Fiction Within Fiction

In Star Trek we never, well hardly ever, see examples of contemporary fiction. Contemporary to the people in the show that is. Captain Picard likes Shakespeare, Captain Sisko likes baseball (which in Star Trek’s time is a defunct game) , and the concerts are always classical music.

Even in today’s would Picard could be considered old fashioned. He still reads paper books. Of course the Kindle would have been to difficult to believe back in 1987. He could still have been old fashioned by reading Stephen King. Remember King would be as long ago from Picard as Shakespeare is from us.

TNG and DS9 are set in the 24th century. We know TV doesn’t exist but there are holo-novels – and I imagine there would be books. The book has existed for thousands of years. It has survived cinema, radio, TV, and, the internet. Reading is still one of the best ways to absorb a story.

So given the setting there would be 22nd, 23rd, and 24th century authors for the characters to read. They don’t of course for one obvious reason – it would be too difficult.

In a novel or TV series you don’t want to include too many irrelevancies. You can’t have Geordi and Troi talking about The Only Way is Vulcan, I.n.t.e.r.c.o.n.n.e.c.t.e.d, Time Trek, or Bones (A TV series based on the life of Dr McCoy). As it would detract from the story.

However it is nice to see little titbits of information about the fictional world. In an episode of Babylon 5 there is a reference to an upcoming match. It could be American football or football I don’t remember. Go sports! The match is between Mars and Earth. So one of the factors is the gravity. When each team plays at each others venues there is a physical home advantage.

Deep Space Nine did pay lip-service to this idea with Jake Sisko. He wrote fiction but fiction from the POV of his universe. So he wrote a story about the Maquis – a group of freedom fighters/terrorists depending on your view point.

All this got me thinking. Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.

When writing you create a fictional world. A lot of effort goes into that. Eventually you have to make choices about characters and races. My idea is you could create a complex web of stories each of which is another’s fiction. You’d have to be careful not to confuse the reader. Coloured spins could achieve this.

So say I write a novel set in the 25th century. Its about a brash Private Detective, James Sachs, who travels the universe with his alien companion, Hol, solving crimes.

In another novel, Hyper Star, we follow the story of Stephanie McKnight. She is training to be an officer in the Earth Confederation navy. In her free time she watches TV and follows the adventures of Sachs and Hol. For her its not science fiction its a contemporaneity series. Hol is a played by a real alien actor.

And being clear this is not me being narcissistic. I’m not saying that my novels will survive hundreds of years from now. – Hell I might never finish anything – I’m saying these are contemporaneity fiction.

So while you might pick up The Warehouse by Daniel O’Donovan – Stephannie McKnight would pick up the Warehouse by Cynthia Cline.

Cynthia Cline was born on Ganymede in….

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1 Comment

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One response to “Fiction Within Fiction

  1. Nor'dzin Pamo

    Excellent post. It could get most complicated I agree, having fiction within fiction. I think ST is particularly bad at not thinking about its contemporary literature. Thanks for teaching me a new word: contemporaneity!

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