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tgoyetteMost inexplicably popular work of Science Fiction or Fantasy?2014-09-15 06:13:30

British stand-up comedian Stewart Lee is famous in the UK for saying that best-selling author of 'The Da Vinci Code' Dan Brown: '.. is not a good writer [.He] writes sentences like "The famous man looked at the red cup." ' Cruel? Certainly. True? Absolutely. Not that multimillionaire Dan Brown is overly worried of course. But what about Science Fiction and Fantasy? Which popular, bestselling SFF authors leave you wondering how they ever got published in the first place, let alone why anyone would ever think such garbage was actually enjoyable to read?

For my money, I'd say China Miťville Ė after hearing so many good things about him, I finally picked up a copy of 'The City & The City'. He's no Dan Brown, but his popularity as a writer is as baffling to me as E L James is to Ö to Ö well, basically everyone.

2014-09-15 06:14:24
RobertEndersI know exactly why E.L. James is popular. "50 Shades of Grey" is BDSM erotica, and for the first time in history you can buy it in a grocery store. The demand for it had been there for a long time, and now it is being supplied. To be sure, I have a couple friends who are into this sort of thing, and they HATE 50 Shades because of the poor writing. They say it's like "Dick and Jane" with spanking. Here, let's really open a can of worms. Why do adults in their 30's like Harry Potter? I can understand liking it if you grew up with it. I can understand watching the movies with your kids. But there are so many good books for adults out there, why would a mature adult read something intended for young children?2014-09-15 11:24:34
mark211Heh. Now it's funny you should mention that - Harry Potter, I mean - because it just so happens the same comedian, Stewart Lee also has something to say about that very topic (see below)2014-09-16 15:34:14
mark211Stewart Lee: "I remember when the last Harry Potter title came out, I think it was Harry Potter and the Crock of Shit. Remember that? Or Harry Potter and the Mitten of Wool? Or Harry Potter and the Stick of Wood. Or Harry Potter and the Forest of Embarrassment. Or Harry Potter and the meh meh meh [...] You know, those Harry Potter books, you know theyíre for children, donít you? Theyíre aimed at children. People do that to me, "Have you read the new Harry Potter book, Stew, itís good, have you read it?" No, I havenít read it, because Iím a forty-year-old man. "You should read it, Stew, itís about a wizard in a school." Iím not reading it! Iím a grownó Iím an adult! "Have you read Harry Potter, Stew, and theó and the Tree of Nothing?" No, I havenít. I havenít read it, but I have read the complete works of the romantic poet and visionary William Blake. So fuck off." 2014-09-16 15:34:27
jessbaumAlright with the Harry Potter knocking. I mean it's not the height of literature but I'm going to pull out something far worse, the Twilight series. I mean for real, my sister begged me to read these horrid books so that she could have someone to discuss them with, and being the addict of the written word that I am I unfortunately accented. The main character has as much depth as a sheet of tissue paper. Bella has no point in the book being that it is a romance novel parading around as some newfangled fantasy vampire story, only the "hero" is a 99 year old douche bag that I would personally stake through the heart at my first opportunity. I mean really, they get married and have a pseudo vampire baby and get to live "happily ever after" WTF. I prefer my fantasy to give leave me with some kind of different perspective or at east entertain me. Stephanie Meyer had nothing to offer me or my intellect, I guess she was just trying to appeal to inexperienced ovaries.2014-09-16 17:40:53
jessbaumGo me, way to totally mix past and present tense and insult myself while insulting others. teehee2014-09-16 17:42:53
John David RoseHrmm. The implication here seems to be that there is something wrong with adults that find enjoyment in reading so-called children's literature? Is it because the books have supposedly been written for children, or is it because the protagonists of the stories are children? Why stop with Harry Potter? Many seminal works of science fiction and fantasy were originally intended for children. _The Wizard of Oz_ is certainly a children's series, but _The Hobbit_ has always been considered a children's book too. _A Wizard of Earthsea_ was prompted when Ursula K. Le Guin's publisher asked her to write a book for older kids. Doctor Who was originally conceived by the BBC as a children's show that would encourage kids to be interested in history and science. Star Wars' target audience was kids. What about superhero characters? Comics have grown up with their audience over the last few decades, but originally comic books were written for children. So, some of the most popular movies of the last few years have been based on children's characters. So, is there something wrong with adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s etc... who like Tolkien or Doctor Who, or Star Wars, or superheroes? You're cutting a pretty broad swath through science fiction and fantasy fandom then. In many cases stories like Harry Potter can be classified as Bildungsroman... coming of age stories where a young person needs to go on an adventure to gain experience and move on to adulthood. Harry Potter clearly falls into this category, but so do _Dune_ and _Ender's Game_. How about the _Belgariad_ or _Eragon_ just to name a couple? Is it wrong for an adult to read a coming of age story? Anyone who has grown to adulthood themselves would certainly be able to sympathize with the protagonist. And as readers we usually find stories where the characters experience growth and change interesting and entertaining. Now while the adult themes and adult relationships of an adult book or movie or show are not appropriate for children, I don't think the reverse is true. I think that there are many themes found in so-called children's literature that are universal and are just as appropriate for adults as they are for children. Themes of tolerance and understanding, hope, believing in yourself, and helping others are just as important for adults as they are for kids. The short of it, I think it's fine as adults if we don't find anything valuable or entertaining ourselves in works like Harry Potter, but I don't think it's fair that we pass judgment on other adults who do. :) 2014-09-16 18:52:42
