7.23.2004

Elitism Continued

The Internet Review of SF devotes a couple of opinion pieces to the Morris-Mamatas issue.  The views of John Frost in "Confessions of an Elitist" can probably be summed up as "I think it's our duty as human beings to heap praise upon the good and scorn upon the awful." 

Jay Lake's "Echoing Teapots" voices the opposite opinion:  that this attitude of ghettoizing is symptomatic of the genre's larger problem of its perceived lacking of legitimacy.  He goes in great detail about tie-ins before circling back around to the issue in the last paragraph.   His best point he saved for last:
Arthur C. Clarke, one of the founding Grand Masters of our field, did the tie-in novelization of his own film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in turn based on his original short story, "The Sentinel." His reputation does not seem to have suffered.
In fact, I'd go so far to say that that tie-in probably made him a bestseller.  I examined him in greater detail earlier, wondering if Brian Aldiss ought not to have written an A.I. tie-in to help foster a popularity similar to Clarke's.  I see no reason to "scorn" tie-ins out of hand unless they offer themselves up as literature, in which case it should be put up for critique.  Most movie tie-ins, authors have said so correct me if this has changed, are restricted to what happens in the movie (which is rather ironic since movies feel no need to stick to their source material) and have to pad out the novel.  The genre's reluctance to even series, let alone tie-ins, is a once-bitten-twice-shy.  I tried reading even a few of the Dune sequels--although some swear by them--and didn't find Frank Herbert's original fire.  I found the first of the Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson Dune prequels of the same flavor as the father's sequels:  sounds similar, but without the first's political urgency, without the first's inventive panache.  Die-hard fans reacted far more vehemently than myself, yet the books are all bestsellers, no?  Someone must like them or is at least addicted.If we're not trying to hold the tie-ins as exemplars of the genre, give the people what they want.  Morris seemingly fails to see the importance of a sharp critical eye, but I do understand his need for fun and not all deadly somber seriousness, which is as assuredly a killer of literature as too much fun.

(I would like to pursue his thoughts on horror at a later time, however--a genre which sometimes deserves its ghetto within the ghetto and sometimes not.)

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