Fictions as Alternate Universes
I believe that the Doctor exists. In some universe, there is an alien who travels around in a blue box that is bigger on the inside with a (usually human) companion through time and space.
I also believe that the Wizarding World exists. In another universe (it would have to be a different one since I NEVER GOT MY LETTER), there are witches and wizards who live in their own communities and go to magical schools and have magical jobs and occasionally are terrorized by wizard-terrorists whose names shall not be spoken.
There is also a universe where superheroes and a spy organization protect the Earth from villains and alien invasions.
Over the holidays, Robyn and I were explaining the concept of the Weeping Angels to our grandparents. We told them about how they are quantum-locked, which means that they turn to stone when you look at them but that when you look away/blink/etc. they can move faster than you can see. They consume temporal energy, usually sending you back in time to eat your potential time. Occasionally they kill. They are terrifying.
When we explained to our grandparents that we believed these aliens were real, they were confused. How could something clearly written and fictional exist? And why would you be afraid of them? Of course, the rest of our family laughed at us: there go Bayana and Robyn being nerdy again, carrying on as if these things are real (spoiler alert: most of our family are Muggles).
Let me explain. I don’t (and I doubt Robyn does) literally think that these different fictional characters exist. That is to say, I don’t think that they exist in this universe. Parallel universes can be created in a variety of ways. One of these ways is through our minds. When we create fictional stories, we are creating other worlds that have their own people, rules, and societies. Their decisions influence their worlds in the same way that ours does for our world. These characters are real and have real interactions. And while they may not exist in the world we know, they do exist somewhere.
Honestly, fictional stories (whether in books, movies, television shows, video games, etc.) have to be real; they have real life consequences both for the characters inside them and for us as well. Harry Potter shaped an entire generation while Doctor Who is an intergenerational story. I know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without J.K. Rowling or Octavia Butler. The universes they chose to share with us inspired me to share my own universes, and for that I am grateful.
The things we create live on whether they do in the minds of others, or just in your own. There are worlds that are the same as ours except that there are superheroes, or worlds that are completely different except that they have humans living in them. In the words of totally real Albus Dumbledore: