The Importance of Fantasy

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions The Importance of Fantasy

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    Brandon Miller

    Hello all!

    So yesterday at church I had a discussion with someone at church who was questioning the validity of the Fantasy Genre for Christians.  This is a common question, especially among more conservative circles.  We had a really great discussion and so I’ve been thinking about what makes fantasy a special genre.  What it’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how Christians should approach some of it’s murkier waters.

    What are y’all’s thoughts?  What are some of your favorite fantasy novels, and how did they enlargen your world in ways that other genres can’t?  What do you see as the strengths of the genre?  What about the weaknesses?  How should theme be approached in a good fantasy novel?  What types of themes are fantasy novels primed to address?

    Anyway, just something that’s been bouncing around in my head since yesterday and I thought “Hey, I should bounce this around SE, seeing how there’s a new forum here and all that.”

    Fair Winds and Following Seas,
    Brandon Miller -- Wesley Turner

    Josiah DeGraaf

    @brandon-miller Great discussion topic! I was actually talking about this w/my classes today since we’re reading mostly-speculative fiction for the last quarter of the school year.

    I want to write an article about this at some point, but I think one of the biggest strengths fantasy fiction has outside the obvious “cool factor” is the concept of defamiliarization–or the way that fantasy can present old truths in a new light by putting it in a unique context. There’s a strand of Russian literary theory that emphasizes this concept a lot in the context of language. While I’m iffy on their full theory, I appreciated their points on how art should present things in a new light to counter our tendency to gloss over things we shouldn’t gloss over because of how familiar they are.

    Tolkien & Lewis did a really good job of doing this in their works; Card & Bujold are two modern authors I also see doing this well. It’s a practice I see sci-fi authors doing more than fantasy authors (for whatever reason; not sure why…), but I think fantasy can & should use this to great effect.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    Daeus Lamb

    Awesome topic. I really can’t wait to hear what everyone says. To start off, I had a couple thoughts about this a while back that I’m going to copy and paste here because I like to cheat like that.

    • Having other worlds in fantasy may feed escapism in some instances, but it can also provide perspective by allowing the reader to step away from their life and look at things clearly.
    • Fantasy is simply the best genre for allegory. Other worlds, creatures, etc are not necessary for allegory but often they make the allegory more potent and they add variety so allegories don’t all look too much like each other.
    • Speculative fiction helps us evaluate moral dilemmas we face in real life by stretching them out of proportion through the fantastical rules of the made-up universe.

    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    Lady Iliara

    Fantasy is my favorite genre to write and it ends up being what I read most of the time as well. Lord of the Rings and Narnia were the two biggest influences on me, as well as Madeleine L’Engle and M.I. McAllister.

    I think the beauty of fantasy is the power to inspire. Fantasy is focused on the conflict between good and evil, with a world worth saving and friends worth dying for. We naturally want to be part of such a story, and fantasy helps us see the beautiful themes that are already present in our own world: redemption, loyalty, courage, etc. When things don’t seem to make sense or seem to go wrong in our own world, we can remember that there is a Story we are part of, and that good will always ALWAYS vanquish evil. That, I think, is one of the reasons I love fantasy so much.

    ENFJ, Aethasian, and chocolate-Pringle-nerd-blob of epic. Greet at your own risk. *trips on a rock*


    Fantasy is well Fantastic! It was either Tolkien or Lewis who said something along the lines of writing fantasy allows us to mix the beauty of pagan arts with the truth of Christianity. I believe that fantasy is the best way to reach people as you can put similarities or themes in the books.

    Like @daeus-lamb said, it offers a window to escape through or even allows us to look at our world through a different lens. I just finished reading the Giver By Lois Lowry, and it looked at the issues of a society that takes away emotion.

    My favorite fantasy book is a toss up between LOTR and The Wingfeather Saga

    INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LA

    Sam Kowal

    @brandon-miller I think fantasy’s strength comes in part from its freedom and ability to create wonder. Fantasy is the genre where anything can happen- where writers uncork primal wonders, raise and tear down new worlds and cultures, create laws and universes spurred on by unlimited creativity. This gives fantasy a boundless feel, which in turn allows fantasy’s themes to be explored in places of freshness and wonder that strengthens them, makes them stand out sharply.

    I do, also, see a lot of skepticism of fantasy in conservative Christians, and usually I find this stems from fantasy pulling ideas from pagan cultures. Of course, fantasy doesn’t have to be this way (at least not deliberately) and that doesn’t necessarily detract from the truth of a fantasy’s theme, but I do think that is a piece of it

    *nom, nom, nom* *eats donuts*
    Oh, are you hungry? *begins weeping*
    I would have saved you one!


    @brandon-miller. Thanks for setting up this thread.

    This had been something that I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks, maybe months.

    You see, I’m one of those “Conservative Christians” who do not read nor write fantasy. And yes, I am skeptical of Christians who write Fantasy. Sci-fic is just over the raised-eyebrow-line for me, as are similar genres. And when I say do not read and write, I mean DO NOT read or write. Neither do I read Sci-fic or Futuristic/Dystopians. (Sorry peeps.. I’m thinking most of you read and write in those genres) I have friends who do write in those genres, but I personally do not feel comfortable with books that are outside the scope of actual, factual reality, so to speak. I tend to stick to 100% human characters in both the books I read and the books I write.

    Consider me your challenger when you ask the question on the importance of fantasy.  But just a side note.. I probably would not debate much on this subject, because I’m not too familiar with the genre. And I might make not-too-fair comments and assumptions mainly because of my personal beliefs and my lack of knowledge/experience in this area.

    I am open to your–and anyone else’s–thoughts on this, and will keep visiting this thread.

    Writer. Thinker. Christian Gal. Canadian. Singer. Blogger. Health Nut. Author. Lumerit Scholar.

    Daeus Lamb

    @brandon-miller On another note, I’d like to add that I think an interesting way of thinking of fantasy is that fantasy is what you get when you take poetry literally.

    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢


    Fantasy is my genre of choice, both to read and to write, so this thread (although it appears to be inactive at the moment…) caught my attention.

    One reason I enjoy writing fantasy is that I am kind of lazy. Fantasy allows me to play with the edges of what is real without worrying if my facts are right. =) I also like mucking around with mythology, folklore, and legends, blending them into the real world just to see if I can illustrate a Biblical principle through them.

    I find it interesting how often a myth or a folklore often parallels a Biblical story or principle but twists it. I like to see if I can twist it back. =) And yes, I do enjoy an escape from reality now and then.

    My fantasy series was inspired by my broken heart for the division among the denominations in the Church Jesus called His body. (I could go on about this for a while…but…email me. =) If you dare…)

    It is an allegory, but I don’t pitch the series as a Christian allegory. I pitch it as a fantasy romance about a dying race of people who are re-united by a new generation of people who are willing to risk it all to save their species. I throw in some fun characteristics like males who identify the females by an echo in their voice, and females who recognize the males by scent. And there are a couple Biblically based ones like literal life bonds between spouses who become “One Blood.”

    I don’t write for shock value and with the exception of one of my books, due to the topic not the content, I would have no issue with any teen reading my books.

    Yet – My fantasy stories have been rejected by Christian blogs, and my integrity as a Christian writer has been challenged on more than one occasion simply because they are fantasy.

    But – my contemporary books have also gotten me called into question and been rejected because they are too true to life.


     @sam-kowal @inkling-for-christ @lady-iliara @josiah @brandon-miller

    Clumsy but cute. Apologizes a lot. Doesn't shed. Much.

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