One of the most divisive terms that’s been used to tar the fantasy genre is the term “escapism”; the controversy over whether fantasy is fundamentally “escapist” and, if so, whether it ought to be, goes back a long way.
J. R. R. Tolkien famously defended escapism, saying that a soldier captured by the enemy had a “duty to escape”; as a Catholic he saw his own fiction as an escape from a fallen, sinful world, and told his friend C.S. Lewis that the only people who hate escapism are jailers.
Michael Moorcock, who helped found the movement known as the “New Wave” in science fiction and fantasy in the 1960s, ripped into Tolkien’s brand of escapism in his essay “Epic Pooh,” which his literary descendant China Miéville–founder of the 1990s “New Weird” movement summed up as: “Jailers love escapism. What they hate is escape.”