Saturday, February 22, 2014
When I wore a younger man's clothes (I do so love that imagery, thanks Billy Joel), I read the Hobbit. Then I read The Lord of the Rings, or as it was simply known to nerds like me, "The Trilogy." A few year later I read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and it's five follow-on books. Also Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy which then became a series, etc.
I have a few questions. Especially since I started listening to George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Ice and Fire on Audiobooks. I cannot sit still long enough to read a book that big and audio seems a good solution. Besides, I can read while I drive or run.
Why do libraries segregate Science Fiction/Fantasy from the rest of the books? Unless the fantasist is Stephen King. And a few others. I asked that of a librarian once and she gave me what I would consider an insult-cum-shoulder shrug: "So people like you can find it easier." People like me? You mean unlike people like you who read Jacqueline Susann and Gore Vidal? Or James Michener's interminally convoluted tales of families over many generations? And to be fair, Mystery is segregated, as is Westerns. Why? Is it really so lovers of those genres can find them more easily? But then why not a section for smutty romance novels or boring pseudo-histories?
Then there is this question: Why are Science Fiction and Fantasy lumped together? I saw a definition of the differences between the two: In Science Fiction, the improbable is made to seem possible, and in Fantasy the impossible is made to seem probable. Near light speed travel necessary for meeting alien species whether here or out there, no matter how improbable, seems like a real thing in Science Fiction. While dragons, zombies, werewolves, and vampires, no matter how impossible at least here on Earth seem like they should exist. And admittedly sometimes the line gets blurred, especially in science fiction becoming more like fantasy.
Still why always lump them. It makes it hard for "people like me" to find Science Fiction among all the Fantasy titles when I do a search.
Earlier, I mentioned the books that were Series. What is up with Fantasy and Science Fiction stretching their stories into multi-book series? And not just little books but each volume an epic in itself?
A Song of Ice and Fire is up to five (or is it six?) books by now. Harry Potter went to seven (or was it six?). Lord of the Rings was three but son Christopher Tolkien just could not resist pumping up and out Daddy's notes and now we have no idea how many books there are. And Peter Jackson just could not resist the urge to stretch The Hobbit into three films, but the r€a$on th€r€ i$ pr€tt¥ obviou$.
Hitchhiker went to six volumes, plus others in that universe.
Tom Clancy put Jack Ryan in a number of books but made only one story arc over several books in a series. I have read no more Clancy after A Debt of Honor/Executive Decisions/The Bear and the Dragon.
But why can't these writers put their best work into one 650 page novel (they used to be about 300 pages) and tell an excellent story? So far Dan Brown has done that ... ok ,maybe not so excellent, but his best work anyway, without serializing the adventures of Robert Langdon. But mostly now, five 1200 page volumes aren't enough. And since our attention spans are supposedly really really short ... SQUIRREL! ...
Maybe I should just switch over to Westerns.