Saturday, August 23, 2008

Character Versus Concept

My two friends and I are starting a science fiction and fantasy student run workshop this fall semester. Though I know that lecturing is BAD in a workshop environment (it promotes sleep), I've begun thinking a lot about the genres.

Asimov writes, "Science fiction stories are notoriously weak on characterization as compared with mainstream stories. At least, so the critics say. I am always struck with impatience at such cavils. Even if it be true, there happens to be a good reason for it. The characters are a smaller portion of science fiction than of the mainstream."
I think the critique works both ways, though. I argue that there are just as many stories with extraordinary psychological introspection but no plot as stories with fantastic concepts with popsicle stick puppet characters.
Character is always important, but that being said, I agree with Asimov that it does not have to be the most important or memorable component. Some people gesture from the head and others from the heart. Both are valid forms of communiction. It is okay to write in either mode. I would argue that Ray Bradbury wrote from the brain while Jane Austen wrote from the heart, and it's very difficult to rank the two.

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