I was reading the latest issue of The New Yorker when I came upon an intriguing point. The writer of one article referred to fiction as a sort of parallel reality. Those of us who create fiction develop a world that’s alternate to the one we perceive as real. It’s difficult to process two pieces of fiction at the same time, so at any given moment I can only subject myself to one form of this alternate reality. The length of time that I spend in the imagined world of this fiction (in other words, the length of time it takes to read a book or watch a movie) is not only a measure of time in that world but the length of time I’m taking myself from my own.
If I was to take the stance that reality is only what I am able to perceive through my senses, where does that leave fiction, then? Even if we all agree to this definition of reality, we still have a concept of “reality” in a more general sense; that which is the real world all around us. If fiction is another such reality, then all of the different stories could also be grouped together in such a general concept of “reality.” Does this suggest, then, that all fiction is one reality? Does this mean that all fiction takes place in the same parallel universe?
Okay, I’m just playing around and writing nonsense by this point. I also don’t restrict the definition to “reality” by what I alone perceive. I refer not to spiritual or religious matters. I simply mean that there’s a world outside the office in which I write this blog post that I know to be real, even if I can’t perceive it right now. I know there’s a house to my left outside, even though I can’t see it with the window shade down. I don’t have to hear cars passing by to know that there’s a road several yards in front of me.
I will say, though, that the idea of all fiction happening in the same reality is a fun idea to explore. It couldn’t possibly work without a lot of explaining to do. Even then, at some point I would have to recognize that there are already multiverses within science fiction, not to mention all of the ones that I would have to create.
But continuity within fictitious works has always fascinated me. I tried starting a “continuity corner” section of this blog but I only got as far as one post before I abandoned the idea. It wasn’t a conscious decision; I just haven’t thought of anything else to write about. I know I toyed around with other franchises but I never really worked on any issue in its own blog post.
If I come up with anything, I’ll be sure to throw it on here. I also welcome any suggestions, with the condition that I might reject anything that has to do with a work that I’m not familiar with. I’m sure I’ll think of something, though. I need something to distract me from getting real work done, damn it.