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Jake-2
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-21-2008
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

I am not familiar with the author of the post on that blog, but what I am assuming they mean is the academic defintion of literary merit. Whether or not one agrees with that point of view (some people see "academic" as elitist), there is a particular approach to evaluating texts seen as standard. However, even from that approach that is a small list. Interestingly, though, in a college course I had on SF and Fantasy lit a few years ago we did read SolarisLeft HandCanticle, and Ubik (PKD).

 

 
I am the original author, and the post (along with its follow-up) observes science fiction and fantasy from an overall aesthetic and literary perspective that isn't really academic, as these days many academics are more concerned with what's being said than how it's being said. Rather, I think the issue is that some science fiction readers and others are talking past literary critics like the Martian and Tomas in Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles
 
By that I mean too much science fiction and fantasy aren't sufficiently concerned with freshness and vividness in language and expression, which is the positive way of saying they're too often filled with flatness and cliche, whether in character or plot. To be sure, so is much literary fiction, but the best rises above it. What I'm describing will no doubt be misinterpreted: I'm at a very broad level, and to understand it in full would demand reading books like Jane Smiley's Reading Like a Writer, James Wood's How Fiction Works, Martin Amis' The War Against Cliche, or even Stanislaw Lem's Microworlds, a book that preempted many of my criticisms about SF as a genre. 
 
Some fantasy authors transcend this—in addition to Lem and Le Guin, I might add Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. The poster looking for other recommendations should also try Philip K. Dick, as recommended above. 
 
But if you want to understand books and great writing more generally, take a look at the three mentioned above. They all give numerous examples of skillful passages and what makes them so skillful, and all synthesize a vast amount of material but present it in an accessible manner. Amis' book is particularly acerbic, like its author, and probably the best for sheer entertainment value, but the first two might be more important.  
 
Anyway, I'm not trying to pick a fight or be a jerk, but I will note the difficulty in really developing the taste necessary to become finely attuned to writing, regardless of its genre. The link in this paragraph isn't a mistake, and if you like it, you should also check out How Art Can Be Good.

 

 

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Bradinator1
Posts: 360
Registered: ‎08-04-2008
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

Toni,

I've only really seen "Prince Caspian" this year and it was great. Truly recommend this one. I don't know if "Iron Man" qualifies for Sci/Fi but it was really good also. See 'em both.

 

Brad

"Stand back everyone, nothing here to see
Just imminent danger, in the middle of it, me
Yes, Captain Hammers here, hair blowing in the breeze
And the day needs my saving expertise" - Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) from "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Distinguished Bibliophile
Nadine
Posts: 2,456
Registered: ‎10-30-2006
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Re: Science Fiction as Literature

Thanks Jake. I am a newcomer to Science Fiction/Fantasy (kind came in with the Tolkien people) and it is hard to know where to begin. I did not want to start with some mediocre science fiction/fantasy that I would find discouraging but was looking for a short list of quality books that might draw me in so I would give the genre a fair try. It is hard to know where to begin.

Jake-2 wrote:
I am not familiar with the author of the post on that blog, but what I am assuming they mean is the academic defintion of literary merit. Whether or not one agrees with that point of view (some people see "academic" as elitist), there is a particular approach to evaluating texts seen as standard. However, even from that approach that is a small list. Interestingly, though, in a college course I had on SF and Fantasy lit a few years ago we did read Solaris, Left Hand, Canticle, and Ubik (PKD).

 

I am the original author, and the post (along with its follow-up) observes science fiction and fantasy from an overall aesthetic and literary perspective that isn't really academic, as these days many academics are more concerned with what's being said than how it's being said. Rather, I think the issue is that some science fiction readers and others are talking past literary critics like the Martian and Tomas in Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
By that I mean too much science fiction and fantasy aren't sufficiently concerned with freshness and vividness in language and expression, which is the positive way of saying they're too often filled with flatness and cliche, whether in character or plot. To be sure, so is much literary fiction, but the best rises above it. What I'm describing will no doubt be misinterpreted: I'm at a very broad level, and to understand it in full would demand reading books like Jane Smiley's Reading Like a Writer, James Wood's How Fiction Works, Martin Amis' The War Against Cliche, or even Stanislaw Lem's Microworlds, a book that preempted many of my criticisms about SF as a genre.
Some fantasy authors transcend this—in addition to Lem and Le Guin, I might add Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. The poster looking for other recommendations should also try Philip K. Dick, as recommended above.
But if you want to understand books and great writing more generally, take a look at the three mentioned above. They all give numerous examples of skillful passages and what makes them so skillful, and all synthesize a vast amount of material but present it in an accessible manner. Amis' book is particularly acerbic, like its author, and probably the best for sheer entertainment value, but the first two might be more important.
Anyway, I'm not trying to pick a fight or be a jerk, but I will note the difficulty in really developing the taste necessary to become finely attuned to writing, regardless of its genre. The link in this paragraph isn't a mistake, and if you like it, you should also check out How Art Can Be Good.

