Wind, and my past-books read since then are filled with nothing but scifi and fantasy from A Song of Ice and Fire to Warhammer to Space Odyssey. The one lone memoir, The Latehomecomer, doting my otherwise widespread disregard for my own promise to expand my mind over my imagination.

I just can't let fantasy go. Why not?

True is, I love it. It's the raw, unfiltered truth that I just love fantasy above all others. I like to let my mind go and imagine that truly impossible things are coming to life. Magic, sword fighting, dark and gritty to the weird and strange; there's a whole world of unknown with seemingly endless possibilities that can never be perfectly recreated from one author to the next. Each new fantasy book brings with it a host of new creatures, landscapes, and civilizations the likes of which can never be reproduced in non-fiction. Non-fiction is thoroughly grounded in reality, and thus woefully limited to what is physically and mentally possible.

Now, to the credit of non-fiction, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

For example, the actor who plays the Mountain - Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson - is 4'9" and 420 lbs. The Mountain described in GRRM's books is said to be 8 feet tall and 30 stone . . . which is 420lbs. The actor in real life is actually more muscular and bigger than the Mountain in the books! The Mountain in GRRM's books is actually a god damn skinny rail of a man! Ha!

And let's not even go into the unification of Germany. What a twisted plot of conspiracy and undermining that was!

Yet still, I am here, reading my fantasy.

The thing is, I like to let to go. When I read, I want to escape. The world I live in is complicated enough without me knowing more about it (though I still desire to do so) so when I read, I want to take a break from the huge pool of billions of voices shifting a never ending ocean of constant change and progress. When I read, I want to be drawn out and away from the huge, colossal tidal wave that is human life on Earth and be taken to a place where the fate of the world can be decided by a single person with a sword in hand.

I want a world totally strange and unfamiliar, thus with limitless possibilities to explore and learn. A world unlike any other with magic and danger, wild and untamed, both sophisticated and feral in the same breath. I want a world that makes you scared to take a step outside and yet hopelessly curious to do so. It would be a world that would physically challenge you at every corner, providing a never ending stream of challenges to overcome.

I want magic. I want mystery of the deepest sense which can only be grasped at and never fully comprehended. A constant shroud of unknown blanketing the single greatest power any world could ever know.

I just can't let fantasy go.

And damn it, why the hell should I?

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