Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You Can’t Make It Up

Further to yesterday’s entry, I’ve just finished James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love, a dense and chewy novel that thoroughly deserves all the plaudits it has garnered. An interview with the author which first appeared in the online magazine Three Monkeys is appended to the end of the paperback, and contains this observation:

I don’t believe in the idea of completely fictional worlds. You can never separate made-up milieux from the words you use to describe them, words which will, unavoidably, resonate in the readers’ heads with the not-made up milieux they have experienced. I read a lot of science-fiction in my early teens and I recognised all the worlds there, every one.

This is something that every reader and writer of science fiction knows, of course, but it’s rare to see it stated by someone from outside the genre. Indeed, science fiction is often attacked by those who have not read it for being entirely made up - an accusation that’s increasingly used by lazy commentators on all works of fiction that are not obviously rooted in the direct experiences of their authors.


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