Meeting Mr. King

The smell of burnt popcorn hung in the air. The office itself wasn’t the finest in New York already, and now the smell made Joseph feel self-conscious. He wasn’t a young man, not any more.  That title had left him on his thirtieth birthday, ten years ago. At that time, those who once called him young did so no more, he becoming a man of imminence in the world.

Joseph never considered that the book would become a best seller, let alone the source of social scrutiny and near religious fanaticism. He was a man of simple taste and style, and so he left his office as it had always been: a simple wood-floored loft with brick walls, eclectic furniture and art, and a simple shaggy red rug in the center. That was how it looked when the book was first published, and that was how it’d stayed. The only real difference now was that people would schedule with his assistant just to meet with him in that little room, to hear him speak and scratch hasty notes on a clip board or notepad.

Joseph opened the window to his office, waving a stack of inked pages to waft out the odor. He always liked to have a bowl of popcorn on his desk when he was expecting a guest; it helped to cool the tension. If you feed someone, he thought, they usually feel more at home. Hopefully, the stink would be gone by the time his appointment arrived, and he’d have a fresh bowl of buttery snack ready on the corner of his desk.

His phone buzzed. Joseph turned, fell into his chair, and grabbed the receiver.

“Mr. Caine,” the voice said from the speaker, “your four o’clock is here.”

Joseph looked at his watch. It was 3:35 PM.

“Could you tell him to wait until four? I’m not quite ready.”

Silence on the other end.

The silence became awkward.

Then it became concerning.

“Deborah?” Joseph said.

The door to his office creaked open slowly. Joseph lowered the receiver from his ear and leaned to look at who was coming in. Through the doorway slithered a lithe, green snake. It must have been six feet long, and it continued across the floor, onto the rug, and coiled its way up the leg of one of the chairs until it came to a rest in the seat.

“Sorry I’m early,” the snake said, “but I had another appointment come up, so I needed to come to you sooner.”

Joseph’s jaw hung open. Slowly he returned the phone receiver to its station.

“Y-your Mr. King?” Joseph said. The snake nodded, leaning back in the chair much like a man would. Joseph didn’t know what to do.

“Care for a drink?” Joseph said, too shocked to think of another course of action than he normally followed.

“That would be splendid,” Mr. King replied. Joseph retrieved a bottle from his mini-fridge behind the desk and leaned out handing the drink to the snake.

“Could you open it for me?” Mr. King said, “Thanks.”

Joseph twisted off the cap and handed the beverage to the snake, who took it in his tail and started sipping.

A profound quiet filled the office. Joseph could hear dust settling on the ceiling fan. Finally he broke it.

“Well, Mr. King,” Joseph said, attempting to be nonchalant, “What was it you wanted to discuss? Your agent wasn’t very clear over the phone.”

“Ah, yes,” Mr. King said, “He is a bit of a lout. Well, to put it bluntly, I am here because I need you to make a decision that will change the world forever.”

“What?” Joseph said.

“It may be hard to grasp, but it falls to you. Only you can handle this burden.”

“This is ridiculous!” Joseph said, “That book was a fluke. I never meant to have any effect. I won’t be told I’m responsible—”

“This has nothing to do with the book, Mr. Caine,” the snake said, setting down the soda and wiping its mouth.

“Then why me?”

“Well, it was random, like a lottery drawing. I don’t make the rules, Mr. Caine. I just pull the strings.”

Joseph grabbed his phone receiver and pressed it to his head. He dialed, but found no tone. It was dead.

“That won’t work until I’ve gone, Mr. Caine,” Mr. King said. Joseph ran to the door and tried the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. Then he noticed; there wasn’t any sound outside. He was in downtown New York, there was always noise from the street. He ran to the window and saw cars and people on the road, still as statues Nothing outside the room moved. He fell into his chair.

“What are you?”

The snake said nothing.

“What do you want from me?” Joseph said loudly.

“You must choose. Today, either your life will be changed forever, or someone else’s will be.  You have to choose which.”

“Changed how?”

“I can’t say.”

“…Will someone die?”

“I can’t say.”

Joseph rang his hands. Then he stood up quickly, knocking over his chair.

“How could one life change the world forever?” Joseph said. “If I died or someone else, what difference would that make!”

“It would make all the difference. So you must choose.”

“How could you possibly know any of this? You just some snake!”

