Realistic Fantasy vs… well, Fantastic Fantasy

Laura Andrews, a frequent visitor to this site, has on her own blog an essay, “Realistic Fantasy?” (see ), posted Feb. 5, which raises an interesting question–

How “realistic,” or how “fantastic,” ought a fantasy to be?

Personal taste will provide the answer for the reader; but for the writer, the question is not so easy. Hey, you can only get so “realistic” before your fantasy isn’t a fantasy anymore. Or you can be so “fantastic” that you wind up being the only one who knows what you’re talking about.

Fantasy can be written to show what the writer thinks ought to be: hence knights in shining armor, kings who rule righteously over people who love and respect them, and so on. Or you can be “realistic” (sometimes for humorous effect), and write about cowardly knights who aren’t worth much, corrupt kings, swinish peasants, etc.

At this point I open the forum for discussion.

I bear it in mind, when I write, that heroes don’t always look like heroes; wisdom may look like foolishness; and the light of goodness may shine most brightly in the dark. So to that extent, my own fantasy stories are “realistic”–because sometimes a dark background is the best way to show off the light.

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