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Time in Fiction$
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Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick Bourne

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675319

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675319.001.0001

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Branching Fictional Time?

Branching Fictional Time?

(p.67) 5 Branching Fictional Time?
Time in Fiction

Craig Bourne

Emily Caddick Bourne

Oxford University Press

Apparent cases of branching time are considered. Some stories present two alternative courses of events which appear to ‘branch’ from a single point in time (whether as a ‘fission’ or a ‘fusion’). These cases give the impression of representing a branching time series, where events along one branch are temporally related to each other, but not to events along the other branch. This is argued to be an illusion. Rather than a representation of two branches of time which join in a common trunk, what we have here is two representations which share some of their parts. An explanation is given of how this can account for the appearance of causality between the events along the ‘trunk’ and those along the ‘branches’. Dealing with such cases employs resources which continue to be important in later chapters, such as quasi-memories and a distinction between fictions and stories.

Keywords:   branching time, fission, fusion, quasi-memory, causality

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