Drafting the technical manual and ship blueprints was, then, largely a matter of reconciling the “imaginary” object of the Enterprise miniature with the “real” object of sets such as the bridge, sickbay, and engineering, explaining in graphic form how exterior and interior aspects of the Enterprise fit together into a coherent whole. In this sense, Joseph’s work might be described as operationalizing the Kuleshov effect, tying down and standardizing relationships created through editing. The technical materials upon which design-oriented fandom thrives – blueprints, models, hand-crafted props –thus serve an essentially conservative function, knitting together loose seams of an imperfectly-manufactured diegetic reality, as opposed to the exploding/perverting of officially preferred meanings that occurs in fan fiction (particularly slash).
The cultural task I have in mind is meaning-making. I think this is the same task that babies undertake and early humans must have undertaken in clapping hands in imitation of one another, in pointing to something to direct attention to it, in intentionally clapping hands in synchrony with another person. These are the the radical cultural primitives, and language, drawing, writing, print, photography, and now computation are all ways of expanding our ability to clap, to point, to think together and synchronize our minds and our behaviors.
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I propose that worldbuilding is the primary distinguishing characteristic of SF and fantasy (at least at a superficial level). Get the worldbuilding wrong, and your readers won’t be able to get a grip on the story line or the motivation of your characters. Or worse — they’ll get a grip, and realize that your story is, at best, a western or an age-of-sail yarn with the serial numbers filed off: that the trappings of the fantastic are only there to add a spurious sense of exoticism to an everyday tale.
Charlie Stross via World building 101 – Charlie’s Diary.
This article is not about literary canons of influential works of fiction, but about the concept of a canon that defines the world of a particular fictional series or franchise.
Miéville brings these quotidian practices into stark perspective. He uses slips of perception and movement back and forth between cities to highlight the contingency of many of the social aspects of the real world. The City & the City draws no hard distinction between the world of fantasy and our own. Instead, Miéville seems to suggest, the real world is composed of consensual fantasies of varying degrees of power. The slippage isn’t between the real world and the fantastic, but between different, equally valid, versions of the real.