Gettin’ To Be THAT Time Of Year

I can feel it coming on. I’ve noticed it more the last few years, but no doubt it’s been part of my makeup for some time. Call it the Fantasy Itch.

Yep, for some reason as the “holiday season”–usually defined here in the US as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day–approaches, I begin to have an urge to snuggle in with one of the great fantasies. In recent years I’ve used the occasion to reread the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, much of the Narnia series, and a couple of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain books. I even reread the one Harry Potter book I own–which made me realize, I definitely want to visit the library and get a couple more to satisfy this year’s fantasy itch.

The odd thing is, I read fantasy all the time–part of the job now, so to speak. I recently finished Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, a general market young adult story, and the beginning of a series touted as “ideal for fans of George R. R. Martin and Kristin Cashore.” Then there was Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, another general market YA. Before that was Shannon Hale’s sequel to Princess Academy, Palace of Stone.

Of course I also read all the books the CSFF Blog Tour features and some I judge for contests and others friends send me. With all this speculative fiction coming out of my ears, why would I want to settle down with a fantasy as a special holiday season activity?

I don’t really have an answer. I think I’ve mentioned this propensity before, either here or at Spec Faith, and kindly commenters have tried to help me make sense of it. It’s still a mystery to me.

Somehow, with shorter days and cooler weather (I realize we here in SoCal aren’t allowed by our Eastern friends to say “cold weather” 😆 ), reading becomes a greater pleasure. But more than that, getting lost in a different world, one so rich it feels real, is pure delight.

Which probably explains why I gravitate to certain books–those classics that have a level of worldbuilding that is a grade above most other fantasies.

Some of these more recent fantasies–not the urban kind or the dystopians–seem to me to be a weak imitation of the medieval world, with different countries, and of course some magic or supernatural power. In other words, I don’t feel transported to somewhere else.

Tolkien’s stories, though supposedly happening on “middle earth,” feel Other. Not unfamiliar or strange, mind you. There are familiar things like inns and ponies and roads and a comfortable fire and birthday parties. But peopling this familiar place are hobbits and trolls and dwarfs and orcs and wizards and dragons and elves. What’s more, there are frightening forests and abandoned dwarf mines that once held an entire city and mountains that turn malevolent and secret stairways and deadly marshes. In other words, along with the familiar are places that enchant and intrigue and even frighten.

Harry Potter is similar. Nothing could be more familiar to most of us than a school, though fewer of us have experienced a boarding school, unless you lived in a dorm during college. But mixed in with what seems so normal–homework and tests and boring lectures and athletic contests–is the special world of wizardry with its hierarchy and governance, games and tradition. And history. A dark history in which a wizard utilizing the dark arts ruled.

Ah, yes, I’m definitely ready to settle down with a good fantasy. It’s that time of year!


  1. You should be careful reading this stuff. Next thing you might get the urge to visit New Zealand!


    • Heh heh heh. I’ve had that desire for years, Ken! Now when I make my first million . . . 😆



      • Why a million? You can do it for about $175 in about 3 hours and you don’t even need a passport. It’s easy. First, just fly to Sydney . . .

        My kids went on a holiday to check out all the LOTR sites. The structures were removed. Locals often insist on that. At Robertson, south of Sydney, where Babe was filmed, the locals insisted that the pavillion be removed. Later they regretted it, having missed out on all the tourist dollars.

        I remember when Ursula Le Guin came to Australia for an SF writers workshop. It was in Melbourne, and during a break someone took her into the Dandenongs. She reported that it was strange and primeval. She was among the Northofagus, the proteas, the tree ferns all left over from the original Gondwanaland. Maybe she even saw a Burrawang or two. Just everyday plants, nothing exotic.

        Some friends and I once drove an hour to Mt. Tabor to see a Monterey Pine collection. Now THAT’s an exotic sfnal landscape!


  2. Ever since LOTR came out on film this time of year (and 2 of the Narnia films), fantasy has become part of the season. Just finished Morgan L. Busse’s Daughter of Light and it’s not long now for part 1 of The Hobbit (3 parts? Really?).


    • I am SO looking forward to the Hobbit film, DD. I do think you might be right about the release of the fantasy movies influencing me.

      Glad you read Morgan’s book. Hope you enjoyed it.

      I have two more Harry Potter books to read then I think I’ll pick up Watership Down again. I’ve been meaning to re-read that for some time.



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