Third person omniscient - should style reflect era

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Third person omniscient - should style reflect era

Postby Duke_Leto » Sat May 28, 2011 12:15 pm

Dear ALL authors,

I was wondering what your thoughts would be regarding whether third person omniscient style should reflect the era in which a book is set. I may not explain this very well but let me try...

Obviously we read W40k and HH era novels with our 21st century set of values and knowledge. As an author (even writing SF or fantasy) you are also influenced by the real environment and culture in which you live and that the books are therefore also interpreted with the same set of values etc.

Maybe I can better explain myself with an example. I have just finished "Little Horus" by Dan Abnett. Now this is by no means a criticism of Dan Abnett who is one of my favourite authors and I thoroughly enjoyed "Little Horus". But there was a line in that story that jarred for me:

"Aximand stepped forward, through a tall archway, into one of the main Mausolytic Halls. The space was vast, and the air was radiant with yellow light. It was like stepping into heaven"

We are told that the HH (30k) era is one devoid of religion and based on science and enlightenment (especially for the Astartes). So even though the story teller/narrator is in a third person omniscient style (written by a 21st century writer and read by 21st century readers) is it right to refer to heaven (the embodiment of God's realm in the afterlife) or should you reflect more closely the values/beliefs of the people the story is about?

There is clearly no correct answer, I am just interested in what the authors on here think.
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Re: Third person omniscient - should style reflect era

Postby Nathan Long » Mon May 30, 2011 6:56 pm

I try to avoid that sort of thing, like being sure not to compare the speed of a knight on horseback to that of a speeding car. That being said, sometimes it's hard to avoid the more universal concepts. For instance, there isn't really a hell in warhammer either, is there? But you probably wouldn't blink if the word was used.
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Re: Third person omniscient - should style reflect era

Postby Mossy Toes » Mon May 30, 2011 7:03 pm

Well, in 40k at least, there are certainly enough references to burning hells, hellspawn, and similar to equate the warp with Hell. The Realm of Chaos is close enough in fantasy, I think.
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Re: Third person omniscient - should style reflect era

Postby davij038 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:48 pm

As mossy said, the RoC is pretty much hell. I also beleive that Khaine is recorded in having one or more "hells".
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Re: Third person omniscient - should style reflect era

Postby Athelassan » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:52 pm

Methinks the point has been missed.

I'm inclined to agree with Nathan - outright anachronistic references should be out, but I've seen a lot of stories where the author has gone a bit too far to try to preserve the internal authenticity of the world in speech patterns and it's rung false. At times I think you have to take a "translation" approach. The language being spoken in these books isn't English and some of their concepts might not directly translate. So "heaven" or whatever serves as a useful placeholder as it expresses the same idea even if it's not literally what's meant.

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