Tag Archives: reader to creator

On the willing suspension of disbelief

I read mostly science fiction and fantasy. I watch a lot of fantasy and science fiction movies and tv shows. And I listen to mostly science fiction and fantasy podcasts (with a darker, horror bent).

And I’m telling you that so you know I am very willing to suspend my disbelief.

You want to throw someone out of an airlock and pick them up alive in 30 seconds, I’m with you. I’m not tied to hard or soft science fiction; I love  both. Want magic and elves and faeries and Dream to be real characters interacting with everyday people? Sweet. I’m very well versed in the lore and am looking forward to seeing what you do with the conventions. I’m even willing to go with changes to the rules that have been set up over the history of writing, if you’re doing something interesting (I’d put up with sparkly vampires as long as you can kill them with a wooden stake and don’t break your own rules to tell a stalker story).

But what I’m finding is that I don’t like to discover what genre you’re in half way through your work. If your work is  a short story, then I can go with the whole thing and find out at the end, but that’s because you aren’t a significant time commitment.  And I generally pick up books in the science fiction/fantasy section, which gives you more time too. But if you’re a movie or a tv show, I better have the same idea you do in the  first 15 minutes or the first episode.

And as I come across more stories, I find that I need to have a better idea of what kind of science fiction or fantasy you are. There are different rules, and I need to know what to falls under the contract of willing suspension of disbelief in your story.

I realized this last night when I was watching the finale of Lost. I watched the first couple of seasons, but then left the show, as the lack of answers was too frustrating. But since I knew everyone would be talking about the finale, I made an effort to see it. I caught most of the recap, and felt prepared enough to watch the end without being too confused over all the new characters and plot developments.

And I as I watched the final episode, I kept thinking of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (you read that right) where the brackets all start closing and the variables become constants. And it dawned on me that Lost was not primarily science fiction, like I’d initially thought, but it was fantasy.

I’d never thought Lost was hard science fiction, because really what actual scientific explanation could there be for an island that doesn’t exist on the maps with all the satellites in orbit and Google maps . But the idea of the magnetic field, and the company that worked on the island seemed to fit into soft science fiction. And I can go with that. That’s more like Eureka, and while there’s some scientific basis, it’s really mostly made up. Like hard science fiction and fantasy had a kid.

finish the rambling