David Eddings – and Dreaming Big

This is a cheeky repost from John de Nardo’s recent Mind Meld over on SF Signal. It’s here because I’ve had a sentence from it actually quoted by two of my twitter friends today – and (rather more seriously) in the light of the tragic loss of David Eddings – a man who wrote fantasy because he was a ‘pessimist’.

Q: Why do you think there is an imbalance towards a negative futuristic outlook? How did we get here and how has this affected the genre? Can you give some examples of positive/upbeat ideas in your genre?

Call me a starry-eyed idealist, but I find little negative about the genre. It can be mundane, certainly, but negative? That’s another thing entirely.

The SFFEthics mission statement wording runs, ‘We aim to leave cynicism and negativity at the door, and concentrate on what makes us smile, what entertains us…’ Accentuating the positive doesn’t need to imply that we’re surrounded by the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

I have a very singular job – arguably, the only one of its kind. Standing for the largest specialist geek/cult/sf retailer in the world, everything I am is about celebrating the genre. Not just the literature – the ideas and creativity contained within – but the people who write it, read it and critique it. With every signing comes a celebration of that author’s work and of their fanbase – I’ve stopped counting the people who’ve driven miles to meet someone, who bring treasured first editions, who – quite literally – cry as they’re overcome by the presence of a writer who’s changed their life.

Isn’t that what we’re celebrating?

What’s positive about the genre? Everything. In the current financial climate, sales of genre literature are rising; people need escapism, new vistas and visions. And it’s not only books – it’s comics, RPGs, computer games. Our reality becomes bleaker – give us the fantastical. Give us other worlds; give us creatures of imagination that lurk beneath the surface of our own.

Popular culture doesn’t challenge us – soap operas serve only to grind it in our faces. At its height, it offers us – what? – a vicarious dream of potential celebrity, even as the media exults in tearing that celebrity down. This is what we have to aim for? I think we can do better.

Completely randomly, on the table by my elbow I have:

  • Andy Remic’s Biohell
  • David Devereux’s Hunter’s Moon
  • David Moody’s Hater
  • Liam Sharp’s God Killers
  • Mark Charan Newton’s Nights of Villjamur
  • Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind
  • Tony Ballantyne’s Twisted Metal

Some I’ve read, some await that long, claustrophobic commute – and there’s an image to iconise the point. The science fiction, fantasy, horror genre takes us out of ourselves; opens our eyes and minds to a wider picture.

To achieve, one has to dream. To dream, one has to read. And the genre we read enables us, if we wish to, to dream big.

That, in itself, is a cause for celebration.

David Eddings dreamed big – the ‘Belgariad’ was a cornerstone of the fantasy genre. Thank you to Liz and Michael for the quote… but I’m sure he would have said it better.

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1 thought on “David Eddings – and Dreaming Big

  1. We are not getting out of this depression anytime soon. Its going to get a lot worse for most of us. It didn't have to be this way. Greed ruins everything. If you don't believe it, then ask any professor of economics."As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption; mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth — not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced — to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."Marriner Eccles, FDR's Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank – 1959 In other words, the first Great Depression was caused by greed. The rich couldn't settle for reasonable pay. They had to have more and more and more. That caused a giant shift in buying power from the majority to the rich. When the majority lost their buying power, they lost their ability to support the economy. Einstein said basically the same thing in 1949.Its even worse now. Ordinary people havn't only lost their relative buying power. They have also lost their savings, home values, pensions, and benefits. This didn't happen overnight. Its been happening gradually for the last 30 years. Meanwhile, the rich have become super incredibly rich. The richest 500 Americans are worth about two trillion dollars. More than the bottom 40% of American housholds combined. The richest 1 percent are worth about 15 trillion dollars. More than the bottom 98% of American households combined. Thats just insane. I don't care how much work for humanity the rich claim to do. Its nothing but a cover for their own greed. We don't need anymore rich people to create jobs or make donations for charity. We need them to get reasonable about how much money and assets they keep for themselves. Don't believe their excuse about paying more income taxes. They don't pay enough. For every tax they pay, they get an obscene profit, bailout, or kickback from our government to cover it. We had a progressive tax system that worked for over 40 years. It prevented too much wealth from accumulating at the top. In 1976, the middle 80% owned about 2/3 of America's total wealth. Reagan lowered taxes for the rich. Bush lowered them again. Now, the richest 5% own about 2/3 of America's total wealth. The lower 95% own about 1/3. America's wealth has been transfered from poor to rich again. Now, we have another depression.Don't believe it when the rich claim to be getting poorer. Property values have gone down for everyone. Thats because of the concentration of wealth and income. When the economy slows down, property values tank. So when rich people complain about lower net worth, its a trick. They still have the same buying power on average.Everything that is happening with the economy is happening because too much wealth has been taken away from the majority and concentrated into the private vaults of rich people. The same ones on TV telling us how much they want to help the world. Its a big lie. Just another way to promote their own business and get more of our money. Rich people don't want to help the world. They want to own it.Now, the economy is ruined. Obama can't fix it because the rich won't let him. There will be no bailout for the people because the ones with all the money won't settle for less. They want more. Its going to get a lot worse. Say goodbye to the American dream and hello to the American nightmare.

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