Why I Don’t Like Fantasy

Fantasy. The genre is as old as Homer’s Odyssey, can be found in every culture throughout history, and has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in modern times. I am not a fan.



Legions of writers love to create otherworlds. I don’t. As a writer, the idea of building a completely different world from the one I’m familiar with exhausts me.

I can picture my Scriblerian spec writer buddies shaking their heads and mourning my misguided prejudices. GEKE especially. Creating her Salters’ world energizes her to the point that I’ve nicknamed her Hammie after the hyperactive squirrel in the movie Over the Hedge.

What is it about fairies and fey? Dragons and dwarfs? Monsters and myths?



My guess is that the human soul longs to see a world where good and evil are easily discerned. Yes, even when the evil witch disguises herself as a beautiful queen, or the pure princess has been trapped in the ugly, filthy image of a goblin by a wicked wizard, the reader has been provided with hints that all is not as it seems.

Real life is murky, no obvious lines dividing right and wrong. Misted paths of evil and good diffuse together, and we can’t always be sure  we’ve chosen the right direction.

photo by Ian Furst

photo by Ian Furst

Those are the stories I love to read. And to write. Characters in a world like my own, striving to do good, making mistakes, searching for meaning in life, seeking eternal life. Secular literature points the way toward goodness, something that all of creation instinctively recognizes when they meet it. Christian writers point the reader toward Christ.

I offer a list.

Authors whose books I can’t wait to get my hands on, both secular and Christian:

Ann Tatlock, Kate Morton, Jamie Langston Turner, Ann Patchett, Michelle Stimpson.

Favorite children’s authors:

Kate di Camillo, Madeleine L’Engle, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Other favorite authors:

Leon Uris, C.S. Lewis, Elizabeth Berg

Wait a minute. C.S. Lewis? Madeleine L’Engle? Kate di Camillo? Aren’t some of their books in the fantasy section of the bookstore? I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over. The Wrinkle in Time trilogy can be labeled science fiction, but L’Engle still had to create other worlds to make the stories work. And how come Shadow Castle was my favorite book as a younger reader?

Did I say I don’t like fantasy?

Never mind.

Saturday Night Live's Roseanne Roseannadanna

Saturday Night Live’s Roseanne Roseannadanna

8 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Fantasy

  1. When I was doing my graduate work in teaching, several of the instructors commented that a large portion of younger readers often don’t care for fantasy. Those that do love fantasy\science fiction are predominantly above average as readers.

    In other words, Fantasy readers often excel in reading. Of course, the remark brought a flurry of arguments in the various classes and from various classmates.

    I have found that those who don’t care for fantasy are often very literal readers. Unless the fantasy world is made extremely concrete and human conflicts well-grounded in real life human experience, those non-fantasy readers often get lost in fantasy, then grow bored, and give up on the novel.

    It is for this reason that I treasure the critiques from my non-fantasy writing scribmates. You often don’t get absorbed in the details and won’t let the small flaws go unnoticed.

    I would hope that the my appreciation would be mirrored by my non-fantasy writing scribmates when I critique their “ah-hum” fictional realism. I don’t get wrapped up in the emotion easily and I need to perceive the story going somewhere relevant at a reasonable pace. When you do offer me something tightly written written and interesting that earns my admiration, you have accomplished a lot.

    One last comment, we are hard wired for myths and legends. It is a part of the human psyche and one of the ways in which we naturally learn.


  2. Linda – I totally got your post. We have similar tastes in books. And oh yes, I’m totally a hyper squirrel on Red Bull when you get me excited!


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