Britocentric fantasy

Nat Case ncase at hedbergmaps.com
Tue Apr 13 11:34:52 EDT 2004


Roger wrote:
>Changing perspective a little, I think it would be very difficult to
>write convincingly a fantasy about a world-wide menace, fought across
>the world _only by a few interesting children_... unless they were all
>on the same email list or something, perhaps.

I think you could argue Diane Duane does this in her Wizardry books; 
the hero trio is American, but their colleagues are hardly 
"Americo-centric" or even anthro-centric in their biases. The toucan 
wizards and the whale-wizards, for instance.

To me, an author trying to adopt a truly international perspective 
sounds like science fiction or international spy fiction ("Hassan 
McDonald Kawasaki looked out across the World Government 
headquarters, and shuddered as he considered the insidious threats it 
now faced...").

For all that it's easy (and silly) to harp on fantasists with local 
writing knowledge as "imperialists," it does make an interesting 
perspective on how a colonial mentality actually gets started, how in 
a sense it's human nature: Our most powerful instincts are formed 
where we grow up, and for all we might want to have an "international 
perspective," we're going to end up thinking of the Magic Wood as the 
one in our childhood back yard (or whatever equivalent we grew up 
near).

That said, as our imaginations get more international sources in 
childhood, the picture gets more complicated: for how many kids is 
New Zealand now linked inextricably with Middle Earth? For those of 
us Americans who grew up on Cooper and DWJ et al, the Magic Wood is 
in fact in large part in Britain, not imperial Britain, but the 
countryside. Not dissimilar I should think to the "streets of gold" 
myths about America...
-- 
Nat Case
Hedberg Maps, Inc
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