Does the real world hide behind fantasy?

Does the real world hide behind fantasy? Or is fantasy a way to reveal what the real world hides?

I guess I'm including George Orwell's 1984 as a favorite fantasy novel, though I might have called it science fiction once (futuristic fiction?). It certainly hid a wealth of truths that time is still drawing to light. So did Animal Farm. And so do many other books, old and new. Perhaps even the ancient plays of the Greeks had the same allure--a way to reveal what we're not meant to see, not meant to talk about--or else a way to hide, laying those truths at fiction's door.

Sometimes it's not just the weather that seems dark around here. But perhaps I'm influenced again by Brexit and the pain of my once-safe world growing ever more strange. Things that weren't talked about are okay. Things that should be talked about are hidden. And fantasy novels both hide and reflect, reflections that, maybe, reveal truths.

And maybe you'll want some dark cups of coffee with these novels:

First, not too dark, is The Trials of Nahda by Merita King. The story's narrated by a somewhat jaded investigator, sent to arrest an art thief who might hold the key to reality. Combining myth, magic and science, and reading like a science fiction adventure game, it just might make you wonder what makes you believe, and what belief entails. Enjoy the lively tale with some lively easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

Droidal by Andy Graham is a short story offering an odd blend of dark and light. Set in a dark, 1984-style world, it slowly reveals a character who is more than he seems, wounded by more than should be allowed, and strangely at peace with himself. It's an elegant, well-wrought story, best enjoyed with some complex elegant four-star coffee.

Growing darker, the next book is another short story. Tony Bertauski’s The Maze blends two different worlds—a real world tale of genius, family and loss; and a cyber-world adventure of death and rebirth, leading into different lives and the clues to escape. But will the cyber-protagonist ever be free? The story’s computer Maze blends into a maze of memories half-lost, and the reader is pulled inexorably toward a solution, just as the protagonist is pulled toward escape. Rumor has it this story might become part of a trilogy or be included in the Game Chronicles, so watch out for it. I love Tony Bertauski's books, best read with elegantly complex four-star coffee.

Everville the First Pillar by Roy Huff is set, at least in part, on our own world. Aimed at teenage readers, it offers wise lessons hidden in intriguing adventure, as college freshman Owen Sage is drawn into a mysterious world outside time, whose fate might be tied to ours. The story's slow, combining epic prose with prosaic modernity. But it's an intriguing tale, complete in itself and clearly promising more.

Aijlan by Andy Graham is a novel of a broken world not so unlike our own, mistrustful of foreign people or ideas, overly committed to technology, and where power is valued more than honesty or relationships. It holds a mirror very effectively to present society. And it's definitely dark, best enjoyed with some definitely dark 5-star coffee.

Finally, The Angel Solution by John C Stipa is set in the real world, but has a computer game feel that just might be more than fantasy. As duelling archeologists seek a precious treasure, some people might be both present and absent, and some items might hold more power than can be imagined. It's an oddly enticing tale of science gone awry,computer gaming perhaps, and human ingenuity misapplied. Enjoy with some more dark 5-star coffee.

And the tales, like the world, have grown increasingly dark.


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