There are only two ways to escape this reality – death or fantasy.
Back in the 1950s, some librarians tried to discourage the reading of Oz books claiming they gave unrealistic expectations about life. They were absolutely right. But by the end of the 1960s, it was obvious that fantasy books and witches had won. In 1969 the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series began appearing, which turned out to be a tsunami warning of the overwhelming wave of fantasy books to come.
Alix Harrow’s “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” is a lovely story about the magic of libraries and books. It just won the Best Short Story category for the 2019 Hugo awards. I hadn’t read any of the fiction in the fiction categories this year until I read “A Witch’s Guide to Escape.” It made me cry. I think it should win awards. It’s a fantasy about fantasy stories, and I don’t even like fantasy stories, except when I love them. I’m a straight-ahead science fiction guy, but sometimes fantasies tales get to me, and this one did.
I’m not going to spoil this story by describing it, just follow the linked title above and read it. If you are like me, and shot up fiction as your drug of choice growing up, then this story will sting you in the eyes, clog up your sinuses and constrict your throat, but in a way that you’ll love.
I could go on and write 100,000 words about the siren calls of fantasy, but I don’t know if this is the proper time and place. But someday we should sit down and talk about our addiction. Go read the story and then leave a “My name is Bill” testimonial in the comments.
2 thoughts on ““A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow”
Thanks for the recommendation! Yesterday, I read another nominee: The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly available on Tor.com:
It’s dystopian fantasy, but with, in my opinion, a sci-fi element. I think you might enjoy it!
Thanks. I hope to get through all the short-form nominations, including the Retro Hugos.