I happened to run across this article about fantasy writing earlier, which raised the question 'why write fantasy'? Why indeed? I mean, it is my default setting as a writer, but there presumably has to be a reason for that. I've even been asked by friends before if I would ever write anything that wasn't fantasy (the answer to which is that I have, as a ghost-writer, but I'm unlikely to for myself).
So, why fantasy? One answer to that is that it is simply what comes out of my head. Point me in the direction of a story about an old man and of course he's going to be a wizard or an aging hero. Suggest someone unhappy with their job, and obviously that job is going to be as a goblin henchman. You mean that your brain doesn't work the same way? Which may sound a little silly, but for me it's a valid point. We strive for our own little bit of individuality as writers when looking for our voice, so if yours happens to include a preoccupation with including tentacled-Things from Beyond, why try to stop it?
The other answer that makes sense to me is that fantasy gives us distance. I'm sure there are people who can write about big issues in ways that are painfully close to them, but I've never had the knack. Instead, if I want to say something big, it has to be with a few dozen layers of unreality in between. It's that thing of fiction holding a mirror up to life. Well, fantasy still does that. It simply happens to be a magic mirror that is busy downloading new fonts when you really need to know who the fairest of them all is.