Joe Abercrombie was asked by a librarian in a little town called Visby, in Sweden, to write a letter that might motivate the Visbitians to read fantasy. This is what Joe wrote:
Dear Readers of Visby.
Fantasy is about myth, magic, monsters, mystery and wonder. It’s a window into other worlds, other times, other realities. Places that have never existed and could never exist, except in the minds of writer and reader.
But fantasy is also a window into our world. A way of talking about us. About the modern world. About the things that are universal to humanity. Love and hate, war and peace, truth and lies, courage and cowardice, victory and defeat, right and wrong and all the grey space in between. About politics, parenthood, money, violence, progress, belief, betrayal, ambition and triumph. About what it means to be a hero. About whether it is possible to be a hero.
And, of course, fantasy wouldn’t be much good if it wasn’t about fascinating, funny, strange, honest, conflicted people getting themselves into terrible trouble. And getting out again. If they’re lucky…
If I wasn’t already a fan of LordGrimdark, I would be now. Joe really hits the nail on the head here. Fantasy isn’t just about those other places and strange people, it’s about us, right here, right now. It simultaneously explores amazing places, and our own. I think we can learn a lot about each other by reading good fantasy. And writing it.