“It would be so nice to be able to dream again,” someone said to me a few days ago. “To have ideals, or just believe we can make a difference. To think we’re not only selfish consumers.”

I knew exactly what he meant. We live in a world where a violent war is always taking place somewhere, where there’s destruction, violence, fanaticism, exploitation, starvation, over-population, global warming, over-development and the increasing horror of species extinction. And what do we do about it all?

Not much. How many people are willing to consume much less, downsize, change their live style?

Instead, we escape from the fears and frustrations of everyday living by buying more; or by escaping to some fantasy “holiday paradise” or theme park; or by connecting up to a television, movie, video game world; or by snuggling into escape literature.

Is it any surprise that romance books are so successful? In romances, we’re guaranteed that the hero, a really good person, will always end up loving and respecting the heroine who, also a really good person, will love and respect him; that their love will always be sexually and emotionally satisfying; that friends and townsfolk — even if they start out as ornery — will really be kind, warm, chummy and good; that food will always be plentiful and delicious; that there will always be “home” somewhere; that success is guaranteed; that the bad guys will always be caught and punished; that, thanks to paranormal romance, magic is a viable alternative to reality, and that an alternative planet or dimension will be waiting for us when our own world becomes just too damaged to survive in.

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