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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ultimate Geek Fu

“I would never lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation.” - Fox Mulder

Fiction is at heart, fake.*

One of the more fascinating (when done well) or tedious (when done poorly) fakeries of fiction is the "false document."

Stephen King's Carrie was punctuated with newspaper clippings of the infamous prom tragedy, at once making the psychic rampage more realistic for the reader while also leaving much of the mechanics to the imagination.

The Watchmen has a fictional comic book as a key prop (and sub-plot) within its "real" comic pages.

World War Z consists of a lot of realistic interviews of survivors/combatants/etc. of the global zombie outbreak.

The Name of the Rose relies on the existence of a no-longer-in-existence work of Aristotle's to serve not only as the core Macguffin, but also as thematic architecture for the "real" book's plot.

It isn't just books that rely on false documents. Back in the bad old days of brilliant text adventures, companies like InfoGames often packaged their floppy disks with trinkets that, in some cases were critical or useful to gameplay (like maps). The best one to my recollection was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which came with printed orders for the demolition of Arthur Dent's house and, importantly, "no tea."

Movies have used false documents a lot, some to the point of being false documents from stem to stern: Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity. I happen to prefer the false documents to have a little more artistic editing: like the newsreel footage in Forrest Gump or the board game advertisement in RoboCop.

Hoaxes, conspiracies and bizarre amusements have all factored into the creation of other false documents. I still don't completely understand what, exactly, motivated the creator of the Codex Seraphinianus to create that monstrosity, but I'm sure glad he did.

So - you're a geek, and certainly must have a modicum of fu in this category.

Real quick:

What is the all-time greatest use of a false document in any context: book, screen, stage, hoax, conspiracy or otherwise?

Let the arguments begin!

*This is a lie - er - a part of a campaign of misinformation. Fiction is at heart, true. It just packages its heart in fakery so that you are tricked into unwrapping it.
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