Thursday, 11 June 2015
Fictions Within Fictions
(i) one fictional character referring to another, e.g., James Bond saying that he likes Nero Wolfe (Bond does say this);
(ii) fictions within the fiction.
(i) Usually, when a fictional character refers to, e.g., Sherlock Holmes, we understand that Holmes is as fictional to the character referring to him as he is to us. There are exceptions. For example, Holmes is real in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series and in CS Lewis' Narnia Chronicles.
In SM Stirling's In The Courts Of The Crimson King, an archaeologist is unhappy when his exploits on Mars begin to resemble those of a certain whip-wielding cinematic archaeologist and, when held captive, he reflects that adventure fiction heroes locked in dungeons always escaped instead of having to be rescued...
(ii) Fictional characters can also refer to fictions that exist in their world but not in ours. Flandry says:
"'...an undertaking such as [Magnusson's] would be the most audacious ever chronicled outside of cloak-and-blaster fiction.'" -Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), pp. 450-451.
In a completer History of Technic Civilization, we would like to read:
one of their cloak-and-blaster novels;
media coverage of the Mirkheim crisis;
one of Andrei Simich's poems about a hero of Dennitza;
and a lot more.
Shakespeare presents more than one "play within the play." In Alan Moore's Watchmen, a comic about superheroes, a boy reads a pirate comic and we read it over his shoulder, becoming as involved with the fiction within the fiction as we are with the fiction. In our world, i.e., on Earth Real, Watchmen was dramatized as a feature film and the comic within the comic was dramatized as a short animated film. Following these Shakespearean and Moorean precedents, Anderson might have presented a cloak-and-blaster novel to be derided by Flandry for its inaccuracies and implausibilities.
Busy long weekend starting tomorrow so maybe less posts.