24.10.16

PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS.

A few years ago, I read some of the Hunger Games books and posted reviews.  Let's say that I never bought the idea of an advanced tyranny with such a primitive political economy.  Here's an Unusual Things post with advice for the writer of apocalyptic fiction.
I was shocked by not just the lack of research and basic common sense on display, but by even the lack of basic knowledge of things like “science” that these literary works displayed. One story, for example, was trying to present itself as a critique of society. It did so by setting itself “after the end.” The government had collapsed, and people were losing all their technology. The message of the story was “Technology has removed us from nature” alongside “technology has given us violence, and that makes it bad.”

Yeah, fairly psuedo-intellectual. Or wanting to be, anyway.
Hmm, don't recall anyone calling Brave New World pseudo-intellectual, although the primitive political economy is present there, as well as in Nineteen Eighty-Four.  But this writer's gripe?  The technology failed because the copper wires rusted.  (They tarnish.  I'd be more inclined to accept climate change leading to the capacitors decaying, but that's off point.)  But wait ... as the pitchman says, there's more!
The book went into detail about how people were surviving in their new “agricultural” society by returning to farming and hunting practices. Except … holy cow, as someone who grew up on a freaking farm, it couldn’t have been more ill-put if the author had talked about onions growing on trees.

It was awful. Factual errors everywhere. At one point, a main character talks about wanting to go hunting, but waiting until the next day because if they get their prey (moose, I believe), they have to kill it early in the day or they’ll be forced to leave all the meat behind at the end of the day when they come back, as they won’t have enough time to butcher it. They also comment that they’re down a man, so they won’t be able to carry all the meat back anyway, since there’s snow.

Sleds, people! Wooden sledges! We had this figured out five-thousand+ years ago!

And this is where I run into issues with a lot of “literary” fiction. When it’s set in contemporary times and doesn’t step outside of the little box the author lives in, it’s usually not bad (though maybe a little melodramatic). But for a style of literature that’s often touted as the “intelligent” form of such … it’s not.
There are many other things we got right five millennia ago that the deconstructionists destroyed, but I digress.  His main point is one I often make, if I'm griping about press coverage of ferroequinology, or industrial economics.
I can’t trust an author to offer societal ideas, concepts, or messages when they can’t get the basics of how a phone works correct, after all. To me, that just smacks of someone who thinks they’re smart, and wants to be smart, perhaps even wants everyone to look at them and see how smart they are … but is unquestionably demonstrating with their work that they’re not nearly as intelligent as they think they are.
Perhaps the author is engaging in the literary equivalent of rivet-counting.  And yet, your writing is more credible if an informed person can't throw the bunkum flag on a relatively minor detail.

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