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  • bakana
    replied
    I have no tolerance for authors who think it is a worthwhile endeavour (lets be British) to come up with a new dialect and use it extensively in a work.
    There was a series by Suzette Hayden Elgin a few years back where the creation of a New language was the "McGuffin" around which the story revolved.

    But, obviously she didn't Write the books in that language, because then no one would be able to read them.


    Oh, terminology Defined:

    McGuffin

    McGuffin (aka: MacGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a PlotEnablingDevice, i.e. a device or plot element in a movie that is deliberately placed to catch the viewer's attention and/or drive the logic of the plot, but which actually serves no further purpose - it won't pop up again later, it won't explain the ending, it won't actually do anything except possibly distract you while you try to figure out its significance.
    More specifically, it is usually a mysterious package or superweapon or something that everyone in the story is chasing.

    Possibly coined by Alfred Hitchcock.
    The perfect example is the "government secrets" that motivate the action in NorthByNorthwest (1959).
    Another typical McGuffin is the Maltese Falcon. It gets the characters together, pits them against each other, but turns out to be worthless.

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  • Ben-Thayer Dunnthaedt
    replied
    I have no tolerance for authors who think it is a worthwhile endeavour (lets be British) to come up with a new dialect and use it extensively in a work. I can deal with various accents and a few other things, but beyond that....
    A noticeable exception would be A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. He created an entirely new form of slang for the novel, which IMO added more depth, more realism to the story.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dr Maturin
    replied
    Word'em up, NotKosh.

    But Zathras...now he has a kewl dialect.

    Leave a comment:


  • NotKosh
    replied
    I have no tolerance for authors who think it is a worthwhile endeavour (lets be British) to come up with a new dialect and use it extensively in a work. I can deal with various accents and a few other things, but beyond that....

    The most recent transgression that I encountered (a few years ago) was "Earth's Hope" or something like that. It is the "Fisherman" series or whatever, all the titles end in hope.

    Anyways, in the last book, which dealt with class struggle, the protagonist was dealing with the lower classes, their dialect had degraded into a ridiculous form of pigdin English. After getting about 100 pages through it I just put the book down, and will never pick it up again.

    When an author gets so enticed by their lingual experimentation that it becomes a trial to read the book, then I stop looking for any further works by them. You just know that they are patting themselves on the back for their radical experimentation and genre extension. Frankly, I think they deserve several electric shocks to the groin, but that is another conversation.

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  • Dr Maturin
    replied
    Originally posted by Capt.Montoya
    To bisect means to divide in two parts, usually halves... by definition halves are at least roughly equal. I'd have just written "the screen was bisected, the top half showed..." That writer instead made it a doubly redundant sentence and described the contents of each half in the next following sentences. I almost stopped reading that book halfway, I didn't just because I wanted to see the story's end. The ending was OK, but since the characters were not well developed and the story took too long to make things happen it was disappointing... more so because I picked up that book after a recommendation. To be fair that author has written some short stories that are better. And I'm actually grateful to that writer (which is why I don't mention him, so as to not predispose others against him), I realize that if he could get published maybe if one day I decide to write I will get published.

    I don't go around bulletin boards grading people's writing. You don't have to worry about it. To be honest I do notice grammar and spelling errors, because English is not my native language and I learned most of my English from reading for many years before I actually spoke it I tend to pick on sight/sound confussions that are very natural for a native speaker (some are becoming "natural" for me after eight years of living in the USA surrounding myself in spoken English).

    Splitting infinitives is perfectly correct in the English language... (From the NEW OXFORD DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH as quoted by Michael Quinion in http://www.worldwidewords.org/reviews/node.htm
    Note that that author also mentions the split infinitive of Roddenberry in an article about the linguistic legacy of Star Trek, which I think people around here might enjoy: http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/startrek.htm )

    Those "terrible SW novels" you read would be an example of hackwork, full of filler, I imagine.
    Well, technically speaking "bisect" does mean to cut in two equal halves, but it can also mean to simply cut in two. This no doubt came from a misuse of the word one hundred or more years ago, but there you have it. I have seen several SW authors (good ones this time) use the word like "Ganner bisected the first three Yuuzhan Vong warriors with ease" or some such.

    And I didn't mean you grading my posting, Montoya, just my future novels when they come out.

