Fiction in Life

Steven Brust just posted a review of an unreleased book, and he seems quite charmed by it.

The quote that stood out for me was:

Ever read one of those YA books that drops in the occasional mention of what is obviously a favorite book of the author’s in such a way as to give you the uncomfortable feeling that you’re supposed to like the character because the character likes that book, or maybe likes books, and you end up feeling manipulated? This ain’t that. This ain’t that all. In this book, we follow Mor, aged 15, as she voraciously read sf just as we did, and it gives her bursts of insight just as it did us. The sf she is reading is part of who she is, and who she is becoming, and it is so real it hurts.

I had never even really thought about it that way, but it’s just so true. As a teenager I felt a strong connection, or even a relationship with my favorite characters. Vlad, Peter, Eustace, Aerich. Although for how much I read the Lord of the Rings, I never felt that connection with the characters there. The characters are too good. They are paragons with virtues beyond our reach. Which I suppose is the point, since Tolkien wanted a mythology for England. But Aragorn isn’t relatable, not even the hobbits are. They are extremes of different values and virtues. I would like Aragorn to be my king, but I don’t think I could hang out at Ice Harbor with him.

Those flashes of insight though? That’s what reading sci-fi and fantasy is all about. It shapes who you are. I believe reading has made me a better person than I’d otherwise be.

Now I have to shake my fist at Brust for telling me about this book that I want to read so badly, and can’t until next January. Noooooooo.

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