Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Science Fiction Formulas

I was reading some of the responses to last night's premiere of V. I thought it was better than I expected (I wasn't a fan of the original, though I did like the mini-series--I think they should have left well enough alone after that.), but, you know, it is just an invasion story. The character in that crowd scene last night who said, "This is Independence Day!" hit the nail on the head, as far as I'm concerned. An invasion story is an invasion story.

I feel the same way about apocalyptic novels. Have you ever read one that didn't involve civilization falling, leading to a dystopian world? Talk about a rigid formula. Did I have to read more than a half dozen? Or, for that matter, more than one?

I'm sure this was why I had trouble coming up with more enthusiasm for The Hunger Games.


Bibliovore said...

While it's true that there's a formula to dystopic novels, that's never bothered me much. A lot of genres I like follow a formula. Maybe it's not even a formula so much as the agreed-upon structure of the genre. You know boy is going to get girl, you know the detective will solve the mystery, you know civilization is shot to flinders.

The formula is accepted; it's seeing *how* civilization does a massive FAIL that interests me. There's always some little variation.

Gail Gauthier said...

I would like to see some variation in the post failure. Why, after a certain amount of time has passed, doesn't a healthy civilization evolve in any of these books? Isn't that what has happened historically? Rome fell. You had a Dark Age period. Then the Middle Ages come along. Not the greatest time for humanity, perhaps, but wasn't it a functioning--and evolving--civilization? Wasn't the Renaissance a move forward? The culture of the antebellum south is gone. Is the American south a dystopian culture? In that case, couldn't it be argued the that pre-fall culture was the dystopian one?

Historically, I don't think we've ever stayed stuck in a dystopian culture. We've moved on. Why can't we see something like that in an apocalyptic novel?