Just a Story

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Odd as it may seem to those who enjoy it, some people just aren't really into reading fiction. There are probably many reasons for this—one being the desire to educate themselves about the world by reading non-fiction. Lessons learned therein can often have practical applications in their own lives. However, one of the most interesting reasons for me is that possibly they don't read fiction because it didn't happen. And therefore because it is—on some level—a lie. They want to see clearly.

What I find interesting about this is that it is appears to be an extreme version of one of the reasons some people don't like reading genre fiction in general (Science Fiction, Fantasy and the like). While mainstream fiction could happen but didn't, genre fiction couldn't happen. And therefore quite obviously didn't...

Some Science Fiction tries to get around this by happening in the future, but that's problematic in itself from a literalist point of view. Firstly how can the writer be sure that what they write about is going to come to pass? They can't. And secondly—and more commonly as we head ever onwards into the 21st Century—we actually start overtaking the years in which the Science Fiction was set.  The most famous case in point is George Orwell's 1984; the actual year turned out to be not so much of a dystopian nightmare (not in that way anyway).  And many writers of Orwell's vintage or later imagined that by 2017 we'd already be spreading through the solar system if not the galaxy. Even my own Science Fiction novel (that I wrote in 1990 as mentioned in the last update) concerned the first humans to reach Jupiter's moon Callisto in 2020 - Mars having already been occupied since 2009. And I thought I was being slightly cautious. However reality's failure to live up to fiction is a subject for another day.

To get back to the original point about fiction and non-fiction, one thing I find odd is that non-fiction is called, well, non-fiction. As the type of writing closest to reality, surely it should be filed under "fact", with the fiction residing in the "non-fact" section of the library? The fact that things are named the way around that they are indicates a linguistic bias towards the legitimacy of fiction...

Perhaps this is because all writing—whether non-fiction, fiction or genre fiction—has one thing in common. It is all a story. Yes, even non-fiction. The universe itself is chaos and the only way that human brains (little islands of order in the midst of this chaos) can make sense of it is to spin yarns and hope to trap the disordered sequence of events that led to the present in some kind of narrative. The past is actually as disorganised as the future, but crystallising it into some kind of coherent history helps us understand how we got here...

Really it's all just a story.

Some admin: the pace of pledges has slowed down over the past couple of weeks. So if anyone reading this hasn't pledged yet, do please have a look at the excerpts and synopsis and if you like what you see why not consider pledging £10 and joining the increasing crowd of backers? I'd be really grateful and happy if you did so.

Of course many of you reading this will already have pledged—thank you! But while you're here can I perhaps ask that you please try and talk others into it too? Even if you each persuaded only one person it would make a huge difference. I've noticed that emailing—or even talking face to face—is the most effective way of engaging people's enthusiasm so if you could (along with the hopefully easy to remember link comeba.co.uk) I'd be even more grateful to you than I already am!

 

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