Fact or Fiction: Why does it matter?

James over at Grognardia was waxing nostalgic about Erich Von Danikken(sp?) and “Chariots of the Gods?” over on Grognardia. ‘Chariots of the Gods,’ TV programs like, “In Search Of” and similar ‘pop science’ that blurred the line between fantasy/fiction and reality (or at least tried to) was a big part of my growing up in the 1970s. Since the cover of von Daniken’s book is so boring looking, I thought I would dress up my blog with some ‘Eternals’ artwork by the great Jack Kirby.

I have an unabashed love of these ‘Fortean’ type studies… including the story of Richard Shaver and the Shaver mystery, so it probably does not come as a surprise that I’m enthusiastic about seeing Grognardia include von Daniken and similar ‘the pyramids were built by aliens’ and similar psuedo scientific theories in his sources of inspiration for fantasy, science fiction and pulpy stuff. However, reading the comments that followed his post, I was surprised to read several people take issue with the inclusion of von Daniken and his ilk because ‘Chariots of the Gods’ was not intended as a work of fiction.

I guess I find that idea really puzzling. That von Daniken claims that these things are true doesn’t make it ‘ineligible’ for inclusion in inspirational material (at least to me). One person wrote, “This isn’t pulp fantasy. If this is included as pulp fantasy then every book in the New Age or Metaphysical section at Border’s book store is pulp fiction. A dreadful misrepresentation, James.”

“A dreadful misrepresentation?” What did I miss? I don’t get it. Is this just a matter of taxonomy? And, if so, where do you draw the line? If you have strong feelings on the subject (especially if you feel that Grognardia was wrong to include von Daniken in a list of ‘potential inspiration sources), please reply and explain your views; I want to understand where you are coming from because this just makes no sense to me.

5 Comments on “Fact or Fiction: Why does it matter?”

  1. Jayson says:

    Yeah, I don't see the problem either. Gygax even included Shaver's Derro in the second Monster Manual, so there's even precedent if it's needed.

    Besides, how do you categorize the preponderance of historical counterpart cultures in D&D? Saying that Howard did it doesn't quit cut it…

  2. Jeff Rients says:

    That guy was just one of those dudes who doesn't understand that pigeonholes are for pigeons. Nothing to get too worked up about.

  3. Taketoshi says:


    What are you talking about? Plenty of other birds can fit into pigeonholes yadda yadda…

    But seriously: I too find it nonsensical that someone would take issue with such an inclusion–if nothing else, he's fallen victim to the Intentional Fallacy, as though Von Daniken's sense of what he was doing somehow matters to how we use his book now.

  4. Evan says:

    If the Shaver Mystery is Pulp Fantasy, then Chariots of the Gods? is. Shaver, crazy son of a bitch that he was, seemed to believe he was writing nonfiction. I saw no complaints about it's inclusion on James's blog.

  5. Taketoshi says:


    Maybe I'm missing your point, but isn't that exactly why James classified it as fiction? So that people wouldn't think he was recommending it as something you should take seriously?

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