No Happy Nonsense

use your words2023.02.09

A friend of mine reads a ton of fantasy books. Me, not as much. But recently I polished off the first Earthsea book and we got to talking about it.

He said, "Earthsea was such a refreshing's good to read something where the solution isn't just 'throw a fireball' and the hero wins. It felt like reading a pure fantasy book."

I didn't really touch on this in my review for the book but, yeah, basically every conflict in the story is solved by discussion, or self-sacrifice. Very little "let me cast my spell of chain-lightning."

As I was reading Paris Marx' 2022 Politics + Technology book Road to Nowhere the other night, Le Guin popped up, notably her talking about how fucking dumb it is that narrative fiction ends up coming down to physical conflict:

"...Le Guin criticized common narratives in history and storytelling that focus on the masculine hero with his 'sticks and spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things,' but ignore the essential feminine role of the carer or gatherer with her carrier bag that was essential to human evolution. She wrote that 'the reduction of narrative to conflict is asburd,' and explained that there is more than struggle and competition to the function of society and the improvement of the human condition."
- "Road to Nowhere" p. 206

I agree. We should be using our back packs more, and our great swords less. Also, autonomous cars are never happening, sorry techbros.