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Secondary vs Primary source confusion...

  1. Jan 29, 2017 #1
    Hello, everyone!
    When thinking about an issue pertaining to a work of fiction, does the "primary vs secondary sources" rules matter when coming to a conclusion? Does this wildly held belief hold up in the world of fiction where things are up for interpretation?

    An example would be, at the end of a novel, the protagonist appears to clearly die, the other characters in the novel acknowledges the protagonist's death as well. However, in an interview, the author states the main character did not die, they were just in a coma. Or in an officially licensed source book, the staff reliably relays the author's intent and says, on the author's behalf, "that the protagonist is not dead and is in just a coma". I notice this is also the case in many video games, the layout of the story is presented from many different character's points of view; leading to it being absolutely impossible to rely on the source material itself, since some events actually contradict themselves. However, in the game's officially recognized source book, the layout of the plot is made clear so that you would know which character's story is actually canon.

    In cases like these, don't the officially recognized source books and Word of God trump the source material? Isn't that the intent of these materials being published?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2017 #2
    Which "god" are we talking about?
  4. Jan 31, 2017 #3


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    Depends on who you ask. There's just no single answer.
  5. Feb 1, 2017 #4
    I despise twists like that, it's such a punk way to do that. There should be some indication that things didn't go the way the characters saw it. The idea of someone being accidentally declared dead who was just in a coma is rediculous, especially in science fiction. Yeah, if the story of Jesu has any basis on reality, that's probably what happened, but those were primitive people. Even so, if the coma wasn't death, what the hell did they do with the corpse afterwards? Burying or cremations someone in a coma would certainly kill them unless they are super man. (Yes, super man "died" this way once.)

    If that's to happen, there should be something that happens before the event to allude that things aren't what they seem. In Wrath of Khan, Spock did his Vulcan mind thing to McCoy right before his death scene without any explaination. It helped bridge the gap between Spock's death and his reappearance.
  6. Feb 1, 2017 #5


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    "Word of God" in this context means the words of the original author/creator, not any religious god.
  7. Mar 25, 2017 #6
    Thanks for the answer. This question was nagging us for a while. I'm glad to know that this is dependent on opinion and that makes sense, since it's fiction.
  8. Mar 25, 2017 #7

    Fervent Freyja

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    So, back when JK Rowling was releasing the first Harry Potter books, she was always adamant that the entire story appeared to her, just like magic, and that the entire world was real. She didn't claim to be the author, just the messenger. I believed her for the longest time! Oh, how I wished it were real! I didn't reckon that she could be lying about such a wonderful place really existing. At first, I considered her own testimony that it was real to be all the proof that I needed, I even printed the interview as a reference for it... I do remember even trying to track down evidence for the Potterverse existing online! I can't remember the moment I stopped believing though. I admittingly did the same thing with Tolkiens Middle-earth, which was a little harder to disprove...

    Stick with the authors word I guess. :smile:
  9. Mar 25, 2017 #8
    I think I had better go and lie down now.
  10. Nov 16, 2017 #9
    I randomly seen this question on Twitter and it does raise questions. Is there some sort of official etiquette on what to regard as fact in situations concerning fiction, like this? Do we really just disregard the person's thoughts who made the story or is closely involved with its creation? If WoG contradicts the tale, doesn't that retcon the ending, potentially leading to a sequel?
  11. Nov 16, 2017 #10


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    Nope. Fans have denounced the endings of plenty of shows, books, movies, etc, regardless of what the creators have said.

    That's entirely up to you.

    It certainly could, yes.
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