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RE: [SciFiNoir Lit] When the Devil Crept up in the Church--or Sci Fi moves to the Burbs

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  • Nora
    ... Who is Nora Desmond? ... I just can t agree with that, Chris. When I compare sci fi today against the sci fi of, say, 30 years ago, I see many changes,
    Message 1 of 20 , May 8, 2006
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      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
      > And I can understand how frustrating it must be to see
      > > something you love lose the characteristics that made you love
      > it. But it
      > > seems to me that the core of your argument (here and elsewhere) is
      > that SF
      > > has changed and you don't like it.
      > <<To paraphrase Nora Desmond--Sci Fi is still big. It's the fans
      > and writers that have gotten small>>

      Who is Nora Desmond?

      > Some characteristics of the genre are no
      > > longer predominant. Those things aren't gone, IMO; they're just
      > harder to
      > > pinpoint amid the greater breadth/increased complexity that the
      > genre now
      > > has. I think this growth/complexity is a good thing, because it
      > allows room
      > > for both the absurd *and* the serious, and everything in between.
      > But I get
      > > the impression you don't like it at all.
      > >
      > > So could the problem be not that science fiction has gone wrong,
      > but that it
      > > has evolved, and you're unwilling/unable to adapt to it?
      > <<See above. If sci fi has changed it has devolved, but I don't
      > think that is it. I think it has stayed the same. I think it has
      > gotten safe. I think lots of scared little people afraid of change
      > are strangling it>>

      I just can't agree with that, Chris. When I compare sci fi today against
      the sci fi of, say, 30 years ago, I see many changes, and most of them are
      for the better. But you and I have had this argument before.

      Nora
    • Chris Hayden
      ... elsewhere) is ... fans ...
      Message 2 of 20 , May 9, 2006
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        --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Nora" <njem@...> wrote:
        >
        > > -----Original Message-----
        > > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
        > > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
        > > And I can understand how frustrating it must be to see
        > > > something you love lose the characteristics that made you love
        > > it. But it
        > > > seems to me that the core of your argument (here and
        elsewhere) is
        > > that SF
        > > > has changed and you don't like it.
        > > <<To paraphrase Nora Desmond--Sci Fi is still big. It's the
        fans
        > > and writers that have gotten small>>
        >
        > Who is Nora Desmond?
        >
        <<That woman in "Sunset Boulevard" played by Gloria Swanson who was
        the big silent movie star and was still living in the 20's who
        shoots William Holden>>

        http://www.filmsite.org/suns.html

        It's a great movie. Check it out sometime
      • Chris Hayden
        ... against ... them are ... But you and I have had this argument before. ...
        Message 3 of 20 , May 10, 2006
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          --- >>
          >
          > I just can't agree with that, Chris. When I compare sci fi today
          against
          > the sci fi of, say, 30 years ago, I see many changes, and most of
          them are
          > for the better.


          <<Name some of them>>

          But you and I have had this argument before.
          >
          > Nora
          >
          <<Right today you can go in the bookstore and find Star Trek novels--
          not novelizations, but new novels that are written using the same
          characters Roddenberry created in 1965 doing the same things they
          did then. There are Dune books using the same Herbert trophes.
          There are Star Wars novelizations with the characters from the 70's.
        • Nora
          ... Dig up my old emails in the archives. I ve done this with you too many times to keep repeating myself. ... Your point being? Nora
          Message 4 of 20 , May 10, 2006
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            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
            > >
            > > I just can't agree with that, Chris. When I compare sci fi today
            > against
            > > the sci fi of, say, 30 years ago, I see many changes, and most of
            > them are
            > > for the better.
            > <<Name some of them>>

            Dig up my old emails in the archives. I've done this with you too many
            times to keep repeating myself.

            > But you and I have had this argument before.
            > <<Right today you can go in the bookstore and find Star Trek novels--
            > not novelizations, but new novels that are written using the same
            > characters Roddenberry created in 1965 doing the same things they
            > did then. There are Dune books using the same Herbert trophes.
            > There are Star Wars novelizations with the characters from the 70's.