“I’m a talking snake,” Mr. King said, “I don’t have to prove myself to you!” The snake pointed its tail threateningly at Joseph. “Now choose, or things will become unstable.”

As Mr. King spoke the light in the room dimmed slightly. The desk started to rattle.

“What is happening?” Joseph said, exasperated.

“I can’t hold this moment forever, and at that point, a decision will be made. You have the chance to make the choice. Do it.”

Joseph felt a cold draft, and looked behind him. The back of the room was gone. So was the outside world. It was all swallowed up in a profound darkness, which was still growing, filling the space around him. Everything shook, as if the room was suddenly in a deep sea vessel, tossed on the waves.

“Choose!” Mr. King shouted.

“Take the other man!” Joseph yelled. “He’s the one you want! Don’t take me, take the other man!”

Joseph was huddled on the floor, arms wrapped over his face, cowering. But the shaking had stopped. The light had returned. And faintly, through the window pane, Joseph could once again hear the sounds of the street.

Slowly, Joseph rose from under the desk. Mr. King was still there, coiled in the chair across from him. He wasn’t sure, but Joseph could have sworn the snake was smiling.

“Thank you,” Mr. King said. “I’ll be on my way now. But I’ll be back later.”

“What are you?” Joseph said.

“Just a snake,” Mr. King said, and uncoiled, headed toward the door.

As the snake turned the doorknob, Joseph stood.

“Wait!” he called. The snake stopped.

“Yes, Mr. Caine?”

“Did I make the right choice?” His voice cracked.

The snake paused, swaying slightly in the doorway.

“Perhaps it’s better not to know,” Mr. King said. And with that, he was gone.

4 Reasons You Are Wrong About Skywalker

There are lots of people out there who think Luke Skywalker’s rise to power wasn’t realistic. First off, it’s a movie, so do yourself a favor and suspend your disbelief for two hours. But second off, there is plenty of evidence that suggests Luke had tons of training in the Force before his final face off with Lord Vader and friends. When you bring in a little context and allow for some science to fill in a few blanks, you too will see just how well prepared Luke really was for his encounters with the Dark Side. Here are 4 factors you overlooked in the Star Wars Universe when it comes to Luke’s preparedness as a Jedi.

  • 1: Luke has been training on his own since returning from the Battle of Yavin
luke-in-cave

Remember that scene where Luke gets stuck upside-down in the Wompa cave? He summoned his lightsaber to free himself from the ice. We know what the Force is capable of from seeing other Jedi in action throughout the prequels and animated series, but look at this scene through the eyes of context. Luke had never seen the force do anything except trick some incompetent Stormtroopers and let his recently deceased mentor whisper words of encouragement at him. We don’t see Obi-Wan do any telekinesis in A New Hope. So, where’d he pick up this little gem? The only explanation is that he’s been practicing the force on his own.  Testing the boundaries of what he was capable of. And if you think it wouldn’t be possible for him to figure out how to ‘Jedi’ on his own, have you ever gone to YouTube to find a tutorial? It’s not too much of a stretch to say Luke could have booted up his Empire Explorer and googled himself some answers.

  • 2: Space is really big. Like, REALLY big
luke-in-xwing

Maybe this doesn’t seem like an important detail, but when we’re talking about how much time Luke spent on Dagobah with his lumpy green mentor, this component is of paramount importance. Many would lead you to believe that mere hours pass as the Millennium Falcon travels between Hoth and Bespin; but for that to happen those two planets would have to be so close to each other that they would practically have to be moons of one another. Also, it’s the Hoth and Bespin systems, meaning they orbit different stars. The journey could have easily taken months without a hyperdrive to speed things up, giving Luke ample time to brush up on his Jedi training.

  • 4: Time is Relative
yodas-hovel

Ever heard Einstein’s theory of relativity? Time passes differently depending on several factors. We don’t get a complete look at the planet where Luke gets his deeper training, but we can draw some conclusions based on context clues from the films. During Luke’s training with Yoda, we are also getting scenes of Han and Leia at Cloud city. For them, it seems only hours are passing. Yet, in one scene of training from Yoda, he said, “no more will I teach you today.” Then, just moments later, we see Luke stacking rocks with the Force as Yoda instructs him. Only hours passing for Han and Leia, but days passing for Luke and Yoda? We can conclude that a lot more time passes for Luke while he’s in the Dagobah system than passes on Cloud City, again stacking the preparation time in Luke’s favor.

