Mailvox: you really do have to read Tolkein and Lewis

A fellow fantasy writer – one of the Dragonlance successors – shares his two cents:

I just read your article and wanted to drop you a line. You’re probably right about Potter. I’ve heard from my kids that it’s not as hip as it used to be to like Harry Potter. Add to that the fact that the books have become more mature as they went on, ostensibly to keep up with their aging audience. That means they’re not pulling younger readers into the series like they were in the beginning.

But as a fellow author, I must ask, is it really a bad thing that people won’t be reading Harry Potter books in ten years? Do books have to be momentous just because they’re popular?

I’ve got to admit, it’s a pet peeve of mine that some people demand that popular things also be deep and meaningful. This group can’t stand it when something that is pure entertainment value becomes popular. They see it as a waste of time and somehow beneath the decency of man.

I’ve never understood it.

Sure, anyone who’s read any of my books will know I like popcorn entertainment, but what’s wrong with that? Sometimes people just want to be entertained without having to wade through the cumbersome vehicle of the author’s position piece. If you want to give the world your opinion, they say, write an op-ed for the paper?

I would argue that Harry Potter will dwindle anyway, just like Narnia, and Lord of the Rings have. Sure, there still popular, but nowhere near what they were. You can still be well read in the genre without having read them.

I largely agree, except for the idea that Narnia and Lord of the Rings have faded, and that one can be well-read in the fantasy genre without having read them. What’s unusual about both Narnia and LOTR is that they are still being read and widely imitated decades after their authors died. What I’m primarily objecting to is the idea that the Harry Potter books are a classic that will last forty or fifty years the way the Lewis and Tolkein books have. Considering that Potter is a fantasy spin on the Tom Brown books and was somewhat anticipated by the Diane Duane Wizard series, it’s hard to say what a Harry Potter imitation would even be, let alone imagine whole new series of them being produced thirty years from now.