Some Things Should Remain Fantasy
Some things should remain fantasy.
As a fantasy writer, in a vast community of fantasy writers, dealing with topics like war, death, cruelty, murder, and even torture can be every-day affairs. Most of us in the West live in these paradises where the worst thing we have to deal with are how to pay our student loans or perhaps the untimely passing of a family member or friend. But the truth is not everything we write and dream up remains in the engaging realm of fairy tale.
There is real evil in our world, and to forget our place in our own world is lunacy to the point of idiocy.
When we write fantasy, or any other genre for that matter, we're not just writing to make a buck or entertain - we're writing to remind and to remember: There is real evil in our world today.
Some things must remain fantasy.
When Benjamin Ferencz, even younger than I am at the time, opened up the ninth Nuremberg trials, before him stood 22 Nazi commanders responsible for one million confirmed murders which occured outside the concentration camps.
Let that number sink in.
Joseph Stalin once said, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."
Those 22 Nazi commanders were not savages. They weren't. They weren't wearing black hats or twirling droopy mustaches. They weren't evil queens or wicked fairies. They didn't have Death Stars or One Rings... they were polite and punctual. Benjamin Ferencz described them as the sort of people you'd meet waiting at a bus stop or in a cafe. They considered themselves patriots, just as much as the American pilot who dropped the atomic bombs.
Why do I bring this up?
Because Evil is not fiction. It is not bound to the past. It is insidious and it can be found not only in con-men or bank robbers, but in neighbors and clerks - secretaries and farmers. As writers, when you and I pick up a pen or sit down to type our next couple thousand words, we wield incredible power. With a flick of our pens or a stroke of our keys, we define the Possible from the Impossible. We help shape minds which will one day confront Evil, or be put in positions where facilitating wholesale murder, rape, and torture - violations of basic human rights - will not only be possible but easy. Encouraged. Expected. Even applauded.
It is our pens which help remind others of the difference between what is Right and what is Easy. What is worth unconditionally refusing and what is worth defending to our last breath.
When people ask what I write, and I tell them Fantasy, the mind jumps to dragons and elves - tired tropes and HBO series. But what I really write - what you really write and read, are oracles, manifestos, and revolutionary declarations. - Don't let the magic beguile you. Don't let the fantastic blind you to the dead-practical. We spin heart-magic. We forge that which, at its best, fortifies the Soul. We weave the imagination of our generation.
As the late Gene Wilder once said, "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamer of dreams."
It is true, there is real Evil in our world now - today. But there is also Good, too. And only Light can drive out Darkness. We write, because we are convinced some things should remain fantasy. And it is up to us and our readers to realize this in our world today.
To read more about Benjamin Ferencz and his role in the Nuremberg Trials,