Fictional non FictionalNotional not notional
Fiction Article I: What is this category?
There is a kind that I really like and that I have already mentioned in some places in this diary. Barlowe and his Guide to Extraterrestrials, with lush arts and interesting description of many types of S/F. Barlowe and his Guide to Imagination, which does for the imagination what aliens do for SF.
The Karen Wynn Fonstad book, among them the Atlas of Middle-earth, the Atlas of Pern and some others. Arda's encyclopedia, which offers an even more comprehensive guidebook on Middle-earth in practical wikis. Star Trek, for example, features the Star Trek Encyclopedia, the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology, deck plans and many other works of information.
Luis Borges' brief play "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is certainly one of the basic works of the artisans. It is a non-story lookup for places that do not have them. They' re purely world builders without action. They' re, as I usually think, fictional non-fiction. I have not described many, many other samples of the game.
It' really an astonishing genre: full of interesting detail, revealing views, learned speculations and boundless opportunities. Usually I call the category fictional articles, but other concepts speak at other time. Is David Macaulay's book like Castle and Pyramid with their minimum character and short plot lines fictional non-fiction?
How about a book like the Dune Encyclopedia or the Dictionary of Imaginary Places, describing the things found in the fictional narrative without directly correlating the plot? Encyclopedia Galactica - Adams', Sagan's or someone else, take your choice - is another powerful contender for this category, although we always see only tempting snaps.
Many of Borges' work seems to be dancing on the line between this mostly undisclosed kind of music and the regular-prosa. On a fictional futuristic civilization of California, Ursula K. LeGuin's Always Comming Home mixes a thin storyline with an anthropological storyline (songs, prescriptions, legends and more). Nevertheless, I think it's quite clear what the features of this style are: references, whether encyclopaedias, catalogues, atlases, almanacs, guidebooks, cooking books, hymnbooks or whatever, for nonexistent world.
The most important characteristic of this style is that it is not a fictional form of narration; it is not primarily a story (unless one uses a concept of "narrative" that is so wide that it is useless). And, as I have already said, I think that mere world building without action is in itself worthwhile.
Much of the reason why this is not a more clear favorite is that it is often regarded as less prestigious than pseudo.