Late last year, when I was in the early stages of my scifi novel tear, I had a discussion with Robert Cooper regarding genre fiction. I told him that, given the choice, I’d choose a science fiction novel over a fantasy novel 9 out of 10 times. Scifi literature, I felt, was more intelligent, more thought-provoking, while the magical realms of the fantasy genre tended to appeal more to female romantics and adolescent male D&D fanatics. And then, I read Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamorra. And Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged. And George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and a Storm of Swords. And, suddenly, I was revising my opinion, not only of the fantasy genre, but scifi literature as well because, along the way, I had also read my fair share of some pretty bad science fiction. Highly-recommended, thought-provoking, unarguably intelligent, and in some cases classic science fiction – but pretty bad all the same. Last week, Robert was in my office, scanning my shelves for a good book, and we picked up the fantasy vs. scifi debate. Rob’s point was a good one. In many cases, science fiction authors are more interested in the cool idea at the core of their story, sacrificing character in favor of high-tech conjecture, crafting intellectually engaging but ultimately unsatisfying reads – soulless masterpieces. I argued that there are exceptions to the rule. John Scalzi, Iain M. Banks, and Octavia E. Butler come to mind as writers of science fiction who are accomplished story-tellers, skilled at producing both compelling characters and intriguing ideas. Still, I’ve been surprised by the quality of a lot of the celebrated scifi I’ve read over the past few months and have to wonder why, in many cases, clever concepts and engaging characters seem to be mutually exclusive.
I bring up the topic today because I just finished a novel that came highly recommended. It was a fun time-travel premise undone by a bland protagonist and painfully underwritten supporting characters. When fantasy is bad (and I have read bad fantasy) it can be downright laughable. But, at the end of the day and given the choice, I think I’d rather laugh than shed tears of boredom.
Well, with that craptacular read out of the way, I’m making my way through two books – a collection of short stories by the underappreciated Lester del Rey, and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – after which I’ll dive right into Martin’s A Feast for Crows in anticipation of the Fall (?) release of A Dance of Dragons. That should give me plenty of time to finish Hogfather and Excession in time for our end of September discussion.
Today’s pics: some Interior for Exterior sets compliments of our art and construction departments.
Today’s video: Click on the date for a hair-raising account of A.D. Alex Pappas’s brush with disaster.
Today’s Q&A –
Winged Pegasus writes: “In one of the s4 promo vids, there was a hug between Sheppard and Teyla. Can you tell us which episode this is from?”
Answer: No because I honestly can’t remember.
Vvv0472 writes: “1) Seeing as you grew up in Montréal, how did you get your bearings as a professional writer? As in which programs did you take in Cégep/University and where?
2) C’est quoi votre place préféré dans la belle province?”
Answers: 1) I took some creative writing courses at John Abbott and McGill but, in retrospect, the few hours I spent reading a couple of books on screenwriting did more for my career as a scriptwriter. 2) Au Pied de Cochon.
Stargate Groupie writes: “I was just wondering if we would ever seen the return of Harry Maybourne?:
Answer: It’s possible.
Susan the Turtle writes: “ Is there any way that you can put captions on the individual photos or is that a bit too technical?”
Answer: Are you kidding? I was barely able to figure out how to upload them.
Anne writes: “Is it possible to attend to a day (half-day, hours …) of filming Stargate Atlantis episode ?”
Answer: Alas, no. If we started making exceptions, our sets would be overflowing with visitors.
Kdvb1 writes: “ Hey!!! What’s up with the snarky “seriously” comment… designed to make my comment look dumb???”
Answer: That wasn’t “Seriously?” as in “How can you ask such a question?” but “Seriously?” as in “Honestly and bullshit free?”.
Chloe writes: “What book are you holding in the first pic?”
Answer: A Storm of Swords.
Jill writes: “Thanks again for your kind words.”
Answer: You’re welcome. And hope the clean-up goes quickly.
Ruffles writes: “ Since the shoot of Harmony seems to have been in heavily forested surroundings, did you mean to say that Outcast would NOT take you there?”
Answer: Oops. Yes, that’s what I meant.
Gilder writes: “…your love of dogs and the many happy dog families I saw in Vancouver have encouraged me to explore volunteering at our neighborhood shelter.”
Answer: That’s nice to hear, Gilder. Hope your allergies don’t kick in too much.
Dustin writes: “ive heard rumers that atlantis will be airing a week before anywere else on scifi is this true?”
Answer: Sorry, I don’t understand the question. Atlantis will be premiering on SciFi Friday, September 28th.