Fantasy writers are perceived as having lively imaginations. Who can deny it? But when it comes to actually putting over one’s fantasies, and making people believe in your fantasy and even order their lives around it–well, we just can’t compete with those folks in science, the government, and the news media.
Our fantasies are clearly labeled as such. No one would dream of introducing a bill in Congress to fund an expedition to Bell Mountain. That money is already spoken for by other fantasies. Here are two of the more outrageous examples.
“Man-made global warming is real–but big government can control it.”
“Life on earth arose spontaneously from non-living materials like mud and gravel, and by an infinite series of totally random mutations, went from bacteria to Beethoven.”
Those are big fantasies! Nothing ever cooked up by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien comes even close to these for sheer audacity of the imagination.
It’s staggering to realize that millions of people–who would never, never expect to see Mr. Toad in his motorcar passing them on the freeway–have actually been brought to believe in these colossal fantasies. You’d think they would just burst out laughing at a statement like, “Paying teachers’ union members higher salaries, and granting them tenure and fabulous pension packages, will improve your children’s education,” but they don’t. They don’t even crack a smile.
Maybe it’s saying too much, to say that anyone actually believes that particular fantasy. But people act like they believe it.
When it comes down to the serious business of telling whoppers, we fantasy writers are pretty small potatoes. But we like to believe that our fantasies, at least, are edifying: and never cost our readers anything beyond the price of a book.