8FOLD/META: About the Author # 1: Tom Russell

Tom Russell twopointthreefivefilmwerks at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 18 11:34:52 PDT 2005

martinphipps2 at yahoo.com wrote:
> Tom Russell wrote:
> > And that's what the alternate universe always struck me as: a story
> > without consequences.  But, as you said, everything is an alternate
> > universe, so it doesn't really have a consequence, does it?
> Unless you consider emotional impact to be a consequence, no.

I think emotional impact is THE only real consequence, and emotional
resonance the advantage serial fiction has over other forms.  In
theory, at least, an ideal reader having read the last installment
carries over the knowledge and characters and feelings they had about
that to the next one.  And, given the serial nature of it, they have
had the time to reflect, to anticipate, etc.  So when part 2, or 3, or
4 comes out, and a character dies, or falls in love, or whatever, we
have the feeling of time actually passing, and we accept it.  This is
what makes Soap Operas, and professional wrestling, so immensly

Let's take an unlikely example: the excellent film Arthur and its
terrible, if a bit maligned, sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks.  The only
thing about Arthur 2 that really works for me is the loss of Geiguld,
which I carry over from the previous film.  So when he appears again,
as a ghost or illusion, or whatever, it's my feelings about him from
the last movie that makes the scene work (or offends me, depending on
my mood).

This is the thing I love about serial literature.  My wife dislikes
serial literature intensly, particular super-hero comic books, but I
think that's more because of the convoluted twists and turns that
naturally result from trying to hold a reader's interest for a year, or
two, or twenty.

The above might all seem vastly off-topic, if not elementary, but it
relates to the alternate universe question as such:

If a story has, say, a character die, then it's sad.  It's asking me to
be sad, okay?  But if it turns out its all a dream, I've been
manipulated, cheated, and that makes me justly angry.  If I know it's
all a dream (or an alternate universe) from the start, I'm less likely
to carry over my feelings for a character from the previous episodes.
Nothing against dreams, and, I guess, alternate universes: both could
probably be used to show something about the characters, about who they
are, what makes them tick.

And yes, it is funny that WHAT IF stories often have the characters
die.  Because the death is rendered meaningless.

> I know.  Unfortunately, I wouldn't be likely to use zombies or a
> walking fetus in a standard LNH story.

But walking fetuses are FUNNY!!!  Me and my fellow Timothy Bottoms fans
(Kingsfield, you are a son of a bitch!  Huzzah!) eagerly await the
release on DVD of "That's My Bush".  Yes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone
are Republicans.  But they're also the only ones who are intentionally

> No problem. :)
> Martin

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