            Your point being?

            Nora
          • Chris Hayden
            ... today ... of ... many ... novels-- ... same ... they ... 70 s. ...
            Message 5 of 20 , May 10, 2006
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              --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Nora" <njem@...> wrote:
              >
              > > -----Original Message-----
              > > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
              > > >
              > > > I just can't agree with that, Chris. When I compare sci fi
              today
              > > against
              > > > the sci fi of, say, 30 years ago, I see many changes, and most
              of
              > > them are
              > > > for the better.
              > > <<Name some of them>>
              >
              > Dig up my old emails in the archives. I've done this with you too
              many
              > times to keep repeating myself.
              >
              > > But you and I have had this argument before.
              > > <<Right today you can go in the bookstore and find Star Trek
              novels--
              > > not novelizations, but new novels that are written using the
              same
              > > characters Roddenberry created in 1965 doing the same things
              they
              > > did then. There are Dune books using the same Herbert trophes.
              > > There are Star Wars novelizations with the characters from the
              70's.
              >
              > Your point being?
              >
              > Nora
              >
              <<You are incorrect when you say that it has changed. Mr. Spock is
              still doing that Vulcan mind meld or whatever and Scotty is still
              hollering for more Powwwerrrr and Darth Vader is still after the
              rebels and on on and on 'til the break of dawn
            • Nora
              ... Oh, good grief, Chris. Media tie-ins take up maybe one out of the four or five shelves that most bookstores devote to speculative fiction; they re clearly
              Message 6 of 20 , May 10, 2006
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                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
                > > > <<Right today you can go in the bookstore and find Star Trek
                > novels--
                > > > not novelizations, but new novels that are written using the
                > same
                > > > characters Roddenberry created in 1965 doing the same things
                > they
                > > > did then. There are Dune books using the same Herbert trophes.
                > > > There are Star Wars novelizations with the characters from the
                > 70's.
                > > Your point being?
                > <<You are incorrect when you say that it has changed. Mr. Spock is
                > still doing that Vulcan mind meld or whatever and Scotty is still
                > hollering for more Powwwerrrr and Darth Vader is still after the
                > rebels and on on and on 'til the break of dawn

                Oh, good grief, Chris. Media tie-ins take up maybe one out of the four or
                five shelves that most bookstores devote to speculative fiction; they're
                clearly not the be-all and end-all of the genre. Most of that crap doesn't
                even scrape the bottom of the bestseller lists, or if it does it never stays
                long. They're still publishing it because there are a lot of geriatrics in
                the fandom who miss the good old days, and that means there's money to be
                made. But when the Hugos and the Nebulas are given out, that's not what
                gets the awards. The authors who write those works aren't the ones getting
                interviews in magazines and invitations to be guest of honor at conventions.
                It's not what people are talking about on blogs and newsgroups -- most of
                the people in my corner of blogdom are talking about Geoff Ryman's AIR right
                now, because it just won some big award and is apparently really good. It's
                on my list to check out later.

                Anyway -- they're still publishing nursery rhymes and fairy tales in
                children's fiction these days. Does that mean kidlit is still the same as
                it was back in the "Dick and Jane" days?

                Nora
              • Chris Hayden
                ... four or ...
                Message 7 of 20 , May 10, 2006
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                  --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Nora" <njem@...> wrote:
                  > 'til the break of dawn
                  >
                  > Oh, good grief, Chris. Media tie-ins take up maybe one out of the
                  four or
                  > five shelves that most bookstores devote to speculative fiction;

                  <<How many of the hundreds of speculative fiction authors in the
                  game, have their own shelf? One fourth of the space is devoted to
                  the creation of Gene Roddenberry (who was not a science fiction
                  writer, by the way--how many of the shows did he even write?

                  In the parable of the sower in the Bible, Jesus said he would settle
                  for 25 percent.


                  they're
                  > clearly not the be-all and end-all of the genre. Most of that
                  crap doesn't
                  > even scrape the bottom of the bestseller lists, or if it does it
                  never stays
                  > long.

