Flights of Fancy: Enjoying Speculative Fiction and Not Loosing My Soul

Oh friends, the drama.  The tears.  The pearl clutching and hand wringing!  Someone has once again claimed to be both an enjoyer of Harry Potter and a practising Catholic on the internet!

Won’t someone please think of the children!!!

I get tired of this, really tired of this.

Now before I rant further (because I know there’s someone out there who won’t actually read the whole thing before hitting send on their comments).  I believe in evil, I believe there are evil things out there, I believe there are people out there who have had truly horrifying encounters with things better left unsaid.  I believe there are friends and family of mine who have given into temptations of various kinds whether it’s alternative religions or lying or food binging who can not, absolutely can NOT, trust themselves around their temptations.  I can completely understand that there are people who shouldn’t not read certain books or watch certain movies, etc. and I would never ask them to put themselves at risk of temptations they are keenly aware of.  Maybe you can’t be trusted around a pack of Oreo’s or magically based fiction.  That’s okay – I can’t be trusted around Jaegermeister (thank you college).  If this is you; I’ve got your back – we can dish on any other thing together with mutual respect and admiration.

But I have to draw the line at being told that due to one persons experiences that something is bad for everyone.  Something’s are universally bad for us – radiation poisoning, truck stop sushi and most animals that live in Australia for instance – but a good amount of things are more individual.

A good portion of the books on my bookshelf fall into the later category.  Among the classic fiction and the spiritual memoirs, you will find authors like Neil Gaiman, S.M. Stirling, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jim Butcher, Diana Gabaldon and the entire Fables collection by Bill Willingham; and yes, even J.K. Rowling.

We love speculative fiction in this house.  

Speculative fiction you ask, what is that?  Speculative fiction is an umbrella term for any fictional work created out of human imagination and speculation; it houses anything from science fiction and fantasy to horror and post-apocalyptic, time traveling dystopian fiction.  These are works which – no matter the similarities to the real world – do not take place in the world we live in.  Speculative fiction is created solely in terms and boundaries created by the author.  Regular fiction inserts characters who never lived and events that never happened into a world that exists, as it exists right now.  Speculative fiction inserts characters who never lived and events that never happened into a world that has not and will not ever exist.

Sometimes these worlds exist with similar understandings of morality, physics and natural law and sometimes they don’t, rarely they don’t.  The former is often called a “supposal”, in which the author asks the audience to suppose what God or our own morality would look like in a world that looks different; that is the speculative part of it.  The rare book that doesn’t follow the guidelines of a supposal, a book that make’s it’s own reality – moral hierarchy and all – is seen, in this house, as a foil.

We understand in this house that when a work of speculative fiction does not operate in our understanding of good vs. evil or right vs. wrong that these fictional truths or realities only exist within the confines of the page.  We understand that punishment or revenge in a speculative book does not a primer for real life make.  We understand that the within the world of the book there are things, skills and abilities that either do not exist at all in the real world or do not exist as presented.  We understand that what we’re reading is in an exercise in an often entertaining, sometimes disturbing version of imaginative play,

And because we understand these things we enjoy our books, we speculate about motives and endings, delight in world’s that cannot possibly exist in ours and then are able to walk away from it; whole and safe.  We have the ability to suppose, to look at a characters actions in a fantastical situation or what he or she does with their fantastical abilities from the lens of Christian morality.  A fantastical story is always assumed to begin with God and end with God, whether that God is named Eru or Aslan.  Nothing that is moral, just and good in these stories can operate outside of God in these works of supposal.

In fact, there’s more I avoid in the regular fiction section than I’ve ever found to avoid in the fantasy section.  I feel there are works of popular fiction, which exist in entirely in made-up situations in the real world, where more characters get away with immoral actions and questionable personal beliefs.  Books where pretend characters in the real world get away with rape, murder, incest and every kind of despicable evil and are never brought to real justice.  These are the books I prefer to avoid.

So tonight I’ll most likely curl up with a good book that involved magic, fantastic beasts or maybe a planet with too many moons.  I will enjoy it for what is – an entertainment for my mind, a supposal of what this world could be, but isn’t and on Sunday I’ll go to church, and in between now and then I’ll read my book on St. Francis and say my prayers.  Perhaps I’ll even be a little inspired by a speculative character to be a little more humble or have a little more charity.

