Most articles in this wiki are written with the assumption that a canon exists for Girl Genius. This article investigates that assumption by discussing the application and limitations of the literary/philosophical term "canon" to the Girl Genius oeuvre.
For a concise, practical discussion of what is considered canon for most purposes on this wiki, see this article. It articulates the basis on which this wiki attempts to provide easy access to evidence in support of dialectic exchanges as to which perceptions of the world of Girl Genius are the most "accurate" and thus the relative merit of various hypothesis about how the main narrative will develop in the future.
Can Girl Genius Be Said to Have a Canon?
The term "canon" implies that the authors of an ongoing fictional work agree to the conceit that the world which is described in the work has an objective reality.
In the vast majority of fiction (i.e., poetics, and not to mention writing in general), the world is assumed to be our own world. The world of the work, then, deviates from our world only as articulated within the work itself. One example of limited deviation from our world is the Star Trek universe, which adopts the conceit that the fictional world is the future of our own world. Other examples can be found in the Steampunk writings of authors such as Tim Powers. Powers is reported to follow historical reality to the extent that it has been recorded (and thus accepted with little controversy), but then add details to allow a supernatural interpretation.
There are, however, schools of philosophy (and, in particular, Continental philosophy) that propose that no objective reality in fact exists. In a fictional work created according to such a school of thought, fictional characters would not inhabit a fictional objective reality. Some of the uncommon features of Girl Genius could be the result of such an approach.
(Incidentally, Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, a relatively successful modern explanation of Catholic sexual moral teaching, takes a phenomenological approach. That is to say, rather than assuming an external reality from which truths can be deduced, it takes human experience to be primary. Of course the pope himself was a theist, but he was able to work within a continental philosophical milieu.)
By examining only the body of an oeuvre itself, one can draw negative/null conclusions, such as "these are inconsistent or unrelated". However, there is a good argument that it is impossible to formally support positive conclusions on this subject within a set of works themselves. Accordingly, it is useful to focus on statements by the authors about the work, which, in the case of Girl Genius turn out to be rather negative as well.
Note that in very early written fiction, the entire work was created before any of it was distributed. Girl genius is a work of serial fiction, where early parts of the work were distributed (and thus ceased to be revisable for consistency) before later parts of the work were created. The distribution of serial fiction is becoming cheaper and cheaper as technology advances from multi-volume novels to magazine serials to daily web pages to RSS feeds.
The following information should be incorporated into this page:
- posted by the interviewer, mentions "meta project" that fills in blank in above essay.
- with cartographic, scrapbooking, and physics analogies, that was posted earlier.
- that the fan definition of "canon" has meaning anyway, but mostly on academic freedom