                  <<That crap gets on the Publishers weekly bestseller lists--how many
                  other hot spec fic authors can bost that?>>

                  They're still publishing it because there are a lot of geriatrics in
                  > the fandom who miss the good old days, and that means there's
                  money to be
                  > made.

                  <<That are still publishing it because thars gold in them thar hills
                  and people are buying it like hotcakes--relative to your other sci
                  fi.>>

                  But when the Hugos and the Nebulas are given out, that's not what
                  > gets the awards. The authors who write those works aren't the
                  ones getting
                  > interviews in magazines and invitations to be guest of honor at
                  conventions.

                  <<http://www.well.com/~sjroby/lcars/tosindex.html

                  You always want me to do all the work. Go through just this one
                  list and see how many of your Nebula and Hugo winners have done at
                  least one Star Trek book. Ask yourself if you wouldn't do one with
                  some guarenteed advance and sales and recognition>>

                  > It's not what people are talking about on blogs and newsgroups --
                  most of
                  > the people in my corner of blogdom are talking about Geoff Ryman's
                  AIR right
                  > now, because it just won some big award and is apparently really
                  good. It's
                  > on my list to check out later.

                  <<I guess he'll be the next one to do one of them--or a Star Wars
                  novel.

                  Star Trek is Spec Fiction's dirty little secret. China Melville
                  might be the flavor du jour but Gene Roddenberry is paying the
                  bills>>
                  >
                  > Anyway -- they're still publishing nursery rhymes and fairy tales
                  in
                  > children's fiction these days. Does that mean kidlit is still the
                  same as
                  > it was back in the "Dick and Jane" days?
                  >
                  > Nora

                  <<Yes it is. You are still writing using limited vocabulary. You
                  are still writing a very short book (1500 words, 32 pages. Every
                  other page is a big picture.

                  The characters are still mostly white.

                  And so it goes.>>
                  >
                • Nora
                  ... No, 1/4 of the space is usually devoted to media tie-ins in general. That includes everything from Star Trek to Dragonlance novels, books based on video
                  Message 8 of 20 , May 10, 2006
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                    > -----Original Message-----
                    > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
                    > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
                    > Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 4:18 PM
                    > > Oh, good grief, Chris. Media tie-ins take up maybe one out of the
                    > four or
                    > > five shelves that most bookstores devote to speculative fiction;
                    > <<How many of the hundreds of speculative fiction authors in the
                    > game, have their own shelf? One fourth of the space is devoted to
                    > the creation of Gene Roddenberry (who was not a science fiction
                    > writer, by the way--how many of the shows did he even write?

                    No, 1/4 of the space is usually devoted to media tie-ins in general. That
                    includes everything from Star Trek to Dragonlance novels, books based on
                    video games, Buffy books, comic book novelizations, movie novelizations, and
                    so forth. Star Trek is a tiny part of that mass. And it's not devoted to
                    Gene Roddenberry's stuff, it's devoted to *Paramount's* stuff, because
                    they're the ones trying to eke every penny out of Gene's creation by
                    peddling Trekcrack to the Trekcrackheads.

                    > they're
                    > > clearly not the be-all and end-all of the genre. Most of that
                    > crap doesn't
                    > > even scrape the bottom of the bestseller lists, or if it does it
                    > never stays
                    > > long.
                    > <<That crap gets on the Publishers weekly bestseller lists--how many
                    > other hot spec fic authors can bost that?>>

                    Quite a few, actually. I usually see a couple on every top-five list. Just
                    checked: Kelly Armstrong's BROKEN is #3 in paperbacks right now. But the
                    Publishers Weekly lists aren't a good measure of what the genre itself wants
                    to see. A better measure of what's selling in the genre, since we're
                    talking about what the genre fandom likes and dislikes, would be the Locus
                    bestseller lists: http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Monitor/Bestsellers0509.html
                    .

