Whenever people remark on the fact that fantasy books are slowly eclipsing science fiction, it's viewed as a fear of the future, because fantasy is all about the past, right? Not necessarily, says one blogger.
Writer Mark Charan Newton (Nights Of Viijamur) cites some reasons why "science fiction is dying and fantasy is the future," including the movie popularity of Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings, the predominance of female readers, and fact that real-life science is now as full of "sensawunda" as science fiction.
But game designer Andrew P. Mayer has a different explanation — fantasy is more relevant to our near future than science fiction:
Steampunk is the most obvious example. While it is generally considered to be a genre is fascinated with the past, it is, in its own way, truly futuristic. By telling stories of transformed ancestors it allows us to redefine our vision of ourselves from the other end of the telescope. It is a kind of pseudo-fantasy for a world that is clinging onto the real as it moves beyond the virtual. They are tales of a reality where humanity may on the cusp of truly becoming magicians, capable of transforming the physical world in more radical ways than we ever imagined possible.
And fantasy seems oddly predictive in other ways as well. The threat of global warming seems to be something out of Tolkein rather than Asimov, although without the convenient anthropomorphic villain to slay in order to solve our problems and set the world "right". Our solutions may have to come through acceptance of our abilities rather than an attempt to fight against them...
By populating our modern urban landscapes with creatures of myth, we could be giving ourselves metaphorical stories for the kinds of radical choices that may soon be coming for the human race. And for a generation that will have far more control over their own biology than any that has come before, it may well more helpful to have grown up with those of fantasies as opposed to rocket ships and space aliens.
What do you think? Could fantasy be providing us with more touchstones for our troubling future than science fiction right now? It's an intriguing argument, to say the least.
Robot dragon photo from Coated.