Does your science fiction have a goal besides entertainment?

Onyx

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I think we are living in a post-allegory age. There was a time when exposure to ideas was transformative to people's understanding of the world and we are edging past that as information is too ubiquitous, but the ideas of expertise and even wisdom are being lost.
 

BAYLOR

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I think we are living in a post-allegory age. There was a time when exposure to ideas was transformative to people's understanding of the world and we are edging past that as information is too ubiquitous, but the ideas of expertise and even wisdom are being lost.

An on coming dark age ?
 
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sknox

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>underlying message of "look after our planet or this will happen".

Hardly modern. Earth Abides; Alas Babylon, but really most any year after Rachel Carson's Silent Spring you can find some ecology-related SF tale. The only thing new is the tag.
 

sknox

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Ideas are overrated. What about emotions? The books I remember best are those that stirred the heart. That includes SF. One of my all-time favorites is The Martian Chronicles. Yes it's a jeremiad. Yes, there are some cool ideas in there. But the moments when the guy goes out with his bee gun, or when the astronauts realize they've been put into an insane asylum, or when the kids are playing among the bones of the dead Martians, those images still tug at me, fifty years later.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Ideas are overrated. What about emotions? The books I remember best are those that stirred the heart. That includes SF. One of my all-time favorites is The Martian Chronicles. Yes it's a jeremiad. Yes, there are some cool ideas in there. But the moments when the guy goes out with his bee gun, or when the astronauts realize they've been put into an insane asylum, or when the kids are playing among the bones of the dead Martians, those images still tug at me, fifty years later.

There are emotional moments in stories, plenty of them, some are dead ends and do nothing more than advance the plot by adding word count. Then there emotional passages that leave the reader thinking. Growing up, reading Ray Bradury, whose writing was in tune with the times, made his stories more than memorable. I didn't care if it was Martian Chronicles or Dandelion Wine, for me, it was all relevant at the time. Maybe his message was we can change as individuals but at the group level nothing has been changing for a long time.

They use to march us into the school auditorium to watch the rockets blast off. Special alert, mankind is on the move again. Some books can have a lasting impression on the reader because of what was perceived to be happening in the world while the book was being read. Fast forward the years and new readers might find little to connect the story to the present context of their lives. A book can be outdated in so many different ways which then requires a lot of imagination just to find the original drivers seat the story was trying to put the reader into. If an older person has previously read the book, they have a choice of using current parameters to judge the book or they can let the original emotional impact, which can run the range from thinking who knows what to just a simple smile and everything in between, as a way of determining if they still like the story.

Movies use a different technology, look and listen, like plug and play, which enables old movies to seem more attractive compared to older books which can be weighed down by just the grammar alone. The one place movies can fall apart is in the special effects arena. I still like to watch the older horror movies from the 30's and 40's, King Kong, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and others which I don't see as fantasy but I'm sure if the same movies were marketed today they would be considered fantasy by many. Rebooting the old monsters, as your new neighborhood buddies in these troubled times. I still watch Forbidden planet, Them, and others, the visions and the messages still make complete sense for me. Afterwards came movies that were supposedly being made to promote anti nuclear war efforts that were making little headway in the real world. The actors, as simple as they were, outshone the monsters, who had become simple puppet props that couldn't be in a scene longer than 2 seconds before destroying what little reality the picture didn't have in the first place.
 

Anushka Mokosh

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Does the authorial intent really matter at the end of the day? To quote a villain: "Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe."

What I intend a story to be and what the readers take from it are two different things. I might intend something and the reader might read it for sheer entertainment. I might just write it for sheer entertainment and the reader might take away from it a new life philosophy. I write the stories I want to write with characters I want to write who say and do things they want to do. Sometimes that will mean I will include an idea, an allegory, a philosophy, sometimes it will mean that I won't. At the end of the day, I just want to write a good story.
 

Onyx

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Does the authorial intent really matter at the end of the day?
If it negatively impacts the quality of the story - yes. Writing narrative and writing a message are frequently at odds, and it takes a skillful propagandist to blend a message into a fictional work so seamlessly that the reader will be so unaware that they are being appealed to thereby and avoid breaking the spell of suspended disbelief.

Anyone who has had high school English or beyond is already sensitised to the themes and messages of the kind works that educators prefer, so most of us have a keen sense for when we are being marketed to.
 

Anushka Mokosh

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If it negatively impacts the quality of the story - yes. Writing narrative and writing a message are frequently at odds, and it takes a skillful propagandist to blend a message into a fictional work so seamlessly that the reader will be so unaware that they are being appealed to thereby and avoid breaking the spell of suspended disbelief.