                    > They're still publishing it because there are a lot of geriatrics in
                    > > the fandom who miss the good old days, and that means there's
                    > money to be
                    > > made.
                    > <<That are still publishing it because thars gold in them thar hills
                    > and people are buying it like hotcakes--relative to your other sci
                    > fi.>>

                    Oh, I don't dispute that it's selling. But I think the reason those books
                    are shoved off in the media tie-ins ghetto is because they're not selling to
                    the bulk of SF fandom -- they're selling to people who like watching certain
                    shows on TV and want to take a small chunk of TV with them on the train to
                    work. (I wonder how the ability to download TV shows via iTunes will affect
                    this in the future?) The regular SF fans don't usually want to see it;
                    therefore it's separated from the main mass of the SF books in most stores.


                    Media tie-ins are the "Sweet Valley High" novels of the SF genre. SVH
                    doesn't represent young adult fiction any better than Star Trek novels
                    represent sci-fi. This stuff is barely even fiction; it's a mass-market
                    consumer product put together by committee, even if the work of writing is
                    commissioned to some author or another. Even fanfiction is more creative;
                    hell, at least the fangirls let Spock get laid.

                    > But when the Hugos and the Nebulas are given out, that's not what
                    > > gets the awards. The authors who write those works aren't the
                    > ones getting
                    > > interviews in magazines and invitations to be guest of honor at
                    > conventions.
                    > <<http://www.well.com/~sjroby/lcars/tosindex.html
                    > You always want me to do all the work. Go through just this one
                    > list and see how many of your Nebula and Hugo winners have done at
                    > least one Star Trek book. Ask yourself if you wouldn't do one with
                    > some guarenteed advance and sales and recognition>>

                    Hey, I've got to pay the bills too; hell yes I'd do one if they asked me. I
                    need a new car and a condo. =) However, I doubt it would do much good for
                    my career in the long run unless I devoted equal time to writing my *own*
                    novels as well. Otherwise I'd be just another ghostwriter, with no fame of
                    my own.

                    > > It's not what people are talking about on blogs and newsgroups --
                    > most of
                    > > the people in my corner of blogdom are talking about Geoff Ryman's
                    > AIR right
                    > > now, because it just won some big award and is apparently really
                    > good. It's
                    > > on my list to check out later.
                    > <<I guess he'll be the next one to do one of them--or a Star Wars
                    > novel.
                    > Star Trek is Spec Fiction's dirty little secret. China Melville
                    > might be the flavor du jour but Gene Roddenberry is paying the
                    > bills>>

                    Then why'd his shit get cancelled last year? =P

                    > > Anyway -- they're still publishing nursery rhymes and fairy tales
                    > in
                    > > children's fiction these days. Does that mean kidlit is still the
                    > same as
                    > > it was back in the "Dick and Jane" days?
                    > <<Yes it is. You are still writing using limited vocabulary. You
                    > are still writing a very short book (1500 words, 32 pages. Every
                    > other page is a big picture.

                    Two words: Harry Potter.

                    Nora
                  • Chris Hayden
                    ...
                    Message 9 of 20 , May 11, 2006
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                      >
                      > Two words: Harry Potter.
                      >
                      > Nora
                      <<They change the words and dress em up

                      I'll give ya a few more

                      Lord of the Rings (Tolkien's trilogy was even as long as one of the
                      Potters--showed there was a market for real big fat fantasy books
                      (Gone With the Wind had already done it for romance years ago)


                      King Arthur
                      Mary Poppins
                      Peter Pan
                      Brothers Grimm
                      Hans Christian Andersen

                      >
                    • Chris Hayden
                      Message 10 of 20 , May 11, 2006
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                        <<From a pro--Robert J. Sawyer ("Dean of Canadian Sci Fi")

                        "The Future is Already Here: Is There a place for Science Fiction in
                        the 21st Century"

                        http://www.sfwriter.com/lecture1.htm


                        And, I firmly believe, SF as a whole is now in danger of being
                        perceived as just as quaint, just as dated, just as irrelevant, as the
                        current Star Trek is.
                      • Nora
                        ... Not kidlit. ... Not kidlit. ... Was this even a book? My bad if so, but I just remember it being a really boring movie. ... Finally, kidlit! But I don t
                        Message 11 of 20 , May 11, 2006
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                          >>
                          >> Two words: Harry Potter.
                          >>
                          >> Nora
                          > <<They change the words and dress em up
                          > I'll give ya a few more
                          > Lord of the Rings (Tolkien's trilogy was even as long as one of the
                          > Potters--showed there was a market for real big fat fantasy books
                          > (Gone With the Wind had already done it for romance years ago)

                          Not kidlit.

