Fiction doesn’t present the unreal; it presents the possibly real, something balancing precariously between the real and the non. (This holds, it should be said, for fantasy, science fiction, and other “genres” as well as in realistic or literary fiction; they just go about it, as is the case in variation between individual works, in different ways.) We empathize with fictional beings not despite their unreality, but because of their possible reality.I've always been curious why some people become more attached to the characters that they read about (or watch on TV) than they do the people in their everyday lives. My intuition tells me that because they're interacting with these idealized figures in a controlled environment (i.e., they can't actually talk to them, and thus the spell that the writer is casting is never broken), these characters speak more to a person's ideal than real people, with whom you have to deal with the inevitable dissapointments of reality (making small talk, noticing skin blemishes and annoying personality traits, etc.)
What do you think?