Economic stress, job stress, life stress, STRESS – the value of escape into Science Fiction and Fantasy

Whenever I think my life is hectic and a bit unreal I remind myself that Ender had it a lot worse.   Most of the folks in the Culture Universe that I know, although vastly more advanced than I am, are in general a lot worse off.  Having a group of highly advanced aliens plotting your downfall can be a real bummer, as can angry orcs charging with drawn swords.

Then there’s the fantastic opportunity to see things no human has ever seen before, including but not unlimited to magic, technology, sex I’ll probably never have, technology sufficiently advanced to be magic, aliens, elves and wonderscapes not yet seen in our world.

I’ve seen a lot of people scoff at science fiction and fantasy (in book, movie or game form) as fluffy and light material that’s good only for those who can’t handle the weightier subjects.  For those of us who’ve read, seen and played the good stuff, we know that a great story is all that’s needed to make a great story.  The setting, while desirable, does not make these things amazing to experience.  It’s the interaction between the protagonists  and others featured in the worlds we love to visit.

For me, now, these things have become even more important.  I’ve always loved to game, read books, watch great movies and share my experiences with others.  When the world around me appears to be going to hell  they take on even more importance for me.  No matter how tired I may be, no matter how many protest videos I’ve watched, how many extra tasks I’ve taken on because we’re short staffed at the day job or how stressful home life may be, I always find time to escape.

I love my family and I enjoy my day job (as much as I’d love to do this for a living, that isn’t going to happen any time soon) and more importantly I enjoy the folks I work with.  Dammit though sometimes I just want to shut it all out and spend a little time getting Qualis Gems.

It’s important that we recognize our stressors for what they are and take appropriate measures to de-stress.  Given the fact that by nature I’m something of an introvert, it’s especially important for me to recharge my social batteries by doing something on my own now and again.  Fantasy and Science Fiction I can honestly say have never let me down.  I’m willing to bet a lot of you feel the same way.

Nothing beats getting into a book so far that you don’t realize what time it is, or playing a great game and smiling away as you do something that amuses you to no end.  In more social settings I’ve never failed to enjoy my time sitting down at a table with friends and family, to laugh, joke and game our way through an evening.

While I don’t advise shutting off the world and submerging completely – do be aware that the things that enteratain us and allow us to disengage aren’t simply frivolous pursuits.  It’s an important part of our lives that allows us to take the time away from the world that we need to in a creative and – dare I say it? – productive way.   Yes, it’s productive.  Gaming with friends promotes socialization, strategic thinking, logic and what have you.  Same with video games although you can sometimes throw in hand-eye coordination as well.  As for reading?  well I’ve never met an expert who’s said that reading is bad for you.  Is it worth spending a little money on this even now?  Yup.


Enjoy your past time, don’t make excuses for it!  Now more than ever we need to take some time to enjoy our hobbies.  As a final de-stressor, I’ve put up one of the pictures that always makes me smile.  One of the many animals that share my world, relaxing herself.

What do you do to take the edge off of life’s stress inducing moments?  Which games do you play – what fantasy or scifi world do you escape into?

[tags]video games, literature, gaming, stress, science fiction, fantasy, no excuses[/tags]

9 thoughts on “Economic stress, job stress, life stress, STRESS – the value of escape into Science Fiction and Fantasy

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  1. Great piece, Ben!

    My favorite fantasies to escape into: Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds (my favorite novel, period–about an ancient China that never was), David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (perhaps counts as slipstream SF? wonderful), Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves (in effect, HP Lovecraft meets Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire at a Blair Witch Project design meeting)


  2. Damn you Alf! Now I have even more books to add to my wish list. 🙂

    Have you read Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt? Another great look at a world that never was.


  3. I agree – sometimes I just want to escape all the stress in my life. Reading is a great escape! I’m going to check out The Years of Rice and Salt – sounds good!


  4. I agree with you we should find time for ourself, specially when we really are exhausted, for it will just make your day more dull, you will attract negative vibes. What I usually do when I feel so worn out I play computer games but the one thing that would give me peace of mind, that I would definitely be relaxed is a park that has so many trees that you can feel the air touching your skin and the sky that is so clear. It is really a good thing to find time for ourself or what you called escape from a stressful day.

    Vision Board


  5. Great site: I think the value of Science Fiction and Fantasy is under estimated, with all the stress around it is a great escape and some great ideas have come from reading good science fiction and fantasy 🙂


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