    As for the infinitive, I was only joking. I think nitpicking grammar that deeply is going a little bit too far.

    "How you doin'?"

    "Good!"

    WRONG, it's supposed to be:

    "How are you?"

    "Well."

    It's all fine and well to use proper grammar, but when Ms. Scholastic starts pulling obscure rules from her purse, that's when I get annoyed.

    But I don't want to give the SW novels a bad name. Allston, Stackpole, Zahn, Stover and a few others are good. But McIntyre, with her Crystal Star...rotten. It was just hackwork. No storyline, lots of babytalk (five year olds talking they are one year old), an erroneous villain, deus ex machina at the end. Just terrible. Oh, and how did she explain her writing the characters wrong? The blackhole in the system made them act weird.

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  • Capt.Montoya
    replied
    Originally posted by Z'ha'dumDweller
    << .... It featured the phrase "the screen was bisected into two roughly equal halves." ... .>>

    Just out of curiosity, how would you have worded it? Montoya, you're making me paranoid, man. Now I have to worry about how I write, lest I will be branded as a hack. I would have used such a phrase, not to increase the word count, but to simply be descriptive. (Oops, I interrupted an infinitive. So did Roddenberry, oh well.)
    To bisect means to divide in two parts, usually halves... by definition halves are at least roughly equal. I'd have just written "the screen was bisected, the top half showed..." That writer instead made it a doubly redundant sentence and described the contents of each half in the next following sentences. I almost stopped reading that book halfway, I didn't just because I wanted to see the story's end. The ending was OK, but since the characters were not well developed and the story took too long to make things happen it was disappointing... more so because I picked up that book after a recommendation. To be fair that author has written some short stories that are better. And I'm actually grateful to that writer (which is why I don't mention him, so as to not predispose others against him), I realize that if he could get published maybe if one day I decide to write I will get published.

    I don't go around bulletin boards grading people's writing. You don't have to worry about it. To be honest I do notice grammar and spelling errors, because English is not my native language and I learned most of my English from reading for many years before I actually spoke it I tend to pick on sight/sound confussions that are very natural for a native speaker (some are becoming "natural" for me after eight years of living in the USA surrounding myself in spoken English).

    Splitting infinitives is perfectly correct in the English language...
    The dislike of split infinitives is long-standing but is not well founded, being based on an analogy with Latin. In Latin, infinitives consist only one word (e.g. crescere æto growÆ; amare æto loveÆ), which makes them impossible to split; therefore, so the argument goes, they should not be split in English either. But English is not the same as Latin. In particular, the placing of an adverb in English is extremely important in giving the appropriate emphasis ... In the modern context, some traditionalists may continue to hold up the split infinitive as an error in English. However, in standard English the principle of allowing split infinitives is broadly accepted as both normal and useful.
    (From the NEW OXFORD DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH as quoted by Michael Quinion in http://www.worldwidewords.org/reviews/node.htm
    Note that that author also mentions the split infinitive of Roddenberry in an article about the linguistic legacy of Star Trek, which I think people around here might enjoy: http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/startrek.htm )

    Those "terrible SW novels" you read would be an example of hackwork, full of filler, I imagine.

    Since Star Trek was (or became) in many episodes an adventure show set in space I think it is space opera.
    However I do not hold strictly to Hartwell and Cramer's definitions, but I think they do make a good argument, even if as NotKosh says they don't judge if the redefinitions are valid and acceptable.

    I should note that some of the stories that Aldiss included in his "Space Opera" anthology do not involve interstellar war at all. Asimov's "Last Question" is cosmological speculation. Dick's "Colony" is about colonizing a planet, and running into strangling microscopes.... (you have to read it to understand). I don't remember reading the others.

