The Magician’s Land: Lev Grossman On His New Book & Fantasy's Resurgence
"Wharton’s personal pencils really were remarkable pencils: olive green, and made from some oily, aromatic wood that released a waxy aroma reminiscent of distant exotic rainforest trees. Instead of the usual fleshy pink the erasers were a light-devouring black, and they were bound in rings of a dull-grey brushed steel that looked too industrial and high-carbon for the task of merely containing erasers. He kept them in a flat silver case like a cigarette case, which also contained (in its own crushed-velvet nest) a sharp little knife that he used to keep them sharpened to wicked points."
"Quentin snuffed the candle out and lit it again. The light that played around his hands as he worked the spell was a little more intense than it would have been a week ago. In the darkness of his room he could see that the colors were shifted a bit toward the violent, violet end of the spectrum. The power came more easily, and it buzzed a little harder and louder in his fingers."
The anticipation around Grossman's new book speaks to the rising popularity of the fantasy genre. It seems that novels about mystical lands and creatures are here to stay. This has been a fairly modern resurgence, Grossman explains in a recent interview here at the Lavin office (embedded above). As similar as fantsy and sci-fi are as genres, we are certainly witnessing an uptick in fantasy's popularity and a downturn in sci-fi's. "We, as a culture, started asking questions that science fiction wasn't so good at answering," he says. "We live in a world that has been rapidly transformed." And because things have changed so quickly around us, there are many things about our new world that we feel alienated from. The iPod, for example, is something most of us use but few of us fully understand. In this new, changed world we live in now, many of us feel a sense of longing for the things we lost from our childhood, and the connections we felt to the familiar technologies of the past. This feeling, Grossman says, is exactly what fantasy writing provides. In addition to being a bestselling author, Grossman is also the Lead Tech Writer and Chief Book Critic for TIME Magazine. His keynotes range from discussions about the past, present, and future of literature and the fantasy genre, to explorations of the way new media and technologies are shaping our lives.