by October 5th, 2009-
My first addition to the official Orbit blog page. This is serious. This is important. This is something to think about. So I’m going to just leap into the fray and admit something.
Fantasy is silly.
It just is. There’s no way around this, and to think otherwise is an unnecessary strain on your justification cortex. (I don’t know if there’s such a thing but seems like there should be if there isn’t.)
Science Fiction is (mostly) silly, too. It’s all absurd, ridiculous, nonsensical stuff. It’s whimsy. It’s make-believe. It’s escapist. It’s childish. It’s all these wonderful things and more.
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t many profound, thoughtful, well-conceived fantasy / sci fi stories out there. There are plenty. Tons of ’em. But this doesn’t change the fact that at the heart of all fiction in general and fantasy / sci fi in particular is (forgive the bluntness) silliness.
Vampires are silly. Werewolves are silly. Vulcans are silly, and so are faster-than-light spaceships. Teleportation is silly, but no sillier than psychic powers or magic spells or mole people. All are ridiculous things. And that’s why I love writing about them and love reading about them.
I grew up on comic books, Duck Tales, and Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers. One of my favorite comic book characters is a walking plant (no, not the Swamp Thing, the other one). I love watching Godzilla piledrive a mutant insect into downtown Tokyo, and Superman is my hero. Of all the movies I’ve seen recently, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was the most fun, most engaging, and downright heartfelt. And, yes, I realize that the climax of this film involves our hero having to infiltrate a giant flying meatball to save the world. And I’m cool with that.
There are no vampires, no ghosts, no alien invaders, or ancient gods sitting on your doorstep. Most probably, there never will be. That’s why I write fantasy because when you’re a kid, you get to pretend like maybe those things are real. (Well, not me. I was pretty skeptical even as a kid.) And when I sit down to write a story about mooching gods or Cthulhu with an eating disorder, I get to pretend for just a little while that maybe they’re real again.
We can come up with any pop psychology excuse we want for enjoying stories involving things that we know aren’t real. We can label zombies as stand-ins for consumer culture or say that Star Trek is all about a hopeful future. But really, when you get right down to it, zombies are scary monsters that eat your face and Star Trek is all about how cool we wish the future will be. Though it most probably won’t be 1/10th as interesting, and I’m just going to assume there aren’t any giant space squids or ruthless cyborgs waiting for us out there.
But that won’t stop us from dreaming. From pretending. From indulging our need to believe, if only for a little while, that lamps have genies in them, that monsters may indeed be lurking in the backs of our closets, and that, if we could just get bit by a radioactive animal, we could gain powers and abilities related to said animal.
Sure, it’s silly, but that’s what makes it worthwhile.