this is not a place

by uzwi

In the age of fake you have to be responsible when you write fiction. You can’t just shrug off the possibility that by making fantasy the lingua franca and reader-immersion the goal, you contribute to the mess. There are conjurors and there are audiences. Audiences hate a conjuror who reveals the trick, because that leaves them nowhere to go but the real. Among conjurors, revealing the trick is seen to be a mistake. But the history of the West since the early 1970s is of a concerted attempt to turn conjuring into real magic, and force open a fully occupiable space between the real and the unreal, between what entropy allows and what it doesn’t. Freedom from entropy–magic–is what “immersion” means, in the context of imaginative fiction (and in the context of branding, media theatre & political rhetoric, modern imaginative fiction’s closest relatives). Immersion is a massive act of denial. Denial passes itself off as a place, and everybody will live happily there until a way is found to watermark each scene or sentence, accompanying fantasy with the patient reminder, “This isn’t happening. It isn’t a ‘secondary world’. It’s an entertainment.” Presentationally, puppet shows, fairy tales, spoken word storytelling, whimsy, outright satires and Edwardian dioramas long past their best are the way to go: they have such unrelenting honesty about the nature of the relationship.