31 Days of Post Day 5: To Journey in Another World

How many children’s and YA fantasy novels involve the journey to another world? Off the top of my head, I can think of the Alice books, The Wizard of Oz series, Narnia, The Neverending StoryThe Last of the Really Great WhangadoodlesThe Magiciansand now The Land of Stories. Hell, I would even add the Harry Potter series in for good measure (the Wizarding World might as well be a secondary world). What is this fascination with a journey to fairy world (for lack of a better term)?

I think the reason why the “fairy world” or connected secondary world is so popular (especially for younger readers) is because the reader is grounded in our consensus reality before the journey begins. The reader knows the world and its expectations before they are thrust into the world of adventure (the secondary world).

Taking the discussion into a more symbolic mode for a bit, the secondary world comes to represent the world of escape, the world of dreams (and nightmares). It is an escape from the mundane reality of the everyday.

It also calls (obviously) to mind Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” Now, often times these journey novels conclude with the fulfillment of the full quest progression: the return to the known world. That is not to say that all do end with a homecoming. Dorothy Gale and her family eventually settle in Oz, Harry Potter remains in the Wizarding World, etc.

Over the years, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a crossover or journey to another world novel (or series). They ranged from a typical fairy world (though more inspired by medieval romance than fairy tales) to a jaunt through a sword and sorcery type world. There have also been ideas involving constructed worlds and whole cities moving from one world to another.

Why am I interested in movement between worlds? I think for a very different reason than most. For me, I’m fascinated by the inherent conflict present in shifting and movement.

Take my idea for a sword and sorcery crossover. How would people from our world and time react to being in a world devoid of the comforts we take for granted? How would they react to radically different cultures and social mores? How would they react to the chance to go home or to stay? What would give them a reason to stay?

Of the ideas I’ve had, the one that is currently at the top of my mind is the city idea. Although instead of sending a city from Earth elsewhere, I want to bring a city from a secondary world here. How would the two communities interact? How would the language barrier be over come? Crap, does that mean I have to construct a language?

Though dealing with a language barrier does provide some interesting story potential. . .

Anyway, that’s all I have for today. Tomorrow I may switch out the comic book post for a post in which I struggle to create a secondary world- that resembles our contemporary moment. Is it possible?


Posted on October 5, 2012, in Books and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You might be interested in “Rhetorics of Fantasy” by Farah Mendlesohn, which has a chapter devoted to “portal-quest” fantasy.

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