When we last left our intrepid blogger (me) two weeks ago and four weeks ago, he was blogging (very roughly) about the superhero genre, pre- and post-Watchmen, and the kind of light that Alan Moore’s Watchmen shone onto superhero comics, as well as the core elements of the planetary romance form. I was setting up this conversation about what a Watchmen-like treatment of planetary romance would look like, both the pretty parts and the ugly ones.
This is a fun exercise and it’s quite possible that I’m way off in what I construct next, so if I am, please offer up your ideas, views, suggestions. Debate is good!
And, I’ve been ending on a cliffhanger, like any good pulp. So now, here’s Part III, What a Watchmen Treatment of Planetary Romance Might Look Like….
We’ll need a hero, a youngish white male paragon to travel to another world, because that’s the core of the form. And let’s have the aliens of this world be as close to humans as possible in physique and psychology, otherwise other assumptions become much harder to play with.
While Carson traveled to Venus, Carter to Barsoom, and Rogers to the future by themselves, we may need companions for the hero, like Flash Gordon did. And for later grist for the dramatic mill, it will probably serve us that one is a strong, well-characterized, complex woman, preferably from another political viewpoint or culture.
Read More Read More
When we last left our intrepid blogger (me) two weeks ago, he was blogging (very roughly) about the superhero genre, pre- and post-Watchmen, and the kind of light that Alan Moore’s Watchmen shone onto superhero comics. I did this because I think Moore did something very special and I wondered if it could be done to other fields, especially planetary romance.
I ended on a cliffhanger. And now, Part II….
I said last time that most of the traditions of the superhero genre were born in a very brief period between 1938 and 1945. In fact, the elements of the superhero tradition come part and parcel from the larger pulp tradition, which contained westerns; gritty and occasionally lurid detective stories; and planetary romances like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, John Carter of Mars, and Carson Napier of Venus.
The planetary romance tradition was powerfully tailored to its key market: white male American teens and men. If you were an under-appreciated teen with hero or power fantasies, pulp was your thing.
The heroes were young, white, smart, good looking, physically able, self-deprecating, and commanding. They confronted immediate perils (like a monster) or vast dangers (like an invasion), often single-handedly, or from a position of inspiring leadership.
And the opponents the hero fought were most often one-dimensional, morally-destitute cardboard placeholders for savage (non-whites) in our world, a view consistent with racial views of the late 19th century.
Read More Read More
People will have heard that the Hugo nominations are out. I think the reactions to each ballot always break in two ways: the process and the content.
Lots of people have views on the process of constructing the ballot and the views are so diverse that I couldn’t do justice with a bunch of links here. If you’re interested in that crowd reaction, John O’Neill covered the tip of the iceberg in his post last week.
I suppose my only two cents is to point out that nobody likes 100% of any ballot and that, because they are based on a nomination process of voters who have different tastes and criteria, this is hardly surprising. On the content, I think there’s plenty on this ballot to make a strong showing at the Hugo Awards Ceremony over Labor Day Weekend.
The novels ballot looks interesting. I’ve been told wonderful things about Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice and now I want to read it even more. I love Charles Stross (an honor I share with Nobel in Economics Laureate Klugman), but I have to admit that Neptune’s Brood is neither exciting nor captivating literature so far (although I’m only a third of the way through).
I was discussing Stross with a friend yesterday. He’s got a dizzyingly varied corpus (the Laundry Files novels, “Rogue Farm,” Saturn’s Children and “Lobsters” stake out just a few examples of some of his creative way stations), but my friend and I noted that we sometimes have a harder time with his character work and plotting, much as we might with Perdido Street Station by Mieville. I’ll finish Neptune’s Brood and see what I think.
There are some intriguing entries on the novella ballot, including some Stross, but also Cat Valente and a Brad Torgerson story from Analog. Analog doesn’t seem to get a lot of Hugo attention, and at first, I thought this might be the sign of editorial changes at the magazine.
Read More Read More