Why Gods Are Usually Better Left Off-Stage in Fantasy

Call me old fashioned, but a God in fiction should have god-like powers. What exactly are those? Well, a snap of the fingers and they can bring drought, famine, flood or plenty, kill hundreds, create hundreds, change the world or influence people’s lives and fates. Hell, they are usually the ones that created the world in the first place. Most importantly, their powers trump everyone else’s. If they’re a god, they’re more than everyone else: they’re the ultimate power.

This leads me to why I often have a problem with gods traipsing around centre-stage in fantasy novels, TV shows, or films. If they’re no longer a mysterious, largely absent and only mildly-interfering power, they can become problematic. Here are a few reasons why (and I’m well aware other people may not mind these things as much as I do!): Continue reading

Why I’m Staying Right Here on Earth

For years science fiction has been making us consider what it might be like to travel through space, visit other planets and colonise them. But with the Mars One mission and Virgin Galactic space tourism, the question has become more personal. People can apply to join a one-way mission to Mars, agreeing to leave everything behind in the hope of becoming one of the first human colonists on another planet. Continue reading

Science Fiction and the Joy of Discovering Something New

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved reading fantasy novels. I can read and enjoy books outside of the genre, but it’s always been much harder for me to love a book – to become completely engrossed – if it’s not fantasy (that said, I recently read The Help, and it turned out to be one of the exceptions to the rule). Sure, I’ve dabbled in a few other genres, but fantasy is where my heart has always been.

Up until a couple of years ago, however, the spread of other genres I’d sampled had a glaring omission. Continue reading

My Favourite Fantasy and Science Fiction Books in 2014

Only one more day left in 2014! And even though this isn’t really a review blog (though I do mention books I’ve enjoyed), I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of several other bloggers I’ve seen recently and take this opportunity to list a few of the best fantasy and science fiction books that I’ve read this year. Continue reading

Why We Read Fantasy: Is There a Secret Ingredient?

For years, perhaps since the earliest fantasy criticism, authors and critics have touted the element of ‘wonder’ as being central to fantasy, and to some extent, science fiction.

We’re often told that it’s why we’re drawn to the genre, that it’s this particular intangible, magical feeling of awe that we are seeking when we dive into Middle Earth, linger in the corridors of Hogwarts, or encounter the many worlds and peoples of Star Trek.  Continue reading