History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fiction and the Changing Landscape

Cover art for Scenes from a Quiet Apocalypse

One of the iconic aspects of Seattle transportation–the Highway 99 Viaduct–is currently being deconstructed. And that got me thinking about the way that fiction, and the landscape it’s set in, is a product of its time.

Scenes from a Quiet Apocalypse is set in Seattle, even though that’s never explicitly stated. And there’s one scene in the book where the main character would pass under the Viaduct, though it’s not called out as such. There’s another scene that would be in the shadows of the Viaduct, and that one does have the shadows a bit more prominently.

To a future reader who knows Seattle without the Viaduct, this little detail may strike them as odd. I know when I was editing a novel set in Seattle that was written a decade ago, I stumbled across a piece of geography that no longer exists. At the time the book was written, it was totally valid. Now there’s a building where the street used to run. I’ve also bounced off a novel talking about aspects of St. Louis that were not a part of my experience of the city landscape. These aspects may have been accurate once, but they certainly weren’t when I was reading it!

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