Anyone hanging around this blog long knows I'm passionate about contemporary politics. Anyone hanging around my fiction long knows I don't write about it in my fantasy, other than the very occasional contemporary fantasy short. I detest allegory in fiction, even when it's allegory I agree with.
Yet to my casual thinking, politics is inescapable in fantasy. The classic high fantasy tropes of the secret heir, the broken succession, the usurper/evil overlord, the quest to restore order/justice/the rightful line of kings — that's all deeply political. That flavor of fantasy is almost always about things happening to societies.
One could go up a couple of layers into metanalysis and argue quite sincerely that all fiction is political. This is a bit like arguing that all fiction is biographical. I'm pretty sure that's true, but also largely meaningless except as a tool for certain kinds of criticism.
So I'm nowhere near having an answer here, but I find the question interesting. Haven't made up my mind yet whether that's interesting-but-trivial or interesting-but-significant. A few questions for you, and quite curious to read your responses in comments, or on your own blogs.
- Is the question of whether fantasy contains politics meaningful to ask in the first place?
- Is traditional high fantasy as political as I've so casually portrayed it?
- Is it fair to analyze those politics only in internal terms, or does an external analysis bring value? Ie, are all us fantasy readers secret monarchists?
- What about other forms of fantasy? Other forms of speculative fiction?
- What about the politics of race, gender, class and so forth?
- Am I asking the wrong damned questions?
If we all get clever enough in comments, I might have a poll later.