Every child at some time or other wants to escape.
In the fifties, it was cowboys. My dad, who was raised in the fifties, tells about playing games of Cowboys and Indians* on the streets. Old western films speak to their popularity. Kids dreamed cowboys for the escape cowboying would give them from the mundane world of groceries and schoolwork. Cowboys haunted the dreams of every child. Realistic? Maybe. Possible? It depended on your circumstances and motivation.
As the West began to lose its viability as urbanization took its toll, so too did cowboys start to lose their mystique in the minds of children. With the wider publication of science fiction comic books coinciding with the descent of music into a more electric, grittier version of itself and advancing technology, the possibilities science offered began to take root in the minds of youth. What lurked in the night sky? What dreams could be won among the stars? Science fiction was reinvented. Instead of bucking broncos and felt hats, kids began to see stars. Aliens crawled through the wanderings of their minds as they contemplated what else might be out there. How far could science take them? Maybe to the end of this world and back, with so many out of this world encounters
Realistic? Who knew? Possible? Oh yes.
But then the glamour of science began to decay too. As the natural beauty of this world faded into a dull march of beeps and keyboards, technology was no longer so novel. These days, technology and its advancements are taken for granted. What escape could science offer now when we start to see the world lose its magic and health as a result of it.? So we turned to fantasy
Fantasy books are bought and devoured, for the same reason tales of cowboys and space rangers were so long ago. Tales of daring and wonder, were every world plays by their own ruless and our waking lives can be overlaid by the though that someday, somewhere, a new world might be found where we can reinvent ourselves. A world where flightless objects fly, where people talk without their mouths and animals can speak in different ways.
Realistic? No. Possible? We can only hope. After all, fantasy is our cowboy.
*note: Now referred to as First Nations