Magical Mirrors (Starlighter, Day 4)

“Remember how I followed you and Adrian like a little puppy until I was eight?”

Jason grinned. “I remember. We didn’t mind. We needed a fair maiden to rescue whenever we stormed the sand castles.”

“Well, I always knew you’d be a warrior. Remember what I used to say when we were getting ready to wade across the Elbon?”

“I remember. ‘Lead the way, warrior.’”

“Those were good days.” She hooked her arm around his and sighed. “I feel like they’re back. I’m a little girl again, a maiden rescued from a witch hunter.”

In yesterday’s interview with Bryan Davis, I asked about the magical elements in Starlighterthe mysterious gifts possessed by Koren and Elyssa. The gifts add to the appeal of both characters, by making them fascinating in their own right and placing them both in peril — Koren because her power is coveted by evil rulers, Elyssa because people with her gifts get burned at the stake. Yet both believe that the Creator has endowed them with their powers, and both seek to use their gifts in His service.

Controversy could enter, however, as it does so often with Christian speculative fiction, because in our world Koren and Elyssa’s gifts would probably be demonic at worst and anti-biblical at best (for example, the title used for Elyssa, “Diviner,” calls to mind Scripture’s admonitions against divination).

In the interview, Bryan revealed his process for dividing reality and fantasy:

Since the Dragons in our Midst series takes place in our world, I had to draw the line between reality and fantasy very carefully, more so in that series than in Dragons of Starlight. In Dragons in our Midst, I adhered to the realities of our world and added the fantasy elements without violating the truths of the Bible’s revelations of the spiritual world. I have the real God, and I mention the real Jesus, which established my story as one that could not trespass lines drawn by the Bible. So all my heroic characters never use magic or other powers that Christians in our world would consider demonic or as arising from forbidden sources.

Starlighter . . . takes place in another world. The characters have inherent abilities that would be considered demonic in our world, but in this world, they are endowed by the Creator. Just as the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to humans in our world, God does the same in the Starlighter world, but some of the gifts don’t match those in our world . . .

I realized when I wrote the story that some people would challenge these abilities as demonic. That’s why I created the persecutors who chase Elyssa and characterize them as dark-ages style inquisitors who are blind to the possibility that God is able to endow people with gifts they don’t understand.

Bryan’s answer touches on something Christian fantasy writers understand: powers or abilities are not evil in and of themselves; it’s the source of those powers or abilities — and the way that we access and/or use them — that make them good or evil.

In another world, the rules could very well be different than they are here. By exploring these possibilities, fantasy writers can turn a mirror on our own world and our attitudes and responses to people, to events, and to things we don’t understand. It’s this transferral of the familiar into the strange that gives fantasy its emotional and spiritual power: taken out of our usual surroundings, we’re forced to see life differently for the duration of the story, to ask questions of ourselves and challenge our assumptions.

The best fantasy will give us a vision we can take back into the real world with us — not blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, but equipping us to see through the outsides of things and into the heart a little more clearly.







4 responses to “Magical Mirrors (Starlighter, Day 4)”

  1. Heather Avatar

    Good thoughts Rachel! I remember going back and forth on this issue in my own fantasy books.

  2. Bryan Davis Avatar

    Rachel, thank you for your thorough coverage throughout the tour. Your support is a blessing.

    One of my publishers has joined a program that will allow serious reviewers to gain access to pre-publication galleys in pdf format. You can download the file, and it will expire after 15 days. If you are interested in participating, please let me know. The file for the adult book, Masters & Slayers, is available now. It is best to contact me by email – bryan (at) daviscrossing (dot) com.

  3. Elisabeth Avatar

    Wow! BIG questions … ! Thank you for the interestng food for thought …

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