Friday, 28 April 2017
The Truth About Fiction
There are some bizarre reality-fiction interactions. I see a photo of Prince William on the cover of a celebrity magazine in a supermarket, then read about King William V in SM Stirling's Emberverse: kind of like Paolo Roberto in a novel by Stieg Larsson or the sf writers at the beginning of another novel by Stirling. (See the same link.)
A hospital porter smiled at a newspaper headline displayed by his colleague, then asked, "Wha'? In real life or in t'soap?" (See here.) The story was appreciated before it was ascertained whether it was news or fiction.
Human society would be able to exist without any of its present members but not without any human beings. Similarly, fiction would exist even if Sherlock Holmes, Nicholas van Rijn, Dominic Flandry etc had not been created but not without any fictional characters. But there is something else that Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman have articulated in works of graphic fiction. There would be no fictional characters if there were no human beings to imagine them. But also there would be no human beings if there were no fictional characters.
Try to imagine rational beings whose libraries contain only history and science but no fiction. Even if this is possible, such beings would certainly not be human beings. And we would not be the particular people that we are if we had not read about - guess who - Sherlock Holmes, Nicholas van Rijn, Dominic Flandry - and many others.