‘Storytelling is a boat crossing time with a payload of knowledge as colossal as the ocean of story itself,’ wrote Baba Rampuri. So let us, then, splash deep into this ocean.
In college, I took a course in fiction writing. I hardly knew most of the other students. We didn’t even say hello. But by reading their stories, I felt that I knew them more deeply than I knew some of my closest friends. In everyday interactions, I communicated at a superficial level, while the depths remained concealed. The fiction course inverted this pattern, circumventing the surfaces to communicate from the depths.
Science fiction and fantasy are called ‘genre fiction’. People who say this seem to use ‘genre’ as a euphemism for ‘bad’. The genres are outcasts who eke out a dismal existence at the woeful fringes of true literature. May I invert this description of genre fiction?
Science fiction is the unified field of everything that can be imagined. Realistic fiction is the tiny subset, the minuscule niche, fenced in by self-imposed limitations. As Asimov wrote, science fiction is the scouting of the future. The scouts report back with warnings of perils, and guidance towards opportunities. What could be more important?
Fantasy is mythology. The characters are archetypes who teach us about the collective human consciousness and our own souls. What could be more enriching?
When we read ‘unrealistic’ fiction, we let down our defenses. We don’t have to justify our values and opinions while traversing worlds that don’t exist. Instead, we can appreciate the song of another human soul. Wouldn’t it be nice if political debates engendered mutual appreciation of everyone’s unique soul song? One of my favorite novels is Atlas Shrugged, even though it espouses the exact opposite of almost everything I believe. I can still appreciate Ayn Rand’s meticulous engineering of every detail to advance her political agenda.
I, too, had an agenda when I wrote my novels. I believe that the natural world is the temple of Creation. I believe that conservation is a form of worship, and I believe it is our birthright to reestablish Heaven on Earth. I believe this great work requires divine intervention—including the divine transformation of our minds, hearts, and actions. I wrote the novels as a prayer for the preservation and resurrection of the temples of Creation.
I’ll see you in the colossal ocean of story. Stay drenched.