Fascinating piece! I’m a woman and my love for fantasy stories began at a very early age. There were probably many children’s books that started it all, but Where the Wild Things Are and Over Sea, Under Stone are the first two that come to mind.
There are a couple things that really bother me when it comes to people’s reactions to the fantasy and sci-fi genres:
- The belief that fantasy and sci-fi are “for kids.” So once you stop being a kid you’re supposed to start reading and liking more grown-up, worthwhile, literary things. Or at least that’s what I feel a lot of fiction readers think. And it doesn’t make any sense to me because: a good story is a good story, regardless of the age of the reader. What is the age at which it becomes “childish” to enjoy a story that takes place in a more fantastical or futuristic setting? And what’s so “childish” about enjoying such stories in the first place?
- The passing over of fantasy and sci-fi because, well, it’s fantasy and sci-fi. Take Medium itself, for instance. I think there is a relatively small percentage of people who are actively looking to read fiction on Medium; yet I believe most of these folks would automatically pass on reading fantasy and sci-fi. They generally do not give the genres a chance. It actually makes me wonder if they understand the point of story telling. What has closed their minds to the story? The “weird” locations and names, or unfamiliar words or concepts? Do they lack the imagination to place themselves in a world that is not the one they see when they get up in the morning? I know I’m biased, but I think fantasy and sci-fi writers are likely the most creative fiction writers. They’re not only creating stories — they’re creating entire worlds for those stories to fit in. So I simply have to question the breadth of artistry of fiction writers and readers who pass over fantasy and sci-fi.