John David RoseOops. Where'd the paragraph breaks go? Oh the humanity!2014-09-16 18:56:10
esullivan240I read all the Harry Potter books and liked them. They are not the height of literature by any means but they entertained. I did not care for Twilight even remotely and choked down the first Hunger Games before starting the second and giving up entirely. I don't think target age is necessarily what work should be judged for. I love Pixar and Disney movies. I thought "Frozen" sucked, it was mind numbingly bad. You need to factor in whether something is just a good story, personal taste, and many other things on a case by case basis. 2014-09-17 05:57:59
jessbaumYou guys are awesome. Yeah I don't think that there's anything wrong with adults reading below their reading level, I do that all the time. But I do think that there is a problem with publishers pushing certain generas and ignoring others due to fads. I loved the Harry Potter series and enjoy reading it to my youngings, but I also read Frankenstein and Jane Eyre to them. Variety is good as long as the content is good, but what I like may not be enjoyable for others.2014-09-17 10:30:59
jbaumgartner13No there is nothing wrong with adults reading YA books. The problem is the insane fandom that these works elicit among adults i.e. Twilight Moms. As for comics, most of those have insanely adult content now and might not be appropriate for children. Now part of the problem is that A lot of people skipped reading these stories when they were younger when they were the appropriate age the writers/publishers were going for and are now playing catch up. Except for the fact that they are not progressing to higher content. YA is like the SyFy channel, fun for mindless entertainment but not anywhere near what it tries to be.2014-09-17 10:57:40
jbaumgartner13Now as for the topic at hand I will call out Star Wars. It is a prime example of what happens when an passably good I.P. comes out and hits the mark perfectly. All of a sudden everyone wants a piece of it. We get a billion books that don't really work together and it takes Disney to come in and say "Screw all this crap and baggage. All that now is Star Wars Legends and is not canon." The the fans jump all over the creator for giving us his vision. It's his damn story. If Star Wars weren't so overblown it wouldn't be a big deal. 2014-09-17 11:09:20
tgoyetteAt the risk of raising hackles, how about the Wheel of Time series? The first book was fabulous then it seemed to get more and more into world building and less and less story telling. The reading became tedious and I gave up about book 5. Others I've talked to gave up earlier and some later. Of those who started I only personally know one who read the whole thing. He admitted it was a slog, but he felt it was worth it.2014-09-17 21:12:26
John David RoseI've collected most of the Wheel of Time books and tried getting into the series three times, but never got very far. Someday I'll read them all. Yes I will. Really. Or I'll get rid of them and reclaim an entire shelf in one fell swoop. :) I have several other fantasy series like that. I read the first book in the Saga of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. I liked it quite a bit at the time, long ago, (another coming of age story) and so over the years collected most of the others in that series when I'd find them discounted. But I haven't read any more as of yet. I also have many books sitting on my shelves in fantasy series by Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Joel Rosenberg, Piers Anthony, and Terry Goodkind to name a few. I think this highlights another facet of jbaumgartner13's point about Star Wars. It seems often times these authors produce something that is good and then demand pushes them to keep duplicating that success until, in many cases, the later books become paper thin and derivative. The authors can't really move on to anything else because nobody wants to read something else by them.2014-09-17 21:58:01
esullivan240Wheel of Time and Goodkind's series both drew me in and I read book after book and then I realized that it was basically the same story and that story was just a self perpetuating, world building, endless, tedious, yet lucrative, mobius strip of a world build.2014-09-18 04:01:48
micheledutcherAs far as Wheel of Time: my son read all these books when he was in his 20s - thank you wheel of Time for giving my son the gift of loving to read. Also, the first sentence is so good that I honestly used a modified version in a story I wrote about an undersea world: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. Love it (heart). 2014-09-18 08:20:39
esullivan240Do not get me wrong I enjoyed both. I probably read all but the last Wheel book and maybe the last 2 Goodkind books. I don't expect pulitzer prize winning literature. I expect to be enterained for my dollar. Just because something is not aiming for the clouds doesn't mean I am cheated. I think both those guys knew what they were doing. They were making money! They were tavern bards telling rehashes of established tropes with their own spin for coin. I don't think either should be ashamed of what they have accomplished.2014-09-18 12:02:24
IronspiderI recently mentioned revisiting the archipelago of Earthsea and enjoying the trip - I don't care what age a book is aimed at/pigeonholed-for, it's how it's written, the story and how it makes you feel that count. Maybe Earthsea reminds me of my earlier years when I wasn't such a cynical soul. Whatever. My other vice is Tove Jansson's Moomins. At the urging of a friend I read 'Moominland Midwinter' in my early twenties. I think my friend was probably stoned when he read it (he was a student at the time), but I wasn't and the story (and all the subsequent books) intrigued me. I still couldn't give you a good reason why. Sorry, completely off the subject! Most inexplicably popular work of Science Fiction or Fantasy? At the risk of attracting disapprobation, I'd suggest anything by any author under the banner 'Paranormal Romance' - it's just Mills & Boon with spells, vampires or werewolves (or all three)...2014-09-19 00:08:16
WessonPeople are gregarious by nature and always flock towards what's popular whether it be books, TV shows, movies, etc. If something is liked by a lot of people I think it dulls a person's critical thinking skills. And while Harry Potter, Twilight and the others each have their own unique charm, I think most people force themselves to love them because everyone else does. 2014-09-21 18:09:57

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