Since my work went to teleworking full time in mid-March, I’ve been indulging at watching a TV show I grew up with: The Six Million Dollar Man. It’s also a startling example of the wish-fulfillment aspect of writing fiction.
(By the way, this has nothing to do with another aspect of wish fulfillment, the Mary Sue. That’s a whole other discussion.)
The show itself was cutting edge technology at the time, based on the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin. The book itself was much darker (yup, I read that puppy). Astronaut Steve Austin suffers a devastating accident and loses both his legs, his right arm, and an eye.
But Dr. Rudy Wells has been working on a new project called bionics and replaces Steve’s arm, legs, and eye with technology. It integrates with the human body completely and looks normal. Except that he has incredible strength, can run 60 miles an hour, and see with infrared.
Every kid wanted to be bionic. Heck, we were working on a paper mache project in school and we did a giant, bionic caveman. (Kid logic, right?)
Who doesn’t want to stop bad guys by throwing them across a yard? Or run faster than a car? Bend steel with your bare hands?
Readers want it too. That’s how we ended up with Nancy Drew, the girl detective, as well as the entire romance genre. Even Jack Reacher and Dirk Pitt on the thriller side were wish fulfillment.
Seriously, haven’t you been in a store or a bank and imagined what you would do if armed robbers burst in? Would you imagine screaming from the room and hiding? No, of course not. You’d be heroic in the face of danger!
Wish fulfillment is an escape from the realities of life. We all want to have the fantasy.
- Science Fiction & Fantasy as Wish Fulfillment – Includes a quote from pulp writer Lester Dent.
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