Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Guardian's 'Fiction in 2043'

As a special feature for the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference, author Ewan Morrison takes a Wellsian trip through time - to the year 2043 - to report back on what he's seen of the future of fiction. You can read his satirical correspondence on the Guardian website, published in two parts. The first part, 'The War Years', pictures a world in which books have morphed into 'titles' to accomodate the diversity of reading formats, and a reluctance to publish new authors has led to an explosion of spin-offs, prequels and sequels, producing franchise hybrids such as 'Shades of Hermione - a pornographic Potter serial, and The Twilight Code - in which vampires save the Catholic church'. The second, 'Peace after the Digital Revolution', describes the post-revolution environment, the international commitment to rediscovering the art of fiction and the intervention of China, the new world superpower.

Personally though, and at risk of sounding like one of the 'useful idiots' sent up by Morrison, while his serialisation spells out a dystopian fate for fiction in the wake of the digital revolution, I'd be reluctant to lay the blame on the proliferation of fan-fiction, file-sharing and community-based Wiki-texts. I think perhaps these types of ventures could be compared to the boom in pulp publishing in the 20s or the popularisation of exploitation cinema in the 60s and 70s, forms that have since gained a measure of critical acclaim. Besides which, The Twilight Code sounds like a thrilling read...

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