                          > King Arthur

                          Not kidlit.

                          > Mary Poppins

                          Was this even a book? My bad if so, but I just remember it being a really
                          boring movie.

                          > Peter Pan

                          Finally, kidlit! But I don't remember Peter ever asking Wendy out on a
                          date, killing people, or fighting prejudice, as has happened in the HPs.

                          > Brothers Grimm
                          > Hans Christian Andersen

                          OK, now we're getting somewhere -- these have just about the same amount of
                          dark content as the HPs. However, they don't have complete, well-rounded
                          characters. Both tended to tell their stories in the distant/omniscient
                          style, and both used their stories more as fables/parables meant to preach a
                          particular moral rather than follow a character through the events of
                          his/her life. In this case, the evolution has more to do with the evolution
                          of literature itself, because these kinds of preachy,
                          the-characters-exist-solely-to-represent-my-sermon kinds of works went out
                          with crank-up cars and flapper wear.

                          Nora
                        • Chris Hayden
                          ... the ... ... stories if not when you were a kid? ... really
                          Message 12 of 20 , May 13, 2006
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                            --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, Nora <njem@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > >>
                            > >> Two words: Harry Potter.
                            > >>
                            > >> Nora
                            > > <<They change the words and dress em up
                            > > I'll give ya a few more
                            > > Lord of the Rings (Tolkien's trilogy was even as long as one of
                            the
                            > > Potters--showed there was a market for real big fat fantasy books
                            > > (Gone With the Wind had already done it for romance years ago)
                            >
                            > Not kidlit.

                            <<Tolkien not kidlit. Should they be selling it with a brown rapper
                            then? Surely you jest.>>
                            >
                            > > King Arthur
                            >
                            > Not kidlit. <Again you jest. When did you read King Arthur
                            stories if not when you were a kid?>>
                            >
                            > > Mary Poppins
                            >
                            > Was this even a book? My bad if so, but I just remember it being a
                            really
                            > boring movie.

                            <<It was a book. I read it when I was a kid and was stunned when it
                            became a boring kids movie with several hit songs that you are
                            probably humming right now>>
                            >
                            > > Peter Pan
                            >
                            > Finally, kidlit! But I don't remember Peter ever asking Wendy out
                            on a
                            > date, killing people, or fighting prejudice, as has happened in the
                            HPs.

                            <<You don't remember the sinister crocidile chasing the captain
                            trying to eat him up? The swords and knives? I bet JK Rowling did--
                            >
                            > > Brothers Grimm
                            > > Hans Christian Andersen
                            >
                            > OK, now we're getting somewhere -- these have just about the same
                            amount of
                            > dark content as the HPs. However, they don't have complete, well-
                            rounded
                            > characters.

                            <<Oh. And the Potter people are. I missed those long, stream of
                            consicousness passages where Harry wrestles with embarassment over
                            his sexuality and where the students at Hogwarts deal with addiction
                            to Ritalin, child abuse and molestation, sexual orientation dyslexia,
                            murder and premature death by disease and accident.>>

                            Both tended to tell their stories in the distant/omniscient
                            > style, and both used their stories more as fables/parables meant to
                            preach a
                            > particular moral rather than follow a character through the events
                            of
                            > his/her life. In this case, the evolution has more to do with the
                            evolution
                            > of literature itself, because these kinds of preachy,
                            > the-characters-exist-solely-to-represent-my-sermon kinds of works
                            went out
                            > with crank-up cars and flapper wear.
                            >
                            > Nora

                            <<If it wasn't for those works, Potter never would have been written>>
                            >
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