Sorry this deserves it's own post. In the comments section below Margaret Weis, who with Tracy Hickman wrote the Dragonlance series, posted the following note:
I am the co-author, with Tracy Hickman, of the Dragonlance Chronicles and I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful mention in Time Magazine. I am proud to have been a part of your life, albeit a small one!
And I just wanted you to know that you can take comfort in the fact that skinheads do not play D&D, nor do they read Dragonlance. They're not smart enough! A survey done by TSR, Inc, back in the early eighties discovered that D&D players tend to be of above average intelligence, highly imaginative and creative.
Again, thank you so much. It means a great deal to me. (Oh, and if you go back to read the books, remember that Dragons of Autumn Twilight was our very first novel! I can't read it myself without wincing!):)
If you were a Dungeons & Dragons player, you know all about Dragonlance, Tanis the Half-Elven, Kitara, Flint Fireforge, Strum and the rest. If you didn't play D&D, well....I guess it's never too late. Anyway, to the extent that fantasy epics like A Wrinkle In Time, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, and the Neverending Story, were second homes to me--Dragonlance was a mansion. It will sound wierd, but I can draw a direct line from,say, The Labrynth to Dragonlance to the Uncanny X-Men to Follow The Leader to It Takes A Nation Of Millions to Hold Us Back. What is Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" if not an origin tale? And what is Rakim, if not the greatest verbal swordsman of his era? All of these works were using the word--and in some case images--to say that there is beauty is seeing more in the world than what is actually there.
If there's anything that I would want more of for black boys and girls, it's imagination. Obviously I'd wish it for all kids, and here, I'm just speaking on what I know: When you are young and black and you have the vague sense that the world is not as it should be, you need to be able to imagine other ways of being. You need to understand that somewhere there are people who pay their bills by, not shrinking themselves for the streets, but by becoming bigger, by seeing more in the world. It's a damn shame that the very people who need imagination the most, are the ones who get it drummed out of them the quickest.
Hip-Hop, D&D, comic books--all of it--really allowed me to live. It's true, I had to learn the dialect of the people I was around, and come to see the beauty in that too. But in fantasy, in Dragonlance, I guess I saw that there were other kinds of beauty and those kinds--and my native kind--were ultimately variants on the same theme.
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