Why Write Fantasy?

Someone once asked me why I write fantasy instead of (pardon me) real literature. This person wondered from a particularly Christian standpoint — shouldn’t Christians be more concerned about the real world?

I’ve given the question a lot of thought over the years and summed up some of my answers in my “Apologetic” essay on WorldsUnseen.com.

Some people are confused by [speculative fiction]. Others think it’s downright wrong-headed (or worse, downright evil). Others get it. They just get it. They know why authors would choose to write Middle-Earth instead of downtown Manhattan. They know why we care about dragons and elves, or about stars and alien civilizations, or about warriors and far-away, dangerous, beautiful things. They know why writing about those things isn’t just “escapism,” but can be a powerful act of creation that helps us grapple with our day-to-day existences in better ways.

They get it. That’s why they read it. Randy Alcorn said it really well: “When we get excited reading [fantasies by Tolkien or Lewis], it’s not our sinfulness that arouses that excitement. It’s our God-given hunger for adventure, for new realms and new beings . . . God has given us a longing for new worlds.”

The rest of the essay looks at three elements of what I write: “fiction,” “speculative,” and “Christian.” It comes back to the real world after all:

I wrote earlier that fiction allows us to experience a story in a subjective way. You can call this escapism if you like. But at the same time, that subjective experience allows us to come back and look at our own lives with greater objectivity.

So there is a chance that when readers escape into a speculative world designed by someone who is immersed in truth and relationship with God, they might just experience truth or encounter God in a way they have not done before — in a way they can bring back out into the “real world” to make an objective difference. Aslan has truly deepened readers’ worship of Jesus. Middle-Earth has really made us long for heaven.







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