Over at io9, Charlie Jane Anders has a great post on the art of the Infodump. As you know, Bob, the infodump is one of those tools writers, especially those of us int he speculative field, use to build worlds and describe all the crazy, outrageous and weird concepts we write about.
Ironically, there’s not a whole lot to say about infodumps. They’re necessary and inescapable and when done well, add to the texture of the story. And when done badly, they’re a cancerous grown on the text. The problem is, there’s no real way to tell which is which.
And that’s why the case study approach is helpful. Head on over to io9 and see for yourself.
1. While the Infodump is most common in sci-fi and fantasy novels, it does show up from time to time in literary fiction, especially hisotrical novels where the cultural differences are enough that they may as well be set in fantasy worlds. There’s an interresting overlap between those two and it’s sometimes fun to read a hisotrical novel as a fantasy.
2. Neal Stephenson is argulably the reigning master of the infodump. But even he has his detractors and they have valid points. Sometimes, there is a thing as too much information.