“This book is a work of non-fiction.” So begins the prologue to a book I’m reading before it starts on a story of the Soviets stealing Nazi designs for flying saucers, manning them with genetically modified teenagers, then crashing one in Roswell, New Mexico to try and scare the American public into believing there was an alien invasion at foot, an idea they got from the War of the Worlds hysteria in 1938.
“This book is a work of non-fiction.”
I’m having a hell of a lot of fun reading the book, but it does raise some interesting questions about the line between fiction and non-fiction. Cryptozoology has its own place within the Dewey Decimal System: 001.9, the land of not just bigfoot, but UFOs, ancient aliens, bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, and Intelligent Design. It’s called “Controversial Knowledge,” and is fittingly home to the book I’m reading, nestled right in at 001.942 (UFOs). But just because something has a Dewey Decimal number does not mean that it’s actually non-fictional, that every word is a word of factual and determinable truth. It more means that the intent is non-fictional, is research based, is in any number of ways not worthy of being lumped into that vast Dewey-free zone: Fiction.
This brought two things to mind. First is a story told by the esteemed head of CVS about a critique she received stating a story couldn’t be fiction if a computer was a character (computers fittingly sandwich cryptozoology in the Dewey system, occupying 000, and 003-006). The second was my own thoughts about how to approach a piece of fiction from a non-fictional perspective. It first came up as an idea while I was reading Road to Ubar, a story so fantastic that it might as well have been fiction, and now this book, a story so apparently fictional that it become entertaining when read as such. I’m still not sure what the story is that fits that concept, or where to take it, or even how many people have trod the road before me. All I know is that the idea feels like a solid one, and that non-fiction and fiction aren’t necessarily the diametric forces they initially appear to be.
End notes. End notes would be key. Footnotes are nothing new, end notes however… Okay, now I’m just muttering to myself.