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Presently there is a thread on my Yahoo Groups community for Christians who write genre fiction that discusses the morality of Christian fantasy writers using magic in their storytelling. Here is my response:
I'm not responding to any particular individual of thread, but just my $.02.

Recently, my best friend purchased a copy of Infinite Space, Infinite God that contains a story I wrote entitled Canticle of the Wolf. Basically, the story is a retelling of the legend of Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio as a science fiction tale with the wolf being an anthropomorphic time traveler.

Now, my friend does not read fiction at all--let alone science fiction--and I received a rather alarmed phone call asking why I was promoting the idea of creating genetically modified creatures that mimicked humanity.

I had to calm him down to tell him that regular readers of SF are in partnership with the author in understanding the tropes of the genre As ISIG was the first fiction he has ever read outside of his high school education (and he just turned 50) there was no way he could ever have understood that light sabers, FTL travel, aliens, and all the other props SF writers use are just that: props that tell a story about the human condition.

The same is true in my fantasy. Yes, I do include mechanical magic in my stories without apology and I suspect that none of my readers have ever been motivated to seek to replicate the tropes of my story. Magic in my stories is not an end in itself; it is a prop that helps me, just like in science fiction, to tell a story about the human condition.

Now, be aware that for those of you who feel a strong moral repugnance at using magic in your stories, then you must obey the promptings of your conscience. Scripture is, after all, rather clear on that.

However, to sum this all up, I have no choice when I write, but to respect my reader. It may be that reading Canticle of the Wolf he may miss the whole point of the story and dedicate his life to uplifting animals through genetic modification. He may miss the whole point of my recently published Night Mares and dedicate his life to the occult science of channeling spirit horses, but deep down inside, I doubt it.

Unless he's so mentally unbalanced that he should have his library card lawfully taken away from him, the regular joe probably recognizes my fiction as just that. Fiction. A momentary diversion and in a genre he recognizes where the point of the story moves beyond its setting, elements, and props to allow me to tell a little story about himself.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
stokerbramwell
Jan. 12th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
I can't even imagine not reading fiction, especially for fifty years. o.o
literary_equine
Jan. 12th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)

Actually his last fiction book was read when he was 18, so he's not picked up a fiction book in ...hmmm ... 32 years?

Of course, he makes a 6-figure income, so what does that say? ;-)
stokerbramwell
Jan. 12th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
Of course, he makes a 6-figure income, so what does that say? ;-)

Hmm...stories...or money...? Hmmmmmm...

...

Oh, who am I kidding? ;p

*resigns self to poverty* XD
mewd
Jan. 12th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
My parents read non-fiction exclusively. Unless 'Fifty Miracle Cures THEY Don't Want You To Know About' can be counted as such.

Which is a little awkward considering I'd like to dedicate my life to creating fiction of various sorts. But it's not like I'm the only person who ever failed to see eye to eye with their parents.

stokerbramwell
Jan. 12th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
You know, television may have ruined me, but I can't help but expect a Family Guy non sequitur to follow that statement.
breckinwood
Jan. 12th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
That was a good post. I just read it in my email, too.
I had someone object to storm calling in one of my stories, once.
I don't care how much someone believes they can call a storm the way my character did, if you go outside and FEEL the weather, and DRAW the storm, and BELIEVE you can call lightning,
It. Isn't. Going. To. Happen.
Period.

I would never get down on someone for living according to their conscience, but people really need to work on educating their consciences, too.
loveyouenola
Jan. 12th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)
*shakes head* With all the pressures that can kill a muse, and stop someone writing... that you even have to deal with this type of stupidity is nothing short of sad.

There's eight paragraphs that could have been part of a great story... instead you have to waste it, stating the obvious. *sigh*
cabbitwocky
Jan. 12th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
Well spoken, sir.
eric_hinkle
Jan. 14th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
You tell 'em, Heavy.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )