gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Two things of note from my day's reading so far (seven of those articles demolished!).

Firstly, scholars/writers who don't write in spec fic don't tend to notice when studies that include it are poorly conceived.

Secondly, scholar/writers (in this case just the one) who don't use spec fic as part of their analysis and who don't write it don't understand that the world of the novel can open up from publication ie that the novel is not necessarily a closed world. S/he argued that the novel is finished and then the author moves on, while with history, it's the discussion and the changes and the shifts that are important. Me, I argue that this is more shifting of grounds in the argument than a solidly demonstrated case for novels being so fundamentally different to history. Some novels close and the worlds are preserved, but most of them have that strange thing called reader interface (for most of them are read, and because many readers are acutely intelligent and thoughtful and latch onto ideas and start playing). This is more apparent to me for some works than for others: I'm very happy to play in an Anne McCaffrey dragon world but I have absolutely no desire to even walk round in any of Peter Carey's worlds.

Writing brilliance doesn't equate to desirability of universe. I can't see why it should - some novels are made so that they finish when the book is read, and for some the initial entertainment is only the beginning.

I think what's getting to me today is the way a whole series of academic writers have assumed that novels are a simpler form with a simpler role in society and a simpler interface with both writer and reader than is actually true.

Does anyone know a study that handles this well? This is not for my doctorate - it is for me. I can find my own understanding (I usually do) but it would be terrific to read an articulate and thorough analysis of novels regarding when they are limited worlds (that's it when you close the book) or when they extend and how they extend. The literary/genre divide is daft and helps not at all, for some literary works have extended worlds (Jane Austen!) and some genre live only between the covers.

I'm not interested in good/bad judgements, for that's not relevant as far as I can see. It's not about the quality of the writing, but about how society takes on that particular tale and its universe and decides how to play with it.

I should have asked about a book on this year ago. My books tend to encourage participation, you see, so the question has been appearing over and again when I meet readers. The number of times I've been told, wistfully "I want coffee with Rose" is astonishing, and one reader asked me how Liz was going, six months after he'd finished the novel and another started blogging her life as a case study and then realised it was fiction.

In my case, it's to do with the nature of the mimesis I write. In cases like McCaffrey, it's to do with a world that's sufficiently comfortable (the balance between formulae and character is just so) so that we as readers can insert ourselves in those worlds and create our own adventure.

And I so want to read a magisterial study on this!

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