No sooner had I written that Next Big Thing article about my Stormwrack novels than this post went live on SF Novelists. It’s about portal fantasies, and was sparked by another post, by Rachel Manija Brown. The classic example is C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Books, which is why Marie Brennan’s post is titled “This Wardrobe is Closed Until Further Notice.”
I found this discussion super-interesting for so many reasons.
First, I’d missed out on the term portal fantasy, so I hadn’t realized that I was writing one. Well, three. (I knew what I was writing, just hadn’t heard this handy term.)
Second, the panelists referenced in the posts agreed that nobody in publishing is buying these things. And if they were, they certainly aren’t buying portal fantasies written for adults. To which, of course, I got to reply in comments: except mine! There’s perhaps a little egoboo to be had in selling the arguably unsellable.
Third, the meat of the panel was essentially literary and marketing criticism of the subgenre: it’s wish-fulfillment, they said, and therefore immature. The novels have no consequences for the real world. The protagonist always returns to their life at home, barely older and much much wiser. It’s all been done. (The actual posts are more articulate, of course.)
So, Marie says–I’m taking some liberties with my paraphrasing–that maybe someone will one day write a grown-up portal fantasy where people travel both ways and portal-worlders fall through to Earth, and the journey of the protagonist affects important stuff at home and maybe the heroes and heroines don’t automatically just leave the magical land behind and embrace their old life with a zesty declaration–“There’s no place like home!”
To which I say: Hahahaha! I’m there, I’m so there! Because not only are the Stormwrack novels this and much more, it’s safe to argue that Indigo Springs and Blue Magic are, in part, portal fantasies where what’s behind the portal takes out most of Oregon in the first book alone!
My fellow SF Novelist Marie Brennan has, by the way, done a Journeys interview here at Planetalyx.