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dusted off in read-only


Scott, I'd appreciate your take on this posted 18 Oct 2005, 17:10 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

I just recently updated the OF Blog with a post regarding emotional connections readers have with events and how it seems to me, based on reactions I've read elsewhere in addition to my own experiences, that fantasy and sci-fi works [i:z6ql4ypl]in general[/i:z6ql4ypl] do not pack that same 'emotional punch to the junk' that might occur during a 'real-life' event or after reading a 'realistic' novel. Thoughts/counterpoints to any of this? Here's the link, before I forget: ... punch.html view post

posted 24 Oct 2005, 11:10 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I was actually at a science fiction conference hosted by a nearby university's philosophy department. Robert J Sawyer gave the keynote speech, after which, this VERY question came up - though with the somewhat nasty suggestion that what Rob wrote was not literature. The questioner, whom I'm assuming was an English professor, said that the problem with SF being a 'literature of ideas' was that the universality of the ideas involved had a tendency to 'flatten' the characters, to rob them of the particularity that fuels the identification that's the hallmark of 'real literature.' The problem is that interest, involvement, emotional punch are all relative to a reader's tastes and sophistication as a reader. With my own work, probably one of the most common complaints I run into is that none of my characters are 'likable.' I'm pretty sure that the probability of any reader making this complaint is directly proportional to the amount of out and out literary fiction they've been exposed to. The fact of the matter is that a good number of readers viscerally identify with flat characters - they literally prefer what, for other readers, are obvious cartoon versions of what it means to be human. Some move on to embrace particularity. view post

posted 25 Oct 2005, 12:10 by Echoex, Auditor

I disagree with the assertion that none of your characters are 'likeable'. I think Achamian is one of the most likeable characters in Fantasy Literature. I liken him to Paul from Kay's [i:2xfrtapk]Fionavar Tapestry[/i:2xfrtapk]. Tragic, essentially good-natured, and seething with a power he can neither embrace nor completely understand. Of course, I can't predict how he'll turn out in TTT (unless you would care to burden me with the pleasure of an ARC). But I was deeply connected to Achamian. I empathized with his betrayal at the hands of Esmenet and I felt his urgency at the knowledge that Kellhus might be the harbinger. .Ex. view post

posted 25 Oct 2005, 14:10 by Entropic_existence, Moderator

I found Achamian pretty likeable myself, but then again I have an inherent liking for flawed characters. I can see how for regular folks he wouldn't come across as a truly likeable character after all he can be selfish, stubborn, etc, etc. But yea him and Xin...Actually I liked all of the characters, I found something in all of them that I enjoyed. As to the assertion on literature.... personally I really like reading stuff that is a bit more cerebral, like TPoN, but I hate when elitist literary snobs look down on other works as not being literature because it doesn't adhere to their standards of what "proper" literature is. As long as people are reading I think that is the main point. Reading and enjopying what you read. view post

posted 25 Oct 2005, 16:10 by Lucimay, Subdidact

[b:zqabf1as]entropic_existence says:[/b:zqabf1as] [quote:zqabf1as]I found Achamian pretty likeable myself, but then again I have an inherent liking for flawed characters.[/quote:zqabf1as] i'm the same. i found ALL the characters "likable" for that very reason. they are complex characters, not flat or one dimensional. that doesn't mean they are all EMPATHETIC characters. they're not. nor should they be. i read A LOT of fiction. i disagree that sci-fi and fantasy lack "emotional punch". that's a broad, sweeping generalization. Bakker, Erikson, Tolkien, Wolfe, Gibson, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, LeGuin, Gaiman, McCaffery, Farmer, Dick, Lem, Lethem...i could go on an on for a long time. a long long list of writers in the sci-fi fantasy genre who write with a LOT of "emotional punch". lucimay's grand pronouncement on the genre lacking emotional depth. pure bull hockey. hooey. :) view post

posted 25 Oct 2005, 20:10 by Entropic_existence, Moderator

I couldn't agree more :) view post

posted 26 Oct 2005, 13:10 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I with you all, believe me. But some people literally identify with stereotypes. For them, the flaws suffered by Akka and Esmi make them despicable. I always laugh when I encounter comments to this effect, because I can't help but wonder what these people think of [i]themselves[/i], since we're all peevish and self-centred in various ways. view post

posted 27 Oct 2005, 15:10 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

[quote:37tobrs5]I was arguing instead that the genre itself has in general certain limitations as to scope and focus and that these limitations can affect the enjoyment of the characters for those (such as myself) who tend to look for inner completeness of Character. [/quote:37tobrs5] And the primary limitation, if I take your meaning right, has to do with the abstraction from real world contexts. I think this is an appealing argument: it seems plausible that abstraction from real world contexts would have a corresponding effect on character. But I think this is simply an added danger faced by speculative fiction writers, not an inevitabilty. The fact is, places like Earwa are [i:37tobrs5]very real[/i:37tobrs5], despite being fantastic. Personally, I think the problem is primarily institutional. I think the system is rigged to funnel many of those with the ability to represent the complexities and ambiguities of life into 'serious literature.' I'm actually going to post a column I wrote following that question to Rob Sawyer on a different thread... view post

posted 27 Oct 2005, 19:10 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

[quote:53voxvl2]because I sense a great possibility for the merging of complex, 'true' characterizations with the tropes so common to speculative fiction.[/quote:53voxvl2] As far as I'm concerned, pulp genre fiction stands among the last great literary frontiers. Literature is type of communication, which means that it's a type of circuit between author and reader, the culture of composition and the culture of reception. This is why I think much of what passes for 'mainstream literature' isn't actually literary at all, but rather a form of writing that religiously conforms to a very specific set of expectations. A 'holier than thou' genre, in effect. I'd be interested to hear what you think of my little column. view post


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