by Hunter Haugen

The realm of the mind is entirely fantasy. Fantasy in the typical definition is something of a historical time coming out of the dark ages with swords and knights, often with some element of magic or otherworldly realm, but I mean fantasy in the “not reality” aspect.

Reality is what is here and now, or what has been as known by us now, or what will be as predicted by us now. There is a “cone of uncertainty” extending to the past and future in which we may traverse, but outside of that cone lies fantasy.

When it comes to literature, imagination, and storytelling there is no “cone of certainty.” That which is fiction is by definition freed of the cone, and much of what is related as “history” is also separated. The future may lie in the cone but until we reach it, it is fantasy. Does it do any good to debate this fine line?

Time in stories progresses only as the writer would have it. The reader reads at the pace the writer writes, having no control over the flow of time. Similarly characters in the stories can utter no sentences and think no thoughts other than that which the writer writes, perform no actions other than what the writer writes, and have no material lives outside of the story. The minds of the reader may capture the essence of the story and project the possibilities in all manner of directions, but that story is in the mind of the reader alone.

Elements woven throughout the writing may not relate much to reality, or may not at all. The imagination of a writer is their greatest asset. Their “intellectual property” is entirely immaterial yet our legal system works to protect it just as it protects material products. And yet they profit by way of “piracy of the mind” in every single reader captivated by those fictional elements.

When it comes to “cone-possible” stories set in baroque, westerns, medieval, or barbaric stone-age settings but entirely made-up, one fiction is as fictional as the rest. To relate to the reader is the ultimate test of how well the creation comes alive. Similarly, rocket ships, elves, elemental control, fantastical deities, other worlds, and perhaps even other physical models that are “cone-impossible” are in their own realm and degree of fiction, but are fiction just the same. Out of the pen of a writer springs a story, and if that story relates to the reader and evokes a connection with the sprit of imagination, they are not far removed from any other fiction.

The writer is the crafter of dreams, casting those rough-hewn imaginings of every reader into finely-wrought works fit for carrying with them for the rest of their life, vicariously living beyond any mortal possibility.