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Archive for April 29th, 2021

Every fictional universe has some set of stories and story-elements which are considered canonical while others are not.  Generally, most of the stories produced or authorized by the copyright holders are considered canon, while fan stories are not; however, in some circumstances some stories and plot development which were once “official” are later quietly disregarded (usually because they cause too many continuity problems, like the ridiculous “Warp 5 speed limit” introduced in a latter-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and promptly ignored by every other writer).  But it’s not at all unusual for fans of a sci-fi or fantasy series to also have a “head canon”, a set of stories and elements that they consider “official” in their own internal picture of that universe, which is separate from whatever the corporate owners might declare.  Such mental structures allow the fan to include or exclude elements which might affect his willing suspension of disbelief or otherwise alter his appreciation of the imaginary world.  For me, one of those elements is chronology; for example, I have absolutely no tolerance for the loosey-goosey sliding past of comic books, in which superheroes always stay the same age for decades and their origins keep changing to suit a contemporary framework.  So whenever I read or watch a series, it’s important for me to keep a timeline (on a notepad or computer file if it’s too complex to organize in my head) so that I can keep track of the order in which things happen, how long it was from x event to y, and so on.  That’s why I especially appreciate shows like Babylon 5 and novels like The Lord of the Rings, in which the creator maintains a close watch on dates and sequences of events, and characters age and change as they do in the real world; when the person or persons in charge don’t pay attention or even blatantly disregard such recordkeeping, this is what my head does.  So I think we can all agree that it would just be better if everyone plotted their stories with a calendar handy, so as to save Maggie’s brain all that extra work.

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