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Ponders I have been Pondering about SciFi/Fantasy

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.

My questions:

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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have read all the Tolkein books, they were fun....

    In case you hadn't noticed the libraries to separate the different genres of books into separate sections of the library for that very reason to be able to go right to that section. AND they do have ROMANCE sections! LOLOLOL

    I like murder mysteries the best myself. Vince Flynn was my very favorite author of this type of novel. All his books can be read separately, but they do tell a story collectively, so they are tied together as they will pick up or reference something from a previous novel. Sadly he has died and now we will never know what happens to Mitch Rapp the lead character in his novels.

    They are a very good read, and you would enjoy them!

    1457 days ago
    I've read the J R R Tolkien books in high school and pick up a Clancy book when I see it but haven't been in the library for years. DH is reading the Dal Follette series but I just haven't gotten into them yet. Have a good read for me.
    1457 days ago
    I read anything I find interesting, but mostly I read e-books lately, after I lost most of my physical library.
    1457 days ago
    I'm with you - if they are going to seperate them then they should seperate Sci-Fi from Fantasy too. And I find that I enjoy listening to my books better than reading them now. I don't have enough time to sit and read but I can listen and walk or bike and listen or clean and listen. You get the idea.
    1457 days ago
  • STR458
    emoticon emoticon what you said $ etc. emoticon
    1458 days ago
    I love fantasy scifi - CS Lewis, Lord of the Rings - I read those books as a kid. So funny because as I get older it is harder to sit and read those longer books. I blame my poor eyesight - and being vain and not getting bifocals. ;)
    1458 days ago
    Tolkien wrote the Hobbit for his kids, never intending that it would be published. Once a publisher discovered it and convinced him to publish, the discovered that it appealed to an older audience. When asked for a sequel, he assembled The Lord of the Rings from what he had already written, and the books were published in quick succession, far faster than had he written them for the purpose of publishing. It was sort of the same way with J.K. Rowling. She published one book never anticipating the clamor for sequels. If that's what a paying public wants, that's what you give them. Or in Tolkein's case, that's what your estate gives them, from papers dug out of your desk after death. (The Silmarillion)

    As far as books being too long, that's what publishers demand. When I read some books, I can almost pick out the sections that publishers demand be inserted, like sex scenes and extra violence. The publisher stands between the author and the paycheck, so what he says, goes. Not everyone can control a publisher like Ayn Rand did.
    1458 days ago
    I like the classics - Asimov and Heinlein. Personally, I'm happy with the separation but I do with Fantasy and Sci-Fi were each their own sections.
    1458 days ago
    You forgot the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew emoticon

    Enjoy the audio book!
    1458 days ago
    Yeah, I think it comes down to the publishing business. In college, I took an expository writing class, and one of the few quotes I remember from college came from that professor.

    He basically told any and all aspiring writers who thought they would pump out the next great American Novel to be prepared....before any publisher would agree to print their masterpiece, the first question they would ask is, "where are the next 2 books?"
    1458 days ago
  • CIPHER1971
    I love Sci/Fi and Fantasy, but I have never really thought why it is separate, I just know that it has encouraged me to sample new and unknown authors as I randomly take a book from the shelf (normally to find it is book 3 of an 8 parter), and read that.

    Have a great day
    1458 days ago
    interesting post
    1458 days ago
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