With Outlaws of Time, however, Wilson suggests that the opposite is true: It is not that the Old West to which Sam Miracle travels looks and feels like Narnia (or the myriads of other words created by great artists), but that these so-called fantasy worlds are much more like our own than we are ready to admit. In other words, this world—the one in which we all live and move and have our being—is a magical place, Wilson says: “We need to see fantasy in the tides and the spring, in childbirth and love and sweat, in eyeballs that see and tongues that taste, in the blazing star above us and the forests grown with its energy, rustling in the wind.” Or, as Outlaws’s time-traveling priest aptly states, “You will never find a corner of this world where there is not magic.” The trick is to open your eyes long enough to see it.
Wilson’s Legend of Sam Miracle is not an escapist playpen or a bit of junk food to be eaten in secret until you can gorge yourself on “weightier” theological works; Outlaws of Time is a feast—a banquet of the highest order—for your imagination and affections. But like Narnia’s beloved Aslan, Outlaws of Time is not safe: the villains are truly evil (not in a comic book sense of the word, either—although many of them are mustachioed), and even the heroes are, as one character puts it, “part nightmare.” This is because Wilson’s tale has deep roots in the old, old story—the one with a man, a woman, and a tree; the one with a curse, a broken narrative; the one where the Word became flesh, crushed the serpent’s head, and set the story straight. So do yourself a favor and saddle up with Sam Miracle, blaze a trail through the desert, come face-to-face with El Buitre, and let Outlaws of Time awaken in you a childlikeness that perhaps you have forgotten.