Amph Anachronisms in Fantasy/Sci-Fi Literature

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by dontlookatmethatway, Feb 15, 2006.

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  1. dontlookatmethatway Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 5, 2005
    star 3
    As I have been reading fantasy and science fiction books, I have noticed things that wouldn?t be in a real world. This is pretty subtle; you aren?t going to see something that obviously doesn?t belong. An example would be having books be common and cheap way before the invention of the printing press. Sometimes the author gives a good explanation for this (to continue my previous example, there could be a way to mass-produce books using magic in that world) and in that case it doesn?t count as an anachronism. But oftentimes the author does not. I find these anachronisms rather interesting. What are your thoughts?
  2. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6

    Read a book by Fiona McIntosh called Myrren?s Gift, where one of the characters says that something is her cross to bear. I laughed at that - the expression is a direct reference to Jesus Christ, and so it's out of place a bit in a fantasy setting.
  3. DBrennan3333 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2004
    star 4
    Based on some nonfiction books about the future I've recently read ('Radical Evolution' by Joel Garreau and some passages by Ray Kurzweil), I'm beginning to think that all science fiction stories which show mankind as anything which actually resembles modern man is anachronistic. The general thrust of our technological advancement suggests we'll be freed from automation, from our bodies, and from mortality itself.

    The general consensus of futurists seems to be that over the next fifty years or so we'll basically become, like, digital spirits of some sort. So 'Star Trek's' civilization and 'The Terminator's' warfare will be just impossible.

    (Obviously I don't have a firm grasp on these ideas. Hopefully this post will seem somewhat coherent.)
  4. Moleman1138 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2004
    star 6
    Wouldn't Dudley's Playstation in Goblet of Fire be one? He got it in 94 and PS1 didn't come out until 95.
  5. droideka27 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2002
    star 7
    I read for pleasure and I don't go looking for things like this. Every once in awhile i will have to notice something but usually i will avoid it. I don't like things taking me out of the story.
  6. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    As a catch-all suspension of disbelief I look at anachronisms as the translation used by a story teller as given to the reader.

    It's sort of like "Why do beings from a Galaxy Far far Away speak english?" It's because the Galactic Historian George Lucas is giving you the story so you understand it. "Then I'll see you in Hell! Heyaah!" and off goes Solo to find Luke. Hell in Star Wars? No. It's just a word.

    Finding anachronisms is fine with me, and coming up for a reason for that anachronism is good mental excercise.

    Perhaps one day people will leave their bodies behind, but if we have that kind of technology we will be able to extend the biological lifespan to a great degree and many people will not be ready to give up their bodies. Some form of longevity will probably come about before anything resembling Matrix-style uploading does.
  7. Excellence Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2002
    star 7

    Really, Raven? I found Myrren's Gift to be the most vile, painful read I ever experiened. I wouldn't say that for even the worst Star Wars book. A masterpiece of immature slushpile the likes only equalled by Haydon's Rhapsody books a close second. Gave the second a go seeing how I mistakenly bought the first two together, but when Thyrsk gets raped whilst in a woman's body . . . every saving throw in my arsenal shattered.

    I don't concern myself with anachronisms. It's a tricky subject, directly married to realism and paramoured to pragmaticism. It depends on a wide range of factors, and not something I can judge. Is it even wrong? Who are you to judge?
  8. dontlookatmethatway Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 5, 2005
    star 3
    When I am reading the story, I like to "get into" it and enjoy it no matter its faults. But after I finish reading it I can easily slip into an analytical mode where I look for things like these.

    That's very interesting. Though I admit I find it somewhat unbelievable.

    I don't believe this. I honestly don't believe this. You spend the first paragraph of your post disparaging Myrren's Gift and then you end your second paragraph with the question "Who are you to judge?" This is almost beyond comprehension. So it's a tricky subject. Well, life's like that. And yes it's wrong! It decreases the quality of the story in many cases. It also sucks you out of the story.
  9. Excellence Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2002
    star 7

    Figured you'd say that. ;) . . . But my feelings to a book has nothing to do with its anachronisms, right?

    It's a real tricky subject, all right. You have to really look closely at the world and speech mannerism and a foul host of other factors.

    What sprouts to mind was The Second Sons Trilogy. Anyone read it? Real simply worded, littered with Russian-exclusive names. Supposedly a fantasy setting but you don't know what "year". Neither medieval or modern, it had the feel of 18th century. You got 2 brief "fight" scene all trilogy long with "swords and armour." Was the vernacular out of place? Fallon bothered with only the most minor of world building efforts here. The macroscope was on the people. Yet their prose was simplistic, as I said.

    Is that bad? Yes and no, and neither is wrong or right. But there's another insidious consideration. You're reading their vocab, the natives. Or are you? We've seen Wookiee speech their way. A better example---a SW alien talking Basic in halting accent. Sounds like a foreign immigrant, like Bok from the Rite of Passage comic. But in his Nikto tongue, it would be smooth and unhalting. You have to roast the Bimm and decide how serious and literally to take this stuff.

    That's why I said it comes down to: who are you to judge, for it's not something that can be done lightly. It's foolish to at all, in fact. Do you really know how they spoke Dark Age era? The hell you do. Forget what you've read, what Hollywood portrays, you don't. You don't know.

    That's why I said it's needless to opine. We don't have a legitimate baseline to compare and judge.
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