    As to how Science Fiction was redefined: this can be seen in how editors molded and "created" the field.
    Hugo Gernsback's "scientifiction" emphasized the scientific content at the expense of style and flow of the story. Much of the SF that rose from that point had very little scientific validity (I'm sure that it was full of what we would now call technobabble) and not very high literary standards, as its pulp (i.e. cheap, popular) magazine status allowed and sometimes demanded.
    John W. Campbell, in Astounding, raised the literary standards of the field and also emphasized scientific accuracy, he basically created what we now call "hard SF."
    Horace Gold, in Galaxy, had higher literary standards and was much less demanding about scientific accuracy.
    Michael Moorcok launched the New Wave, emphasizing literary values, and publishing as SF things that former editors would have rejected, including works of literary experimentation that had none or few "science-fictional" content. The New Wave gave us the term Speculative Fiction, to de-emphasize the scientific speculation part of SF. This was the movement that allowed sociological speculation to become part of the canon of SF, and raised the literary standards of the field further. A whole lot of SF classics and recognized authors that wouldn't have been published by Campbell or Gold thrived in this revolution.
    The Cyberpunk movement also expanded the field.

    Maybe the meaning of SF has not changed, but the field has gone through several changes that expanded its scope. Maybe I was wrong to call this a change in definition, but it has been a change in what is published as SF, the operative definition, if not the formal one.

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  • bakana
    replied
    The Editor, capital E, is the person in overall charge of the Publisher's purchase of the book.

    The exact process depends on the particular author.

    For an experienced author with a recognized track record, the Editor is often the first person who sees the manuscript.
    In most cases these days, the Experienced author will usually have a contract before the book is beyond the rough outline stage.

    For the Inexperienced and/or unpublished authors, the publisher will have a staff of "First Readers" who look at the manuscripts and decide if anyone needs to bother going beyond the first page.

    If the First Reader passes it up the line, it will get scrutinzed further by a junior editor and, if acceptable, assigned to an Editor who will read it carefully and decide whether or not to buy it.

    After that, if the Editor decides to buy it, contract negotiations will start.

    Once a contract is is signed, the Editing process is pretty much the same as the Pro Writer.
    Although the Established Pro has a bit more clout if he/she and the Editor disagree on some of the points of style and/or amount of "Polish" the book needs before being sent to the Copy Editor.




    If the Editor decides Not to buy it, the manuscript will be returned to the author with a note.
    Depending on the Editor, that note can vary from "Sorry, not today" to suggestions for improving the book, a tip that some Other editor might be a better target for the sale or a request to send something Different next time.
    Like: Good book, but we've already Got 20 Time Traveling Vampire books, Do you have anything else?

    Last edited by bakana; 08-05-2004, 01:59 PM.

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  • Dr Maturin
    replied
    Yeah, I assumed there was a copy editor, too. Now a simple (or not so simple) editor is like a personal agent of the author, right? Or is that just an agent, and the editor works for the publisher?

    The reason I ask is that I don't know how a lot of rotten books gets published. Maybe the publisher just wants to rush it to press? I mean, hey, people are going to buy a book if it has "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" on the cover, regardless.

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  • bakana
    replied
    In addition, isn't it an editor's job to make sure that grammar and odd-sounding phrases are changed before a work goes to press?
    No. An editor's job is:

    1.) Decide if the story/novel is worth publishing.
    2.) Point out to the author in broad terms places where the book/story could be improved.
    Such as Chapter two is weak. Fix it.
    or This paragraph doesn't belong here. Move it There.
    or In Chapter 9, you refer to <this> but there isn't any Previous reference to support it being there.

    3.) Accept the author's final draft and send it to a Copy Editor.

    Now the Copy Editor Might or Might Not recommend the sort of changes you mentioned.
    The copyeditor looks at spelling, grammar, style, etc. and decides if they Work within the story.
    These are things the Editor passes over on the assumption that the Author & Copy Editor will take care of them.
    The Editor is a "big picture" person.

    Even the Copy Editor doesn't have final authority.
    The Writer has the privlege of going over every change the Copy Editor recommends and saying:
    I wrote it that way On Purpose, leave it alone.

    For a good example of why you might not "Fix" the grammar and spelling, look at the book (not the movie) The Color Purple.
    It is written entirely in Dialect. The "conceit" is that it is written by the Character.
    The woman played by Whoopi in the movie.
    Last edited by bakana; 08-04-2004, 08:51 PM.

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  • NotKosh
    replied
    Space Opera Redefined
    by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer

    A lot of people don't remember this and that distorts our understanding of both our present and our past in SF. Perfectly intelligent but ignorant people are writing revisionist history, inventing an elaborate age of space opera based on wholesale redefinitions of the term made up in the sixties and seventies to justify literary political agendas.
    I think this statement accurately describes what the redefinition of Space Opera is, when you don't require Interstellar Warfare as a part of the definition.

