I was thinking on my drive home from work today that the most subversive thing in Epic Fantasy would be an ending that doesn’t resolve through violence or the glorification of war, or the destruction of something, or the murder of some big bad…but instead through an act of healing. That would be the most subversive thing…imagine if instead of the battle of Camlaan, the Arthurian tales ended on the Fisher King, and the healing of the Dolorous Stroke with the holy grail.
It’s like, the only way to resolve conflict in fiction is through escalation and destruction, and I wonder if this is a reflection of our war obsessed society, and our addiction to things like video games, which are just long promotional tools for violence. Not that I’m saying something or anything is wrong with video games per se, but the more popular ones do focus heavily on violence as a solution for conflict.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t play video games, or watch violent movies, or read books with war and violence inside of them. But I am struggling with the concepts themselves, and how they exist as the backbone to genre fiction. I am a fantasy/science fiction writer, and it’s hard not see that the landscape is saturated with fiction that glorifies war. Even grimdark books have this aspect. No matter how violent they show the nature of war, they still glorify it in some aspects. Revolution! War! Combat! Combat!
And what would be a really strange twist is a book where the ending of all of it, the completion, the solution to the conflict and destruction and violence isn’t more of the same, but instead an act of healing, an opening of the world to something beautiful. If it’s not perfect or permanent or what have you. Just a moment of absolution.
I’m not talking about a happy ending per se. Healing doesn’t mean happiness, or joy, or any of that. It’s just something missing being put back together. I see this as being beautiful, and haunting, and cathartic. And yes, yes, I’m talking about something I’m working on, and the way it will end. With a single moment, one of that is propelled by everything in the narrative, every conflict, the novel creating a broken image, and the ending the gluing of it back together. Sure, pieces will be missing, some won’t fit exactly. But it’s there, and in a way it could be more beautiful because it had broken, and then was put back together again.
All of this on the way back home, where the setting sun turned the clouds into pillars of fire in the sky, and this was playing…