The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.
Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?
We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.
They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.
I have again come to quote George Martin. For some reason, so much of what he writes can be seen to come across as very refined…
This quote goes to my very heart — I know that a number of people consider science fiction and fantasy both most unrefined and uncivilized and they do not grasp why anyone would want to read about something that is “not real”. My response to that usually was that nothing read in books (assuming fiction) is real — it’s all someone’s mind and thoughts which has conjured up a world of some sort into which they have placed their story. It is just that some authors choose to place their stories into a world everyone knows, while others create their own world where anything can happen.
Note that I also consider that any science fiction/fantasy work is in a better position to criticize society although I should return to this to figure out why I believe this to be the case.
But, coming back to this quote: I agree with everything Mr Martin says and I enjoy the final sentiment. I love being lost in fantasy lands especially the ones where I can imagine endless forests and a hunter wandering in them or a dragon flying over the seas hunting.
They can keep their heaven.