What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Ununnilium: Good entry. `.`v Though I don't see what's wrong with just discarding the parts of a show's continuity that you don't like. ``v

Gus: Seconding that "Good Entry". All TV writers as unreliable narrators ... I can so get that.;~)

Idle Dandy: I love this! I've done this. I've been known to suggest that characters' actions/statements shouldn't be taken as canon if they were playing Idiot of the Week that episode.

Gus: I don't know if anyone else cares to discuss this...which won't stop me, of course. Number of The Beast was Heinlein's first novel after having a stroke, and the transfictionality concept dominated the remainder of his books. Yes, I think I am making a sort of snide connection between brain aneurysms and transfictionality, despite my vast respect for Heinlein's works as a whole. When an author starts laying out a case that he is creating an actual universe ...

//I thought Heinlein had his first stroke in 1970 or 1971, which would make the first novel he wrote after it either "I Will Fear No Evil" or "Time Enough for Love." I, personally, have a deep and abiding affection for everything he wrote before the latter, but "Time Enough for Love" squicked me pretty badly and I can summon no enthusiasm for anything he wrote later (and yes, I've read most of his later works).

Kendrakirai: I think it's more that they're catching glimpses of an "actual" universe, which they're unaware of...they think it's just random bouts of inspiration.

Ununnilium: I've seen it played both ways. And... what exactly was the purpose of that snideness, other than to insult? >>;

Gus: No... Not meant as an insult. Hard to take it otherwise, on re-reading, but ... my point is that it is a trap for a writer. It allows her/him to set all the rules, with the serious possibility of it all becoming an Author Wank.

Ununnilium: Ahhhhhh. Enh, most writers don't think about it enough to get to that point, and the ones that do are usually smart enough to avoid it.

Red Shoe: I do notice it coming up a lot among novice (particularly novice Fan Fic) writers. God only knows how many times I've seen "The Enterprise gets sent sideways in time and Kirk inspires a young Gene Roddenbery". Actually, come to think of it, I once saw a "Kirk teams up Michael Knight to fight Darth Vader in a parallel dimension where they happen to run into a young Gene Roddenbery, Glen Larson, and George Lucas" fanfic. Heck, one of the best noted Trek fanfics is the story of a transporter accident sending Kirk, Spock, and Mc Coy to trade places with Shatner, Nemoy, and Kelley. Bad writers (and Harlan Ellison. And L. Ron Hubbard) develop God-complexes all the time.

Gus: First of all: Heinlein weren't smart? Me challenges Ununnilium to pistols at dawn. Hopefully, Ununnilium owns pistols, and an alarm clock. I have neither.

Looney Toons: The transporter accident fic you're referring to was called, if I recall correctly, "Visit to a Strange Planet"; I've never seen it, but a followup/sequel by a different author ended up in the Bantam Trek fanfiction book I mentioned in the Fanfic article, called "Visit to a Strange Planet Revisited". The former was the experiences of the Trek characters on the set; the latter was the experiences of the actors (including the problem of staying in character) on the real Enterprise. Sadly, neither appears to be available on the web.

Red Shoe: Indeed. The reason I know of "Visit to a Strange Planet" is that it's referenced in the headnote to "Visit To A Strange Planet Revisited", which was in a fanfic anthology I found in my middle school library a decade and change ago. Cute story, especially as it plays with the fourth wall (Shatner short-circuits the plot because he's way less genre-blind than Kirk would have been).

Ununnilium: No, no— I'm saying that Heinlein *was* smart enough to avoid author-wanking the Literary Agent Hypothesis. (Other types of author-wank, mind you...)

Gus The anonymous comment above sent me on a google-quest. Heinlein had a "transient ischemic attack" in 1977, after "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" was published. He never had an actual "stroke." A lot of people make the "later works" demarkation at 1980, beginning with Beast.

Red Shoe: Charitably, one might suppose that certain kinds of brain event would give an author a special insight into the nature of what it means to be an "unreliable narrator".

Silent Hunter: You know, this sounds a very attractive theory sometimes...

what was the name of the Knight X Kirk V Darthvader fic? do you know?

Sikon: It seems to me that this page should be split into two separate tropes: 1) when the work of fiction is portrayed as a potentially unreliable dramatization of the events that "really" happened, and 2) when the depicted events "really" did happen as shown, but in an Alternate Universe. Perhaps the first could retain its name of Literary Agent Hypothesis and the second renamed Earth Prime, after the DCU term.

Ununnilium: Actually, both of those are slightly different than the base idea. Said idea is that a work of fiction is a record of a real event; those are just two different ways of justifying it. I don't support splitting here, really.

Later: One split I would make is splitting out World As Myth. The idea's slightly different there; instead of the fiction recording an event, the fiction creates the event.

Morgan Wick: The entry and the discussion above seems to lean more towards Sikon's first definition.

Ununnilium: Mmmmmm. Maybe.

Jordan: I wonder, would it be fair to say that the Mormon religion is a version of the Literary Agent Hypothesis? Obviously all monotheistic religions have this element, but perhaps because it's a very recent religion, this quality seems particularly strong in that church.

Unknown Troper: I admit that I myself am partial to the idea of the depiction of a fictional story/series happening in an Alternate Universe. I'm sure a lot of us have pondered about things like the Celebrity Paradox - and also (if said medium is a TV series) if there is replacement series in that universe that happens to air at the same time on the same network as said TV series is aired in "our" world. One problem with that theory, though, is the ethical quandry of whether it's wrong to make your characters suffer too much - which, of course, stories without any conflict would not be very interesting. In Last Action Hero, Jack Slater mentions that particular issue - and blames Arnold Schwarzenegger (the actor who plays him) for making his life suck.

A Carlssin: I seem to recall reading somewhere that most stories that come to us from the Muslim world, most notably "1001 Arabian Nights", are presented as nonfiction because the Muslim religeon taught that the written word was too important to be wasted on mere fiction. Thus, fictional stories that were written down were usually prefaced with a claim that they were true, but had taken place very far away or very long ago (or both), thus preventing anyone from challenging their validity.

Jordan: That kinds of makes sense, particularly since Arabic is considered a holy language, which makes me wonder about its use in secular situations- same thing is odd about Hebrew in Israel today- using it for street signs and novels somehow seems odd, and presenting fiction as non-fiction is a way around this.

Would Galaxy Quest count as a parody of this trope? The teenager believes the entire fictional Galaxy Quest universe is real. Later on, it actually turns out to be real, which really surprises the actors in the original Galazy Quest tv series.

The novel Nightfall was based on a short story by Asimov and then expanded by Silverberg (likely with cooperation from Asimov) into the novel. (They did this same thing with Asimov's stories "Ugly Little Boy" and "Bicentennial Man" and possibly others) The "conversion to English" was added for the novel.

Janitor: Moving this Wild Mass Guessing item ....
  • This troper believes that all six Star Wars films are really about the droids, as they are the only characters to appear in all six. That Dark Vader guy doesn't count.
  • Thebobmaster: Would the Artemis Fowl books count? According to the sections tacked on at the end of the books, they are the work of a historian chronicling his adventures.
  • ~~~: Does it count as an example of this if the author claims to be a medium channeling the spirit of the real writer?