The Freedom Maze: a different sort of slavery-time alternate history


4 Responses to “The Freedom Maze: a different sort of slavery-time alternate history”

  1. Geir Gaseidnes says:

    Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner, who often write together, are both splendid writers (The Swordspoint books are one of my favorite fantasy series – low magic, high intrigue stuff). I’m looking forward to reading this!

  2. Nadreck says:

    The difference between narrative (especially Western narrative) and reality is always interesting.  Most people wouldn’t read stories where just normal life happens since you’ve already got a life: people want the extraordinary,  and a story arc that makes sense and ties off loose ends.  In Iain Banks’ collection “State of the Art” there’s a great story about an alien, who hasn’t any experience with fiction, coming to Earth and discovering that his internal model of reality is starting to follow the pattern of a narrative whereas it didn’t before.  The Dr. Who canon’s “Land of Fiction” idea (episode “The Mind Robber” and the brilliant novel “Conundrum”) takes the idea even further: in this dimension if you start becoming a fictional version of yourself if you get mentally lazy and keep following a plotline.  You then become a puppet of The Author and, through his market surveys, The Audience – Those Who Must Be Amused.

    The thing with Time Travel or other travelogue stories is that, in reality it would be mostly washing dishes or being a slave as most people’s lives anywhere are going to be humdrum or awful.  That’s why they’re probably ready stories about *your* reality and the amazing adventures to be had therein.  This is why everyone decides, despite the odds against it, they’re the re-incarnation of Napoleon and not foot soldier #15832 in one of his armies or, even more likely, a starving French Peasant.  Again from Dr. Who, in the novel “Set Piece” Ace gets stuck in Ancient Egypt for years.  Nothing extraordinary is going on; she’s just an oddly-combat-capable woman with no other particular applicable life skills living in the suburbs of Memphis.  What’s she going to retire on?  She gets a place in someone’s retinue as a novelty guard but there’s nothing to guard against so she ends up doing judo flips as party tricks.  Being the sort of Adventure Junkie that you pretty well have to be to be a Companion, she starts to go mad in this environment.

    In Jack Vance’s Anome series can be viewed as one long commentary on the whole, actually prosaic nature of  life.  The protagonist infiltrates an alien slave camp and just ends up being a slave.  He highjacks a starship and just ends up stuck in orbit for months due to the impossibility of working alien controls.  History is happening all around him but he doesn’t influence it. Even if you’re living through extra-ordinary times you probably just end up with a bit-part like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

    Twice in my life I’ve fallen into capital “A” Adventures and one of them could even have been called a bit of genre fiction.  I found that fiction gave me an overall framework to work within that the other, non-Fan, people around me were sorely lacking.  They were paralysed by the lack of analogy with anything in their lives.  On the other hand, I had to be very careful about the differences between Narrative and Reality:  there are more loose ends than connecting threads; happy endings are unlikely as Endings are in general; people exposed to constant danger always get combat fatigue and just stop moving; the gun above the mantel in Act I isn’t there because it’s going to be used in Act II, it’s just there at random; and Lawyers.  The last is most important as the Evil Mastermind isn’t going to send assassins after you or try and shoot it out with you if you obtain an important piece of evidence against him.  He’ll just dump lawyers on you.  Scientology, for one, understands this very well.

    • Spocko says:

      I REALLY like your comment.  Just wanted you to know it. I too had a capital “A” Adventure and I realized that I watching or reading other’s adventures helps on one hand, but what I really wanted to talk to people who had lived actual adventures.
      Written adventures have a thru line and a writer chooses what happens next. In real life you can only choose how to respond to what happens next.

      I remember one thing I loved about Pulp Fiction was how random things happen that aren’t planned. Like you are in the bathroom when the guy comes back to the apt.

  3. Dree says:

    “This story isn’t like other, similar stories…”

    You’re making my inner pedant have seizures, Cory.

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