'How could the Outsider have chosen such a bungler? ...When had he ever offered a single sacrifice, however small, to the Outsider? Never! Not one in his entire life. Yet the Outsider had extended infinite credit to him... Certainly he would never be able to repay the Outsider for the knowledge and the honor, no matter how hard or how long he tried.' (Gene Wolfe, Nightside The Long Sun)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fantasy Is Nearer The Truth Than 'Realistic' Fiction

Your fantasy seems much truer to reality, truer to what we humans experience in this life than most of what passes for realistic, mainstream fiction.

Because fantasy is nearer the truth, that's all. Realistic fiction is typically about a married couple, both college teachers. He's cheating on her with a student, so she cheats on him with whoever's handy. Angst abounds. How true is that story for the bulk of humankind? Realistic fiction leaves out far, far too much. How old is realistic fiction? How old is fantasy?

So mainstream fiction has a tendency to represent a reality that the general public is willing to accept, whereas good fantasy is a reality so near the truth that it must be presented as "make believe" in order to get people to accept it? The only acceptable fantasy is old or distant fantasy. If you are going to look at the sun directly, wear shades—rose-colored sunglasses. Or, you can look at the beautiful image of the sun reflected on a rippling lake.

If you restrict "the public" to the upper middle class, I'm in agreement. I might add that it's far safer to look at the sun reflected in the lake.

(From An Interview With Gene Wolfe)

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