Fantasy remains a human right

Usually, when I encounter someone who is a hater of fantasy lit, they bring some real world example of a fantasy novel or two that contain some terrible things. This could be the soft-core porn of an Anne Rice vampire novel or perhaps a nasty reveling account of necromancy in some swords and sorcery paperback. On top of that, they probably know some trench-coat wearing teen with a greasy ponytail who reads this stuff by the stack and is clearly a piece of work.

Yes, yes, all true. But that doesn’t mean anything really. Humans in a fallen world can twist whatever they put their hands on. Food, drugs, cars, computers – all of them can be abused. The same with fantasy. Don’t toss a huge wealth of imagination and beauty out the door. We dream then write or film this stuff because we are part of God’s dream too.

Tolkien put it this way:

Fantasy can, of course, be carried to excess. It can be ill done. It can be put to evil uses. It may even delude the minds out of which it came. But of what human thing in this fallen world is that not true? Men have conceived not only of elves, but they have imagined gods, and worshipped them, even worshipped those most deformed by their authors’ own evil. But they have made false gods out of other materials: their notions, their banners, their monies; even their sciences and their social and economic theories have demanded human sacrifice. Abusus non tollit usum. Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories