Why go through the portal?

Posted on December 10, 2012 by

Janni Simner continued the conversation about portal fantasy that’s been bubbling along online, and one of the things she touches on in the process of discussing real-world consequences for a visit to Somewhere Else (something I hadn’t really ) is the question of why a character would go through the portal at all.

My baseline assumption in life had always been: OMG, why not go through the portal?

This is perhaps silly. I’d love to imagine I was a look before you leap person, but I am a looker. I look hard. In the real world, I’d hope the portal could wait awhile so I could invite my wife, pack the medicine cabinet, load up on food, coats, undergarments, tights, more tights, a fully-charged e-reader and a solar recharging panel.

I’d arrange cat care and send a few e-mails. There would be waffling about boots and which coat. That would have to be one patient portal, friends.

It’s not that I don’t want to go. I just don’t want to go without antihistamines, if you know what I mean. I don’t want to assume I’ll be back before the kibble runs out. Nobody really wants to be Rose Tyler, do they, showing up a year later and coming face to face with their own Missing poster and a freaked out mom? (Oh, I know there are lots of good reasons to be Rose Tyler. Rowr and all that. But you see what I’m saying.)

Does that mean the protagonist of my new series goes blithely leaping into another world without sober consideration and a pile of supplies? Actually, no. The first time–and I think this happens in a lot of portal fantasies–Sophie Hansa ends up on Stormwrack without warning or any kind of plan. It’s a deeply unplanned voyage to a magical realm.

And the second time, she knows full well what to expect, and she packs accordingly.

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