Laura Miller opens The Magician’s Book with a personal memory about her childhood relationship to Narnia. Left to her own devices, she’s “wishing with every bit of my self, for two things. First, I want a place I’ve read about in a book to really exist, and second, I want to be able to go there. I want this so much I’m pretty sure the misery of not getting it will kill me. For the rest of my life, I will never want anything quite so much again” (3). Throughout my life, I’ve encountered people with similar relationships to secondary worlds (as Tolkien calls them), who loved them so much they wanted to go there so very badly.
Me? Not so much.
When I was young, my parents and I traveled what felt like extensively—as I’ve mentioned, my memory prior to fourteen is blurry and unreliable, so this may or may not be factually true. We were lucky enough to have travel privileges and, naturally, being a very French family, we traveled to visit friends and family in France. It’s such a piece of good luck that I always feel deeply ashamed and guilty to admit that I hate traveling. If there’s a goal in mind, such as seeing a show or a museum, I can stand it; otherwise, I enjoy my home life and my work so much that the idea of being forced to abandon it for any period of time makes me feel physically nauseous. I jokingly call it “travel vertigo”. I only mention this because I think there’s a connection between my “travel vertigo” and the fact that I’ve never wanted to go to Hogwarts or even Middle-Earth more than anything I’ve ever wanted. Quite frankly, I don’t want to escape.
Still, that doesn’t excuse my confusion when I realized that a lot of people read speculative fiction, my beloved genre, for escapism in the comments for this post over at the little red reviewer. While there’s also an appreciation for the exploration of the human condition in a way contemporary or even historical fiction can’t offer and fascinating concepts (the main reasons I read and write speculative fiction), it seems to be a fairly big thing. But it goes absolutely over my head (like a lot of things, really); perhaps it’s because I dismantle stories to get at their warm, beating hearts on a daily basis, which necessarily deals with a clear boundary between fiction and reality, or perhaps it’s because it’s the lame excuse I hear the most from people trying to dismiss my beloved genres. This isn’t a Sunday Salon post where I have an answer; I actually want this to be a discussion post and see if my hypothesis is correct. Question after the housekeeping.
As you’re reading this, I’m probably in a self-induced coma; Nerd Prom was last night, meaning I dressed up as Robbie Hart from The Wedding Singer (this year’s theme: musicals) and danced my legs off, all while being a little sick. Thank God for drugstores. I’ll have to drag myself into a coherent position to go see a friend’s performance at at a nearby college, and then it’s Oscar night, baby! My children’s show finished up Saturday morning; it was so much fun. I’m working through The Guns of the South at the moment (although Tigana will be next when it comes in at the library), and I finished Outlander and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas this week.
The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!
If you enjoy escapism, do you also enjoy traveling?
- Miller, Laura. The Magician’s Book. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Print.