The time of romantic fiction, was this borne of a need to escape from war? And après war, a new enlightenment coupled with long adherence to fear, did this morph into a fascination with spies, lies and Cold War fiction?
Science Fiction sits askew from the norm. Fantasy and fairy tales were no doubt the sci-fi of their time, and as technology moves on, a new literary term will, no doubt, emerge to describe futuristic imaginings beyond our current comprehension.
But does it all come down to the need to float up from our lives, to push the boundaries from the hard news into the unknown, into what scares us most, do we want to frighten ourselves further by considering the ‘what if’s’ on the one hand and escape from it on the other.
When I was young, children tumbled out of trees for a pastime and poked their noses into trouble: seeking rough and tough escapades; dark secrets, thrilling mysteries and yearned for adventures. Now, pre-teens are never seen out alone, and they escape into their screens, living the freedom denied to them by the degeneration of the world outside. Their fiction needs to give them an alternative to prescriptive fun.
And as for adults, we are ever-more demanding of our fiction. Shrewd writers look for a niche in the market, or some may fall into one naturally. Write about something slightly outré, a shade more risqué: to make it acceptable to flash your Kindle on the train; or perhaps create another world; a diversion from the hum-drum.
But what of the beauty of prose? Does it still have a place in our fast-paced delivery of news, and views? Do we still have time to appreciate the subtle symmetry of rhyme and metre? I’m sure we do. After all, we still esteem words that flow. A wonderful story badly presented loses the essence of its creation, as the reader fights through errors, soon losing their hold on the plot. Words, fragrantly floral, rustic rurality real enough to evoke memories or dreams, lift the spirit, stir the soul.
So, what’s next for fiction? Which road will it travel? Psychopathy has been strangled, and criminal investigation has been done to death. Careworn by destruction, will we seek solace in the heart-warming instead?