Adam I. Gerard

Great Fiction Requires Great Metaphysics

Here's a controversial but unapologetically asserted thesis: all great fiction (franchises) require great metaphysics!


Metaphysics can be seen in at least two ways (perhaps merely two facets of the same thing rather than two distinct and mutually exclusive natures):

  1. The assertion that some theory accurately describes Ultimate Reality.
  2. A coherent system of ontological kinds that governs some possible reality (whether fictitious or not, whether actual or not). Creating and defining the rules that mediate the interactions of the allowed kinds of entities.

Clearly, the second thesis is a weaker notion than the first.

If we accept traditional philosophical critiques of the discipline called Metaphysics, we would think that we can't ascend from the second thesis to the first!

Great Franchises

Now for some hard arguments and data points!

  1. Star Trek - Warp Speed, Multiverse, Alternate but coexistent Realities
  2. Start Wars - The Force, Light Speed, Noise in the vacuum of Space
  3. Lord of the Rings - The Valar, Similarils, Elvish Magic, Halls of Mandos, and so on
  4. Dune - Spice Melange, The Holtzman Effect, Spacing Guild Navigators, Mentats, Thinking Machines, and the Orange Zen Catholic Bible-inspired war against them, the Bene Gesserit Kwisatz Haderach
  5. Foundation Series - Psychohistory, Second Foundation Telepaths
  6. Redwall - A bunch of anthropomorphic Talking and Thinking Animals
  7. Pillars of Eternity - The Gods are Created, The Wheel, Animancy
  8. Dungeons and Dragons - Magic, The Pantheon of Gods, Objective Moral Alignments, Planar Multiverse, etc.
  9. A Fire Upon the Deep - Beyonders, The Beyond
  10. Dark Tower Series - The Dark Tower, Beams, a world that's moved on
  11. Valorant - Alpha and Omega Earth. First Light

There it is, the sum totality of all great fiction. And every one of the great works of fiction carries within them all the makings of High and Great Metaphysics!

I contend that Metaphysics is what makes them fun and elevates them above the banal (transforms those works from mere fiction into high fantasy or science fiction)!

Perhaps instead of less Metaphysics, we need more of it! (More great franchises please!)

And, if you accept my further argument that games (of one variety or another) are what most people value the most highly in their lives (fanatical football tailgaters, competitive esports, toys, board games, sports, golf tournaments, reality television, The Olympics, etc.), it follows that Metaphysics is the highest of all forms of recreation (since it is part and parcel within all the highest games)! People "live for" their games and franchises! It's undeniable.

I rest my case.