    They present in that article a historical acocunt of the definition and its changes, without properly considering if any of those changes are valid.

    Leave a comment:


  • NotKosh
    replied
    Originally posted by Capt.Montoya


    About Card's Ender's Saga: Ender's Game is good and Speaker decent, but you have to read "Children of the Mind" to see the end, Xenocide is awful only if you stop there, for good or bad it is mostly setup for the very last book. Or maybe you were calling "Children of the Mind awful? I think it's better than Xenocide. The parallel continuation with Bean and Peter Wiggin (Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets) is a better sequel.


    I do not think that Space Opera has to mean a titanic conflict. The exploration of space in the form of adventure stories, like Star Trek, can be called Space Opera. I'm sure Rodenberry didn't want ST to be called that, because back then the term remained pejorative. But remember that Hartwell and Cramer argue that the redefinition of Space Opera was related to making the Star Trek and Star Wars tie-in novels more "respectable" and commercially appealing within SF.

    In the end the problem is that Space Opera can be as hard to define as Science Fiction and in both cases the definition has changed in time.

    __________________
    "I hear Earth," he said. "But that is very soft, and does not show." [/B]

    You nailed it, I stopped with Xenocide unfinished, for the obvious reasons. Some other Card that I couldn't make it even 1/4 of the way through was a paperback that started talking about some really primitive society on a planet, and I think there was some visitor. We are talking cabins and quarterstaffs here, if I recall.

    You are right, I need to pick up The Demolished Man

    I see no reason that Space Opera's definition has to change because people want it to. The "classic" definition of Space Opera involves conflict/battles in space.

    Yes, there is good and bad in every manifestation of prose, however that doesn't mean you need to change the categorization of said prose, just add adjectives like "excellent" or "crap" where needed.

    There is no reason to expand the category because one feels like it, in order to make it sound more cultured because of the Opera portion of the name. Or to change the category just because time has passed. Black is black and white is white. To redefine other SF as Space Opera, so it has a grander/more cultural label to the uninitiated is ludicrous. Unlike what certain people think (Bill Gates), change for change's sake is not required, beneficial or defendable in my book.

    I think a bunch of my definition comes from an anthology by Brian Aldiss, entitled Space Opera.

    Check this out:
    http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateS...tml#spaceopera

    and click on Space Opera as listed.

    Now when you get down there, the 1st thing it says is Battles Between Planets and Stars. a/k/a interstellar conflict.
    I think that is a minimum requirement.

    Now given the massive conflicts involved in several of the examples I listed before, it is quite possible that I have always labeled Space Opera as having a massive scope.

    I will stand by, and not change, my definition to require interstellar war.

    Look at this list (from the former link):
    (1) Style and Mood staunchly traditional
    (2) Hitherto unknown places to explore
    (3) Continuity between Past and Future
    (4) Tremendous sphere of space/time
    (5) A pinch of reality inflated with melodrama
    (6) A seasoning of screwy ideas
    (7) Heady escapist stuff
    (8) Charging on with little regard for logic or literacy
    (9) Often throwing off great images, excitements, aspirations
    (10) The Earth should be in peril
    (11) There must be a quest
    (12) There must be a man to match the mighty hour
    (13) That man must confront aliens and exotic creatures
    (14) Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher
    (15) Blood must run down the palace steps
    (16) Ships must launch out into the louring dark
    (17) There must be a woman fairer than the skies
    (18) There must be a villain darker than a Black Hole
    (19) All must come right in the end
    (20) The future in space, seen mistily through the eyes of yesterday

    Given that not all the examples are required, and are not all in certain examples of classic Space Opera as mentioned above, the conclusion by some appears to be that a combination of these constitutes Space Opera. That is where the inclusion of Star Trek comes in. I disagree since those elements are common throughout all science fiction to one degree or another.

    Star Trek contains elements
    1-14, 16-20.

    Lord of the Rings contains items
    1, 2 5-13, 15, 17-19

    Is LOTR Space Opera? Obviously not, but you can argue that it is just as qualified to be dubbed it, as other works that this reinvention of the term allows, when you remove Interstellar War as a requirement. If advanced science is indistinguishable from magic then magic is indistinguishable from advanced science.

