Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Review Feedback Request

I have gone through and updated tags on all existing and future book reviews, with the hope they may be easier to find in the future.

First, all book reviews (even short ones) now include the tag book-reviews.  That is, if I'm telling you what I think about a book, it is a book review.  There are also short-book-reviews on some.

If my general impression of a book is that I enjoyed it, I've included the tag, recommend.

Genre categories - if you want to discuss these, see below:


Genre notes, additions and debate are welcome, there are a few things that I am not likely to budge on...

The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

To me, science fiction means that a story element that exists outside of the mundanely possible is specifically there to frame or force a change in the society portrayed in that story.  Where I see fantasy as having extra-existent elements that are used as a backdrop and plot devices to move the story forward.  This can be a thin line, which is why the two are often bundled under a single header.

Star Wars, to me, is a fantasy.  There are Jedi-Knights who can dabble in magic and fight with "laser swords".  With some minor exceptions in the prequels, this magic isn't used as a way to show a societal shift, or show us what dilemmas might exist because such a thing exists.  Instead, it is used as a plot device.  Something for the hero to obtain on the hero's journey.  With the exception of minor mentions in Rogue One, the terrible weaponry of the Death Star isn't explored in its affect on society, but as a weapon to be defeated before it causes more harm.  Even mass cloning is mostly used to distance the audience from the number of deaths, not as an exploration of the moral implications of cloning itself.

Star Wars doesn't directly face the societal implications of magic or cloning.  It sure could have done a lot of exploration of the implications of a weapon that is able to destroy an entire planet, and why it is imperative to dismantle such things - no matter who has such a thing.  In the middle of the Cold-War, maybe this was supposed to be an obvious connection, but nothing really talks to these parallels.  It was not a moral choice about the weapon itself as much as it was a survival imperative to defeat the enemy by defeating the enemy's weapon.

Oppositely, the movie Dragon Heart represents what I expect from Science Fiction.  In that world, dragons exist, but have been hunted near extinction, mostly due to a misguided ruler.  The movie shows a societal mirror to our own hunting of predator species like sharks or wolves, reflected in the Dragon's pleas to the benefits that dragons had brought.  The hero of the movie is forced to face his own bias, and befriend the last dragon on earth, which is also a regular science fiction reflection on racism.

Romantic

Romantic does not necessarily mean romance.  That is, none of the books I've so far reviewed include love triangles, but romance - or missed romance - is a major element of the plot.

Missing

If I'm missing a genre that would make it easier to sort through my reviews, leave a comment!  If you think I should read a book that fits a genre that you want me to review, leave a comment!  What I'm trying to say is...

Never be shy about leaving a comment!

3 comments:

  1. I'll not argue your definitions for SciFi vs. Fantasy, but I assume you do realize that those are no where near the mainstream definitions. Using your own definitions is fine, but that makes those particular tags nearly useless for people who don't use them, which will be everyone but you.

    I'd suggest adding a Speculative Fiction (or similar) tag that encompasses both of those (and Steampunk and space fantasy as well). Anyone using more conventional definitions is going to have to troll all of those tags to find what they're looking for otherwise.

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    1. Space-fantasy is also tagged Fantasy, as you suggest. I don't have a bigger category that mixes Sci-Fi and Fantasy together because the difference matters to me. Would it fit the main stream to add a new sff tag that additionally mixes the two (doing so never actually occurred to me).

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  2. Yeah, I understand the difference matters to you, but it's unlikely to matter to many others.

    From what I see, all of those are generally just called Science Fiction by mainstream readers. Even those who separate it into Fantasy (magic) vs Sci-Fi (tech) are a minority in my experience. So any mainstream reader who wanted what they call SciFi would need to use all 4 of your tags to find the appropriate reviews. A single tag combines them all should work to make that a single step process instead.

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