I missed China Miï¿½ville’s guest-of-honor interview at Readercon, but these comments reported by Matt Cheney seem to me dead on, as are Matt’s own remarks:
At Readercon this weekend, China Miï¿½ville said, in his guest of honor interview, that one of the things he notices in both the audience for his work and in himself is a tension between a desire for otherworldly mystery and a desire for detail, detail, detail. He noted RPGs as an expression of this tension, a sublimation of geekiness within the rules and tables and worldbooks of the game that was often at odds with the fantastic potential of the material, and sometimes of the source material itself—he noted that the game of Call of Cthulhu seemed to utterly miss Lovecraft’s point: Cthulhu goes from being a creature so great and terrible that it can’t possibly be described or comprehended to being a creature with 100 hit points. (I may be mangling China’s argument, since it’s based on memory, so please blame me if you disagree, not him.)
This tension between the desire for that-which-is-so-amazing-it’s-incomprehensible and that-which-can-be-quantified is one most of us who are readers of SF probably share to some extent or another, and it can be a productive tension, perhaps even one of the foundational tensions in fantastic literature, the tension that propels much good fantasy writing into a realm that borrows from traditions of allegory, surrealism, and slice-of-life realism but doesn’t comfortably fit into any one camp, and, at its best, is therefore richer than each.