The Light of Fantasy
Illuminating the Magic Mirror
Fantasy contains an inherent contradiction. The genre is not as it appears, but its truth makes it exceedingly relevant. Fantasy is not a pure escape. While escapism is absolutely a facet of the genre, it is misleading to suppose that fantasy fully escapes the present world. It is, instead, a mirror. Fantasy, as a rule, must reflect the world in which we live. As hypocritical as this sounds, the writer then has a mission to make the fantastic seem mundane, the surreal seem real, the unbelievable seem believable. A writer is to spin a web of illusion and capture the human mind within its grasp. To bring the myth alive, one must bring it down from Olympus—from the realm of the gods—and place it within the finite minds of fragile mortals. In essence, fantasy must reflect the human condition.
That is the only way that a man could wrap his head around it.
This is not for no reason, however; it is not out of spite, nor of a sinister machination of the author. Within a fantasy story, there is a conscious and unconscious desire to confront the horrors of the world. Through fantasy, a reader (and the writer) is able to confront the despicable and the evil.
Photo by William F. Burk
This is the thing that makes fantasy ever relevant. It is not merely the escape, but the reflection of the true magic in the world. It is the reflection of the human spirit and the miraculous desire for life to continue. It is in it's very essence a reminder that good can triumph and that there is still beauty worth fighting for. The glory of fantasy is that it attunes itself with the songs of our hearts and reminds us that there is something greater and far more powerful than despair, and that this power exists in each and every one of us—that we have the strength to overcome great adversity. There is light in the most pervasive darkness, and the greatest magic exists in the smallest of voices. Whether we know it or not, our greatest power against the evils of the world is but our mortal will to live that carves its path through the horrors around us. The reader sees themselves through the spyglass of the imagined world, and perhaps they discover through the tale that, though the world is vast and treacherous, there is light, and it is bright enough to illuminate the night.
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William F. Burk
Award-winning author of fantasy, flash fiction, and poetry. Author of "The Heart of Hearts," a debut fantasy novel. Always writing, forever and ever.