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David Langford on the Decline of Plot (1995)

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  • miketooney49
    You might imagine that this Golden Age passed because writers ran out of permutations and perversions of the old plot devices like locked rooms, fiddled
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25, 2013
      "You might imagine that this Golden Age passed because writers
      ran out of permutations and perversions of the old plot devices
      like locked rooms, fiddled clocks seen in mirrors, mistaken
      identities, recordings of typewriters, cryptic dying messages,
      forged fingerprints, infernal machines and hints of the super-
      natural (which, said the conventions, may be introduced only to
      be rationally explained away). But far more formalized puzzles
      are still popular: chess problems, crosswords, and those
      incredibly boring and repetitive 'logic problems'. The puzzle-plot
      could almost be said to have survived without the traditional
      detective novel of which it was a part.

      "What seemed to happen was that conscious flamboyance of
      plot seemed to slip out of fashion. Somebody has probably
      written a frighteningly intelligent thesis about the effects of
      post-war austerity on realism in detective stories, leading to
      the argument, maybe not overtly expressed but lurking there
      somewhere all the same --

      ~ Everyday life is practically devoid of plot.
      ~ Good books ought to reflect everyday life.
      ~ So books with intricate plotting, elaborately prepared fireworks
      in the final chapters, and other flashy evidences of the author's
      manipulating hand, are pretty damned unrespectable."
      - David Langford, "On Anthony Boucher"
      - http://www.ansible.co.uk/writing/boucher.html
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