There's a good article over at The Telegraph about the importance of fantasy as a genre, by Mark Chadbourn.
The article makes a convincing case for why fantasy should be regarded with a bit more respect, as well as denying that people are driven to read it merely for escapism:
"...fantasy charts the unconscious hopes and aspirations of our modern society through symbolism and allegory in story-forms as old as humanity.
It's about turning off the mobile phone and the computer and remembering who we are in the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves."
Thanks to Mark Newton for the heads-up.