Have you ever noticed that sharing guilty pleasures is okay in some circles and taboo in others? I guess it depends on the guilty pleasure. Good bread: most would agree. Chocolate: nothing to feel guilty about there. Wearing the happy pants as often as possible: certainly acceptable. But I have one guilty pleasure I have never shared with my fellow English teachers or with other writers. Why? They would laugh themselves silly at me. And I don't much like to be laughed at.
But it's a New Year, and I'm feeling brave. And I just got done re-reading one of my favorite series. So here goes: I LOVE reading fantasy. Good fantasy. And finally, I am not ashamed to admit it. Here are books that qualify as good fantasy, in my opinion (in no particular order):
1. The whole Deathgate Cycle by Weis and Hickman
2. Anything by Ursula leGuin, especially the Wizard of Earthsea series
3. Ditto for Jane Yolen
4. The Exiles series by Melanie Rawn (which I would like even better if she'd finish book three and publish it! I want answers, woman!)
5. Illusion by Paula Volsky
6. Madeleine l'Engle. Period.
7. The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
8. Harry Potter. Seriously.
9. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
10. ANYTHING by Patricia McKillip (especially, though, Ombria in Shadow)
11. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
This is why I like fantasy. In any other fiction, the author can take for granted the fact that the reader has heard of the setting, has some general knowledge of place. The rules for that setting have been created; hence, the author needs only create plot and characters. (I say only as if this is an easy task; I know it's not EASY, but bear with me.) In fantasy, the author must not only create the plot and characters, she must also create the world. She must consider geography, social customs, food, names, history, racial tension, the rules of magic and so much else besides. Clothing, money, food, foreign languages, modes of transportation. It's amazing. And whilst juggling all these creative ideas, the writer of good fantasy (like those listed above) also are masters at plot and character development.
I don't know why my fellow teachers and writers turn up their noses at fantasy. Some say it's not "real" literature, that it is too new as a genre, that the plots are too predictable. Whatever. Hogwash.
And here's something better: I AM going to start writing again, and this time, it's going to be fantasy. So there. I have been percolating an idea (percolating: I want more coffee) for a few months now, and I think it's past time to dust off my new notebook and get back to writing.
Keep me honest, dear readers. Check in on me. And thanks for listening.