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What To Make Of Dragons, Part 4: Fantasy and Truth

As part of the CSFF Blog Tour, I read Vanish by Tom Pawlik. While this novel falls into the supernatural suspense (or horror) category rather than fantasy, it nevertheless serves as a perfect jumping off point to discuss the way […]

As part of the CSFF Blog Tour, I read Vanish by Tom Pawlik. While this novel falls into the supernatural suspense (or horror) category rather than fantasy, it nevertheless serves as a perfect jumping off point to discuss the way speculative fiction can show Truth.

Critics of speculative fiction, and in particular fantasy, argue that the stories deal with things that aren’t real such as dragons and fairies and gremlins and genii. In Vanish readers discover toward the end that this story all takes place in a pretend “Interworld,” a place that isn’t an actual place.

But how is this different from other fiction? Gone with the Wind author Margaret  Mitchell imagined a pretend place called Tara and peopled it with the pretend characters Scarlet and Melanie and Rhett and Ashley. Is the reader to believe that Tara really existed or that the characters are historical figures? Not at all. Readers are to believe that they are imagined by the author and only realistically believable.

So too with speculative fiction. Is the Interworld in Vanish to be accepted as an actual place? No. It is to be accepted as realistically believable, but not real.

Why then do authors write what is only imagined? Because in telling a story, Truth can surface. Let me illustrate from Scripture.

Romans 8:28 says God works good for those who love Him. Genesis records the story of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers but able as a result to provide the means of salvation for his family from a seven-year famine. The brothers meant evil, but God meant good. The story illustrates the point.

So too Christian speculative fiction can illustrate Christian truths.  From the booklet “In Denfence of Fantasy” by Andrew Lansdown:

Fantasy touches on matters of ultimate reality. For what we accept as real now and what will be real in the end are not necessarily one and the same.

It just so happens that Tom Pawlik touches on some very serious truth in Vanish. You can find some excellent discussion of the novel on the tour. I especially recommend you take a look at Rachel Starr Thomson’s three posts: day 1, day 2, and day 3. Keanan Brand also has three excellent articles posted here, here, and here.

Take time to visit all of this month’s participants and see what they have to say about Vanish:
Brandon Barr / Keanan Brand Grace Bridges / Canadianladybug / Melissa Carswell Karri Compton / Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale / D. G. D. Davidson / Janey DeMeo / Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Alex Field / Beth Goddard / Todd Michael Greene / Ryan Heart / Christopher Hopper / Joleen Howell / Becky Jesse Cris Jesse / Julie / Carol Keen / Krystine Kercher / Margaret / Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Nissa John W. Otte / John Ottinger / Donita K. Paul Epic Rat Steve Rice / Crista Richey Chawna Schroeder / James Somers Stephanie / Rachel Starr Thomson / Robert Treskillard Steve Trower / Fred Warren / Phyllis Wheeler

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.

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