Anyone who has had high school English or beyond is already sensitised to the themes and messages of the kind works that educators prefer, so most of us have a keen sense for when we are being marketed to.

Not the point I am making anywhere in my post. To reiterate the point of my post, no matter what you write, readers will interpret it in their own way. They will read into it the things you did not mean and completely miss out on the things you meant no matter how skillfully or poorly you blend it into the story because their experiences are different to yours. My history of literature read is different to your and my experiences are different to yours so I will respond differently to many themes and ideas I come across. Even the assigned reading in high school might differ drastically between you and me. I would bet that it does to be perfectly honest.

Your point might merit a discussion about is it more difficult to write a story with a certain idea, a message, or to write a story without and how successful we might be with it, but I fail to see how it pertains to the discussion about what we prefer to go for or what the readers might take away from it.
 
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Onyx

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Not the point I am making anywhere in my post. To reiterate the point of my post, no matter what you write, readers will interpret it in their own way. They will read into it the things you did not mean and completely miss out on the things you meant no matter how skillfully or poorly you blend it into the story because their experiences are different to yours. My history of literature read is different to your and my experiences are different to yours so I will respond differently to many themes and ideas I come across. Even the assigned reading in high school might differ drastically between you and me. I would bet that it does to be perfectly honest.

Your point might merit a discussion about is it more difficult to write a story with a certain idea, a message, or to write a story without and how successful we might be with it, but I fail to see how it pertains to the discussion about what we prefer to go for or what the readers might take away from it.
I'm sorry if that wasn't the point you intended to make, but it doesn't change the fact that you posed this question: "Does the authorial intent really matter at the end of the day?"

There is no misapprehension on my part because I answered your question as it is written. Moreover, my answer pertained to the topic of the thread since it addressed directly what we choose to put in our writing.
 
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Anushka Mokosh

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I'm sorry if that wasn't the point you intended to make, but it doesn't change the fact that you posed this question: "Does the authorial intent really matter at the end of the day?"

There is no misapprehension on my part because I answered your question as it is written. Moreover, my answer pertained to the topic of the thread.

You took a part of my post and ignored everything else I wrote explaining the reason I posed such a question. You took the question, gave it meaning I never intended, and then proceeded to argue something else. I think you proved my point there. ;)
 

Onyx

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You took a part of my post and ignored everything else I wrote explaining the reason I posed such a question. You took the question, gave it meaning I never intended, and then proceeded to argue something else. I think you proved my point there. ;)
I took the question you posed and provided a different answer than what you concluded. Since my answer is a rational response to your question, I'm not sure what you're objecting to. Your answer to your question and my answer can both exist without the universe blowing up, and I wasn't disrespecting you by examining an aspect of your question that your answer did not.
 

BAYLOR

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This has music in it (sorry, I'm compelled to ;))


K2

I remember this commercial when ti first came out way back in the 1970's

The Simpson did a parody of it..
 
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BAYLOR

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The most current work, yes.

Although my original intentions began with something vastly different than even the first evolution of that work (having an understanding of Ma-Ma (Madeline Madrigal) from the 2012 film 'Dredd'), once I had concluded my research and it had evolved into something else, I needed a catalyst to rapidly bring the world to its knees.

I didn't want to use the typical scenarios (nuclear war, plague, aliens, zombies, etc.), I wanted something that was taken for granted by many. Something that we deal with everyday, yet we never seem to be able to overcome like we did the last Dodo. Then it struck me...

>>>WARNING ~ POLITICS AHEAD!<<<

For over a year I had been ranting and raving about our new president, the Mad Clown. Of the countless things he does that infuriates me, his day-one till present attacks on the EPA had me incensed. I'm old enough that I remember the vast differences that occurred after the EPA was formed, and for those of you born in even the 70's, take it from me... America was a much different place, parts of it a toxic wasteland.

Without beginning a rant, that was it. I found my catalyst being the 'Mad Clown,' and among countless other things he brings to the table which help my story... A LOT :LOL:... a collapse of the environment was the ticket I needed.

So, why not make it any President between any dates relieving me of urgency and so on? Because though the scenario takes a considerable effort to make happen, I want to make a point that whether during the Mad Clown's term or another, by reversing course on environmental issues can have dire consequences.

It is not so much what someone might mess up today that can be fixed in a few short years, it is the destruction of something that cannot be fixed that concerns me. So, I simply want to point out that to stay this course (reversing course and destroying the efforts of the last 50-years), might have consequences that we cannot control once they begin to happen.

