In 2001, while receiving the Carnegie Medal for his children’s bookThe Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, author Terry Pratchett said, ‘We categorize too much on the basis of unreliable assumption. A literary novel written by Brian Aldiss must be science fiction, because he is a known science fiction writer; a science fiction novel by Margaret Attwood is literature because she is a literary novelist. Recent Discworld books have spun on such concerns as the nature of belief, politics and even of journalistic freedom, but put in one lousy dragon and they call you a fantasy writer.’ Pratchett was England’s most popular author in the 1990s (before yet another fantasy author, JK Rowling took over), having sold over 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages. The Amazing Maurice is a tale of a cat and a group of rats fighting monsters and two-legged humans in a quest for their survival and deifes any categories really, be it a metaphor, a children’s book or even a fantasy fiction.
For most of us, it’s the dragons who breathe fire, immortal vampires with icy smooches and marble-skin and werewolves and robots and faeries and artificial intelligence who want to take over the world—these are the things that take us back again and again to the speculative genre. We live in these make-believe worlds, we see them through the dragon’s eyes, through the wizard’s adventure, through the superhero’s flight in the sky. For those few hours a day, swashbucklers we, slay with our Valyrian swords, dashing away from the Nazgul, and facing worst dementors by becoming Jedi masters. For fantasy, be it in gaming or books or movies, is perceived by the majority as escapism and a desire to live in alternate realities.