KPBJ: The right timing of a fallen star

On fiction and science communication

Photo by Universal Eye on Unsplash

For years, I’ve heard many times about the importance of fiction works of literature as a bridge to introduce heavy topics. While directly jumping into textbooks might be not everybody’s cup of tea, the fiction realm could help it. In Indonesia, the launch of “Kesatria, Putri, dan Bintang Jatuh (KPBJ)” — a novel by Dee Lestari — in 2001 was praised by many media and readers because of its ubiquitous science content that captivated its readers’ attention. But, with the rise of science communication and the public’s demand for openness in science, is KPBJ still relevant?

KPBJ’s main story revolves around the world of Reuben and Dimas who met each other for the first time when they studied in the US. Upon graduating, they flew back to Indonesia. While the two maintained their full-time jobs separately, they agreed to collaborate on a masterpiece of ten years. Both proudly claimed that their work is an integration of literature and branches of science.

Does it sound grandeur? Yes. Is it wrong to be ambitious? No. Hey, dudes, how possible it is to cover all those thick substances in ten years in Indonesia, especially if you’re not supported by a long-term superstitious grant? I’m sorry, but then I remember that Dimas is a trust fund kid.

I didn’t need more than a chapter to make my face grin. On its third page, the author already describes Reuben’s experience of being unconsciously awake. At a glance, his monologue sounds like a terrible dude who has just finished a thick college textbook and tries to recite it after passing an exhausting exam. Obviously, I can’t help to not say that our main characters resemble the image of sapiosexual men who find the pure joy of having a deep conversation while being madly in love.

The story doesn’t stop there. As the story evolves, readers are invited closer to the dynamics of Reuben and Dimas. After they established the plot summary, soon they began working on their characters’ detail. Both of them wanted their characters, which they symbolized as a knight, a princess, and a fallen star, to not have ordinary lives. Unfortunately, as our duo got to understand each other better, their love for using extravagant vocabularies and phrases had not stopped yet.

Interestingly, the characters that they were building intertwined with the journey of three real people. These people, whose identities matched Dimas and Reuben’s imagination, are people who were trapped in a love scandal.

Standing in the intersection between the communities of readers and science communication practitioners has taught me about some recipes for making knowledge accessible. First, find a relevant bridge that could help the general audience catch your key messages effortlessly. Second, there’s nothing wrong with using basic knowledge. Third, getting help from an expert is highly recommended to ensure the content’s quality. In an optimistic way, if KPBJ was written in 2021, the author would look up an expert to help in enhancing the clarity of the grandiose vocabularies that she has used.

Overall, KPBJ is like a fallen star that appears at a perfect time. It might fill half of the people’s glass of curiosity, while the second half would be a ticking bomb when the door to knowledge is opened wider.

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reader, writer.

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Jennie Yuwono

Jennie Yuwono

reader, writer.

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