  • 4: Saber skills come from the Force
luke-and-vader-faceoff

There’s a reason you don’t see everyone and their Wookie swinging around lightsabers in the Star Wars Universe: because a little more skill than knowing how to sword fight is required to compete with one. Lightsabers are the weapon of a Jedi, as we hear time and time again. Even in situations throughout the Star Wars Expanded Universe (Now called Star Wars Legends) we have stories of people who lose their Force sensitivity and along with it goes their lightsaber skills. Why would that happen, unless their saber skills were the result of their connection to the Force? The stronger the connection to the force, the better prepared one is for a fight with a lightsaber. So yes, Luke didn’t have much physical experience in saber fighting, but considering the months of Force training he has had, that really doesn’t matter.

Maybe you’ll think about this next time you hear haters trying to throw shade on our favorite Skywalker.

3 Reasons You are Wrong About Sci-Fi Tropes

Science fiction is often measured by its tropes. Either the critics of the genre are hyper focused on the presence of them, or the absence of them. Hey, they have their reasons, I get it. You wanna see something new, so you bash on something when you see an old trope show up. But just because something is showing up frequently doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. And no one is immune to the power of tropes either. Even if you think you’re above it all, first of all, slow down there hipster, and second of all, chances are you like something that is riddled with tropes, most likely because of the tropes. Ever watched a Marvel movie and liked it? You like tropes, then. Deal. But back to the topic at hand.

  • 1: The Single Biome Planet

I’ve heard tons of people bemoan the biomes of planets in science fiction. The complaint goes something like this: “It’s stupid that this film/book contains so many planets that are just one thing. The swamp planet. The ice planet. The desert planet. Earth has so much variety, so should the planets in this!” Well, bucko, you may be right that Earth is covered with variety, but have you ever taken a look at what most planets are actually like? Grab a telescope, look at some NASA photos for crying out loud. Even with the Kepler telescope discovering thousands of planets outside our solar system, surprisingly few of those planets come anywhere near the Goldilocks Zone required for a planet to have liquid water and become Earth-like. Just check our own solar system if you need more proof. Mercury is a sun blasted waste land. Venus is a toxic wasteland. Mars is a cold, desert wasteland. And Earth’s a teenage wasteland. Planets that look like earth are surprisingly rare. Out of the tens of millions of planets in our own galaxy, only tens of thousands fit the bill of being potentially earth like. That may still sound like a lot, but consider the the numbers like this

10,000 (ten-thousand)

10,000,000 (ten million)

If we truncated the numbers to something we could understand more easily, say taking the 10,000,000 to something like 1,000, then the amount of earth like planets would be 0.01.

  • 2: Ancient Aliens

I’ve heard a lot of complaints on this one. Especially in the Alien franchise. With the reboot of the series through Prometheus and later Alien: Covenant, people were up in arms with the idea of ancient aliens in their beloved franchise. But here’s the main problem with that. Ancient aliens were always a part of alien. Ever seen the first film?

The crew of the Nostromo in Alien touch down on an alien planet in pursuit of a phantom alien signal, where the stumble upon an ancient alien derelict spacecraft. Keyword ancient. Keyword alien. If a species is sufficiently advanced to have space travel, and has been around for thousands of years, it’s not that much of a stretch that they’ve had some interaction with our own species at some point. After all, we’ve already established the rarity of Earth-like planets. So it’s likely to draw attention. Also, the ancient alien trope is as old as the genre of science fiction. Authors were weaving it into their narratives as long ago as 1887, in J.H. Rosny’s The Shapes. However, maybe I’m not giving the critic enough credit. There’s also the argument, “Ancient aliens as a trope is stupid because it doesn’t surprise me anymore.” Well, to that I still call foul. For this reason: ancient aliens aren’t meant to surprise you. It’s just an element of sci fi story telling that comes up a lot. Would you be mad at a super hero for getting his powers from mutation, or a super insect, or a fancy tech suit? No! That’s what you expect. It’s part of being a super hero. Just like ancient aliens. For crying out loud, ancient aliens are a major part of the Halo game series, and they’re not hiding it! It’s in the title of the frigging game: Halo. Those Halo’s are ring worlds built by the Forerunner, an ancient alien race. Who also had ancient dealings with Earth. It’s normal. Deal with it.

