Would I Lie To You?

geek culture , writing 3 comments

Here’s the thing, and you need to understand this:

All writers are liars.

It’s what we do. It’s what you come to us for, in fact — you want us to lie to you, to tell you about things that never happened and people who never existed. You want us to lie to you so well that you believe in it, at least enough to feel happy when good things happen to the imaginary people we make you care about, to feel sad when they struggle and fail.  I am a writer, and the only promise I will ever, ever keep to you when you come to me for a story is that I will do my damnedest to make you believe my lies so strongly that while I’m telling them, they will be seem more important to you than anything real, more important than anything that’s happening in your life.

All writers are liars.  Does that mean you should keep an eye on them when they’re not writing?

Well — maybe.

Case in point:

As a liar, one of my very favorite holidays is April Fool’s Day.  I almost always pull off some prank, and they’re occasionally quite elaborate.  Like this year.

One of my usual targets for these pranks is fandom, because it’s just generally a very fun beehive to poke with sticks — we nerds can get so worked up.  And this year, two of my fandoms are converging: British fantasy author Neil Gaiman has written an episode for the new series of Doctor Who.  In the circles I travel in, this is A Very Big Deal.

So the meanest trick I could play was to tell people that it wasn’t going to happen:

Doctor Who fans were surprised to learn today that the widely-announced episode reportedly penned by British fantasy writer Neil Gaiman was not on the schedule after all — and was, in fact, an elaborate ruse on the part of the Doctor Who production team to track down who on their staff was leaking confidential information to the press.”

I wrote up a fake news article, made it sound as authentic and convincing as I could.  But just an article by itself wasn’t going to convince anyone without a source.  This needed to appear on a real Doctor Who news site.

Or at least, something that looked like one.  I sat down and created from scratch an entire Doctor Who news site and filled it with a backlog of real news articles cribbed and rewritten from various sources, just to make it look real.  Here’s a link to the article on the site. I posted a link in a few online forums, and sat back and watched the outrage.  It was glorious.

And if I’m willing to go to that kind of lengths just for the sake of a joke, Dear Reader — then just imagine how much work I’m willing to put into CAUSALITY.  How convincing I’m determined to be when our show airs, when we start lying to you about the lives of the people we’ve made up.


Posted by   @   April 12, 2011 3 comments
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Apr 12, 2011
5:08 pm
#1 MadGastronomer :

I knew as soon as I saw it that it was an April Fool’s (rule of thumb: never believe anything you read on the internet on that day; if it’s still around 48 hours later, then you can believe it). I didn’t realize until you copped to it later that it was yours, and not that the whole site was part of your joke until just now. Nice work! And Slightly Psychic Paper is a perfect name for a Who News site.

Apr 13, 2011
4:28 pm
#2 Shauna Hagreen :

Genius! I’ll have to check and see if my DW-obsessed pals fell into your trap…

Apr 13, 2011
5:31 pm
#3 Zach Klinefelter :

Nice job on that prank. I think I’d just been introduced to “Doctor Who” when you put that up; if I’d read it today, I’d probably be quite disappointed!

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