Sometimes it is a bit too easy to forget how much smaller modern technology has made our world. Modern air travel makes it feasible to travel halfway around the world for a holiday and modern communications makes it easy to socialize with people all over the world.
But this wasn’t always so.
To a very large extent, how far you can easily travel is strongly defined by your world’s society. It is not just the technology, but also the economics that have made air travel affordable for many people. Go back eighty years and it was definitely a luxury exercise. Go back further and it becomes the purlieu of the enthusiast. The world was much bigger for most people.
David Eddings is on record as saying that when he designed the world of The Belgariad, he chose a pagan pantheon because it was more interesting than a christian one (“pagan” just means non-christian, by the way). By that, I imagine he meant he preferred a multitude of gods in his world rather than one single one. For the sort of fantasy world he built, one god was just not going to work.
But that’s not necessarily true.
Book One of The Belgariad: a gateway to wonderful new worlds that don’t have Hogwarts or Muggles.
There is no doubt that J. K. Rowling‘s book series is definitely a wonderful phenomenon: the number of children (and adults!) who now know the value of reading a book has increased, for instance. And the whole “fantasy” genre now has substantially more visibility in the mind of the average person-in-the-street. And that’s without remembering that Twilight is fantasy. And so is Pirates Of The Carribean. And so is Star Wars.
Stories that invoke or are set in fantastical worlds have been with us for centuries. And the rise of the novel in more recent ones has been inextricably linked to Fantasy as a genre.
So I am somewhat annoyed to see that high-school students when faced with a fantasy element in their daily lives (such as me wearing a cloak on the train) fall back on Harry Potter to call it out.