Justify my genre



I had planned to mount a long, passionate defense of fantasy as a genre.


I’m not going to do it.


I’m tired of doing it. I’m tired of being asked to defend what I write when others are not asked to defend their genres. I’m tired of trying to explain that fantasy is just another mode in which to tell a story, a mode that often subverts society as we see it, reflects on the human condition in a way not seen in other genres, a mode that clears away the thick, dirty cloud of today’s problems in order to give us answers to those problems, and yet attempts to capture some of the wonder that we left behind in our folktales and myths.


If you already believe that fantasy is more formulaic than other genres, I’m not going to persuade you otherwise. Your mind is set, and I don’t have the time or energy to un-set it.


If you use “fantasy is escapism” as a curse, I’m not going to try to change your view.


If you think fantasy is childish and we should put away childish things, then I pity you.


If you believe fantasy is not as “true” to the human experience than other genres, then I’m sorry for it.


If you don’t like fantasy, then you don’t like fantasy.


Instead, I give you Ursula K. Le Guin:


“You see, I think we have a terrible thing here: a hardworking, upright, responsible citizen, a full-grown, educated person, who is afraid of dragons, and afraid of hobbits, and scared to death of fairies. It’s funny, but it’s also terrible. Something has gone very wrong. I don’t know what to do about it but to try to give an honest answer to that person’s question, even though he often asks it in an aggressive and contemptuous tone of voice. ‘What’s the good of it all?’ he says. ‘Dragons and hobbits and little green men—what’s the use of it?’

The truest answer, unfortunately, he won’t even listen to. He won’t hear it. The truest answer is, ‘The use of it is to give you pleasure and delight.’ ”



–Alexandra Little



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Frances Spurrier
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 13:56:58

    Hi Alex – try being a poet if you think other people don’t have to defend their genres!

    But I love fantasy. Bring on the dragons and the hobbits I say …


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