To tread lightly and always in a positive direction, not one for quick profit.

So yes, my current work is as much of a political statement against the Mad Clown and a warning, as it is entertainment. That said however, if it is not entertaining, and does not get people thinking... Then it accomplishes nothing.

K2

How about a character like The Mule in Asmovs Foundation series ? ;)
 
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-K2-

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How about a charter like The Mule in Asmovs Foundation series ? ;)

I don't know what that is, I'll look it up, thanks!

Okay, so I looked him up. What are you suggesting exactly regarding the use of such a character?

K2
 
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BAYLOR

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I don't know what that is, I'll look it up, thanks!

Okay, so I looked him up. What are you suggesting exactly regarding the use of such a character?

K2

The character in question is a big narcissistic empty nothing who just happens to have the ability to make people do whatever he wants.. And what he wants is to rule the world. He also he desires love, admiration and respect of which he is not capable of retiring. Everything with him is one way
 

-K2-

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The character in question is a big narcissistic empty nothing who just happens to have the ability to make people do whatever he wants.. And what he wants is to rule the world. He also he desires love, admiration and respect of which he is not capable of retiring. Everything with him is one way


Right... The Mad Clown, Trump. Well, except for the ability to make 'everyone do what he wants.' Unfortunately, he seems to be able to make enough of the wrong people do what he wants to have an affect. I already have him in there :LOL:

K2
 

Brian G Turner

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I think you proved my point there. ;)

That different people will read the same thing in different ways? Yep. :)

I suspect most people here can relate to that - of enjoying a particularly deep reference in a story that friends didn't notice or even care for. It has long been the bane of writers trying to say something of any depth that not all of their audience will appreciate or understand everything being told.

So, going back to the original post, no matter what ideas, allegory, or philosophy an author puts into their work, some people are always going to miss all that and see it as just basic entertainment, regardless. :)
 
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Robert Zwilling

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Seems like three kinds of impressions, but probably more. And readers certainly don't look at all books the same way.

One that never sees the message, one that appreciates underlying messages, whatever it may be - even opposite of what the writer intended, and one that doesn't feel the need for the ideas the author wants to put into a story. I wonder what the split is. If readers are not applying the same view to every book, does that mean the split is not readily defined?
 

sknox

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I don't look at a book with any particular expectation, save to be told a story. I'm quite sure I see things the author did not intend, and miss things the author intended. But there's another layer as well.

A book resonates differently at different times with the same reader. We all know of books that we loved when young that now seem pedestrian. But there are also books that read differently the second time around. That's because I'm a different person upon the second reading.

Maybe that's one measure of quality. Some books are going to read the same, no matter how many times I read them. Maybe even no matter who reads them, because there's simply no depth. It's an action thriller, a horror tale, a pure bodice-ripper. At most, one might have a different view of the writing style.

This is in contrast to something that was intentionally layered. The Name of the Rose, for example, is going to read differently if you know something about 14th century Italy. And whether or not you've read Arthur Conan Doyle. Or, to take the usual example, the works of James Joyce, which are so deeply layered as to be impenetrable to many readers.

To return to the OP, many SF and fantasy stories do not aim for much depth. Certainly mine don't, save for a bit of historical coding that's more a diversion than a message. The OP was, I think, asking if any of us do in fact aim for those layers, those messages, regardless of whether the reader sees them or not.

Not I, save for one story that's in the queue. It at least has the potential of being a reflection upon the nature of friendship and ambition. But for the most part I just want to tell a good story.
 

Anushka Mokosh

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That different people will read the same thing in different ways? Yep. :)

I suspect most people here can relate to that - of enjoying a particularly deep reference in a story that friends didn't notice or even care for. It has long been the bane of writers trying to say something of any depth that not all of their audience will appreciate or understand everything being told.

So, going back to the original post, no matter what ideas, allegory, or philosophy an author puts into their work, some people are always going to miss all that and see it as just basic entertainment, regardless. :)

Pretty much.

And vice versa too. You might write something for entertainment and people will read into it the secrets of the universe. I once wrote a rather simple story as a bit of practice. The point of the story was for me to focus on descriptions, to try and make them vivid, even a bit poetic. I gave it to my friend to proofread it for me and offer some critique. She was certain that the main character was abused by a relative and that the story was about psychological consequences of abuse. Bear in mind, the two of us are pretty close. We went to same high school, read the same books, etc. Still, her interpretation was waaaaaaaaaay off.
 

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