A fellow Deviant shared this poll a few months ago, and it got me thinking about my reading habits. Actually, it got me thinking about my media consumption habits in general. If you ask me what I gravitate toward, I’ll answer fantasy and science fiction without a second thought. If you ask me why, I can’t answer. I grew up with fantasy and science fiction, so I’ve never really thought much about why I’ve stayed. They’ve both just always been a part of my life.
I’m not even locked into one specific subgenre within either genre. I’m just as likely to pick up sword-and-sorcery fantasy as I am urban fantasy; and I’ll sit down to space exploration science fiction as quickly as I’ll sit down to dystopian or cyberpunk science fiction. There’s just something I can get from both genres that I can’t get from other genres. It’s taken me a few months, two new personal projects, and a freelance writing project, but I think I can offer an explanation (that won’t surprise anyone who knows me or my work). And I think the best way to approach that explanation is by talking about one of my favorite fantasy authors: Brandon Sanderson.
Brandon Sanderson is an amazing writer. He has a gift for taking political thrillers, dressing them up with well-designed science-based magic systems, and exploring sociological issues in a way that speaks to both my inner fan girl and my inner anthropologist. He develops these rich, vibrant worlds that you can’t help but be sucked into because there’s something so familiar about them, and they’re populated with characters that feel like real people. Between reading his books and listening to a podcast he participates in, I’ve learned so much about building viable worlds that I’m now putting to use in my own work.
That’s how both science fiction and fantasy work. Both allow authors to hold up a mirror to society in a way that’s less painful than just bluntly pointing fingers. They allow authors to explore or react to things going on around them, and I think that’s just beautiful.