Andrews confers with a Mongol camel-rider
I think it’s safe to say I couldn’t begin to write the kind of fantasies I write if I’d never read Roy Chapman Andrews’ non-fiction accounts of his scientific expeditions to the Gobi Desert. He led the great Central Asiatic Expedition for the American Museum of Natural History, into a country passed over by many of the currents of history–a country so wild, so exotic, that it might as well have been a fantasy world, like Middle-Earth or Narnia.
To see what I’m getting at, visit the Roy Chapman Andrews Society website ( https://roychapmanandrewssociety.org/ ), scroll down quite a ways, and then watch some videos of original film footage from the expedition. The video in the middle of the page is especially haunting, with a gorgeous piece of music attached–The Gael by Trevor Jones, part of the soundtrack of The Last of the Mohicans. Maybe I’m some kind of nut, but this video brings me close to tears.
Because it’s a lost world, sights that no one will ever see again, a world unto itself, with no Starbuck’s, no MacDonald’s, no transgender bathrooms, none of the dismal plock we have to hack our way through every day.
It makes me homesick for the world of my own fantasy novels: somehow these videos get me to thinking I can go there–to Lintum Forest, to Roshay Bault’s house in Ninneburky, to the Abnak camps among the foothills. All fantasy, of course.
But God has given us imagination for a reason; and I think the reason is to keep us sane.