There is plenty going on in the real world to write about, but somehow I am increasingly drawn to fantasy. It is not because reality is boring. On the contrary, I think reality might be too much to deal with. The frenetic pace of technology, politics, crime, international relations and the general hubbub of life is enough to wear anyone out. There is something about escaping to a different world, perhaps one where right and wrong are more clearly defined, or at least where a person can immerse his or herself in unexpected experiences without facing the day-to-day concerns of real life.
It is also heartening to see heroes overcome obstacles and defeat their antagonists, which is not so easy to accomplish in the real world. Our protagonists can have special abilities or be surrounded by others to help them through the most arduous circumstances. Again, not all of us can count on such beneficiaries, or at least it does not feel like we can. In our real lives, the path forward is often difficult even though the obstacles may seem mundane by fantasy standards. We hear the stories of others who have been supremely lucky and ended up with massive wealth. While we would never begrudge them their success, often their paths turned out to be quite simple (at least in our minds). In a way it is like the lottery. All of us can pitch in our one or two dollars per ticket. The winner is not a better person than us, or more deserving, or smarter. They were lucky, and that luck often evades us.
In a fantasy novel, the hero deserves the reward. They face insurmountable challenges, and through a combination of smarts, unique powers, and the help of friends, they overcome the challenges and win. That reward for hard work and being good makes us feel warm, happy and satisfied. I sincerely hope all of us can experience that in our lives, but in the meantime, I can make it happen for a protagonist in my writing, and then pass the warm fuzzies on to me and anyone willing to read the words.
For me personally, there is still a bit more to it than that. I have a life-long love for science fiction and hard science. I enjoy reading books and watching programs on cosmology, theoretical physics and quantum mechanics. Crazy, right? Something in the scientific community has been grating on me for a while. Perhaps it is just some of the science television programs I watch, but there seems to be a kind of zealotry brewing. To be clear, I am not a scientist, and they may be 100% correct in what they say. My issue is dark matter and dark energy.
For clarity, based on observations, galaxies are rotating at rates that should cause them to fly apart, based on the calculated mass of the material in each galaxy (hundreds of billions of stars plus planets, gas and black holes). Since the galaxies are not flying apart, there must be A LOT more mass that cannot be seen, which is labeled dark matter. It is estimated there is 5 times more dark matter than the matter we can see or account for. So far, it has not been seen and cannot be detected, but according to science, it is there.
Similarly, according to observations, space-time expansion is still accelerating 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang. In a typical explosion, after the energy is expended, things slow down and eventually stop. That happens with a firecracker in a couple seconds. In the universe, it is continuing to go faster 13,800,000,000 years later. For the observations to make sense there has to be another source of energy out there, which is dubbed dark energy. That stuff makes up 70% of everything in the universe. So the breakdown is: Dark Energy 70%, Dark Matter 25%, the galaxies, stars, planets, you and me, and everything else detectable 5%.
I am not saying any of that is not true, although the descriptions provided to date are very unsatisfying. I just saw a program stating that the expansion of space generates dark energy. That means the vacuum containing absolutely nothing is generating power. Hey, energy crisis solved! The zealotry I mentioned is the certainty some express regarding the nature and effects of these undetectable or measurable things. I was always taught to say “I don’t know” if that was the truth. Obviously, others are more confident in their knowledge.
While I have no better answers, these less-than-scientific theories are incredible fantasy and science fiction fodder. Everything we have known or detected since the dawn of time accounts for 5% of reality. What is the rest of it? Phantom planets in parallel dimensions? Invisible demons moving through us and changing our minds? Perhaps.
I have enjoyed weaving my own theories into stories and plan to continue to do the same. No one can tell me I am wrong? But I am not saying I am right either. I am a storyteller after all, not a scientist. Read one of my stories or write your own. The Dark stuff has given us a whole new genre to exploit.