Guest post by author Scott Bonasso
My latest book, The Tree of Knowledge, is technically a science fiction story. However, in writing TOK, my goal was to create a science fiction story that wasn’t ‘science fiction-y’. And not just in the sense that there wouldn’t be the typical whiz-bang spaceships or aliens or sentient computers. Every author who writes sci-fi strives for plausibility, but I wanted to go further. I wanted to create a manuscript that readers might actually believe was real.
I’m not the only storyteller currently seeking methods in which to blur the line between fantasy and reality in their work. One need only look at the wave of ‘found-footage’ films that have been produced since The Blair Witch Project turned the indie film industry on its ear fifteen years ago. There is a particular kind of thrill that comes with watching a movie that you either think is real, or are willing to suspend your disbelief for in this particular way. The approach to making the movie is different than that of a traditional film narrative. The filmmaker crafts the movie in such a way to honor the fiction-as-nonfiction contract with their audience. It’s sort of a role-playing exercise: the traditional third wall between storyteller and audience is intentionally taken down and both parties agree to treat the narrative as nonfiction.
The literary equivalent of a found-footage film would be a book written in epistolary format: a narrative that is presented as a collection of letters, notes, etc. Max Brooks created a brilliant twist on the epistolary format with his 2006 book, World War Z, which was actually presented as a series of transcribed interviews with various witnesses to the zombie apocalypse that the book documents. The brilliance of this book is found in both the micro and the macro – micro: the reader is treated to an eclectic variety of vignettes and smaller scenes, told by an eclectic variety of characters; macro: taken as a whole, these vignettes create an epic and fascinatingly realistic vision of the zombie apocalypse. Continue reading