I have been discussing on LinkedIn with other writers the role of reality in fantasy books, and it got me thinking about fantasists who write about tragedies and terrorism, as happened in Charleston this past week. Nine people I never knew, and whose existence I was unaware of, in a few short hours meant more to me than any fantasy character I had ever “met.” Real life matters, but fantasy can be a refuge in times of real trauma. I don’t understand much of the dystopian fantasy that is now being written, when we face such horrors in real life. Are we being told that humanity is actually as bad as writers portray us in the face of apocalypse?

I don’t believe that it is possible to convey in fiction the actual depth of the horror that reality brings. There is an immediacy to events like Charleston that no book can adequately convey. This is not a slap at the novel, but a reflection of the visceral feeling that one can experience for another person, or nine, as the case may be. What makes reality more interesting is that the chorus of naysayers about the tragedy would not be believable in a book

There are two comments that set me off in particular. One I received by way of Rick Santorum, but it was  a comment supported by many people, particularly those of the religious right.  They insist, in spite of all the evidence, that the assault in Charleston was a religious attack. How can this possibly be true when the surviving witness and the alleged perpetrator both agree that race was the only reason for the attack?

Perhaps more troubling is the idiocy coming from the NRA. Their solution? Arm the ministers. Say what? The message of most of those ministers/preachers/priests is of the importance of love and compassion, and of a God of Love, a Prince of Peace. And these advocates are supposed to carry guns? The NRA has never been renowned for its logical reasoning, but this one doesn’t pass the straight face test. Next it will be courts or Congress where guns should be carried, all for the false sense of security that these folks get from their own guns.

NRA idiots should realize one thing about the so-called right to carry arms. Inherent in the right to carry arms is the right to refuse to carry arms. The right to carry arms, to the extent it exists, does not give anyone the right to compel others to bear arms.

As I mourn the dead, and empathize with the living of the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church, I swear that I will never write a book that tries to create in the reader the pain and horror of this past week. I will not profit off the anguish of fictional characters nor will I glorify the use of weapons to solve disagreements.

One thought on “Charleston

  1. Martha Kennedy

    I disagree with you in much of what you say here. I know it IS possible to create in a novel the pain and horror of any event in human life. That is one purpose of fiction; to provide catharsis through pity and fear felt by the reader by his/her ability to identify with characters and events. Such catharsis can help people cope with life. Another purpose of fiction is didactic. Huxley didn’t write Brave New World just to create a dystopian world and entertain readers; it was a warning, too. Fiction has always had the power to change the world, to wake people up — The Sorrows of Young Werther is one example of that and it’s a horror story which, some alleged at the time, glorified suicide. At the same time, every writer draws a line somewhere. You’ve drawn yours. As for the guns thing? I am sure that if a person wants a gun to carry out a murder or something horrific like what happened in Charleston, that person will find a gun. I think it’s more about changing people than anything else — so, back to fiction.



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