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View Diary: Sci-Fi Fantasy Club: Which Ugly SF/Fantasy Ducklings became Literary Swans? (140 comments)

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  •  Hitchhiker's Guide (14+ / 0-)

    I'm a little surprised it was on so many lists. I mean, it's one of my top Very Good Books, but usually comedy isn't taken seriously. (heh)

    •  He makes it look easy, but it's crafted like a gem (9+ / 0-)

      I like all his books, but that one benefited especially from its long gestation (through the radio series into a book). He wrote shaggy dog stories, and whittled them down into supernova punchlines.

      Yes, comedy is another literary ghetto. Even though a truly funny book is rarer than a good literary book. I haven't read Hitchhiker's in ages. From what I remember, there are plenty of well-developed characters; very vivid, clear prose - and the plotting is perfect.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 08:26:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "good" characters (Dune, LOTR, Star Wars) (7+ / 0-)

      I'm struggling with the concept of a good character, in part because of the three examples I gave.

      All three have a large set of distinct, iconic characters. So in a sense, they're huge successes. Baron Harkonnen means something. Boba Fett does too. And you can argue if movie Boromir is better than book Boromir. (I'm not touching the Faramir question.)

      On the one hand, I don't generally consider any of those three works to have good characterization. And yet, compared to all the novels whose characters muddle into one another, even books with "better" characterization, they're more meaningful characters to more people.

      •  Iconic characters have their powers, and flexible (5+ / 0-)

        characters, with doubt and development, have other ways of interesting us. Iconic heroes and villains give shape to an epic plot. But similar sharp edges are found in minor characters in novels - for instance, both Austen and Dickens give their heroes and heroines complex inner life, a breath of humanity, while their minor characters are more flat and predictable, working as steady cogs to advance the plot.

        You've got me thinking - I suspect there's more to it than that. Dune, LOTR and Star Wars are surprisingly effective at getting us to care about characters who aren't all convincingly human. Oh, yeah, you just said that.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 10:19:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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