Do you believe in magic? You know, not the kind of magic where you wave your hand and cast a spell, but something more... intimate? A personal kind of magic, a magic of the spirit. It does sound a bit trite and clichÃ©, with all those self help and actualization manuals proclaiming the way to find the inner true you, but maybe there is a grain of truth to even that. This is the story of how I found this magic in books, and how it became my life. I grew up on fantasy books. When I couldn't yet read, my helpful father decided that the classics were the best, and read to me the entirety of the Hobbit. For a young child, there was so much there to get my imagination going. Adventure, mystery, magic, mayhem, a struggle of ideals, in other words brilliant. But no love. Not that I noticed this right there and then, but what can you say, I wasn't yet six. The first books I remember reading by myself were by this Russian fantasy author by the name of Kir Bulechov. He had one character that perhaps was instrumental in my development, despite the fact that I now no longer even remember his or her gender. Either way, this person (now that I think about it, it was probably a female) was a kid, who was from the future and had wonderful adventures both in space, and once on a trip through time back in my era. She was bold, courageous, decisive, witty, and just plain fun. But hey, guess what, still no love. I didn't miss it then, but now that I think about it, she was the first person I used as a role model. Time passed, I learned to read a new language, and began to have access to cavernous libraries full of countless books. I knew I liked fantasy, but other than that, as I had no friends that shared my interests (or any for that matter) I just began at the A's. To people familiar with the science fiction/fantasy section of a library, there are probably two authors whose names jump to mind when someone says A. Isaac Asimov, and Piers Anthony. A cookie to anyone who can guess which had a greater effect on me. This isn't to say that I didn't love Asimov, as before I had completed 9th grade I had already consumed nearly everything he had to offer. He had sweeping vision, amazing ideas, solid science, and a wonderful way to keep your attention glued to the page. But when I think back upon his works now, I don't remember love. I am sure it was there somewhere, but romance, if you will pardon me, is not what comes to mind when I remember Asimov. Thus it is that we get to Piers Anthony. My fondest memories of the first two years of high school lie in being ensconced by one of the big comfy chairs of the local Super Crown Bookstore (now sadly extinct) reading one Piers Anthony novel or another. The legacy of that can be found in the several dozen novels by him that litter my bookshelf now, relics of a carefree literary past. Piers snared me like no other. It wasn't because he wrote particularly well, nor because of his amazing knowledge of philology. He had an astoundingly vivid imagination, but that did not cover it either. It was because of love. The idealized, eternal, life shattering, world changing conception of love. I mean, no teenager is free of the regular angst that accompanies puberty, but given that my only friend at the time was someone whose major love was an inbred monarch dead several hundred years, she wasn't the kind of person I could talk to about feelings. But Piers Anthony was only the first of a series of people who would tell me what love is. The next, and perhaps the one that affected me the most, is Mercedes Lackey (who I found through a collaboration or two she did with Anthony). Those that once again know the fantasy genre are probably on the floor laughing right now. Mercedes Lackey is a female. She owns cats, lots of cats, as well as various birds of prey, and other such things. She lives somewhere on a farm like thing in the middle of the country, talking about feminism and sewing. She also writes books. I am quite certain that you can guess what sorts of books they are from the above. They are pink, almost invariably feature a female heroine (and magical horsies) who triumphs over her weakness, rescues other women, and in the end finds a caring male (a prince or a master magician or a romantic nomad or an elf) who understands their feminine side and their love for each other is so true that all others can see it tangibly hovering around them. Wow. I bought it hook and sinker. This is how love should be I said. So true so pure so... right (in a Platonian forms kind of way). I read a lot of female writers after that. It made me feel good, in the way that school and all its social pressures decidedly did not. I knew what love was now, and how I would spot it when it came. Surprisingly, the next stage of my development came from a slightly different angle. I had grown bored of my slow progress from the beginning of the alphabet (I had by then read nearly every science fiction and fantasy writer up to the E's by that point) and decided to start from the other end of the alphabet. Unless you love Star Wars (and thus Timothy Zahn), the Z section of any library is dominated by Roger Zelazny. He opened a new world for me. A world where the main character was awesome. Like, the epitome of awesome. Sure, all of Zelazny's lead characters were basically the same guy put in different circumstances, but I really can't fault him for it, as one really can't imagine a better archetype than that. This character, and let me call him Corwin for convenience, as Corwin is Zelazny's best known character, is clever, in most cases much more so than anyone around him. He is creative, writing poetry, ballads, or just thinking up of ways to never graduate college. He is as good with assorted weapons as he is in an argument. He also doesn't take things at face value, always ready for some witty solution to unsolvable problems. When he loves, he loves furiously, often so much that his love destroys him or comes back to haunt him later on in the guise of masked sorcerers trying to kill him or self proclaimed gods after him for divine judgment. Women are also there to deceitfully hold him back. Countless times his prototypical Corwin has been set up in a relationship with a woman that wants to use him for something. But then, I never noticed that the first time I was reading his works, the ideal of love as pure and women as heroes was too firmly integrated with my social awareness at that stage in time. Zelazny was not alone in his character design and world view, but those writers came too late to clarify Zelazny for me. While I idolized the Corwin archetype and had a burning desire to be like him, my ideal of love was still firmly stuck in the Mercedes Lackey camp. It was here that I came upon anime. Anime (well, the kind of anime I watched at least) provided a synthesis for the dichotomy described above. Let us take Escaflowne. Van was fairly similar to a Zelazny character, while Hitomi could have easily come straight out of a Mercedes Lackey novel. I was hooked. And with each happy ending anime I watched, this earth shattering love that could change worlds grew more and more commonplace. Sure, at that point I had some friends, most of them with a more realistic view of girls and of love than I did, but I could no more discuss this with them than I could have earlier with Anna. It just did not seem right. Or more likely, I had no ability to express myself aptly enough to make them understand. I hadn't found that love of course, but then itâ€™s not surprising considering what I was looking for. After all, true love comes once in a lifetime, and I hadn't yet reached the second decade of my life. I would like to say I grew more Corwinesque as I waited for that unicorn would come and bear me away... I won't go into details of how that went, what happened in the interceding years, as that is irrelevant as far as this goes. Instead, I will recount to you a story by Roger Zelazny by the title of A Rose For Ecclesiasties. In it, the Corwin character is a linguist and a poet, best in the world of course. He is sent to Mars to penetrate the opaque veil of the civilization of the ancient Martians. Upon learning the Martian tongue and starting to read their works he begins to find similarities between those and the book of Ecclesiasties. In the process of learning Martian culture, he finds himself falling in love with a Martian dancer whose dance is a symbol of Martian philosophy. As he translates their works for himself, and Ecclestiasties for them, he realizes that the Martian culture is dying out due to the complete infertility of their men. He has sex with the Dancer, she becomes pregnant, and it is revealed to him that the Martians had a prophecy of his coming and in some way saving them from their inevitable demise. He reads them his translation of Ecclesiasties to get them to renounce their deathwish and upon realizing that the dancer was only fulfilling the destiny laid out for her thousands of years ago (as opposed to actually loving him) he gives her a Rose which for him symbolized beauty(and her), and tries to kill himself. He fails and the story ends.
leonk hasn't created any posts yet.