Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Geology and fantasy

I sometimes get asked how come someone whose background is geology got into writing fantasy (young earth creationists of course have no problems with this as geology is fantasy as far as they're concerned). The answer is, I think, that geology more perhaps than any other science does require feats of the imagination. So today out with my students looking at Carboniferous Limestone and its fossils, I was trying to get them to make the mental leap from these grey rocks with their broken up shell fragments to the warm, blue tropical seas filled with life, hundreds of millions of years ago. It's not an easy thing to do; I could hear the cogs whirring.

Having myself spent 30 years or so doing endless exercises like this, I don't find it too hard to make my imagination do quite considerable leaps when I look at rocks. I like to think that I use very similar mental muscles when dealing with fantasy. So, budding writers, don't neglect the sciences -- they stretch the mind.