When does fiction become unbelievable?
I haven't seen 10,000 BC yet, but I gather that the mammoths play a large part in the creation of the Ancient Egyptians' pyramids. Fine, I'll accept that: it's fiction, a ridiculous premise, but it sounds quite fun. A strange alternate history. What still bugs me is that the mammoths gallop at speeds of upwards of 60 kilometres per hour. What?! I can accept that they hung around several tens of thousands longer than in actual reality, but during that time, they also devised some way to motorise themselves?! Perhaps in hundreds of thousands of years worth of evolution, they developed little natural rubber wheels? Nooo.
But in SFF, a certain suspension of disbelief is often required. In all imagination, really. We are quite prepared to accept the Chosen One, spoken of in prophecies written on napkins by the Ancient People, but I've friends who throw books across the room if a cave is described inadequately. "Hewn from the living rock," just won't cut it.
It's often the mundane done wrong that annoys people. Have magic coming from a nameless source, but woe betide you if the smell of a trench (or goblin faeces, etc) isn't up to scratch.
A lot of authors talk of a good story being combined of one element of the mundane, and one element of the fantastical. Brandon Sanderson's YA novel, Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians or something, has librarians in it -- this is obviously quite ordinary. The fantastical element: they're an evil librarian cult which sacrifices small boys.
So, there I was, tied to an alter made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians. As you might imagine, that sort of situation can be quite disturbing. It does funny things to the brain to be in such danger — in fact, it often makes a person pause and reflect upon his life. If you’ve never faced such a situation, then you’ll simply have to take my word. If, on the other hand, you have faced such a situation, then you are probably dead and aren’t likely to be reading this.
And it's a book I really want to read! :) I'm off now; thanks. And yes, Mr. Sanderson, deliver the pimpage-cheque soon ;)
The Book Swede