Thursday, 9 August 2012

Technology in fiction

Interesting article here on the role of technology in fiction. I think technology should probably be acknowledged in contemporary fiction, but I hate when it is over-referenced, it feels clunky.

Allison K. Gibson, the author of the article, writes:

Fiction allows for a certain level of restraint, after all, where the author need not include a protagonist’s every bathroom break or end each scene with the characters saying goodbye. Why then, if it’s common practice to avoid including other unglamorous functions of characters’ daily lives — like said bathroom break — is it necessary to show them texting and refreshing their inboxes?

Think of it this way: in most cases, a bowel movement will not move the plot forward; an email will.

The State of Me has bowel movements, but no emails, though there are many letters - now, those would certainly be emails as (young) people just don't write letters (especially when bedridden). Technology  has opened up communication for those who are forced to stay in the margins and Helen Fleet would be texting, tweeting, on Facebook, and furiously googling articles/research on M.E. At the beginning of the novel, which spans 1983-1997, frightened and in the dark, she looks up her multiplying symptoms in the university bookshop medical section; I may have done so too.

Though Helen herself does not send emails - well, we do not see her  -  towards the end, she  says she wishes she had a bondi blue iMac. Her friend in San Franciso has one. Technology has crept into the novel, almost without my knowing.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I sometimes think about how Shakespeare would have made use of the text message in his plays - the missing text message; the one sent deceitfully from a stolen phone from a bitter or interfering character to another central character in a tragedy, and so on.

Not much different from the agony of early nineteenth century novels where letters take weeks to arrive or go missing.

So yes, technology when it comes to communication in novels is relevant and important in moving the plot forward I think.