Feb 3rd, 2008, 08:11 AM
I had a dream once when I was working on a speculative fiction piece where Oscar Wilde was running for Mayor in the future (It's too complicated to explain how he survived the bad curtains debacle here). In the piece I was working on he was working on some legislation to allow Gay marriage. For some reason, to me, this didn't feel right to be meddling with Wilde's political beliefs beyond reality: in real life he would have hated marriage of any sort, let alone the idea of Gay Marriage. So I went to bed that night feeling uneasy. Something was floating around in my head as I tried to sleep. At 2am in the morning I finally get to sleep, but I don't realise I'm dreaming when I end up in this massive library full of old books. It's freaking huge, no matter where I go the bookcases never end. So I go into this part of the gigantic library, and see Oscar Wilde smiling at me in his chamber-coat thing that he wears when he's reclining on a Victorian couch. His cane is rested on the side of the couch. Then Wilde laughs, as he turns the pages of a massive green book. The only print I can see clearly is the name "Oscar Wilde" on the spine. I look at what he's looking at as he laughs, turning the pages which have the text printed not in the traditional paragraphs but in snaky, spidery lettering that winds across the pages like a crooked road or more accurately, those weird spirals you see in Tim Burton movies. I try to read the words but it looks French (and I can't read French), and when I track the words with my finger some of them run away on me. Wilde laughs again, and hands me the book, with a big smile. The look he gave me was somewhat comforting, in a way. He didn't look angry at all. But for the entire dream he doesn't say a single word, because his attitude says more than words ever would in dream-logic it seems. I take the green book from his hands, turn the page, and then I feel the reality I am experiencing melt away. You know that panel in The Sandman #1 where the little Black boy is climbing the castle in his dreams, and everything falls away? It was like that, only I floated down onto a soft landing. Then I woke up.
I read De Profundis the next day on Gutenberg Project and instead of making Wilde a traditional Gay Rights campaigner in office, I made him a campaigner against wrongful imprisonment who cites the example of his own experience of injustice to strengthen his cause with voters. In this alternate reality I had for the serial, it seemed to work better than having him as a stereotypical protester. Wilde hasn't bothered me since. Maybe he's happy with the changes.
Moral to the story is: Don't fuck with dead people's personalities for Sci-Fi stories that have them in alternate realities. From my experience, trust me on this one. They know where you live...