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[Comments] (9) Constellation Games Author Commentary #30: "Constellation 'Shipping": Here it is: the weird chapter. The chapter that takes what was fairly realistic SF and does I don't know what to it. Why? Because, like Her, I despise being dull. I despise it enough to risk pulling a Battlestar Galactica and ruining the reader's experience of the entire book. Amazingly, the only major complaints I've gotten so far came from writing group in the second draft, saying that the emotional tone of what came before was never as powerful as this. But if you want to complain, you're welcome to do so.

As you may have gathered from the text, I don't like the idea that certain fictional characters "belong" together in a teleological sense, an assumption that underlies a lot of art and fandom. I think it's lazy character development and I think it encourages people to think that way about real life, where it's absolutely false.

On the other hand, fiction is teleological, and fictional characters are puppets. Declaring romantic destiny between two characters is no more difficult than saying how tall they are. You just have to be careful not to contradict your statement by the characters' words or actions.

"Explain why Ariel and Jenny aren't together" annoyed me, perhaps unfairly, because the need for an explanation reminded me of this assumption I dislike. I mentioned this earlier in commentary, and also mentioned that I'd decided to include an explanation if I could think of one that wasn't a cliche. This is what I came up with: the One True Pairing phenomenon is real, but it's a curse. Any two parties so affected are the Keymaster and Gatekeeper of a door that opens into stark, existential horror.

This was kind of inspired by a story idea (I don't remember if I came up with this or read it somewhere) where an intelligence augmentation technique is invented, but people who use it too much become listless and nihilistic because they can see the true nature of the universe unfiltered by the usual coping mechanisms. There's no plot there, which gives it the hallmarks of a story idea I came up with, but I'm not laying claim to it.

On the off chance that you are really really bothered by this shift in the rules of the book's universe, here's an easy out. Ariel is an unreliable narrator! He's writing this letter to distract Krakowski as much as to communicate with Jenny. So he exaggerated something that actually happened. What happens in "Found Objects" is compatible with either interpretation of Ariel's letter.

(But it totally happened the way Ariel says.)

The train we call Part Three is just getting started on its rampage down the track. Destination: the end of the book. Don't miss next week's installment, when Ariel will say, "Your gender-neutral use of 'men' isn't nearly as endearing as you think it is."

Image credits: Flickr user frostnova, NASA, Alan Shepard.

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