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Belief and immersion in fiction novels..


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Last week I heard a review by a panel of several book critics on the radio. The book they were reviewing was called "Dark Matter", a ghost story set in the Arctic.

Two of the reviewers basically said they kind of liked it but couldn't enjoy any fiction in general because "you have to be able to believe in it for it to be enjoyable".

 

I don't agree with this and I don't actually understand their reasoning. I don't believe in ghosts, werewolves, aliens, zombies, or demons but I enjoy reading fiction, horror mostly. I find a well written novel can be thrilling and immersing, regardless of the subject, isn't that the point of the art of writing?

 

Does anyone agree/disagree and why?

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I think a good book can make the unbelievable, believable. Whereas if the book isn't so well written then it just doesn't work and so isn't believable. For example, the LOTR trilogy, obviously it's a fantasy but it's a such a completely built world, rich and immersive that it works. Some book that just 'has ghosts in it' might not work in the same way at all.

 

Edit - don't know about the book in question as I've not read it, not referring to that one!

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I think a good book can make the unbelievable, believable. Whereas if the book isn't so well written then it just doesn't work and so isn't believable. For example, the LOTR trilogy, obviously it's a fantasy but it's a such a completely built world, rich and immersive that it works. Some book that just 'has ghosts in it' might not work in the same way at all.

My point exactly. I wanted to shout a similar example down the speaker to them at the time, but radio doesn't work like that.

Edit - don't know about the book in question as I've not read it, not referring to that one!

Me neither, but one of the other reviewers who was a horror fan gave it thumbs up. He didn't say whether or not he believes in ghosts.

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I listened to that radio programme RootsBooster, and thought it was a bit weird for people reviewing literature to make that claim.

 

Having said that, I passed comment on the thread about Mark Kermode that whilst I think the film The Exorcist is boring rubbish he thinks it's the greatest movie ever made. I do wonder if my atheism and his religious beliefs explains our different opinions.

 

Ability to suspend disbelief might be crucial to enjoy many stories, but perhaps it can only go so far or only work in certain circumstances.

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I listened to that radio programme RootsBooster, and thought it was a bit weird for people reviewing literature to make that claim.

Yes, by their reasoning they can only enjoy books in which the stories are possible. That means they don't enjoy a GREAT MANY books! Maybe they're in the wrong line of work.

Having said that, I passed comment on the thread about Mark Kermode that whilst I think the film The Exorcist is boring rubbish he thinks it's the greatest movie ever made. I do wonder if my atheism and his religious beliefs explains our different opinions.

 

Ability to suspend disbelief might be crucial to enjoy many stories, but perhaps it can only go so far or only work in certain circumstances.

I think the thing with the Exorcist is, it was way overhyped for so many years and people had become used to much more action-filled and graphic horror by the time they saw it. I approached it with no expectations and thought it was pretty good.

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I know some people myself who simply cannot treat a science fiction or a fantasy story seriously, because the events in it are not believable.

 

Well, in the real world in which we live, they are not believable. There are no talking trees, dragons or time-travel devices here on Earth. As pointed out above, the difference really turns on what you consider "believable" to mean.

 

Tolkien's world of Middle-Earth is perfectly believable on its own terms, because he writes it so well. The events it describes clearly could never take place in our world, but it's quite plausible that there is some world somewhere in which they could all happen. I think the phrase theoretical physicists use is "it has an internal logical consistency."

 

I can take the story on those terms and enjoy it immensely; some people cannot. Some people, going to the utmost extreme, reject all forms of fiction in toto because the events in them did not happen, and are therefore not believable.

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Yes, by their reasoning they can only enjoy books in which the stories are possible. That means they don't enjoy a GREAT MANY books! Maybe they're in the wrong line of work.

 

Yup so presumably they don't enjoy Jules Verne and H.G. Wells either

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Yup so presumably they don't enjoy Jules Verne and H.G. Wells either

 

I wonder if they have the same issue with cinema, in which case they'd have an even harder time finding something they like!

 

It makes me wonder why the producers of the show chose those two critics for the review, with 2 out of the 3 bound to NOT like the book, it was always going to get an overall bad review :huh::help:

It was on radio 4 by the way.

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I guess there's fiction and fantasy. not really into fantasy myself. getting into sci to at the minute though, tempted to start writing it, I've got the ideas and themes but am rubbish at the padding out with future nonsense.

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I guess there's fiction and fantasy. not really into fantasy myself. getting into sci to at the minute though, tempted to start writing it, I've got the ideas and themes but am rubbish at the padding out with future nonsense.

 

Fantasy IS fiction

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