  • 3: Alien Hordes

This one comes up often in the discussion of video games. When there’s a sci fi game, there’s most likely going to be a bunch of bugs. The Zerg from Starcraft. The Flood from Halo. The Xenomorph from such gems as Aliens Vs. Predator II 2001, Alien: Isolation, and from such flops as Aliens: Colonial Marines. They always show up it seems, and they always eat a bunch of people and either cocoon them, transform them, or both. This is one I can understand. In Halo, I didn’t expect the Flood at all. They showed up out of no where and hijacked the game into a new, terrifying direction. And I loved it. It surprised me, even though it was a trope of the genre. Why? Because it doesn’t show up everywhere. It’s been a sci fi trope for longer than many may realize, even going back to such sci fi’s that don’t fit the mold as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hordes of creepy crawlies have been around for ages, and they are, in most instances, genuinely scary. So why get rid of it? It works super well. With the addition of Alien to the gallery in 1979, it reinvigorated the trope and reinforced it into the minds of hundreds of young creatives. Which is why, I believe, the trope has endured so well. There are direct references to the film throughout Halo, and many other works of fiction. It’s a love letter to something those creators found pleasure in when they were young. I may understand the desire to shy away from the alien hordes, but I find no fault in using it. It’s a wonderful, goopy, drippy tribute to the macabre.

Science Fiction is a genre like any other. It has a rich history, going back over one hundred years, and with that comes tropes. You can’t escape them. They’ll slither up to you in the dark and terrify you to your core. And that’s the point. Tropes matter because they are the trail markers of your past. They show where you came from, who you learned from, and what you value. Disliking something because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t make you better than the disliked thing. Take some time to get to know your tropes, and I bet you you’ll find far more pleasure in your viewing, reading, and gaming experiences. Thanks for reading.

Mr. Cubbage in The Vault

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Mr. Arnold Cubbage had worked from the ground up to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh branch. He’d maintained the absolute semblance of the sober mind to do it, and was quite proud of the fact. He didn’t drink, despite the frequent participation in the act by his friends and colleagues. He slept for precisely seven hours and fifteen minutes every night, did yoga every morning, and ate frequent healthy meals. Of course he’d hear the rumors in the break rooms and halls of how he was a prude, never living life beyond his own view, but that was how he liked it, so that was how he stayed.

Mr. Cubbage sat at his opulent red leather chair, twiddling a long pen-knife in his fingers. His curled mustache matched his curled golden hair, and the wrinkles around his eyes matched the small wrinkles in the end of his tie. He puffed a sigh of satisfaction as he again reviewed the current investments of the bank, and pressed his gold rimmed glasses back up his hooked nose.

Then there was a knock at the door. Behind the stenciled glass Arnold could see Ms. Heatherton, his secretary. With a wave of his hand, she entered the room and came to the corner of his desk.

“Sir,” She said in her syrupy-sweet voice, “There’s a man in the safety-deposit vault.”

That didn’t seem like something to interrupt his morning routine for, and he almost scolded her for doing so, but she continued. She could see from the look on his face that he didn’t grasp the severity of the situation.

“Let me clarify,” Ms. Heatherton continued. Arnold picked up his mug and started to slurp his coffee. “We didn’t let him in there.”

Arnold paused. Had it not been improper, he might have spit out the coffee and responded hastily. He swallowed, leaned back in his chair, and took off his glasses.

“You mean to tell me there is a robber in the vault, and you don’t know how he got there?” Arnold kept a perfect equilibrium in his voice. The image of self-importance hung about him like fog in the hills.

“We’re not sure if he’s a robber… Somehow he got in there, we can see him on the camera, but the vault is still locked—hasn’t been opened all day. The staff thought I should get you because—”

Arnold scoffed.

“I’m not the lock-smith! Come now, what would I be needed for here? Call the authorities.”

Arnold hoped his well-poised non-attitude toward the situation would defuse his growing concern. A man, in my vaults? The board could have my head for this…

“Well, that’s just the thing sir,” Ms. Heatherton continued. “The man in the vault is… It’s you.”

There was a lengthy silence before Arnold made a short laugh. Not the jovial kind of a man made the fool, but the mechanical laugh of good manners.

