“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.” - Terry Pratchett
The Myth, the Folklore, the Fairytale, and the Fantasy. Carl V. from Stainless Steel Droppings asserts that these four elements are the very foundation of storytelling. In honor of those four elements and of the story itself, Carl V. challenged readers around the world to a simple task: to take on a quest of their choosing which would include a reading journey through one or more of the basic elements mentioned above. I selected Quest Two, which was to read read at least one book from each of the four genres of story-Mythology, Folklore, Fairytale, and Fantasy.
My selections included:
Fairytale - The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
Fantasy - A Wizard of the Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Folklore - Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Mythology - American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I had difficultly getting my mind around the difference between mythology and folklore, and so my chosen book for the folkore category is a weak fit, although I could probably reason my way into making it fall into both folklore and mythology, however much of a stretch it might be.
Although I am not new to fantasy or the variety of types of stories this genre offers, the Once Upon a Time Challenge was a reminder of just how diverse it can be. Fantasy fiction can be set in an entirely different world or right here in our own backyards. The characters can be as human as you and me or as different as an elf or dwarf. Events can take place in the past, present and even the future. For a look at what other participants read, visit the Once Upon a Time Challenge blog.
Three of the authors I read for this challenge are new to me: Ursula LeGuin, Robert Holdstock, and Neil Gaiman. I will be reading more by them in the future. Of the three, I was most impressed by Neil Gaiman's American Gods, although that did not come as a surprise considering the praise he has received from so many fellow fantasy readers.
I enjoyed spending time reading one of Mercedes Lackey's novels as it had been far too long since I cracked open the last one. Her story, The Fire Rose, based on a favorite fairytale of mine, was perhaps my favorite of the four.
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Carl V. for hosting this great challenge.
And they all lived happily ever after . . .