 

 


 

Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

 

As far as good scifi movies this year, I would say that Wall E  is a pretty good sci fi film.  There's nothing really original about the concept or the story but it revisits a lot of classic scifi themes in an interesting way and its a very well made movie.  One of Pixar's best IMO.

 


 

 



 

 

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Nelsmom
Posts: 2,628
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

Thanks everyone and you have given me some very good ideas to consider and watch for.

 

Toni

Toni L. Chapman
Everyone needs some Tender Loving Care
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OromisIsAwesome
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎09-18-2008
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

I agree that WALL-E is an excellent movie with a great message, I wouldn't go see Prince Caspian however as i saw that movie as being a little too fake and straying too far away from the book, however i do respect that others might very well enjoy it.
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Questor
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-08-2008
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

Just throwing it out there, but a couple of my favorite SF movies were Rollerball (the original) and Gattaca.
http://www.stuartclark.net
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paulgoatallen
Posts: 7,327
Registered: ‎08-16-2007
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here


Questor wrote:
Just throwing it out there, but a couple of my favorite SF movies were Rollerball (the original) and Gattaca.

Hey, Questor – long time no see! (And, yes, I loved the original Rollerball... JONATHAN! JONATHAN!)

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
Distinguished Correspondent
Bradinator1
Posts: 360
Registered: ‎08-04-2008
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here


paulgoatallen wrote:

Questor wrote:
Just throwing it out there, but a couple of my favorite SF movies were Rollerball (the original) and Gattaca.

Hey, Questor – long time no see! (And, yes, I loved the original Rollerball... JONATHAN! JONATHAN!)

Paul 


YES! I loved the original Rollerball! Glad to hear I ain't alone.

 

Brad

"Stand back everyone, nothing here to see
Just imminent danger, in the middle of it, me
Yes, Captain Hammers here, hair blowing in the breeze
And the day needs my saving expertise" - Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) from "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Distinguished Bibliophile
Nadine
Posts: 2,456
Registered: ‎10-30-2006
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Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

Maybe we need a movie thread somewhere. I am finding some of these movies a whole new world of discovery. I just watched Solaris last night (the George Clooney one--not the Russian). Not sure I understood it. I have not read the book but it is one of the ones I picked up last weekend.I found it very reminiscent of 2001. It was long on visuals and short on action and dialog but that was just fine with me. I thought it stunning. The music was fantastic and haunting. I think this is the sort of movie you have to watch again after your first time through. I also have the Russian version in my queue. I imagine the book would fluff it out a bit and maybe bring out some of the deeper aspects presented in the movie. I consider it a keeper, though, and think I will invest the $9 to purchase it. I have a feeling this might be a movie I will want to return to and quite likely after I've seen the Russian one and read the book. I would also consider getting the cd of the music but it is very expensive and a bit hard to find.
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Terminator
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-17-2008
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

Yeah that's a movie I've been waiting to buy. Or rent. One of my favorite movies though is Serenity.

It's off the show Firefly. And while your at why not just watch the entire season of Firefly. They made it so its like Star Trek and a John Wayne movie. well maybe not! :smileyhappy:

"what does not kill us, only makes us stronger."
Contributor
Questor
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-08-2008
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

Thanks for the greetings Paul.  It's nice to be here.:-)

 

Regards

Stuart

http://www.stuartclark.net
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

Well I finally got to see "Southland Tales". It didn't stay a week in my city, but I think that was a mistake. The movie is one of the best Sci/fi movies to come out last year. Ok it's wierd, hard to follow in the begining, but for a time travel paradox, end of the world, big brother is watching you movie; it is artfully done. The number of actor cameos is astownding. The acting is top notch, even the Rock pulls through. Special effects are believeable and entertaining. It's even kinda funny. If you liked Donnie Darko or 12 monkeys you will love this movie.
Contributor
Terminator
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-17-2008
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

[ Edited ]

What the heck is Southland tales??? I never heard of it. But if it was only a week in the theatre, it doesn't surprise me. By the way has anyone seen the new star wars flick???


TiggerBear wrote:
Well I finally got to see "Southland Tales". It didn't stay a week in my city, but I think that was a mistake. The movie is one of the best Sci/fi movies to come out last year. Ok it's wierd, hard to follow in the begining, but for a time travel paradox, end of the world, big brother is watching you movie; it is artfully done. The number of actor cameos is astownding. The acting is top notch, even the Rock pulls through. Special effects are believeable and entertaining. It's even kinda funny. If you liked Donnie Darko or 12 monkeys you will love this movie.

