The Transmissibility of Story

Feb 7, 21:24 by IROSF
A thread to Ruth and Jay's latest column. Did it transmiss to you?

The article can be found here.
Feb 7, 23:15 by Gus Raley
An extensive collection of speculative fiction tropes is available among the other 5000 or so tropes cataloged by the TV Tropes fanatics. Worth a peek.
Feb 8, 03:22 by Paul Gilbert
That's nicely written. "Trope", huh? I'm happy to have a word for the bugbear I wrestle for balance with most every day. :)
Feb 8, 11:05 by Josh English
I've understood tropes to be negatives in writing, not a shared vocabulary. I suppose there's a difference between the reasons people read differing genres. Romance readers expect the same story (with variations) and lit readers expect an emotional connection, so they can read the same plot and not be disappointed. Science fiction, being more idea-based, runs afoul of over used tropes, like the Adam & Eve trope.
Feb 8, 15:23 by Daniel M. Kimmel
That's the difference between a trope and a cliche. Robots and androids and other forms of man-created "life" comprise a hardy SF trope. A story about the creation turning on its creator is a cliche.
Feb 9, 04:57 by Dominique Benoit
A wonderful article. I've often been frustrated at Margaret Atwood's violent denial that she wrote science fiction story, even though The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake cannot be anything but.

You've clarified beautifully the rationalization of denying the genre.
Feb 10, 01:23 by John Clute
Well and mildly put, I thought.

Very happy to see a checklist with almost no MLA-derived errors in bibliographical method (only glitch was to list The Left Hand of Darkness[/] as being published by Walker, when the first edition was from Ace Books (the Walker hb followed the Ace later the same year). I think a journal about sf, whose works are so deeply contextual in terms of time and place (kind of what you're saying here in any case), should be really careful to get original publication data exactly right.
One minor demur: I think Michel Faber's Under the Skin[/] -- you list the first edition correctly here, even though it's paperback . . ., good -- is deliberately[/] alienated from the tropes whose underlying operation we recognize in order to understand the story at all (some mainline reviews kind of botched the whole thing through ignorance of that underpinning). Faber clearly knows sf; his novel is a subversion (of sorts) from a position of knowledge. The novel is an internal exile, not an interloper.
Feb 11, 22:10 by Joe Prisco
Nice to see Mr Clute here; thanks to his book, I read some things I might not have otherwise.

Ruth and Jay have hit nicely upon a personal issue of mine -- i.e., why do I not easily write in the genre that inspired me in the first place? Perhaps it's because it was the (apparently atypical) emotional epiphanies that impressed me most -- Blish's A CASE OF CONSCIENCE; Silverberg's DYING INSIDE; Dick's THREE STIGMATA; Larry Niven's PROTECTOR ... even Asimov's FOUNDATION had some emotion to it. In the eyes of many, I suppose, that might mean I'm not a 'true' s.f. fan.

Still: the tropes. Yup, you can't have SF without at least a nod to them; even sociological treatises like Biggle's STILL SMALL SOUND OF TRUMPETS or the Robert Randall books made sure an SF fan could recognize them as their own. When we ask "What is SF?", the answer may have more to do with the presumed expectations of the reader than any one detail of plot or theme.
Feb 15, 11:55 by Allan Rosewarne
I've not read the essay by Jay and Ruth yet; however, recently while in a discussion with some friends, I said tropes are not always bad, in my opinion they help to establish the protocols of reading required for the text under consideration or examination. For example, energy weapons are a SFnal trope, reading about them in a text establishes the protocol for reading the SFnal text at ones hand.
   

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