To take a little break, I recently started reading some fantasy.
Yes, we’re talking mainstream fantasy, the I-last-saw-this-when-I-played-D&D kind of fantasy; the other kind I wouldn’t bring up here lest we fall heavily into the NSFW category…
Anyways, there again among the offerings was the whole “clean the land of the monster” trope across multiple works to look at. It’s been a part of the genre since Beowulf was first composed, and will be of some interest at the multiplex for the next two years, and is as inevitable in fantasy work as a pirate chasing treasure in pirate fiction.
Which has always made me curious, how such a creature could wander onto the land and set itself up so readily. Sure, you could try and cite Edmund Burke and leave it at that, but even if you did and could come up with irrefutable proof that yes, Burke did actually say that, you still wouldn’t explain how something so foul could get such a toehold into a land that needed saving.
So it was a revelation this Saint Paddy’s Day weekend, when I read an account of how the end of Ireland being the Celtic Tiger brought the snakes back to Eire. Suddenly, it all made a lot more sense: Monsters as blowback from a bust in an economic cycle!
If we think of such creatures as the inevitable result of the bad side effects from our efforts to create wealth, either a large risk we’d thought manageable that wasn’t or scores of small inconveniences combining into an eval gestalt that overwhelms us, then the set up makes a whole lot more sense.
And it does indeed become fantastic, that one person or a small group could come in and kick the ass of something thousands of folks (if not more) allowed in while they were making money and were unable to overcome. Which helps explain why we can call Beowulf a fantasy, because he can see this man take on Grendel and win, while this isn’t, because these folks can’t even begin to try and reverse the effects of climate change.
Now, the whole fantasy-as-economic-parable schtick may not be entirely new; the political-economics of Oz have been well considered ever since Henry Littlefield’s observations in 1964. And back when I was more heavily gaming, I would have loved to have been in any D&D campaign run by Tom Morelleo of Rage Against the Machine; those sounded epic!
I’m sorry I myself never got into that element of fantasy earlier. I am going to have a bit of free time later in the year after I wrap up Red Jenny, though, so…