A fundamentalist Christian, a black gay man, an Islamic terrorist, and a Japanese kamikaze pilot walk into--
Wait. This is the real world, Cannon:
1. None of these people would EVER agree to be in the same room.
2. Any story that starts this way is either the beginning of a disaster movie or a joke intended to offend a whole lotta people.
3. Many businesses would concoct some excuse (legal or not) to ban at least one of these people or something they’re carrying causing a ruckus even before they got inside.
Therefore, this story is unrealistic. None of them would work together. None of them would agree. No good would come of their association. You’re just asking for hate mail.
Really? Are you sure?
Let’s start over, then.
These four people fall into an alternate dimension:
1. A priest who believes his God and the magic of his world can exist in harmony,
2. An exiled vampire who is now employed by and is a protector of humans,
3. An alien sworn to a secret terrorist cell who willingly works beside her people’s oppressors,
4. A child who is trained in a virtual reality simulator and exterminates an entire population.
Through their harrowing adventures they learn to respect each others’ beliefs and
forge deep friendships that transcend the barriers of race, religion, and politics.
The Happy Ending
More acceptable? Why? Why is it when we slap a latex prosthetic on someone’s face and throw them into space that suddenly discussing one’s religious beliefs is okay? Why is it that if someone literally has fairy wings that political banter is more comfortable? When magic and technology are involved, somehow we create a no-holds barred, guilt-free zone to delve deeply into philosophical depths we can’t abide in real life.
And that is why, my friends, speculative fiction is the BEST genre. Ever.
What is speculative fiction? It’s a broad term inclusive of everything we consider traditional fantasy, traditional science fiction, plus everything in between and outside the box.
Why does it work? Speculative fiction provides metaphor buffer that protects us from feeling the personal impact of the political or religious debate. We can see the arguments. We can see both sides without it becoming personal. At the end of the book or the episode or the movie we can draw our own conclusions, of course. But the point of using speculative fiction as a platform to discuss sensitive issues is to share in another human’s point of view. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like it. You’re even allowed to scream in protest. But at least you have a better understanding of why people think or do what they think or do.
There are many people I count as my friends that I disagree with, but I respect their views. I respect them as human beings. I try hard to listen to what they say and see their lives from their point of view and not mine. Often, I don’t get the same treatment, but life isn’t fair. Accept that and living is a lot less stressful. I attribute part of my respect of others’ views to the fact I was raised on a healthy diet of speculative fiction. If more people would read and watch what I did as a kid, what a wonderful world we could have!
So CAN a fundamentalist Christian, a black gay man, an Islamic terrorist, and a Japanese kamikaze pilot walk into a bar and together save the universe?
You tell me. The forum is open. Comment below. Or, if you can’t make comments here, comment on my Facebook page and I’ll paste the comments in with your name attached.
Revision. It’s up to you.
Next week’s main course on Revision is a Dish Best Served Cold: Why Do Adults Read Young Adult Speculative Fiction? (I mean, come on, it’s for kids, right?)
On the menu for the future: weekly articles, book reviews, guest blogs, interviews, and more.
Also look for my articles on Walrus Publishing’s website
Like Ghost Stories? I’m published in Rocking Horse Publishing’s Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories. Check it out!
And watch for the occasional appetizer on the weekends if I catch something cool I think you might find interesting. Like these amazing mashups of Star Wars Stormtroopers invading Thomas Kincade landscapes.