Lunchtime, Doubly So

The idea of fiction as bubble universes is intriguing; I visualize them popping into and out of existence, allowing us to view cross-sections in time of multiple realities. In the case of this contest, it felt as if the pool of potential stories was more the film of bubbles on top of a filled, soapy pot in the sink. Hundreds of edges were touching, sometimes they may have merged with each other, and all exhibited similarities due to the shared environment. Their behavior was dictated by certain rules, yet chaos lurked on a cellular level.

This project has allowed me to reflect a bit on the nature of stories and role of the author as universe creator, of character father and destroyer. I suppose it had something to do with the main focus of the contest theme being around death. It occurred to me that the real "Machine of Death" was the contest itself, in a tangential sense facilitating the birth and premeditated murder of hundreds of fictional characters, populating many similar universes that would not have existed but for the call for story submissions. In this respect, it seemed more important to proceed with a purpose greater than just the successful weaving of a clever yarn.

We've discussed previously that storytelling can be more than mere entertainment but when it crosses that line it imbues an additional sense of responsibility on the author toward the reader. The more effort we expect from our audience – to understand, to take action, or both – the greater is our duty to provide a commensurate reward. As a project becomes more complex, this is amplified. With multiple layers, we may track several tiers of payoff for differing grades of participation.

There is a need to provide a greater dividend for those who are willing to delve below the surface and it is even more imperative that the process should reach a satisfying conclusion (if not the "end" of a particular story). This still feels true when it seems as if no one else is paying attention, as well as when the author is the only intended reader. Extended participation must continue to be worthwhile for those who choose to engage in it.

Keeping this in mind, I wanted to avoid unresolved cliffhangers, and those without – or of a flimsy – purpose. Here, each layer of the project was intended to add value and conclude in a satisfying way, even where it also led the reader to the head of another trail; whether or not I have succeeded in this task may be in question.

I also found that complexity can arise too naturally from simple beginnings; it may be quite unwise to introduce it unnecessarily or prematurely, for both the author and the audience. This project sought to deliver incremental degrees of comprehension by a repeated revelation-iteration cycle, as well as through manipulation of the language of the story.

Kindly post your comments in the discussion thread linked from the trout icon below.

Download Text
233KB PDF, 13 pages, approximately 5,000 words

If you enjoy this series, please consider making a donation to Unfiction to help support the continuation of our site and services.

Big thanks go out to my friends Krystyn, Andrea, Jon, Cary, and Dina, whose assistance was invaluable in constructing this series. Thanks also to the guys at the Machine of Death for the inspiration.

Pages: 1 2