art gallery photo, 1991.
A nice discussion and exercise at Evil Editor over the weekend on deus ex machina (aka aliens arrive in chapter twelve, aka miraculous rescue.)
A device which, to earn a superior smile from critics, must blind-side the reader.
Cases involving the unreliable narrator must be excused.
Also, those where the writer has assiduously dropped little hints, foreshadows and clues like bread crumbs along the way, so the reader may retrospectively say "Ah! Makes sense!"
But the discussion made me wonder why, in general, we never hold the diabolus ex machina to the same strict account.
I suppose it's because we are conditioned to expect a reflection of real life wherein we may view trouble as random, as inexplicable, as shit happens -- a thunderbolt thing.
While writers are constantly advised to make their characters suffer, I do think a Big Evil at a crucial point should not be inserted into a narrative in a cavalier fashion.
Though it's not quite the same thing, I also become annoyed when insufficient reason is provided for the serial killers, stalkers, mafia hit-men, international cartels, assorted demons, etc., to target a particular john/jane doe hero/ine.
Apropos of nothing in particular:
While researching paranormal stuff, I came across two interesting quotes:
The fantastic is the real that most people want to ignore -- Robertson Davies.
Accept the mystery behind knowledge: it is not darkness but shadow -- Northrup Frye.