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Our Fads in Other Times

Cowboys and Aliens

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Jim Comer: “I’ve often seen writers using the paranormal fads of their own time in a novel which is allegedly set in some other time. Research! This might be a riff off of that. Stories set in historic times where people did not think the same way as the present but the characters in the story do.”

Jim has an interesting point here. Many fads that are popular today were either unheard of a hundred years ago, or would be unrecognizable to folks from that earlier time. Take the idea of the zombie apocalypse. It’s become a universally accepted trope – pranksters have even broken into transportation signs to warn drivers of a zombie apocalypse ahead.

But a hundred years ago, the fears about zombies were much more direct and personal – the idea that someone, using voodoo, could bring back your body from the dead and force you to his or her will.

Still, it can also be fun to willingly and knowingly project today’s fads into the past. Look at Cowboys and Aliens (which I still maintain was a kick-ass movie despite its critical drubbing) or Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, which projected modern language and attitudes into the old West for effect.

Or Romeo+Juliet, which did the opposite, bringing Shakespeare’s Old English into a modern setting.

So my questions today – have you read anything that projected one yime’s fad into another time? And was it successful, or a miserable failure, and why? For our writers, would you (or have you) written anything that plays with this line?


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