Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Celebrities In Fiction

Poul Anderson's Time Patrollers meet several real historical persons but does any contemporary celebrity appear under his own name in any of Anderson's works? Maybe. Anderson himself is mentioned in There Will Be Time. I often ask a question here, then immediately find an unexpected answer! But Anderson the writer remains off-stage. And is there anyone else? I have certainly not read every word of fiction written by Anderson.

I ask this because I have just reread Stieg Larsson's second novel up to the passage where suddenly Paolo Roberto is the viewpoint character. An Airport Customs officer recognizes Roberto and addresses him by his first name as you or I could if we saw him on the street. Roberto recognizes Lisbeth Salander's face on the billboards. He knows this fictional character although the real world Roberto can't. Fictional characters converse with Roberto as an acquaintance in the novel and the actors playing those characters converse with the real Roberto playing himself in the film. Amazing.

SM Stirling presents real sf writers, including Poul Anderson, at the beginning of In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings. These fictional avatars of real people have a curious status, half in and half out of the real world. Any of these writers also appears, one step closer to reality, in a biographical or autobiographical text. Aldous Huxley wrote that he was wearing jeans during a drug experience but his wife, thinking that he ought to be better dressed for his readers, persuaded him to change the text to refer instead to gray flannel trousers. There are indeed some strange reality-fiction interfaces. 

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think the closest we get to real world "celebrities" appearing under their real names in Anderson's works are when he mentions or quotes writers or poets. We see Dominic Flandry quoting Machiavelli in ENSIGN FLANDRY and Aycharach quoting Elizabeth Barrett Browning in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS.