Jun. 26th, 2012

jade_sabre: (harthdarth:  livejournal)
So three things.

1) I went to Barnes and Noble today because I have a $35 gift card to spend and left feeling extremely discouraged, in part because they didn’t have the one book I was looking for (WP has requested Catholicism for Dummies because he is a darling dear) and mostly because there’s such a narrow selection of books available there. I KNOW there are many more (good) books in the world than what’s represented at B&N (why oh why is the Paranormal Romance section so large), but if it’s not a classic, recent release, or bestseller (the latter two of course are absolutely no recommendation of goodness), it’s not there. I’d rather go to a used bookstore because I know there will be a bigger selection and I can pay a more reasonable $1-5 for a paperback instead of $8. But I also know that I have developed an almost crippling case of new-book wariness. I can never find the YA books y’all talk about, and the ones I do see don’t appeal to me, and as far as “adult” fantasy book/series go I’m never sure where to start and whether or not I’m going to get what I actually want from it.

And there’s a lot a lot a lot of hack writers out there, or mediocre writers with pretty good plots who have churned out book upon book because they keep selling (R.A. Salvatore), but it’s been so long that I’ve had lots of time for pleasure reading that I’m not as open to just taking a bazillion books home from the library and blasting through them, maybe loving one or two and not caring about the rest. I’m going to join the library in Savannah as soon as I get some mail to my name and hopefully that will help—I’ve fallen out of the habit of library-going. Anyway the point was that since I’ve had so little time for reading, I’ve wanted to find books that I know I will enjoy, which are beautifully written, and I have no idea where to start looking. I AM AFRAID TO TRUST.

And the longer I go without reading, the longer I go without writing, because the two feed each other.

Help. (Right now I’m in the mood for a bit of the mythic, I think? Unnamed queens and dragon-fighting heroes. Quarkie, I looked for the Riddlemaster books but haven’t found them yet. I also looked for Curse of the Chalion and they didn’t have it either.)

2) I am reading a book now! )

3) This leads me into what was going to be a comment on [livejournal.com profile] beth_shulman’s journal and is getting too long and is probably going to keep being long so, here you go. She was talking about not liking science fiction, and then Quark commented about having no idea where to start in science fiction (like me and all books it seems these days), and so I was like okay look guys I think we need to do some redefining.

REPLYING TO THIS BECAUSE why make my own comment when I can just piggyback off Quark.

So first I think what we have to do is make a difference between "science fiction" and "space opera" because the two are different things. The original Star Trek generally falls into the former while Star Wars is squarely in the latter. I mean yes in recent years books have come out with schematics of SW ships and the like, but my parents have old from-the-seventies books of Trekkies trying to work out the actual science of warp drive. People are Star Wars fans for the Force, the story, the epic battles; people are Star Trek fans for the technology and the struggle with big questions and ideas and the limits of humanity.

(also I am having SO MANY IDEAS brb jotting things down)
(oh boy settle in for the long run. This sucker is almost ten whole pages in Word, FYI.)

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that I have been meaning, for years, to do a more academic exploration of this, beginning with just reading everything in terms of the development of sci-fi. I own a few mid-60s copies of a couple of the Science Fiction & Fantasy-type magazines (I bought one that has the last installment of Dragonrider by Anne McCaffery--until then I had no idea that the book made its debut in serialized form) and I've read several short stories, but I'm woefully lacking on Asimov and Anthony and Clarke and pre-sex-with-myself Heinlein and the like. For years I considered myself a sci-fi fan just because I've read over 100 Star Wars books.

(Halfway through this is occurred to me that [livejournal.com profile] sartorias could show up at any time and blow this whole thing to bits with things like “actual knowledge” and “having read all these things”—LET ME KNOW IF I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK.)

Suggested accompanying music.

Also I don't even remember what the OP was about. I'm just going to go with it now.

So, really, we have two different things going here--"science fiction" and what I'm going to call "space opera." I think most of what people end up reading falls more into the latter than the former.

onto the definitions!
jade_sabre: (harthdarth:  good on the inside)
On Science Fiction
double feature )


On the Space Opera
no, I am not talking about the opening music for the original Star Trek series )

For me, at least, space operas captured the imagination of my childhood (every time I watch Star Wars I’m secretly convinced that I too could go explore the galaxy), while science fiction appealed to me more as I got older and understood the ideas it wrestled with.

On the limitations of the phrase “space opera”
This is more a sub-topic, but operas (i.e. grand epic-fantasy-scale stories) aren’t the only kind of not-strict-science-fiction-space stories that get told, so I would just like to say that there are also space mysteries (like The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn, whom I love) and (and this is WP’s favorite kind) space military fiction, among other examples. The latter is a huge sub-genre that I’ll address in a minute.


onto the problems!

BACK TO THE BEGINNING
jade_sabre: (harthdarth:  eating)
On why people like Beth and Quark might not like science fiction
spelling it out for completion’s sake )

And I am definitely not trying to say science fiction is superior to space opera—they’re simply two different ways of addressing the concept of HUMANS IN SPACE OR ON OTHER PLANETS OR WITH MASSIVE TECHNOLOGICAL ABILITIES AAAAAAAAH THE FUTURE IS SO COOL. Science fiction has serious drawbacks, as previously mentioned, but its focus also allows for a cleanliness in its approach—and perhaps it simply is best suited for short fiction.

On why people like Quark and Beth might not like space opera
(Note: I’m going to start using the phrase “sci-fi” to refer to “stuff that is marketed as science fiction but really is space opera.” Feel free to create a link between this and "SyFy" as a further indication of the denigration of science fiction in its true form as a genre.)

obviously the answer is ‘$7.99 for a three-hundred-page paperback’ )

one other problem that I forgot to fit in earlier but which needs to be said

back to the definitions!

BACK TO THE BEGINNING
jade_sabre: (sw:  scruffy-looking)
And because this wouldn’t be something written by me if I didn’t mention gender
Let’s be honest, people: sci-fi/space opera is a genre traditionally dominated by men.

in which conversations with WP have greatly contributed to this topic )

onto the conclusion!

back to the other problems!

back to the definitions!

BACK TO THE BEGINNING
jade_sabre: (wall-e:  content)
So, just to remind everybody, this got started because Beth and Quark were both like I JUST DON’T LIKE SCI-FI AND I DON’T KNOW WHY, and so I decided to start theorizing as to why, because part of me loves sci-fi, but I’m also with them—I haven’t encountered much (outside of the Star Wars books, and many of those are not as readable when you’re 24 as they were when you were 10) that I actually enjoy.

So, uh, what conclusions have I reached again?
cutting the conclusion because otherwise you’ll just read this and not the rest of the post also it occurs to me now maybe I should have done a series of posts they’d be shorter )

So, hopefully maybe, this kind of explains what I see as reasons for why Beth and Quark struggle with science fiction.

Things I Have Not Covered )


All right, this is now officially open for discussion. Where have I gone right? Where have I gone wrong? What am I missing? Suggestions for continued reading on my part? Authors who might fit into a category of MWT-esque writing within sci-fi and thus appeal to Beth and Quark? If I were to begin a self-guided reading tour of classic science fiction, where should I start? Who’re the big authors of the 1970s? 1980s? GUIDE ME.

Feel free to link to this too--I simply ask that, having admitted my ignorance up front, people not attack me for it. I WOULD LOVE TO LEARN.


In other news, life is going well, getting married in twelve days, need to find a way home between now and then, family drama has lessened if not gone away completely, did an Engaged Encounter weekend last weekend that was SO AWESOME and am now like 99% ready to be married (remaining 1% is BAAAAAAAAAAAW FAMILY, like Goose pulling a “noooooo older sister don’t get married and leaaaaaaave meeeeeeeeeee”). And I have officially probably spent way too long on this, so, time to hit post!





back to gender!

back to the other problems!

back to the definitions!

BACK TO THE BEGINNING

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