An omnipresent figure in speculative fiction is the extraordinary, heroic child, or the ordinary child who goes to extraordinary places and does heroic things. It’s not hard to understand why. A tremendous number of us grew up in uncomfortable circumstances, dealt with major social awkwardness, probably bullying, shunning, and the feeling that we didn’t belong and didn’t know how to do so. Imaginative children usually don’t have the easiest time of it. Very few children do, but some clearly have a harder time than others.
It’s in so many of our stories. Because of our imaginativeness, we took some of the very things that were making our lives difficult and we made use of them as coping devices. When the world around me was unbearable, I read stories and I told myself stories of my own.
This is how so many of us survive.
What’s important to understand about this particular mode of survival—often labeled “escapism”—is that it’s not only about escaping the unbearable present; it’s about imagining a future where things are bearable and where, in some way, we’re more than we are. It’s a promise: things won’t always be like this. Things might get better. Hell, things will get better. Hang in there. Be strong.