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A Portal into a Parallel Universe


So, we were walking past where Tolkien used to live (see earlier Post) and a double-decker bus drives by with a banner ad blazoned across the side advertising the movie release of “Lord of the Rings.” I imagine if Tolkien had looked out of his window, he would have thought he was living in a parallel universe. This other-worldliness is characteristic of the genre of “high fantasy” that his books are so famous for. It appears that he and C.S. Lewis, his close friend and another of my favorite writers, really pioneered this subgenre of “fantasy,” under the inspiration of earlier writers like George MacDonald (of the Clan Donald). I have always been fascinated by the portal into another world aspect of this subgenre, best illustrated by the wardrobe in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in Lewis’s Narnia series. I have opened a few wardrobe doors myself that led into the strange worlds of Paris and Los Angeles where I lived for several years, but none is more strange and wonderful to me than the doorway to heaven, whose Pearly Gates I expect to encounter when the curtain closes on this life. Jesus, the Gandalf or Aslan of our experience, hints many times at there being a door between us and God’s kingdom and specifically mentions that the door is narrow and hard to get through. I am not suggesting that Bible stories are the stuff of fantasy, but rather that the high fantasy writers sourced many of their ideas and allegories from the Bible. The Bible is a book of mysteries that reveals another very real parallel universe often depicted in parables (the Gospels) or visions (Revelation), since common words fail to adequately describe the co-existence of a heavenly kingdom beyond the realm of time and space.  Compare it to the experience of falling in love, where mutual feelings develop that can hardly be expressed in simple words such that poetry or lyrics are the only meaningful attempt at explaining these mysteries of love. All of this inspires me to try my hand at a high fantasy novel one day. There are portals to be opened and worlds that beg to be explored.

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Bledsoe is a published poet and photographer. DEATH BEFORE BREAKFAST is her debut novel.