    Is the Abyss Space Opera? Pitch Black? Not in my book.

    Simply put, using this list you can redefine the majority of the entire body of SF as Space Opera to one degree or another. That is just weak and is not a laudable goal in any respect.

    I contest that the meaning of SF has changed whatsoever. Find some SF that you thinks needs demands a redefinition of the genre, and me or someone else can probably find something pre 1960 that has the same elements.

    There are people in this world who try to find a purpose by redefining things that don't need to be redefined. This is the hobgoblin of small minds. Yes, definitions can expand or contract to a degree, but the wholesale redefinition/inclusion of existing subsets of the genre is not dictated.

    An example of this unwarranted redefinition concept is Political Correctness.

    Given that EE Doc Smith were contemporaries, and given that Lensman is Space Opera and most of Heinleins work is Hard SF, I don't see any reason to redefine Hard SF as Space Opera.
    Last edited by NotKosh; 08-04-2004, 06:36 PM.

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  • Dr Maturin
    replied
    <<It was a short story's worth of content bloated into a novel. It featured the phrase "the screen was bisected into two roughly equal halves." To me that phrase is egregious hackwork, stringing words to have as many as possible, without concern for literary style.>>

    Just out of curiosity, how would you have worded it? Montoya, you're making me paranoid, man. Now I have to worry about how I write, lest I will be branded as a hack. I would have used such a phrase, not to increase the word count, but to simply be descriptive. (Oops, I interrupted an infinitive. So did Roddenberry, oh well.)

    To me, word count isn't even something I look at until the end of a story, just to see how much I wrote. I think I know what you're getting at, though. You can always tell when someone is using filler, and a seasoned reader can tell the difference. I could tell at the age of fifteen while reading the terrible SW novels, especially those written by Barbara Hambly and Vonda McIntyre. Oh, and Michael P. Kube-McDowell. The GOOD SW authors: Tim Zahn, Aaron Allston, Mike Stackpole, Matt Stover...every page counts, and makes you want to keep going.

    In addition, isn't it an editor's job to make sure that grammar and odd-sounding phrases are changed before a work goes to press? I remember reading something a while back about fraudulent editors making beaucoup bucks by barely reading something and then sending it to a printer.

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  • Capt.Montoya
    replied
    On Hackwork

    Hackwork in SF has nothing to do with how much science is in the fiction, otherwise you'd be calling Ray Bradbury (and many others, including most of the "New Wave" SF writers) a hack...
    SF started in pulp magazines which had very low literary standards, since they were geared to a juvenile market, and pages to fill. Some well-regarded SF writers started by writing filler material for those publications in the 1920s and 1930s, even into the 1940s (when the war economy made most pulp magazines go out of business). Those stories would be long, but thin on plot and characterization, verbosity for word count's sake.
    If you find the NESFA Press anthology of the complete short SF of Cyril M. Kornbluth you'll find some examples in the back of the book of "spec" stories, written on commision in a short time to fill pages for an upcoming issue. Even those would be above the norm, since Kornbluth was a good writer. (That collection, as well as almost any NESFA Press "complete short SF of..." anthology deserves a place in the shelves of any serious SF reader/collector.)
    The facts is that such hackwork and filler is not republished... but new one always comes in.
    I once read a novel which went on and on with little happening, most of the scenes could have been shortened or even removed in the editing process. It was a short story's worth of content bloated into a novel. It featured the phrase "the screen was bisected into two roughly equal halves." To me that phrase is egregious hackwork, stringing words to have as many as possible, without concern for literary style. I gave up on that author. I usually keep even mediocre SF books in my collection: I sold that one.
    I'm sure that among the myriad of Star Trek and Star Wars novels (as well as in many other franchise series) you can find many examples of hackwork. For that matter, many of the original B5 tie-in stand alone books could be considered hackwork.


    On the Hugo Winners

    Frell! I can't believe I've actually read most of the books on that list!

    Between 1982 and 2002 I identify some nine books as Space Opera, if you count also hard SF, the majority of the winners are one or the other (even both). Remember that Hartwell and Cramer assert that "the Hugo Awards for best novel for the last twenty years have generally gone to space opera or hard sf." Funny that they didn't mention hard SF in that paragraph in the space opera definition article... even then with the "generally" qualifier I think they're mostly right.


