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Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Accepted Fictional Knowledge

Some writers are just a bunch of deceitful, lying, manipulative tricksters who enjoy toying with our minds. I love that. Please teach me how to do that well.

I was reading one of Steve’s books. ‘On Writing’. Since then we’ve become good friends, so he lets me call him Steve now, so I figured I should probably read one of his novels. I have a copy of The Stand sitting on my shelf. Been there for years. I like having a bookshelf with a lot of books I haven’t read. Many I have, but there is always an opportunity to grab something new, or in this case, old. Anyway, I’m reading The Stand. Don’t know if you read that, everybody else has, but anyway, it’s about some virus apparently wiping everybody out. By page 35, I started getting a sore throat and sneezed. Coincidence? I think not. It is a dusty old paperback, so I’m not panicking quite yet. At 1,100 pages though, I may never live long enough to find out. Kill your darlings? Perhaps that means something else to him than me.

Sorry, but my point is that around page 59 or 80, not sure, there is this man in a government protective facility and he doesn’t have the virus, so the doctors really want to know why? Everybody else has the virus, what’s wrong with this guy? No virus? How come?

They keep him locked in one of those vacuum chambers where no virus can penetrate. A guinea pig breathes the same air he does. A nurse wants to take his blood pressure, but he won’t let her cause he’s a bastard, and pissed, and no one will tell him what’s up, and all his friends are dead. The nurse puts on one of those HAZMAT suits and gets sprayed with what ever they spray you with. I mean, we all know how it works. That’s what the government does when a devastating man made killer viral outbreak happens. They have the room, and the suit, and the spray. Right? Well the nurse in the sprayed HAZMAT vacuumed guinea pig room sneezes. WHAT? Every reader knows exactly what that sneeze means. One frickin sneeze. Nice, Steve.

My point is, my buddy Steve took a reader’s accepted fictional knowledge and knew so. In truth, none of us really know, but we have this built upon knowledge that writers seem to feed off one and other. Sci-Fi is a great example. The fact that Steve could just build up casually, without me suspecting I was falling into a fictional knowledge trap, only to flick his writing pinky, and thus make me write an absurdly long piece about it, just shows how subtle and fantastic a trickster he is.

We all read Ender’s Game. That guy, what’s his name, I forget? Anyway, great book, but what a liar he is. First he tells you that the first hero of the Bug Wars is dead. That would be Mazur Rothman, I believe. Something like that. I have to work, so I can’t look stuff up. Mazur is dead. Everybody knows he’s dead cause that was like 100 years ago. Then on page 165, Ender asks his new, old man mentor, what his name is? Oh, “Mazur Rothman,” he says. No way! Mind blown. You’re supposed to be dead.

Now, I have a complaint here because the writer, Card, now I remember, Card uses made up physics, falsely claiming that Mazur traveled at light speed and didn’t really age. That’s not how it works, but you still buy into the fictionally accepted knowledge. Then Card lies to us a second time, and so convincingly. What? Ender wasn’t playing a game? But the book is called Ender’s Game? Now you are saying it wasn’t training, it was real? As a reader you know you are getting to the end, but still expect him to leave the planet and go fight bugs. Maybe since you are so wrapped up with feeling, like Ender, you buy into the game. In the end though, Card was just a convincing manipulative liar.

I love that.

Enjoy your life.

LD-NYC