I write fantasy, and when I’ve told people that over the years, I’ve heard this typical response, “I’m not really into fantasy.” I may be biased, but the more I thought about this, the more I am astonished. How can people not be into fantasy? When I look around and see the birds chirping in the trees, my cat meowing for food and snuggling up to me on my lap, and even when I think about the myriad of different animals that inhabit our planet, I wonder how people can not be into fantasy.
One of the reasons people don’t like fantasy, as I have been told, is that they don’t like all the different creatures. It’s too strange or weird for them. My response is this: Isn’t this world a fantasy? How can one person objectively observe an elephant and not be in awe of its fantastical nature? If I were an alien who arrived on earth for the first time, would I not be overtaken by the fantasy of this planet?
I will be upfront with readers and admit that I am a Christian. I believe in miracles and prayer. With that being said, we take pills that cure diseases, we fly around in machines and arrive on the other side of the planet within hours, we send men and women into space. While much of this sounds more like science fiction (genre-speaking), it has a huge element of fantasy.
Just because we are familiar with something, and thereby bored with it, doesn’t negate the fantastical element of that thing. To Frodo, Middle-Earth wasn’t a fantasy. It was a reality in which he was born.
Forgive me for saying this, but I believe if we can’t look at our world as fantastic in nature, we have lost our vision of the wonder of this world. We have lost it to the mundane, when it clearly is anything but.
While we shouldn’t think like a child, I still believe we should view some things as a child would. We should be able to see the fantasy in our world. We should be able to stand in awe of the creatures and landscapes that God has made.
Don’t think of writers of fantasy merely as people who are creating made-up, magical worlds. Think of them as anthropologists of worlds we have yet to discover.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.