 

Message Edited by Terminator on 10-01-2008 03:59 PM
"what does not kill us, only makes us stronger."
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paulgoatallen
Posts: 7,327
Registered: ‎08-16-2007
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

Terminator:

You're not alone. I've never heard of Southland Tales either. But if Tigger liked it then it has to be good. Next time I'm in the video store, I'm going to ask about it...

Paul 

"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies


Terminator wrote:

What the heck is Southland tales??? I never heard of it. But if it was only a week in the theatre, it doesn't surprise me. By the way has anyone seen the new star wars flick???


TiggerBear wrote:
Well I finally got to see "Southland Tales". It didn't stay a week in my city, but I think that was a mistake. The movie is one of the best Sci/fi movies to come out last year. Ok it's wierd, hard to follow in the begining, but for a time travel paradox, end of the world, big brother is watching you movie; it is artfully done. The number of actor cameos is astownding. The acting is top notch, even the Rock pulls through. Special effects are believeable and entertaining. It's even kinda funny. If you liked Donnie Darko or 12 monkeys you will love this movie.

 

Message Edited by Terminator on 10-01-2008 03:59 PM

A good movie check it out.

Ah the new Star wars, it wasn't bad but... it should have been a direct to video. I didn't care for the art, it may have been stylistic. But the TV clone wars were better drawn. 

Wordsmith
Chomp
Posts: 1,241
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies


TiggerBear wrote:
Well I finally got to see "Southland Tales". It didn't stay a week in my city, but I think that was a mistake. The movie is one of the best Sci/fi movies to come out last year. Ok it's wierd, hard to follow in the begining, but for a time travel paradox, end of the world, big brother is watching you movie; it is artfully done. The number of actor cameos is astownding. The acting is top notch, even the Rock pulls through. Special effects are believeable and entertaining. It's even kinda funny. If you liked Donnie Darko or 12 monkeys you will love this movie.

I had forgotten that I bought this movie a few months ago (SMG and cool premise -- what's not to like?) and have yet to watch it. Good grief!

 

Carol

So many books, so little time...
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TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies

Oh so I'm not the only one with a tbw stack of DVDs.
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oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here

Greetings, Everybody!

Just a few off-the-cuff thoughts ( does anyone know the origin of that phrase, by the way? ) ---

 

Paul - "The Cantina" is a perfectly fine name, no need to change it...

I still can recall that scene in the original Star Wars movie ( and what I tend to always think of as

 THE Star Wars Movie )  ... I saw that movie when it first came out, when it was really big news...

( and I remember being very impressed with all the new Special-Effects Devices ) -

( the subsequent sequels [ "Empire Strikes Back" and the other one ] I have only seen in bits and pieces, in passing, on TV - and I have never been to see all the eventual "prequels" [ or  watched them on DVD ] )

I  also saw the "theatrical" version of "Bladerunner" ( also when it first appeared on the scene )

and was impressed with the dark, forbidding vision of the not-so-distant future that it portrayed...

( also a big Harrison Ford fan ) -

I recall that the audience had a disfavorable view of the "cheezy" conclusion to the movie -

( where the inevitable tragic outcome of the story-line was somehow "explained away" ) -

there was some moaning and groaning ( and even some booing and hissing ) in reaction to this

"Hollywood Ending" - perhaps this ending is different in the "Director's Cut"...

 

I would add "Star Trek IV" to the list of the best SF movies of all time - it's the most lighthearted of the whole series - maybe it's not "serious Science-Fiction" ( I'm not really a Sci-Fi scholar ) - but it's enjoyable and entertaining...

I would also add that Woody Allen vehicle that involves time-travel and a "futuristic scenario"

(  the title of which escapes me at the moment ) - very funny, and a "cautionary tale", as well ---

 

Ardo Whortleberry

"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
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oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Welcome to The Cantina Bar and Grill: Off-topic chat served up here


Nadine wrote:

I have a question for you, Paul, something that I've been wondering about. Most of us read LOTS of books, and if we are not getting them all from the library or throwing them out as we read them, they tend to pile up with the problem of "where do I put these things!"

 

Now even avid readers probably haven't read the thousands of books you have read. Do you keep them all? And if so, where do you put them!

 

How about the rest of you. Do you keep your books after you have read them?


Hello Nadine! ---

 

I hope this doesn't cause me to lose my "Book Club License", but I have to confess, I only used to be an avid book reader ( especially in my youth ) and yet somehow, my wife and I have managed to amass tons of books ( 99.98% "used" ) in our household -  we go to library book-sales, and make frequent visits to the local library "free-bins"... ( so many books look so interesting - and we still [ delusionally, possibly ]

hope to get around to reading them all, someday ) - once our bookcase got filled up, we had to switch to using boxes and bins to store them all in...

I have often longed to have wall-to-wall bookcases in almost every room in the house ---

 

Ardo

"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry