In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Do It Yourself

 Like Sci-Fi, Fantasy can sometimes hold a mirror up to our own world, by showing one in which things are nearly the same, but often worse. A writer can get away with Mad Mage of Zog Empire saying something you can't have the President say.

 It's a bit hard at the moment. I can't see how we could have a Fantasy allegory of today's politics, it would be ridiculous. Readers wouldn't believe it. I'd do better with Mad Mage and the Zogs. Good name for a 60's pop band, now I think about it.

 In truth, it's very hard anyway. Politics is labyrinthine, a mess of ironies and contradictions that only make sense to us (well, a bit of sense) because we live in the middle of it all. We pick up the little quirks as we go along, so we have a frame to fit everything into. It's not like that with ancient Rome, say. We might know some important figures like Emperors and writers, but we don't know the hundreds of minor issues that cropped up day by day. We can't really imagine them, so it's tricky to write a political Fantasy novel unless you go into tedious detail explaining everything all the time.

 Robert Graves did a wonderful job of this with I, Claudius, by the way. Read it if you can.

 The best we can do is broad strokes. I do some of that in the Songs of Sorrow books, which tell of the struggle to survive of a small religious group threatened by a much larger one. One character here to show such-and-such, one character there to show blah-blah, and leave it at that. Sometimes in writing the trick is to leave detail out and let the reader fill it in for himself. That way every reader has a subtly different mental image of the story, but isn't that why a book is nearly always better than the film version?

 I'm going to try to ignore the real world's politics for a while. Tough ask, in the middle of a General Election, but I'll give it a go. I think I prefer the struggle of the Ashir, and speaking of that, I'm closing in on finishing the final edit of Fanged Fish. The cover's being designed as I write this and we have a tentative publication date of November this year - a scant 6 months away. Meanwhile Kai is trying to change his people's culture to help them survive, and others are trying to stop him and cling to what they know.

 Politics, eh?