“Tell Joseph in HR his jokes are too much,” Arnold said, making a show of wiping the corners of his eyes. Ms. Heatherton didn’t move. She wasn’t smiling. This made Arnold uneasy. Surely this couldn’t be serious. It was a jest, perhaps put on by Tom in accounting, or Fredrick at home-office, one of his good-sport moments to keep the branch in high spirits.

Yet, there was a growing clump of people forming outside the office door, and hushed whispers could be heard of their conversations.

“Very well,” Arnold said, standing up and straightening his jib. He couldn’t well let this farce go on without allowing himself to be properly joked. Morale of the company was an important part of what made him the man he was, so he thought. “Take me to the vault, and we’ll have done with this whole incident.”

Ms. Heatherton smiled weakly, clearly confused by the entire situation. As the approached the door, the crowd outside dispersed as quickly as dandelion silk in a summer wind.

Arnold approached the vault door and found Greg from Security was already there, pistol and club at the ready.

“Those shouldn’t be necessary,” Arnold said, waving his hand in command.

“Sir, I—” Greg protested.

“I’ll be out in a moment. No flash photography, hmm?”

Arnold turned the key and wound the tines into place. The door clanked and popped, opening slightly. In he stepped, and pulled the door shut behind him. And there in the vault stood a man—wearing the very same tweed suit, the same almond wing-tipped shoes, and the same face Arnold had seen in the mirror that morning, right down to the clock-wise curl of his waxed mustache.

“Good morning,” he said. It took Arnold a moment to realize it wasn’t he, but he, who had spoken.

“How did you get in here?” Arnold demanded.

“Sub-containeously, I suppose.”

“What?” Arnold felt his forehead bristle. “That is not a word, now tell me how you got here.”

“Well,” he continued. “I suppose it isn’t a word, but I’ve just coined the phrase, it seems.” He giggled. “I was in one container of space, and now I’m in this one. Poof! Ha Ha!”

This annoyed Arnold even more. I do not giggle, he thought. This cannot be me.

“Who are you?” Arnold demanded.

“I’m me,” he said, pointing. Then with a timid point at Arnold he said, “And you are me.”

“No,” Arnold protested. “This is ridiculous.”

“I know, isn’t it great?”

Arnold wasn’t amused. His life was one of order. Always had been. He wouldn’t entertain this foolishness any longer.

“Now see here,” Arnold said, “I am a man of import. I will not have my name besmirched by some ridiculousness like this. You—” But as Arnold spoke, the other man disappeared and reappeared instantly on the other side of the vault.

“What was that?” Arnold said, too wrapped in what he was saying to grasp the absurdity of what had just happened.

“I moved,” he said. “It’s not that hard.”

“Right,” Arnold continued, “well, you are clearly disturbed, and I have no choice but to—” the man vanished again, and returned to the back of the vault.

“Stop that,” Arnold said in a fatherly tone of disapproval. But the other man just laughed.

“This is no laughing matter. Identity theft is—”

“I am you, and you are me, don’t you see? You could do this too, if you wanted.” the other man said.

“You’re a looney!” Arnold yelled. “I’ll have no more of this.”

“Who is really the crazy one?” He asked. “I’ve lived more in these last four minutes than you have in your whole life! Trust me, I know. Just give it a try, it’s exhilarating.”

Arnold grunted, and started to mumble angrily. Not because he was frustrated, but because he was actually considering it. He had tried a different flavor of jam on his toast that morning. Was this so different? Could he, too, move without moving? Yes, it was that different. It was ludicrous.

“Trust me,” the other man said, “If you don’t let go of your ego, in a few minutes things are going to be pretty weird.”

“You dare to threaten me?” Arnold said, his façade cracking. He had to hold back his smile. Clearly this man was insane, but his oddly good humor was contagious. “I am an important man here at the bank.”

“We sure are.”

“Prove that you’re me,” Arnold retorted.

“We had apple jam this morning instead of raspberry.”

“You could have just been at the restaurant this morning, is all.”

“When I was a child, I let the family dog out of the fence to chase a tom cat, and he ran into the road and was hit by a motorist. I never told my parents it was me who let him out.”

Arnold blanched. It was true. He’d never told anyone. Only he would know.

“Lucky guess,” Arnold said.

He laughed. A truly mirthful laugh, entirely unlike Arnold would.

