Communion Of Dreams

Someone noticed.
March 4, 2007, 11:24 am
Filed under: Feedback, Heinlein, James Burke, Science Fiction, Society, Writing stuff

Got an email from someone last evening about the book (he had just finished chapter one), and he made the following observation:

One page 1, you speak of “he – he – he,” but don’t initially give us Jon Thompson’s name or description. I can live with learning his name on page 2, but I wonder if you might consider sliding in some sort of physical description of him in this chapter?

My reply was this:

Um, that was a very conscious decision. Nowhere in the book will you find any real description of him. Tied with a fairly “close” perspective with him, it makes it easier for the reader to subconsciously identify with the character, thereby becoming engaged with what happens that much quicker. And congrats – of all the people who have read it and commented to me so far, you are the first to notice this application of my literary theory. If an editor convinces me otherwise somewhere down the road, I might change it.

And I thought I would elaborate somewhat on this.

There has been a lot of scholarship into how a reader interacts with a text. 20 years ago I studied that as part of my graduate work at the University of Iowa. And while I can no longer cite authors off the top of my head, I do know that I drew several practical conclusions from those studies. This was one of them – that allowing the reader the ability to imagine themselves as a character (in this case, the main character) will help transition the “suspension of disbelief” necessary for a work of fiction, particularly Science Fiction.

Different authors do this in different ways. But for me, the most powerful books were always the ones which allowed me to step into the role of the main character – to imagine myself as Muad’dib or Valentine Michael Smith, learning about a strange world and my place in it. With Jon Thompson in Communion of Dreams, I wanted the reader to do the same thing: speculate upon their own understanding of themselves in a world that is changing around them, not through technology, but through revelation. It is James Burke’s The Day the Universe Changed applied to fiction, and hints somewhat at some of the deeper layers of what the novel is really all about.

Jim Downey

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Thought you’d like to know I’ve recentlyt uploaded Burkes ;THE NEURON SUITE & AFTER THE WARMING in segments on YOUTUBE;Hope you enjoy!

Comment by dforce1969

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