Robert Jordan’s series The Wheel of Time launched in 1990 and quickly became one of the most popular series in fantasy. But as the story continued year after year many fans wondered if the tale would ever be finished, especially after Jordan’s death in 2007. This month sees the release of A Memory of Light — the final volume — completed by author Brandon Sanderson, working off Jordan’s notes.
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Ethan Gilsdorf discussed some of the themes of his new book, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, a blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir as forty-year-old former D&D addict Gilsdorf crisscrosses America, the world, and other worlds—from Boston to Wisconsin, France to New Zealand, and Planet Earth to the realm of Aggramar. He asks: Who are these gamers and fantasy fans? What explains the irresistible appeal of such "escapist" adventures? How do the players balance their escapist urges with the kingdom of adulthood?
Gilsdorf talked about the culture’s discomfort with the geek/nerd/gamer stereotype and looked at society’s ambivalent relationship with gaming and fantasy play, and the origins of that prejudice, as well as the author’s own past misgivings and final acceptance of his "geek" identity.