    Some comments on the books on the list:

    The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is hard SF, also a damned good story of the people that colonize and terraform Mars.
    Greg Bear is the one that wrote "Moving Mars." It's a good book. Robinson's Mars is just as good or better, but quite different.
    Benford wrote (more recently, I think) "The Martian Race."
    Any work by those three tends to be considered "hard" SF as they try to adhere to and represent real science. The books by Clarke, Pohl, Asimov, Niven, Heinlein, Herbert's Dune are also hard SF. Brin's Uplift can be considered hard SF in some aspects too.

    Vinge's "Deepness in the Sky" is in a similar universe as "Fire Upon the Deep," it can be called space opera. Vinge is also considered a hard SF writer.

    C.J. Cherryh's "Cyteen" and "Downbelow Station" form part of a same universe, and relate to the Merchanter colonies separating from Earth. It can be considered Space Opera.
    Hartwell and Cramer define Dan Simmons Hyperion saga as Space Opera, I have not read it.

    McIntyre's "Dreamsnake" is a good book, not space opera, nor hard SF. Wilhelm's "Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang" is also good. The only similarities between then is that they are situated in a sort of post-apocaliptic world. In Dreamsnake the protagonist is a wandering healer, part of an order that uses genetically modified snakes as source of cures, her dreamsnake is killed by accident, she goes on a quest. Wilhelm's story relates to an ecological disaster that makes people infertile, it's the drama of a family that develops cloning as a way to perpetuate the species and the consequences.

    About Card's Ender's Saga: Ender's Game is good and Speaker decent, but you have to read "Children of the Mind" to see the end, Xenocide is awful only if you stop there, for good or bad it is mostly setup for the very last book. Or maybe you were calling "Children of the Mind awful? I think it's better than Xenocide. The parallel continuation with Bean and Peter Wiggin (Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets) is a better sequel.

    Le Guin's "Dispossesed" is a utopian novel, "hard" SF based on a "soft" science, anthropology (if that makes sense), but also featuring speculation on developing FTL communication. You can call both Le Guin's and Brunner works sociological science fiction, but that would be the only similarity.

    Farmer's book is the beginning of the Riverworld saga, a world circled by a big river, where all humans have been reborn and (apparently?) given a new chance at redemption.

    Way Station by Clifford D. Simak: A way station for alien's interstellar travel hidden in "the heartland of America" with a farmer entrusted to its care in secrecy... but the secret may be out. Good book, maybe a little outdated, I read it about fifteen years ago!

    A Case of Conscience by James Blish: A combination of hard SF and sociological and theological speculation. The first part was the original novella, the second part the expansion (which many critics consider weaker, but the first part only poses the dilemma, the second explores it and gives a resolution to it). Blish is a great author. His short story "Common Time" can be found online (illegaly I think) here: http://users.ev1.net/~holliser/Prescience/
    Blish wrote many novelizations of Star Trek, I have only read his original work.


    The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
    You haven't read it? Go read it! It's a good book, a fast paced telepath cop story, and it has a relation to B5...



    I do not think that Space Opera has to mean a titanic conflict. The exploration of space in the form of adventure stories, like Star Trek, can be called Space Opera. I'm sure Rodenberry didn't want ST to be called that, because back then the term remained pejorative. But remember that Hartwell and Cramer argue that the redefinition of Space Opera was related to making the Star Trek and Star Wars tie-in novels more "respectable" and commercially appealing within SF.

    In the end the problem is that Space Opera can be as hard to define as Science Fiction and in both cases the definition has changed in time.

    __________________
    "I hear Earth," he said. "But that is very soft, and does not show."

    Leave a comment:


  • CRONAN
    replied
    Perhaps you might try, ''the younger races vs the first ones and themselves''. OK ok Im spamming screw it.

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  • NotKosh
    replied
    Of course it is. The whole point was to roughly describe the two warring elements, and not provide a treatise involving the main protagonists, the secondary protagonists, all other parties, the planets they come from, the races they represent, the areas of control they have, the ships they use, their respective tech levels, the languages they speak, the history of the confrontation, the names of their food's that resemble Swedish Meatballs, etc.

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