A New Kind of Fiction?

Probably not, just as Stephen Wolfram’s book A New Kind of Science doesn’t really seem to have launched a new kind of science into being.  (From the condition of the copy I have on hand, I’m apparently the only person ever to have signed it out of my university’s library — though perhaps that’s because it’s available online for free?)

In any case, I don’t know how well-explored this field is, but it seems to me the logical extension of the online treatment of SF — moving from short stories to flash fiction and then to twitterfiction — might lead us to an entirely different sort of genre.

For example, these tidbits I included in a story in my MA Creative Writing thesis, which was SF short stories. The ads below (click on ’em to go see in various sizes, over at the Flickr set page) appeared in a piece that was supposed to be a webzine article:

The WTO/UN Wants You...

Luscia Lipgloss Cosmeceutical Ad

I know this isn’t a completely new idea: SF stories have featured fake advertisements for a long time, I’d guess at least back to the days of the Pulps, and in fact this is one of the things Adbusters does on a regular basis — as a form of satire directed at big businesses and the advertisinig industry.

But I’m less certain that anyone has actually consciously considered the fake advertisement from an imaginary future to be a medium in itself, for SF storytelling.

Looking at older ads from the past, like these eye-makeup ads from the heyday of the Flapper (click to see in full size), it becomes clear that an advertisement can be a window into a society and culture at a particular moment, highlighting not only technologies but also anxieties, norms, and more:

My own examples above are quite rudimentary, after all, but I wonder whether this might not be a workable form of satire that actually takes advantage of the capabilities of the internet as a medium.

If you yourself, dear readers, have created or run across fake ads like this, which in some way work as SF micro-narratives, I’d be curious to see them. Links in the comments section are very welcome. Perhaps I should run a little contest? I don’t really envision this as something that could stand on its own, but as a “word from our sponsors” section on any number of webzines, or seamlessly integrated into webzine sites, I think it’d be a neat feature.

2 thoughts on “A New Kind of Fiction?

  1. V,

    Hey, thanks, those are fun.

    I’m thinking about whether ads as we do them today are really suited for storytelling. Seems not so much, though, well, I betcha someone with a background in the stuff could do some cool things.

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