The marvellous Mackenzie over at Color Me Read posted this one in December last year, and was inspired, in turn, by my fabulous reading-buddy Maryam the Curious SFF Reader who posted a science fiction version for SciFiMonth 2021.
What is your favourite genre?
Fantasy and Science Fiction have an equal hold on my heart, but for very different reasons.
For the purposes of this tag: Fantasy is a genre I love for its wild creativity and unfettered imagination. I love to see new takes on old tales as well as entirely fresh stories seemingly plucked from the air. I love the creatures, the worlds, the magic and mystery that the Fantasy genre offers up, and its inherent playfulness. Fantasy is a sandbox in which all the rules can be rewritten, and yet real-world issues still be addressed. I will ever be a sucker for the ‘what if?’: What if magic were real? What if we had to live alongside dragons? What if trees could talk? What then would life be like?
Who is your favourite author from the Fantasy genre?
There can never be just one. Even if I were to narrow it down by choosing only authors by whom I’ve read at least two works, there’d still be handfuls. I am fickle in my affections.
Still, as a rough and ready list, (and let’s just assume from the off that Sir Terry Pratchett is a favourite because … duh), then Zen Cho, Robin McKinley, China Miéville, Jo Walton and Aliette de Bodard are the first five to spring to mind. I reckon I could pick up something by any of these five, in any reading mood, and enjoy myself.
What is it about the Fantasy genre that keeps pulling you back?
I’m not sure I have much more to add to my answer for the first question.
Fantasy was very much my go-to genre when I was younger, because it was a world away from reality. And there is something, even now, about the familiarity of falling into a book in which there will be magic … even if I have no idea how that magic will manifest itself.
And Fantasy is a rainbow reading experience. How do I explain this better? When I read books set in the mundane world (which is much less often now), I often get lost in the grey-ness of the real world. That’s not to say I don’t find beautiful writing or things of interest in non-fantasy works, just that the real-world-ness doesn’t light up my brain in the same way. Because in a fantasy novel, whether it be grimdark, epic, urban, historical, that greyness is gone. It’s the different between a silent black and white film and an early technicolour musical in terms of what it feels like for me when I read. Black and white has its own merits (The Artist, for example, is a frigging awesome film, all the more beautiful for its monochrome palette), but in general, I get more stimulation from colour.
What is the book that started your love for the Fantasy genre?
I answered this question recently for another tag with some of the earliest fantasy books I remember reading, so this time round I’ll answer with the series that really cemented my love of Fantasy when I was a tween. I binged The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce which I found in the tiny teenage section of our village library, then begged the Nice Librarian (as opposed to the Scary Librarian) for anything else that Pierce had written, who produced from within the folds of her magic librarian cloak, Wild Magic. And that was everything Pierce had published, back in the mist-shrouded year of 1993. Pity me, dear reader, pity me.
If you had to recommend at least one Fantasy book to a non-reader, or someone looking to start reading this genre, what book would you choose and why?
I think, this time round, I’m going to pick some shorter story collections because with my own reading time seriously curtailed at the moment by my new job, I can really see the appeal of short stories and novellas that don’t require too much commitment, but still deliver a Fantasy taster. Two collections I’ve enjoyed, off the top of my head, are New Suns edited by Nisi Shawl and Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan. These are both solid selections with a nice range of stories and lengths (Note: New Suns is a collection of both Fantasy and SciFi).
Why do you read?
I read to escape, and to come home. I read to experience all the adventures I’m not brave enough to go on in real life. I read to see the world through other eyes. I read because I cannot imagine not reading.
Why do you read?
Anyone else want to play along with this tag? Give it a go if you’re in the mood!