Is it All Fiction?
Another day, another book. Well, three quarters of a day is probably more accurate. I started "Are You Afraid of the Dark", by Sidney Sheldon alter midnight early this morning, and finished it before 3:00 PM the same day. I even caught a few winks in between reading.
I do not know it I am the only one, but occasionally when reading a work of fiction, I wonder if any part of it is possible or may ever be a true event. The controversy that surrounds the DaVinci Code is certainly a prime example of this.
On the copyright page of Sheldon's book, the following paragraph appears: "This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended to provide a sense of authenticity and are only used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialog, are drawn from the authors imagination and are not to be construed as real."
Logically, let us see what that paragraph says. First, it says that the story in just that, a story, a work of fiction. Next it says that real people, events etc., are in the story to make it seem real ("authenticity"). Anything that is not part of the preceding (authentic) is from the author's imagination. Plus, the stuff that is or was authentic is used fictitiously. Finally, the stuff that is from the author's imagination is "not to be construed as real." Is that clear?
Now you read the story, it comes to its conclusion, the last chapter is number forty-six, but then we have an "AFTERWORD."
In the afterword there are several references to possible real events. My first question is: does the disclaimer cover the afterword? The next question is: are any of the events that are referred to real?
Yeah, I know, just do a Google search. Remember, I have no direct access to the Internet.
Even if the events have some basis in fact, is the author using them in a fictitious manner? See what happens when I let my mind wander? Truth be told, in the environment I am in, it is the only peace I can get.
If anyone cares to do some research, let me know if you can find any references to any of the following.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
If you have not read the book and are going to, you might not want to read any further so as not to have too much of the plot revealed before its time. You have been warned.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
The ending of the book involves the use of a machine that is able to control the weather anywhere in the world. The evil mastermind of the story is using the machine to extort billions of dollars from various governments around the world. He even causes a massive flooding rainstorm when one country decides to call his bluff.
So I am all wrapped up in the story, but realize it is a work of fiction. The ending certainly suggests yet another reason not to screw with Mother Nature. Up pops the afterword. The copyright of the book is 2004.
The following are some of the things the author lists. This first one really caught my eye in light of the horrifying tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean at the end of 2004.
"In the early 1970's, the U.S. Congressional Committee on the Oceans and Internal Environment held hearings on our military research into weather and climate modification, and found that the Defense Department had plans for creating tidal waves through the coordinated use of nuclear weapons."
Is this just one of those wild stories that the conspiracy theorist love to grab on to?
He goes on to list three patents:
1969, "a method of increasing the likelihood of precipitation by the artificial introduction of sea water vapor into the atmosphere."
1971, issued to Westinghouse "for a system for irradiation of planet surfaces."
1971, issued to the National Science Foundation "for a weather modification method."
In 1978, the United States launched an experiment that created a downpour of rain over six counties in northern Wisconsin. The storm generated winds of one hundred seventy-five miles an hour and caused fifty million dollars in damage."
One last one to check. "In 1992, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Russian company, Elat Intelligence Technologies, was selling weather control equipment tailored to specific needs."
There they are; fact or fiction? If someone out there cares to look into any of them, I would be interested in what you find.
Finally, my paperback dictionary does not even contain the word "afterword"; is there a "legal" definition that says when an afterword is included in a work of fiction, it is not part of the fiction, or is it fiction too?