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Historical Correctness

April 11, 2006
Posted at 9:15 am

Sometimes, when you write a story, you set it in a time gone by. That's called "Historical fiction" I suppose, but for me, it's just a vehicle to establish a plot that's a little different than "normal".

On the other hand, when you do that, you get mail from people about historical inaccuracies you put in your story. That's going to happen, I suspect, with "The Orphanage Blues." If you read this blog entry after April the 12th, 2006, then it probably already HAS happened.

Here's why. Official records list historical events as happening on a certain date and time. President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, for example. Some accounts give the time of 12:30 PM.

A common story told by people who were alive back then, is that they remember exactly what they were doing when President Kennedy was shot, or when they heard he had been shot.

Except it's not that easy. There are people all over the world who remember exactly what they were doing when John F. Kennedy was killed. For some of those people, their memory is NOT associated with 12:30 PM, 22 Nov 63. That's because, where they were, it was 5:30 AM, 23 Nov 63 ... or 7:30 PM, 22 Nov 63, or any other combination.

Time zones, and the International Date line screw this kind of thing up. And, for Americans, significant events that take place in other countries, on the other side of the planet, happen "at a different time" than what the historical record sometimes says.

So, when you read about Bobby, doing something significant at 5:15 PM, on the 5th of Aug, 1945, while the Atomic Bomb is being dropped on Hiroshima, please don't write to me and tell me that everybody knows that that's not when the bomb was dropped. That IS when the bomb was dropped, if you were living where Bobby was living at the time.

Depending on how you look at it, of course.

Thanks for reading, and for straightening me out when I screw things up. I really appreciate the corrections you guys out there send me, because that makes me a better writer, and a little smarter too.