Tuesday, August 02, 2005

On Fillion, Firefly, and a Truth Stranger Than Fiction

Say I were a skillful novelist, or even a competent hack.

And say I wanted to add a scene to the nominally postmodern, vaguely satiric “geek lit” novel I was writing that would make my imagined audience stand up, cheer, and email all their friends about the kick ass book they can’t bear to put down, not even to type this email, which they are doing one handedly as they continue to read.

Say further that I was a big honking Firefly fan, too reserved and self-conscious to call himself a Browncoat, but secretly exhilarated by the grassroots movement of that name and by the awesome power of geekiness that they wield.

Say that I was living in Edmonton, Alberta at the time, Canada’s very own version of the same Wild West that had inspired Joss Whedon to seriocomic SF brilliance, where cowboy boots and ten gallon hats could still on occasion be spotted ambling down Whyte Avenue, albeit not in the same numbers as in Calgary.

Say, just for the sake it, that I’d been nursing a mild grudge against a local Edmonton comic shop where I’d once almost started an account. A place that, the moment you walked into it, seemed to suck not just the air but the fun right out of the shrink-wrapped comics that lined its shelves like Frisbees.

Say also (though this part is so far-fetched I can hardly bear to propose it) that the proprietor of said shop had a reputation as a scoundrel--a varmint--and a nickname that conjured up not only the space bandits and crimelords that would bedevil the intrepid crew of Serenity, but the pirate subtext of Joss's whole damn series.

Say that I wanted my crowd-pleasing scene to tie into the rather thinly developed postmodernism of the rest of the novel, which consisted primarily of exploiting tired metafictional tropes about the relationship between reality and representation, particularly as these are mediated through the twin crucibles of subculture and celebrity.

Say (I’m stretching here) that the store even had a name that evoked the sort of postmodern folding of reality back onto itself that so excites Jean Baudrillard and his ilk. Wormhole, maybe. Or Vortex.

Say that, though I fancied myself a postmodernist, I had a weakness for the clichés of the old west. Say that I loved rough justice and a good showdown. The white hat. The black hat. Good and evil at ten paces. The posse that rides to the hero’s rescue. The angry mob that chases the scoundrel out of town.

Say, conjecturally, that I had a secret man crush on Nathan Fillion. Hoped he might read my novel and be flattered enough to write a nice letter. Maybe autograph a publicity still, a DVD, a comic book spin-off title.

What kind of scene, I wonder... What kind of scene could I write?


Mark Fossen said...

I hope you realize someone might write back.


Jim Roeg said...

Indeed! (I spent far too much time reading that thread and others last night.) To clarify: my intention was less to add another snipe to the chorous than to step back and comment on the sheer surrealism of the situation and the way it seems to obey all manner of (meta)fictional conventions--the type of story that you read and think, my god, this must be someone's first novel, it's events and images draw way too much attention to their own fictionality and are so obviously wish-fulfillments.

At one level, it's obvious where my sympathies (and wish-fulfillments) lie, but I hope that I conveyed, at the same time, my desire to mock all sides a bit, my own postmodern pretentions especially.

If this whole tempest in a teapot really does feel uncomfortably like fiction, then maybe that's something worth thinking about too--that is, the way we shape these things using (often just implied) fictional conventions when we tell "real" stories to each other. That's why I cast this post in the hypothetical ("Say...") and framed it as fiction. Whatever happened over there at ****1, ultimately those of us out in the ether all just telling stories.

That, at least, is my take on what I wrote. But never trust the writer. I'm sure others will see other things. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm investing in a flame-retardant suit! :)

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