The Wide Angle: I’m going on an adventure

I wrote this week’s column under a certain amount of time duress, which is to say that events from last week to this week put me in a prickly position.

I didn’t get it done, all right? Stop giving me that look.

I suppose I could sit here and try to convince you that I had all these other things to do and I just never got around to it, but it’s easier, and just a little more epic to tell you that I’m testing myself.

I like that idea.

But in all honesty, I just never got the time. It’s neither correct, or even really ethical to try and convince you otherwise and so I was prepared to just coast on past and let Jason Schoonover try to hold down the page with his column.

I did glance around to see if anything would hold up in the time crunch that is deadline, creating a which-way book of ideas. One would take me further down the story route, the other would end in flipping a coin five times and then probably dying.

Minnesota Public Radio came to my rescue ultimately with a story on 11 sci-fi and fantasy novels for those who don’t like sci-fi and fantasy novels.

It’s a neat little piece that talked about books I’ve heard of but never read, which I mentally took myself to task on — bad Eric.

We, for the most part, all like a good read whether it’s a taunt thriller, an epic fantasy or mind-boggling sci-fi yarn. Often, it’s the idea of getting pulled into a gripping story, that takes away from the grind of real life.

We all want the hero or heroine to save the day.

But really, and I’m speaking more from my standpoint, I like the journey, provided that journey isn’t bogged down in too much narrative.

I loved “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkein, but I’ll also be the first to admit that at times you felt like you were on the journey with our protagonist Frodo Baggins. Normally that’s a good thing, but in this case I feel like I was on the journey to the point where I swear my feet felt tired.

And that’s where your casual sci-fi and fantasy fan is either won over or lost. Your half-way reader will not battle getting through the exhaustive narrative of the “Fire and Ice” series by George R.R. Martin. I’ve slogged through most, so I’ll probably read the next book went it comes out, only because I feel like I’ve battled this far — might as well go a bit further.

I’m a pretty big fan of the genre, but even I get tired of reading endless pages of what dish a character is eating.

Sci-fi and fantasy is really more than a niche realm. Casual readers can float easier from crime novels to thriller novels, because those books rely a little bit on what you already know. Sure there is still a fair amount of description, but you already know what a meadow looks and smells like.

Sci-fi, for example, requires a lot more description and that gets dangerous. As an author, much more needs explaining and even more jargon is required. That requires a keen touch to make sure you don’t lose a reader.

And so yes, sci-fi and fantasy requires a little more love from the reader, but if done right, it can also leave you more fulfilled as a reader that you were part of favorite hero’s journey.

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