You’ve probably heard the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Creative writing tutors, in their wisdom, caution against justifying an outrageous plot twist by saying, “but that really happened!” My favourite writing book, How NOT to write a novel, devotes at least a page to the subject (I’d check exactly how much but, as usual, it’s out on loan. Incidentally, the cover has to be the best ever for a ‘how to’ book . Don’t understand the relevance of the kitty at gunpoint, but it’s cracking).
Science fiction probably contains the weirdest possible scenarios, but if you think about it, most of the genre’s inventions are fairly mundane compared to the inventions or discoveries offered by real life. Here is the list of things in which I would not believe, if they appeared in a book instead of in reality.
1. Electricity. No way. Some sort of invisible, undetectable power that comes through the walls in your house that can be harnessed to make cool stuff happen? It’s not there all the time, it only comes on when you stick something with three (or two) fingers into it? And you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it, but it can power anything you like, and its misuse could set buildings on fire? A daft idea.
2. Telephones. Talk to someone who isn’t there through a small plastic earpiece? And hear what they’re saying too, without any delay, even if they are thousands of miles away? (Alright, perhaps this is not so totally unbelievable. After all, I’ve done that thing with strings and yogurt pots. I get it a bit. But mobile phones? No wires? You’re kidding me)
3. Planes (and helicopters). A huge metal box, weighted down with people, suitcases and duty frees, with little stubby wings and tiny things that spin round? Nah, that’ll never get off the ground.
4. Tides. Ok so how do you expect me to believe that a small far off planetoid is going to lift WATER with its gravity, and yet it doesn’t lift me off the ground? And how does it lift water and then send it back again? Actually, while we’re on that point…
5. Gravity. Nope. I just don’t get it.
6. Ipads. (I hesitate to say I don’t believe in them, just in case I make them disappear, and I love my Ipad, but really, if someone in the 1950s had described an Ipad in a book, they would have been laughed out of town.)
By this point you’ve probably realised that I’m not a scientist. Perhaps that’s a bit of a shameful admittance given that my grandfather on my mother’s side was a chemist, my father an engineer, my husband a mathematician, and my eldest son a computer programmer. Why did I miss out on the sciencey genes? Why does my brain just switch off when someone explains waves and particles or cats in boxes? I think I just got the left over genes, the ones that came from my granny who didn’t like to use the remote control for her TV in case she set fire to the curtains (oh yes that reminds me – remote controls – how do they work?) or my mother who insisted to my answerphone that I must be there because she “could hear the children in the background.”
So do you agree, truth is stranger than fiction, or do all these things make perfect sense to you?