Thursday, August 11, 2011

Historical fiction has AOL now

The few times I've started to describe The Future of Us (on sale three months from now), I've gotten stopped in the middle. "It's about these teens in 1996--"

 "Whoa, 1996?"

"Yup! They somehow get access to their Facebook profiles and find out what their lives are like in 2011, and that affects all their decisions."

It's sci-fi with a cool, if unexplained, time paradox. It's a commentary about social networking and how we use it. It has the feel of a contemporary YA novel. But it also crosses into the same genre as, say, Fever 1793. It's historical fiction, my friends, and though adult readers may get a kick out of how recent and yet distant the year seems, the target audience was born right around then.

 I read this right after The Help, which is set in the early '60s (a time my parents couldn't believe I was learning about in history class). Though not a comedy (was the ad I half-watched this morning trying to market the film as such?), The Help does have its funny moments. “There is a skirmish in Vietnam," one character notes. “The reporter seems to think it'll be solved without much fuss." That kind of dramatic irony seems to be a trope of historical fiction, one that's fun to pick out. Knowing more than the characters--knowing more than anyone in the world of the book--is a great way to feel in on the joke.

"I don't know what Harry Potter and The Help are, but Josh gave me Tuck Everlasting for my eleventh birthday," Emma comments on the list of favorite books on her future Facebook page. Being incredulous at what a character doesn't know is one thing. It's a whole different thing to realize you remember a time when you didn't know it yourself.

1 comment:

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