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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of eavesdropping.

If you listen to what people are actually saying, and reproduce it faithfully, that material will find a useful place whatever you are writing. I like to isolate found material so that it becomes a kind of absurd commentary on the story’s events, especially in fiction set in the present day; but I also like to take found material out of its present-day context and use it to point up the oddness of an imagined future, or country, or character. If you want the unheimlich, you must have dissonance, although you have to be careful not to overdo it. Establish a context, then violate it quite sparingly. In weird fiction the strange is made to intrude on and threaten briefly the normal; but it’s equally important to threaten the strange with the normal. I get many of my effects by making sure of that two-way process. (If we’re to talk about more immersive fiction, i.e. fantasy or space opera, another benefit of this device is to create discontinuities, glitches in the so-called “logic” of the so-called “secondary world” which make it harder for the reader to suspend disbelief and escape into the fiction.)

M. John Harrison


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