Friday, March 23, 2012

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Science Fiction and Fantasy are two genres that have the power to create. Often times, the author is engineering a whole new world, new races, new sights, sounds and smells. But, the goal of every author is to in some way, reach into the reader and touch them emotionally. So, with this in mind, let us take a moment to look at some classic authors and their ability to emotionally connect with their audience.

 Edgar Rice Burroughs took us on a fantastic trip to Mars, where the reader is liberated from all earthly convention and thrown into a complex landscape of four armed aliens, and desperate natives. In this, the audience of his time, the early twentieth Century could identify with the ideals of chivalry, firearms, and the end of empire. Also, his Tarzan series of books freed the reader from normal convention, allowing them to imagine a world where a man only has to hunt and fish, and live by his wits, yet is also a bridge to the refined and honorable nature of man.

H.G. Wells kept us at home, but stirred the fear within us regarding the coming twentieth Century’s industrial growth, reliance on machines, the loss of humanity. In War of Worlds he gives man reason to fear when aliens from Mars come to Earth to reap havoc. Humans, helpless with all our technology and hubris, only to find that the cold virus trumps man’s greatest technologies. The readers emotions are pulled at while the aliens destroy civilization – then we breathe a sigh of relief and see the irony when the aliens fall victim to nature.

Robert E. Howard plunged us into the world of Hyboria, where Conan evolves from savage to King. Again, the reader is left to fantasize about a simpler time, when a man could wake with the dawn, hunt, fish, and sleep where he may, unchained by civil convention.  In his worlds there is no regret, no conscious sense of law – yet justice is done, and with honor and reward. Emotions are tripped as Conan romances a woman pirate who is as hard and unyielding as himself. Conan faces dangers from Pics, Aquilonians, Stygians , all the forces of civilization, and learns to finally come to terms with his own evolution to become King.

These works are timeless, because they strip away our day to day lives and allow we the reader to take on the mantel of another’s life. Be it a future where humans are endangered, or a past where complex civilization collides with barbarian simplicity, what makes science fiction and fantasy great is how it touches each and every one of us who read it.

What do  you think? Who’s your favorite science fiction author and/or fantasy author? What type of SciFi and fantasy do you like read?

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