Justifying Fantasy

I didn’t realize that fantasy writers in the general market also came up against critics, but apparently so. Even with all it’s huge popularity, or maybe because of it, writers are still asking the question, What makes fantasy so appealing? In essence, why does it sell? And sell and sell and sell? Why do millions rush out to buy Harry Potter, many in the dead of night, waiting for hours in line? Why do youth raised on computer games and MTV read a 600+ novel?

One author, Mark Chadbourn, gives his thoughts in the article “The Fantastic Appeal of Fantasy,” published in the UK newspaper, the Telegraph:

I don’t write fantasy fiction simply to provide a trap-door from reality. For me, the genre is as much about the world around us as EastEnders [a British TV program].

But instead of coming slap-bang up against it, fantasy charts the unconscious hopes and aspirations of our modern society through symbolism and allegory in story-forms as old as humanity.

It’s about turning off the mobile phone and the computer and remembering who we are in the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves.

Ah, yes, the darkest parts of ourselves. But if we stop there?

This is why I think it is so important that Christians write fantasy—so that the whole truth comes out, not just the part about our dark selves.

Want to read such a fantasy, of the supernatural suspense variety? Try CSFF’s April feature, The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren.

If in doubt, check out what the tour participants are saying about the book:
Brandon Barr/ Justin Boyer/ Jackie Castle/ Karri Compton/ CSFF Blog Tour/ Gene Curtis/ D. G. D. Davidson/ Jeff Draper/ April Erwin/ Karina Fabian/ Beth Goddard / Marcus Goodyear/ Todd Michael Greene/ Michael Heald/ Christopher Hopper/ Joleen Howell/ Jason Joyner/ Kait/ Carol Keen/ Mike Lynch/ Terri Main/ Margaret/ Melissa Meeks/ Pamela Morrisson/ John W. Otte/ Rachelle/ Steve Rice/ Ashley Rutherford/ Chawna Schroeder/ Rachelle Sperling/ Stuart Stockton – welcome back, Stuart! 😉 / Steve Trower/ Speculative Faith/ Robert Treskillard/ Laura Williams/ Timothy Wise

*bold type indicates bloggers who have already posted about the book.


  1. Wow…

    Now that was well put. And a great addition to a secular view that only brought us half way down the pipeline. How much does that speak of the rest of life? Man can only do so much, it’s God working through the life of the Christian that does so much more!

    Well said.



  2. Well, I think it is somewhat overlooked that the “deepest” part of ourselves is the image of God. Today, it is dark only because we see through a lens darkly!

    I think there is sometimes a misunderstanding of fantasy that it is merely an exploration of the unknowable, corrupt dark heart of man. In fact, there is a very tangible element of faith (as defined in Hebrews as “being sure of what we hope for”) which states that, without faith, one can not know God, because in order to know him, one must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    I’d argue that the very best fantasy fiction is an earnest seeking for God. Sometimes, even, the quest falls short (likely to the lament of the author) but may nevertheless aid the reader in finding himself in a place that allows him to tremble before the Lord.

    I’ll put it another way. I do not live in a country with a king. I’ve never known anything in my culture of kings, except that tyranny is awful, that despots thirst for power, and that patriots cast them aside for liberty.

    But I have a bible that speaks well of lordship. And…I have fantasy novels that have given me living pictures of “good kings” so that I might be better positioned to gladly offer myself in slaveship to a true Lord.

    Fantasy can make the alien familiar. What is God to us, but alien (or holy).

    Fantasy isn’t salvic, but it is pictographic. It can help us to know salvation when it comes.


  3. I think you are right about writing and reading fantasy. If you have a firm connection with the Lord, there is no reason why you can not wrire or read quality fiction like fantasy. But the important thing to remember is that not all fantasy is the same, and some is not worth the paper it is written on.


  4. Fantasy can make the alien familiar. xdpaul, C.S. Lewis could have written that line. Most definitely this is what he believed. And interestingly, not actually what Tolkien believed. (See today’s post).

    But I was actually coming at this fom the view of man as fallen, and thus the dark heart in need of redemption. Secular fantasy, of course, does all the exploring of the darkness with out the redeeming—the point I believe Christopher was making, too.

    Mark, from the article I read today, apparently Lewis would agree with you, too, but for a reason that might surprise you. He seems to be saying that to create another world, then deliver an ordinary romance or mystery is a waste and actually the setting gets in the way of the story.. That’s not something I’d considered before.

    I do think secular fantasy (or more accurately, pagan fantasy) that flips good and calls it evil (The Golden Compass, for instance) is a clear misuse of the genre and is one reason I advocate so hard for Christian fantasy.

    If we don’t tell the truth in the medium most popular, than we are missing an opportunity. We have a listening audience waiting to drink up the otherness that demonstrates the real.



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