“What time is it?” He asked. Arnold checked his watch.

“five minutes ‘til nine,” Arnold said, then he perked up. “Aha! You cannot be me, for I always wear my watch.” He stood triumphant.

“True,” He said, “But the sub-containeous movement seems to have left my watch all wonky. I’ll be moving on now, or rather you will. Tada.” And at that, the other man was gone.

Arnold was stood still for a moment, wondering what it all meant. Then he hefted a breath, hitched his belt, and turned to leave. He hoped he hadn’t been in here too long, since he did have an important conference call at nine. He checked his watch as he approached the vault door, but found it was spinning wildly, the second hand running in reverse, the minute hand bouncing back and forth between seven and eight.

Confused, Arnold looked up, and found he was no longer facing the door, but was in the corner of the vault. Then he was back at the door, then he was in the middle of the floor.

“Oh, dear,” Arnold said aloud, smiling, “I’ve gone mad.” He chuckled. What was it he had said earlier? Sub-containeous?

The door clanked and popped, opening slightly. In he stepped, and pulled the door shut behind him. And there in the vault stood a man—wearing the very same tweed suit, the same almond wing-tipped shoes, and the same face Arnold had seen in the mirror that morning, right down to the clock-wise curl of his waxed mustache.

“Good morning,” he said. It took Arnold a moment to realize it wasn’t he, but he, who had spoken.

Musings on Storytelling

It is my opinion that all great stories have their roots in the knowing of other stories. Star Wars draws on King Arthur mythology. Lord of the Rings pulls also from King Arthur, and from other Christian legends and Nordic and English folk stories. In essence, loving stories and being a person who samples many is what qualifies a person to be a story teller.

Stephen King, one of the most prolific authors of our time, has thrown his hat into this arena also: said he, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Consider the old English and European bards, not those who were most famous only, but them all: they were those who knew the stories, and created more. Would they have written or told at all if they had not gained an appreciation for stories in the first place? Perhaps. But unlikely.

Not all stories are of ancient date, either. A story need only be something which one has experienced. J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote in a letter to a friend that he would use people or ideas from his own past to generate characters within his stories. One such was Gaffer Gamgee, Sam’s father in LotR. This busy bodied hobbit was based on an old man in town who spread weather gossip and the like; the name ‘Gaffer Gamgee’ was dredge from his childhood, a term referring to ‘cotton-wool.’  Any interesting or unusual fact which one picks up can and should be recorded for the use of posterity.

But why tell stories at all? What does it matter if any tale is told? Historically, stories were used as means of transmitting ideas. An abstract concept is easily forgotten. Put that concept into a story format, with character acting on, or not acting on, the ideal of the concept, and it becomes instantly memorable. Not only is this a useful means of teaching children, but it applies for all human learning.

We are beings naturally designed to interpret symbols. Take for instance pareidolia—the programing in our brains to recognize faces, shapes, creatures, and objects. This ability allows us to obtain personal identity from our own reflections, as well as interpret dangers in the form of large animals, sudden passing shadows, and so on. However, this ability also causes to occasionally see things which aren’t there. Have you ever started at a bush in the dark, thinking it was an animal? This was not you being paranoid, but simply your brain attempting to interpret the shapes around you into recognizable information. This can happen in abstract as well. Consider Isaac Newton. What was it, really that sparked the idea of gravity, if not interpreting information which had just become available to him?

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Since we do this naturally, it is my belief that story telling is a fundamental part of humanity. To not participate in it, at least in the reading or viewing of stories, is to miss out on a tradition older than written language. Essentially, at our most basic human nucleus, we are all creators. It is our purpose to understand the universe, or at least to interpret it into something which we can grasp. In the past fables were our best modus for garnering understanding. Science has moved in to assist a great deal in this endeavor.

Let us not allow ourselves to become so sure of our understandings that we ignore the glorious possibilities which exist in our creative minds. Every concept brought about by science was first imagined by a human. They then labored to find some source of it in reality. We now can assist in this effort by taking those ideas and adding to them, building either out of pure fantasy or more natural understanding. Even if the story crafted is one which was meant as a joke, it can still serve to spark some reasoning human mind and again increase our global reservoir of understanding and reason.

Referenced materials:

http://writingishardwork.com/2012/04/29/tolkiens-10-tips-for-writers/