For April 2006


March 12th, 2006 

Old School SF versus New School

 I've been having a bit of trouble, lately, enjoying creating Pastel Defender Heliotrope, yet I am just having a ball doing To Save Her.

Stephen and I got into a discussion of this, and to get to the point, we decided it is because the two stories follow very different styles of science fiction; Pastel is old Golden Age SF, where the idea is supreme, and the characters are there to help show off the idea.....and To Save Her (To Savor, as I think of it!!) follows the more modern fashion in science fiction, where it has become more like conventional storytelling - the characters are always the focus, and the  ideas become a backdrop that the characters just happen to live in.

Now this may seem the obvious and ordinary way to write any fiction, but you must understand that for science fiction, it was not always so, and I grew up on the old, Golden Age stuff from the 40's and 50's, devouring the contents of libraries whole in my youth. Really old science fiction was not so interested in the characters - the point of it was to amaze and astound the intellect with outrageous and incredible ideas of cosmic scope...the characters were little more than cardboard expositors, simple archetypes, whose role was merely to introduce the reader to these cosmic notions. This was fine, in its day, and it is fine in its own way, because the ideas were truly cosmic, and so this kind of literature is focused on intellectual gratification.

But the style I am using for To Save Her is very character driven, and this makes it far more compelling, because, lets face it, human beings are very narcissistic creatures, they are fascinated above all else by other humans, or human like beings, and it almost doesn't even matter what these people are doing...for humans, seeing other humans is like jingling car keys in front of a baby; the baby doesn't know or care what a car or a key is, but gosh it loves the shiny chiming. This is why so many truly awful television shows, books, and stories can succeed as well as they do - they are very character driven, and as long as there is plenty of sound and fury, it matters not if it signifies anything at all.

Oldschool science fiction did not have time for people. There were plenty of stories about people... old SF was...idea porn. That is a very apt metaphor; idea porn. Story and character was dispensed with to get to the...good parts....which in old SF were cosmic events, weird technologies, and fantastic principles of physics gone wild.

I suppose Pastel is a little more a bit of idea porn, and To Save Her is a relationship story. Pastel is a dick-flick, and To Save Her is a chick-flick, to use the rude vernacular of the kids these days.

And...I guess I am more facinated by the jangling keys of the relationships in To Save Her, than I am in the cosmic idea pornography of Pastel Defender Heliotrope right now.

But that's OK...both will get done, and I am sure I will get hot for Pastel again, when the big stuff starts up.



By Jennifer Diane Reitz

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