There was a time in my life, not so long ago, when fiction seemed like a waste of time to me. I was learning about science, politics, and other cultures in a way that made me wonder why people spent so much time creating different worlds when there was so much undiscovered in the world around us. I wanted to discover new ideas and understand other view points, but as I went deeper into each rabbit hole, I was confronted with the dissension and debates of each culture. It started to feel like everyone had a bone to pick with someone else, and it became unenjoyable to delve deeper.
The irony is that I grew up surrounded by fiction. Saturday morning cartoons and video games comprised a sizable amount of my younger years. I played hours and hours of RPG’s in middle school and high school, read books like the Animorphs series, and discovered Magic: The Gathering during college. As time goes on, I’m coming to realize that it was a twisted concept of adulthood and embracing responsibility that made me recoil so much from fiction.
Now, I’m having a bit of a renaissance. My wife is an avid reader, and has introduced me to some really compelling authors, Brandon Sanderson being the most notable. I’ve also enjoyed exploring the forgotten realms in the Drizzt Series from Wizards of the Coast, and discovered a hilarious podcast from Maximum Fun called The Adventure Zone where three brothers play Dungeons & Dragons with their dad.
The world we live in is both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Borrowing someone else’s world for an hour at a time has significantly increased my ability to cope with the stresses of daily life. At the same time, delving into a world that someone else has created can also give clarity and perspective on the world we live in. Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson, is a story that did that for me.
A good portion of the book is written from the perspective of an antagonist, Hrathen. Throughout the novel, he makes some despicable choices. However, by the end of the book I found myself as attached to him as i did the two main protagonists (I’m being vague to avoid spoilers). Gaining that kind of empathy for an “enemy” can have a dramatic effect how you approach those you do not completely understand. Maybe you’ll even give someone a second chance.
What fictional worlds have had an impact on you?