As I have shared in previous blogs, I am a fan of the fantasy genre. So, you might think I would be pumped up at HBOs announcement that they are about to produce George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. While Martin has won a whole new generation of fantasy fans, I can’t say that I am one of them. It is his basic approach that doesn’t thrill me.
Martin, who used to write for television’s Beauty and the Beast liked the fantasy genre but did not like how being a good person seemed to keep one generally safe in the stories. And it is true that while allies of good people sometimes die, usually in the fantasy genre the party of heroes will all survive (think Star Wars…. Luke, Leah, Han, Chewbaca, C-3PO, R2D2, and the rest all survive. Obi-Wan goes to a higher plane. And even Adican is seen with Obi-Wan in the end). You can do the same with many other such stories.
I can understand that this may go against people’s personal experiences. They see good people die. So having them survive in a genre of literature every time may seem like a – fantasy. But Martin takes this idea and runs with it. Good people not only die but aren’t necessarily the ones you want in power in his story. To quote him, “Jimmy Carter was a good man, probably the best man in the White House in my lifetime, but he was a bad president.” While I agree that Carter was not effective, why that was true is likely something Martin and I see very differently.
What I take from all of this is an anti-providence approach on Martin’s part. He sees no one guiding us and our fate is in our own hands. He definitely seems to be post-modern in his approach to morality. I do not know, but I strongly suspect him to be an atheist or agnostic. And all of this makes his stories very much akin to reading the news today (which is written by many with the same outlook). My questions are, “Why do I want to get invested in characters, only to see them killed off? How am I being entertained by your story other than enjoying the setting? What will this story inspire me to do or how will it help me better understand the world around me?” I stopped reading after his second book because none of these questions had answers. Perhaps he does have a larger point if I delved in further but there is too much good to read for me to want to do that.
And fundamentally, I obviously disagree with him. While tragedies happen, some of which I cannot begin to answer why, overall I do see Providence in this world. I do believe things happen with a purpose and that good people are rewarded for who they are, long before they get to heaven. I see it around me all the time. And I do hope for good men and women to lead.
I’ll be interested to see how A Game of Thrones is received. It probably will be to fantasy what Deadwood was to westerns. But I am just guessing.
As for me, I’m more looking forward to the Hobbit, and stories like it. I hope they will gain far more traction.
Do you have a favorite fantasy story? If so, what?
Until next time,