Fictional Branching Time?
Caddick Bourne, Emily
Some fictions seem to involve branching time, where one time-series ‘splits’ into two, or two time-series ‘fuse’ into one. We provide a new framework for thinking about these fictional representations: not as representations of branching time-series, but rather as branching representations of linear time-series. We explain how branching at the level of the representation creates a false impression that the story describes a branching of the time-series in the fictional world itself. This involves explaining away the illusion of various causal connections which may at first appear essential to understanding the story as a unified whole. This provides a more accurate account of the relationship between the representation and what is represented, which in turn reveals the extent to which it is legitimate to draw conclusions about actual time from fictional representations.