Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

No, it isn’t.

Like a lot of these clever phrases, it sounds good, but the truth is not stranger than fiction.

Take any true story, rewrite it as fiction and it’ll have equal strangeness, obviously, then add a dragon. (Or, if it’s a true story about discovering a real dragon, add zombies.) That has to be stranger. Even with reality’s recent importing of fiction in the form of fake news to up its quota, fiction wins.

What we’re talking about here is believability. Truth is always a trump card. (The irony of that sentence given what this blog is about.)

The first novel I published, I, Phone, was set about five years in the future. A deadline that’s now some time in the past. It’s stood up remarkably well. Google Glass has come and gone, AR and VR look poised to make their breakthrough, phones won’t be more intelligent than us for a couple of decades yet, etc. And it’s still all believable.

My latest, Crossing the Bridge, is set sort of now, but suffered from going out of date before I’d finished a draft. It’s a political novel and politics over the last year has been insane. Seriously, we have a scenario that the Russians fought a cyberwar to get a reality star into the Oval Office to destabilise the West from within and return everything to the glory days when Putin was a proper KGB spy. That’s a viable possibility.

It makes you ask, who is James Bond?

The plot isn’t Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton or George Lazenby as their tenures were a return to basics. So, it’s a silly Roger Moore, a later Pierce Brosnan or a Connery a couple of films beyond Diamonds Are Forever. Except that somehow Putin putting Trump in power is parody, so it’s Austin Powers. (My title would be Squidfanny.)

Someone might say, “You couldn’t write it” – another clever phrase: but yes, of course you could write it. And it would be strange. And with a dragon (or zombies) it would be stranger than reality.

But would anyone believe it?


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