I always get very childlike; the adrenaline rush when I race over to my favourite section in a book shop ‘fantasy.’ Even online when I scroll and type away, I am amazed at the variety of both traditionally published books available by known and unknown authors. Even the every increasing eBook age is encouraging more writers in this field to surface and grace the world with their fantastical tales and unique worlds. It seems the demand is there, and the cultural evolution of the genre is evident.
I started researching fantasy back in the 80s, the days of Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D for those more familiar with it.) I think that was my springboard into the realm; then I started pursuing a more inquisitive line of enquiry. I began asking myself questions about the mystical lands and creatures I was so amazed by, and which narratives brought to life. I then developed an academic interest about the roles of such fantastic beings and magical situations that truly captures a child’s (and adults) mind; that childlike thread that seems to be instinctively woven into our DNA (however, there are exceptions to the rule).
My ever longing questions keep on resurfacing, and still do. Where did it all begin? Why is the mythological successful without cultural boundaries? Why do we crave more of it; even reinvent the wheel? I see it getting stronger, and more writers are writing it.
In its more modern form it has been around for no less than two centuries, but when you look closer at the past; at the myths and legends as an example, elements of the supernatural and the fantastic is the basic framework. This transcends or should I say emerges in the literature; right from the beginning.
The characteristics that distinguish the modern approach from the old-style tales that merely contain fantastic elements are the logic of the fantasy workings, the recognised and accepted fictitious nature of the work, and the authorship of the elements, rather than their source in folklore.