So there you have it, maybe not the most polished work on the subject, but my honest thoughts.  We can be friends even if our bookshelves don’t look the same.  The things I find inspiring do not have to be universally enjoyed to contain universal truths.  Let me keep my wizards and spaceships, you can keep the Jaegermeister and we’ll all go home still friends.

Lots of Lists

Sorry for the quiet.  Things are going quite well on this end – so well, in fact, it’s lead to more than a few moments of panic.  You see, I’m not used to feeling alright during pregnancy and actually having that be okay.  A FB/blogging friend was nice enough to send me her fetal doppler this week and that has helped immensely as I’m in the middle of the “teen” weeks, in which I feel human (good in fact), but don’t have a lot of signs to remind me that the pregnancy is progressing.  Being able to listen to that little heartbeat is just a Godsend right now.

But other than that I’m in a period of planning and making a lot of lists.  I’m a planner by nature, I like to know where things are going and there’s a lot to do in the next 5 months.

Some of it’s practical like organizing the house, rearranging a few rooms for the new addition, sorting out things like clothes, diapers and the like.  Originally, our plan for rooming kids together worked because they would be closer in age.  Now that we have to consider two children, potentially of the opposite gender, who are over 5 years apart we have to push a few ideas out and start from scratch.  So I’ve started looking into things like bunk beds and bedroom storage.  The age gap also means I’ll have a small baby with a growing boy’s toys and things, and apparently as they get bigger the parts of their toys get smaller – actions figures with accessories, Legos, and various things that make up Henry’s budding “collections” will need to be accessible, but safe.

Some of it’s a bit more frivolous – things I’d love to sewing and knit before the baby is here; though knitting is further down the list since it’s a summer baby.  I’ve been dreaming up baby knits here. And I definitely need to go thru my yarn stash and see what I’ve got and what I need.  I’m woefully behind in the projects I started this winter already and just need to sit down and get a few things off the needles first.

I’ve also been indulging myself in vintage baby sewing patterns.  For myself I love a good 50’s or 60’s dress, but for little kids I’m all about the late 60’s and 70’s.  It seems to be the time where little kids clothes hit a peak of cute and practical (probably thanks in a large part to knit fabric).

If I get a daughter it’s going to be years of rompers, bubble pants and little dress-tops.  Years.

The biggest thing I don’t know how to prepare for at all is how to parent two children.  I was an only child, my experience is very limited and full of secondhand observations (luckily my husband had a sibling so it’s not the blind leading the blind).  I really have no experience in the day to day managing of this – how to be fair, how to divide up my time and all that.  Books and resources would be lovely at this point.

Slow Day

I declared today a slow day.  My day off, coinciding with freezing temperature mean that I call it a home day and we stay home from preschool and all other responsibilities.

There’s bee a lot of playing, and crafting and planning and eating and T.V watching and cuddles.  And honestly, that sums up a lot of the last month.  Just giving myself permission to let things go.  Our house is a bit of a disaster and hasn’t recovered from the holidays yet.  Everyone has been watching more T.V. than I usually care for and there’s a lot I’ve just let slide and I feel like we’ve earned it.
It’s been a long couple of years and if I learned something from my first pregnancy it’s that taking care of myself goes a long way.  Not pushing myself to exhaustion means I’m healthier, I’m eating, I’m hydrated and I’m rested.  There’s time to vacuum and tidy later.
So today is a slow day.  The perfect day for lounging and playing and keeping the fire going and having little moments and growing this little person who has been letting me feel more and more human over the last week or so and maybe, just maybe has been the reason behind the little tickles that I think I’ve been feeling.  I definitely think I got “big” quickly, and if my friends are right my feelings like I’ve shrunk is normal for this stage, and maybe just some 1st tri bloating going away – but it’s kept me up a bit at night.  I don’t know what a “normal” pregnancy feels like.  In fact, I feel like this is my first time in many ways.  We’ll get an update next Wednesday and a wonderful friend is sending me her fetal doppler monitor so that I can relax a little bit more.