One of the advantages/disadvantages to going to any book event is the inevitable growth of your wish list! At The Life, Universe, & the Everything Symposium I attended over 20 panels and presentations. That meant a lot of titles getting jotted down in my notebook. I found myself drawn to different titles mentioned for different reasons. Some sounded like a similar title to something I already liked. Other books were simply by people who seemed interesting to me. Local authors who are passionate about the science fiction and fantasy genres. The most exciting part about my experience was the suggestion of some fantasy titles in particular that I am interested in reading.
Readers of my blog know that fantasy has been a huge stumbling block for me. It is hard for me to accept worlds I can’t understand. I have been exploring different titles in the fantasy genre and even when I enjoy them I feel something missing from reading experience.
One of the early panels I went to was called “Fantasy Without Magic” and it was perfect for me. I didn’t even think I wanted to attend this panel because I have this overwhelming bias to the world “fantasy.” For a long time I believed that I didn’t like science fiction OR fantasy. I felt that people who limited themselves to these genres were closing themselves off to a whole world of meaningful literature.
Slowly I have come to accept science fiction as meaningful literature. Maybe the most personally meaningful literature I have ever read, especially because of the thought it requires out of its readers. But the same cannot be said for my acceptance of the fantasy genre. Something about the stories and writing tend to alienate me out of wanting to continue the story.
BUT when I stuck around for the “Fantasy Without Magic” panel I got to hear a list of recommended titles. And one of the most emphatically recommended books was the first in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series entitled A Game of Thrones. Has anyone read this? All the panelists were talking about it so much, I felt like I was being left out of some big secret. But, of course, that is probably my own fault. Never before did I want to be let in on the secret.
My new interest in science fiction has definitely made me feel more curious about fantasy, but i have not yet been able to capitalize on this curiosity. To me, science fiction and fantasy are inherently different. For many of the panelists in the various topics of discuss they felt the two genres were inherently the same. I guess it will have to be a matter of time before I can make any kind of informed decision. It is very possible that I have yet to find the type of fantasy that speaks to me.
I have hope that some of these titles on my wishlist will spark something in me, that they will enlighten me out of my genre elitism.
There were several authors at the symposium I had never heard of before and being exposed to new local authors was definitely part of the excitement of the whole experience. There is something completely fascinating about hearing intelligent and articulate people talk about something that you love. Three local authors that I was exposed to through the LTUE experience were Julie Wright, Clint Johnson, and Michael Young.
Paul Genesse, author of The Iron Dragon series, also brought to my attention to book Warlock by Wilbur Smith. The title really sounds like nothing I would ever want to read, but the way Genesse talked about it I am really eager to give it a try. it was so interesting listening to him summarize this story and explain how it was fantasy without magic (because he was a panelist for that discussion). Hearing the passion of these authors and fans of science fiction and fantasy reminded me of all the reasons why I am drawn to literature in general and science fiction in particular. It was great to feel connected to this genre I have just started to embrace.
Even though I am a new fan to science fiction so much of what it represents has always been vital to my reading experience, I just didn’t know where to find it. Why is it that science fiction and fantasy are so marginalized in our reading and educational experiences? How would the genres change if their appeal was broadened?
Science fiction is a genre about ideas and this concept is what made me passionate about literature! To see a world where magic is explainable by science or some other factor is suddenly very approachable and even appealing to me!
These books are just a small sampling of the ones listed in my notebooks. I was most influenced by the “Fantasy Without Magic” panel and just passion and humor of the local authors. These things are what made me the most eager to jot a title down.
What book events have you attended? What was your experience like? Did you feel overwhelmed by the amount of titles you were exposed to? What portion of interesti2ng titles did you actually follow through with reading?