Lately, I’ve become enamored of a late-night cartoon called ‘Archer,’ the adventures of a snarky, lazy, hedonistic (but ultimately eerily capable) super-spy, whose interactions with his ex-girlfriend, his emotionally abusive mother-who-is-also-his-boss and a bevy of loony tunes are utterly hilarious. What’s most fascinating, though, is the world they live in, where technology seems modern, vehicle designs are stuck in the 80s, and global politics are squarely in an era best described as ‘James Bond O’Clock.’ Soviet Russia is still a force, the KGB is still a threat, and not once have they broken the spell of the story being told to try to give us an explanation of why. More impressively, I’ve never really thought to ask, a testament to how engaging the antics and adventures of Codename: Duchess and company have become, to the point where thinking about the hows and why is clearly missing the point of the show. A similar effect was seen in the much-beloved ‘Firefly,’ where the future-world-that’s-coming had a strong Eastern influence, but didn’t have to write a Silmarillion-style endless infodump episode to explain WHY.
The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) has a perfectly functional suspension of disbelief, so long as you give a reason to suspend, asking: Given the choice, do you prefer that creators explain their complex world-building techniques, or just let them play out?