But the TARDIS part of (my really bad) joke is the main reason for this brief blog post. One of the things that originally attracted me to Doctor Who — besides Companions like Romana, Rose, Martha, and Amy — was the ages-old concept of the building that’s bigger on the inside than the outside. Or, as one astute observer put it: “It’s smaller on the outside.”
Over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of writers and would-be writers will home-in on a particular trope or meme, and hyper-focus on it without realizing its history. I think this is true of the hyper-dimensional room. Like Alice’s looking-glass, glass slippers, and time-slips, it’s one of those devices that have persisted throughout fantasy. So if you want to use something like The Doctor’s TARDIS in one of your own stories or screenplays, I think it’s really important to do some research on the subject. In fact, doing research is one of the reasons I love being a writer.
A quick trip around the Internet gives you a sense of what I’m talking about with when we ponder rooms that have extra dimensions. And a quick visualization might help you realize just how WEIRD this concept really is. Think about it: You go get in your car tomorrow pick up some pizza and beer. You open the door, drop your car keys, and when you pick them up off the floorboard you look around and realize you’re inside UPS Delivery Truck, with enough space to play a game of football and have a few fans cheering you on from the sideline. That’s how freaky that experience would be.
So, if you want to include extra-dimensions in your writing, be sure to understand that — like everything else in fiction — it’s been done before:
- The Hut of Baba Yaga (yes, this was in Dungeons & Dragons, but that’s not where it originated)
- Tents larger on the inside (yes, Rowling evoked this in Harry Potter, but so did The Beatles in one of their movies, and the concept dates back to at least to 1001 Arabian Nights)
- The wardrobe from C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
- The “endless forest” of Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood
- The short story “And He Built a Crooked House” by Robert A. Heinlein
- The human brain
- A Bag of Holding (which really is from Dungeons & Dragons)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- “Waterfall” by M.C. Escher
- And the almost unbearably disturbing painting Corpus Hypercubus by Salvador Dali
That’s just one small sampling. But what a cool sampling it is. Now, that takes care of the TARDIS part of the title, but what the hell does this have to do with fish? Nothing, unless I’m paying tribute to Douglas Adams, the incomparable science fiction humorist.
May he rest in peas. I think the dolphins would’ve said that, too :-)
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