The Problem With Fantasy: an article and story by GF Willmetts.

December 1, 2019 | By | Reply More

I might have mentioned in passing over the years that I don’t particularly like fantasy, mostly because it’s so easy to cheat and not explain how things are the way they are. Any fantasy novel or even other media source that can explain its reality in a satisfactory way rather than rely on ‘magic’ and whathaveyou tends to fall under our main remit of Science Fiction.

Maybe not hard Science Fiction, relying solely on science as we currently know it today but enough to qualify it, deviating only with a little fudging with space or time travel. Of course, there are some quasi-acceptances like ‘Doctor Strange’ but who said things were perfect although when he casts his spells with words as well as gestures you know what certain things will do.

Oddly, this past month, I finally gave way to a giggle I was having a continual leg-pull with Vicki, a shift manager at my local mini-market, that she was a witch, pointing out all the evidence. At this time of year, she had turned her family into pumpkin heads, based on the number left outside the door of her house and turning any children into gingerbread over Halloween. She does have a cat familiar so maybe I’m not too far from the truth. The writer in me joined the dots and we have the story below.

The Problem With Fantasy: an article and story

The Problem With Fantasy: an article and story

Of course, I don’t explain how the witch turns children into gingerbread, let alone whether they still look like children or literally fingers of the confectionary because their parents don’t recognise what they are eating so that means I accidentally wrote a fantasy story but it does actually pass muster.

If anything, it looks too easy. Then again, if its fantasy then you don’t have to explain anything. No metamorphic machine as other than noting she has a big kitchen. You don’t even see the event but presume that there is some form or oven involved and I’ve briefly acknowledged the ‘Hansel And Gretel’ mythology but before they turned the tables on the witch.

Even there, the witch was already a serial offender and had so much gingerbread that she either remade her house with bricks of it or made a new hovel. No doubt the parents, led by the tasty addictive gingerbread, fulfilled the witch’s need for more children and no doubt was a gingerbread addict. Probably a good alternative to magical Turkish delight although I’ve had a food intolerance for a couple years now.

Even so, the transformation of the story into Science Fiction is relatively easy. Obey Clarke’s Law that anything with superior science is going to look like magic and you have wizardry so I still don’t have to give a manual with instructions. I don’t even need to do that. The witch can be a super-human with ability to transform matter into anything desired. She could even be an alien with a highly sophisticated machine or even a human inventor with one come to think of it.

Of course, you would have to show her doing either task but even under the rules of Science Fiction, the only reason you would be explaining how it’s done is if the parents or an apprentice needed to know and inform the reader at the same time. Then again, in examples from comicbooks like Metamorpho, Element Lad and Color Kid, that’s never stopped them transforming things.

Humans are essentially a lot of water, carbohydrate, fat, protein and sugars with the bones and anything not needed no doubt melted or cooked away in the brew or recipe. You’ve got all the basics there no matter what your basic ingredients are. About the only thing needed is adding ginger to taste. What recipe doesn’t need a bit of flavouring for taste? It didn’t stop Soylent Green after all. As long as you don’t know what you’re eating, most humans will eat anything if they find it tastes all right and don’t know what it’s sourced from.

I should define ‘most’ as excluding the likes of vegetarians and vegans and people with food allergies or intolerances. Mind you, I know a vegan shift-manger at the same mini-market who admitted she would eat anything if it was ugly, Whether that includes a certain brand of boots and acts of cannibalism remains to be seen. Maybe she likes gingerbread. But that’s another story. Looking again at my story, do you suppose the ‘Hansel And Gretel’ mythology was a cannibalism metaphor?

So there you have it. The main reason it’s here is because it’s a good story, although not for children. Don’t give them nightmares just remind them that gingerbread shaped as humanoids are probably nearer to the truth than they realise and they are indulging in a form of cannibalism. Cue cackles.

Geoff Willmetts

The Dark World Of Gingerbread

a short story by: GF Willmetts

It was a dark and stormy night when two parents angrily entered the local witch’s home unannounced, hoping to scare its occupant. Their two children had came here earlier that night celebrating Halloween. Trick or treat indeed.

‘Make yourself at home,’ she called out. ‘I’ll be out in a minute. Help yourself to the fine gingerbread.’

It didn’t appear that she was perturbed by their unexpected arrival or them putting their pitchforks down by the side of the door.

‘What happened to our children?’ the parents asked in unison, after eating a few bites. After all, it was only good manners to eat food when offered.

‘I turned them into that fine gingerbread that you just ate. If you want more, then I need more children.’

The parents shook their heads, looking down at what they’d just done. That was their children? It didn’t look anything like, let alone taste like their children if they had cooked them. The gingerbread was fine, almost magical in taste and texture, but alas they had no more children that they could offer.

‘We have no more children, ma’am.’

‘They don’t have to be your children. The neighbourhood is full of children. I don’t need them all at once. Just once a year on this night. A few at a time. My oven isn’t big enough for more. It will also make them last much longer. More gingerbread for all of us. It has such a sweet taste.’

‘And if their parents ask where they went?’

‘Send them to me. I’m sure they will love gingerbread, too. Just like you two do. If they don’t, I can always turn them into pumpkins. You saw a couple of their heads by the door when you rushed in, didn’t you? Don’t you just love Samhain.’

‘And what do we do in the meantime?’

‘Haven’t you guessed? Make me more children. By the time I get back to you, they’ll be old enough to eat.’

The parents paused.

‘You can take the plate’s contents with you and spread it out. If you leave it in airtight container, it won’t get soft. I’ll make a night for it. It only needs one night a year. It takes that long to weave the spell.’

They paused and looked at each other before eagerly emptying the plate.

As she came out of her kitchen with a fresh tray of gingerbread, the parents had gone. So had the gingerbread she had left out for them.

She sat down with a fresh plate full of gingerbread and took a bite herself. Still yummy after all these years.


© GF Willmetts 2019
all rights reserved
ask before borrowing


Category: Fantasy, Short fiction

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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