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Once Upon a Time: one little nit-pick

What has characterized OUAT up to now is that it brings to life not just characters that are fictional, but worlds that are fictional--the Enchanted Kingdom, NeverNever Land, Wonderland.

The problem with introducing Viktor Frankenstein is that while he is a fictional character, he is from a place that is decidedly not fictional: Geneva. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the earliest examples of a sub-genre of science fiction that for lack of another name, I will call "Urban Science Fiction." Urban Science Fiction is science fiction that takes place in our world, and in the same era as the author writing the story (so, turn of the 19th century for Frankenstein, or a story that take place in 1950's Michigan if the story was written in the 1950's--in other words, not the far or near future).

Dr. Whale is running around demanding to be sent back to "his world," but "his world" is just our world. He could hop on a plane to Switzerland if he is willing to lose his memory at the border of Storybrooke. The only thing he could possibly mean by that is he wants Regina to send him back in time to Geneva at the turn of the 19th century.

That's an important distinction for me, because it seems so few science fiction (as opposed to fantasy) stories take place in the putative present real world.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
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masqthephlsphr
Oct. 29th, 2012 05:55 pm (UTC)
I do consider it science fiction, if by that you understand that it was the new science of electricity and medical advancements that interested Shelley and though she was telling a horror story, what made it horrifying was that it "could happen" with science as they understood it at the time - it was not a supernatural tale.
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masqthephlsphr
Oct. 29th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
I think it would annoy me if they cast their net too widely to include a broad range of "non-fantasy" worlds. For example, I would be pleased to see characters from Middle Earth (assuming they could get rights to them), but pulling characters out of stories that take place in books set ostensibly in real world settings with the hand-wave, "it's all fiction anyway," is a pet peeve of mine.

When I am reading books/watching shows/films--urban fantasy or contemporary fiction or romance or what-have-you--ostensibly set in real world settings, I like to suspend disbelief for the period of time I am absorbed in the story that such creatures, etc, exist around us in this world, and that gets blown right out of the water by "it's fiction, it's automatically an alternate Earth!" POVs.
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ponygirl2000
Oct. 29th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
True but he clearly comes from a reality where nature and science work differently. I mean Shelley had sound ideas but we know now that they wouldn't work. Maybe he wants to go back to a world where you can throw some dead body parts together in a lab and bring them back to life with lightning.
masqthephlsphr
Oct. 29th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
I don't think so. I think he came from our Earth, and they were clear about that--that was the point of Mr. Gold/Rumple and Viktor constantly bickering about this thing 'beyond magic' and how Gold gets smug at the end when he's convinced Viktor he needs magic to complete his work- in other words, Viktor needs to bring magic across to Earth to finish what he was trying, and failing, to achieve with science alone had he not gotten involved with Rumple in the first place.
buffyannotater
Oct. 29th, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. It wasn't our world. They made this clear at least two ways: (1) his world is black-and-white and (2) they confirmed the hat can only travel to magical realms. If he were in the real world, Jefferson wouldn't have (a) been able to get to him in the first place or (b) brought him back. This was a world in which mad science (as opposed to our science) works. I'm guessing it's a Universal horror world that could also produce the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, etc etc.
buffyannotater
Oct. 29th, 2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
And, if it were our world, he wouldn't have ended up in Storybrooke, and he would be very old by now.
buffyannotater
Oct. 29th, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
Okay, actually, the hat could have brought him back, but he wouldn't have been able to get to Victor.
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masqthephlsphr
Oct. 29th, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC)
But you can clearly get to the Enchanted Kingdom *from* Earth through the hat.
ponygirl2000
Oct. 29th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
I don't watch the show regularly but what is the explanation for the inclusion of stories that have definite authors, like Shelley and Barrie, and aren't old folklore? Is it that the authors have tapped into this alt-reality and are reporting back or is it that the force of their imaginations, and readers', creates and sustains these characters?
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ponygirl2000
Oct. 29th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
Oh actually I was wondering about the internal metaphysics of the show. Usually this kind of "fairytales are real" type of thing is either a) the people and places are their own self-contained reality and our world learns about them through myths and legends - i.e. the movie Thor had all the Norse gods as aliens from another dimension; or b) human belief in these fictional characters gives them actual life and power - Neil Gaiman used this in both Sandman and American Gods. Maybe OUAT isn't getting into that at all? I was just thinking about it in light of Masq's original question.
masqthephlsphr
Oct. 29th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
I think we're supposed to believe that the worlds we have read about in fantasy stories (Enchanted Kingdom, Wonderland) *are* true, real places, and somehow Earthlings found out about them and wrote stories about the events and people from these worlds they had heard about. At least, that's been my assumption up until now, which means drawing on a "B&W movie version" of a fictional story that was originally intended to take place in on Earth itself (Geneva, Switzerland) makes me want to shot out "foul!"

It's their TV show, and they can write it anyway they want, but if they keep pulling stunts like that, I will personally lose interest, because it's not the TV show rules I thought I was getting at the beginning of the series.

Edited at 2012-10-29 11:42 pm (UTC)
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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )