Friday, 3 March 2017

What Is Truth?

Is it true that, in 1984, the world was divided between three permanently warring super-states, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia? No, that is fiction. However, if I am asked to summarize the plot of 1984, I will say that, in 1984, the world was divided between Oceania etc and people will understand me. In fact, if I say that Oceania was allied with Eurasia against Eastasia, someone might interrupt and say, "That's not true! Oceania was allied with Eastasia!" Within the novel, the "truth" is whatever the government says it is. If the alliance changes, then all the records are changed. There is a pretence that the current alliance has always been in place.

Is it true that humanity will evolve into Danellians? Yes, within the fiction of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series. No, within his History of Technic Civilization. In that History, the Terran Empire is declining - as has every previous Terrestrial civilization. Thus, we recognize truth and fiction side by side within works of fiction.

In SM Stirling's The Protector's War, it is said that, by 2006, Charles III has become eccentric. I am sure that Stirling knows that some people say this of Prince Charles. In 2006, Charles' two sons from before the Change have survived - as have his three more by Queen Hallgerda. Here we see historical truth and fictional "truth" parting company.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I have read of how some consider the Prince Charles of our timeline to be eccentric. And I can imagine the shock and horror of the Change stimulating and encouraging such tendencies to becoming worse than harmless eccentricities.

The madness of Charles III in the DIES THE FIRE series was esp. sad because he had, before about 2006 in that universe, shown himself an able and imaginative king.