Natania Barron’s “In Defense of Fantasy – Or Why I Write the Weird”

“Yes, there is a heap of terrible fantasy writing out there (as well as any other genre, I should point out),” said Natania Barron in her blog post, ‘In Defense of Fantasy – Or Why I Write the Weird.’ Barron’s debut fantasy novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, came out late last year and she regularly discusses the fantasy genre on her blog.

“For some reason,” Barron says, “bad fantasy and bad science fiction seem to be exponentially worse than, say, bad historical fiction (this, I am certain, has to do with cover art in many respects).

“But no one should treat fantasy as a single flavor of novel because, at least in my view, fantasy writing is as dappled, diverse, and unfettered as any genre out there. Magic or no, elves or no, dwarves and fairies or no, fantasy writing can take you anywhere. Things to avoid? I happen to think that (although I have a soft spot for them myself occasionally) there are too many dragon stories. There are also too many orphan stories. And too many main-character-discovers-his-great-powers stories.”

“There are, however, too few believable female heroines (especially the sort who would wear actual armor, rather than iron-clad bikinis). There are too few believable worlds, worlds which breathe their own character into tales. There are too few consequences when it comes to magic. And of course, there is simply too much in the way of the line between good and evil…

“I write fantasy because it speaks to me. The decisions I have made in my life can all be traced back to a love of literature, and especially literature that took me somewhere else. There’s nothing wrong with our Earth, of course; it’s a lovely place. But the weird, the wonderful, and the wild of fantasy literature is, to me, one of the most delightful paths to tread.”

  • This is only part of Natania Barron’s essay. Read it in its entirety at Barron’s blog.
  • In Barron’s first novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, just when Maddie Angler thinks she’s over the death of her longtime boyfriend, Alvin, she discovers that he’s not only alive, but he may just be part god. And a killer. Now it’s up to her to unite Eight Worlds she didn’t even know existed in the first place, before chaos reigns.
  • Enjoy an excerpt of Pilgrim of the Sky on fReado.
  • Natania Barron was known for podcasting well before she was published in print! She was editing her steampunk fantasy western and, as she puts it, “a huge part of my writing process has always been to read my chapters aloud,” so she decided to record her storytelling as a podcast. Within 2008 and 2009, she released the entire work in process. You can listen to it on the Aldersgate Cycle website or on iTunes.
  • To order Pilgrim of the Sky, follow any of these handy icons: 

Natania Barron is a writer with a penchant for the speculative; she is also an unrepentant geek. Her work has appeared in Weird Tales, EscapePod, The Gatehouse GazetteThaumatrope, Bull Spec, Crossed Genres, Steampunk Tales, Faerie Magazine, and in anthologies. She is also the founder of The Outer Alliance, a group dedicated to queer advocacy in speculative fiction. Recently, she joined the Bull Spec crew as a fiction editor. Her debut novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, released in December 2011 from Candlemark & Gleam. In addition, Natania also blogs for Wired Magazine’s GeekDad and is a senior editor at GeekMom.