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Space for Rent: Fiction as a Reflection of Reality


Tweet of the Day: A Perfect Red

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  1. Art is a mirror of reality.
  2. Art is part of reality, as surely are the mirror is part of the room it resides in.
  3. No matter how distorted the image, it is just a reflection and just as revealing.

Fiction, as a subset of the art of literature is all of these things. What we (authors) write is as much a reflection of who we are as a reflection of the time the work is written. Some embrace the mirroring effect as a part of Post-Modernism and its infatuation with the all powerful self-reflective meta philosophy while others vehemently skew the very idea that their work is nothing more that “a work of fiction.”

Yeah, right….

Fiction reflects reality in myriad of ways. The easiest to spot are the superficial ones: clothing, technology, vocabulary to name a few. Even in works that are set hundreds of years in the past/future will more about the time they are written than the time in which they are set. I mean, you can only push the Ye Butchered English without making the reader gag. Even when looking at the past, the writer will reflect what he knows of that ancient time which will be entirely based on the attitudes/knowledge/prejudices of his time/era that may or may not apply to the actual time in question.

But fiction reflects reality in other ways. Take the Urban Fantasy sub-genre. Dominated by female writers and populated by female leads. Women writing about strong women who live in the present, are forced to juggle a multiplicity of jobs/identities and confront horrors with strong sexual overtone (of the sexual violence type) while accommodating the basic biological urges of fear/attraction wrapped up in these archetypes. The women are attractive, strong, want equally/complementary strong sexual/romantic companions without sacrificing their identity. If this is not a reflection of the modern woman who is expected to maintain its femininity while operating in male dominated society and under threat of sexual violence, I don’t know what is.

Science Fiction exists within the Dream/Nightmare dichotomy.  You can boil down all of sci-fi into two categories: Utopic or Dystopic, which are two sides of the same coin. Science fiction projects the authors view of her time into some time in the future. Whether negative or positive these visions are grounded on the way the people of the era view themselves. Star Trek reflects the utopic visions of the space race, of man conquering the stars and resolving their difference through superior knowledge and technology. Blade Runner reflects the relentless corporatism of the 1980s and the environmental destruction of the planet for profit.

Of course, it is very easy for an author to go so meta, so reflective as to date the work to irrelevancy. After all, the present marches on second by second and what was current a minute ago is passe a minute later.

And so it goes. My suggestion to you, oh gentle reader, is not to fear this phenomenon, but to accept it.

It is what it is.

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