Recent decades have seen a dramatic upswing of the “false document” within literature and film: movies and novels disguised as nonfiction, illusionistic imitations of historical documents or found footage fabricated with varying degrees of skill, and so on. Of course, the false document is nothing new- Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast is still the iconic example. But it is telling that in Welles’ day, the technique was so unheard-of that many people actually believed the broadcast and attempted to flee from the simulated Martian invasion. Nowadays we almost expect our fiction to make at least a halfhearted attempt to mask its fictitious nature.
Any number of explanations may be given for this trend, but I would like to propose the following: the world is attempting to give birth. Small “bud-worlds” are forming on our world’s surface, each with the potential to develop into a fully-fledged offspring. Of course, any fiction might be seen as part of this process of budding, but in this new spate of increasingly sophisticated false realities we are beginning to see bud-worlds with rudimentary eyespots and skeletal structures. It is only a matter of time before one or more of them reaches a high enough level of ontological maturity to split off from the parent reality and set out on its own.
Such an infant world would likely possess a geography similar to our own, and even at its most fantastical, the hereditary resemblance to its parent would be apparent. It would be populated by throngs of formerly fictional people- all of them abnormally vibrant and archetypal by our standards, but nonetheless very much alive. And despite its newness, this world would be born with eons of history and prehistory, with museums full of fossils and artifacts to bear witness to its newborn venerability.
Would we be aware of our world’s labor pains, of the gestation and painful division as its child finally broke away? I imagine that as the fictional bud-world developed and began to outgrow its fictionality, it would become a global phenomenon. It would be obsessed over and discussed. Movie deals would follow, and academic analyses, and sordid fan fiction, all lending richness and complexity to the embryonic world, until finally it made its break and separated from its mother completely. And with that, the fad would end, the discussion groups would disband, and all interest in the fictional tour-de-force of the millennium would dissipate as the juvenile world swam off into whatever sea such worlds inhabit.