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Author Archive: "Liz Jensen"

We Are Large! We Contain Multitudes!

It's not as if there aren't enough real people in the world. Seven billion at last count, and ten on the horizon.

So why all the imaginary ones?

Enough already!

Who on earth thought it was ever a good idea to add to the sum of humankind by concocting hordes of hypothetical men, women, and children?

The answer is that we need those ghostly presences. Urgently. (Interestingly, it's not reciprocated. Those fake folk don't give a damn about us.) I'll get to my "we urgently need" claim later.

But first, the stats.

Tending toward the nerdy side, I sometimes wonder whether the fictional population is expanding at the same rate as the real one . Or whether the imaginary characters concocted by writers and dramatists over the centuries might soon outnumber their mortal counterparts. Maybe they already do. It's possible, given that they're eternally alive. But it's a tricky equation for a pedant like me to resolve, because you have to decide whether imaginary hordes — all those infantry in War and Peace, for example, or the populations of multiplanet science fiction novels — bear the same notional ...

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