I'm listening to Enya's "China Roses" right now after a late lunch and some of Dr. Turtledove's Ruled Brittania - which, I own, is brilliant. There is a special genius, close to my heart, that allows an author to so cast his words that the reader wishes things were as the writer presents them, and not as they are. It is a genius that I think Heinlein had, and perhaps why I believe I shall love Stranger in a Strange Land while Archimedes may not. It is true that an author with such faculties is possessed of enormous power, a power which one might argue is dangerous - after all, such an author might shore up the morals of his time by writing an Honor Harrington as easily as he might undermine them by writing a Gillian Boardman. But the tool may be used for good after all, and so I do not think it is fair to disparage this dreaming daimon, the possession of which is the pinnacle of the writer's craft.
My discussions with The DM are becoming almost daily, for which I am grateful. The other day we hit upon the identity crisis that Phoenix Earth suffers from: is it allegory or not? Is it to be like Narnia, principally wonderful for the fact that it is a Christian universe? Or is it to be like Middle Earth, which is essentially a Christian universe but is principally wonderful for being Middle Earth?
I think, perhaps, that that is the wrong way to think about it. What I want from Phoenix Earth is for people to experience it and wish in their hearts, "oh, would that it were so!" Then the question of allegory does not matter, really. If I have done my job well then it will be that wishing for the reality of Phoenix Earth will accomplish all my ends. My aim as a writer will have been fulfilled, for I will have written a good story that makes people's hearts yearn for something grand and true. And in the yearning my aim as a man will have been fulfilled as well, for if I have done my job well they will be yearning after something grand and true - and, if I have done my job well, something grand and true and real.