What is Fiction? by PBS Idea Channel

In this episode of PBS Idea Channel, host Mike Rugnetta argues that fictional constructs such as the aliens, and the setting of London, from H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds both do and do not exist, and discusses objects that have no existence but do have properties.

What IS fiction? That’s the question that popped into our minds when thinking about Orson Welles’ radio War of the Worlds performance, which set off a public panic of listeners who thought NJ was truly being attacked by aliens. Now those aliens didn’t really exist, since it was all pretend. But on the other hand, they did (and do) KIND OF exist. They can be described, referenced, and can have as much veracity to people as physical objects. And the worlds created in fiction can contain REAL things – cars, people, New Jersey. Can something both exist and not exist?

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