Imagine a world – call it Mundavia – in which the dominant genre of literature is one in which plots, dialogue, and setting can be freely invented, but all the characters have to be real people. You can have Napoléon Bonaparte and Lady Gaga rappelling down the side of a Martian volcano while being shot at by Archimedes with a rocket launcher, and all will be well – but invent a nonexistent valet for Napoléon and you will at once be regarded as having abandoned mainstream literature for a specialised genre: call the latter genre Pseudoprosoponic Fiction, or Pseu-Fi.
In Mundavia, the choice to write (or to read) Pseu-Fi is regarded as just that – a choice. People ask why, e.g., Jane Austen and Joseph Conrad write Pseu-Fi, and speculate as to whether they will ever do justice to their obvious talents by switching to the mainstream. Those who write Mundavian Mainstream fiction, by contrast, are never asked why they chose that genre, because it’s not even regarded as a genre; it’s the default, by contrast with which everything else is defined as a genre.
Our world is a lot like Mundavia, with the exception that instead of licensing invented settings while forbidding invented characters, the mainstream fiction of our world licenses invented characters while forbidding invented settings. People your story with imaginary characters, and your work will still be accepted as mainstream; but place your story in an imaginary world (as I just did in inventing Mundavia), and you will be regarded as having chosen a specialised genre – either science fiction or fantasy, depending on the details.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 09:15