What Lies Behind the Fantasy Craze?
It is no news that ever since Harry Potter, fantasy books have been in high demand. New authors are sprouting up all the time. Adults are even reading children’s fantasy books, and the adult fantasy market is burgeoning. Why?
Obviously, people are looking for escape from the world they live in and are looking for alternate realities. What characterizes these realities? Almost all of them have a clearly defined sense of good and evil-something that is missing in today’s society. Good and evil still exist, of course, but they are not acknowledged. In the fantasy world, there is no such thing as political correctness!
People are hungry for heroes. So often fantasy has “Christ figures”-a character who will perform an act that will set the fictional universe to rights. By the number of people who crave these stories, it is quite obvious that we possess an internal archetype that knows good and evil and believes in the possibility of redemption. So, while politicians and media pundits are trying to eradicate a belief in absolutes, people are buying more and more books that deal in absolutes.
If the world we live in today were a fantasy, how would things be made right? It is certainly possible that an author would allow things to play out until they became much worse. Until we were on the brink of total annihilation. Then there would be an apocalyptic ending, where the evil are destroyed and the good redeemed.
My novel, The Last Waltz, tells the first half of this story, the decline and fall of Austria as a world power that eventually embraces fascism. Something that isn’t very well understood is that Hitler was seen as the hero of the fantasy that all could be restored to rights. Only a very slim part of society saw Hitler for what he really was. Watching the film “Triumph of the Will” reminds me of a scene in Star Wars where the evil Emperor’s stormtroopers are marching on display. It is indeed chilling, and one can see how so many people were deceived by its pageantry.
Germany and Austria’s intellectuals, who might have saved the day, had given up on God and morality and embraced decadence as a way of life. After the horror of World War I, they could no longer believe in the code of ethics that had guided Europe for so many hundreds of years.