Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Hissy Fit Addendum

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Lymaree asks why the moon couldn’t be just as good a destination as Paris, and all I can say is this–

For me,  it can’t.

I’m NOT putting down science fiction.

I’m just saying that, FOR ME, trips to the moon, interstellar travel and all the rest of it bore me silly. 

I accept the fact that other people can get really wrapped up in that kind of thing.

I just can’t.

I’ve read, by now, several dozen short stories and a few novels in sf and fantasy recommended to me or sent to me by various people, and some of them have been very well done and some of them have been a lot of fun.

And yes, of course, one can “learn things” about being human from what is not–but in the first place, no such thing is happening (the stories are written by humans for humans, the alien races are actually just human products of human imagination) and in the second place, I just don’t care. 

No matter how well done they are, or how congenial the message to me (and some science fiction writers are flat out libertarians of the old school)–

I can’t take them seriously.  They just do not engage my emotions, because they’re not about the real world.

If you can, well, good for you.

But I did NOT know I was capable (me, myself, in actuality) of moving to New York and living on my own.  I did NOT know how one would go about doing that.

Books like Burning Questions showed me. 

I don’t understand why so many of you are so relentlessly insistant that I change my mind about this.

It’s not going to happen.

If these stories work for you–good, go for them.

But I’ve never found the wholly imaginary very interesting.

Real people doing real things in real places–THAT interests me, even when I’m not looking for a dress rehearsal for something I want to do.

You know that dog with the head cocked feeling?

It’s the feeling I get whenever people start talking about how they get really into stories about going to outer space or full of aliens from other planets.

Good for you.  Go on and have fun.

But I just don’t get it.

Written by janeh

July 25th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Hissy Fit Addendum'

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  1. Uh, Jane? Those people in the novels? They’re not real. That’s why they’re novels and not biographies. Many of the real places are improved fictionally, too. Even if it isn’t done on purpose, the human memory can be shockingly maleable and self-serving.

    If the belief that they’re “real” turns your crank, good for you. But before you take it too far, remember that that Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers Georgette Heyer and PG Wodehouse are all describing pretty much the same people and places.

    Not to mention GLORY and GONE WITH THE WIND.


    25 Jul 12 at 7:01 pm

  2. Jane doesn’t get science fiction. I guess that’s fair enough. I don’t get Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy.

    But I do get Horatio Hornblower and Sherlock Holmes. It must be a matter of style.


    25 Jul 12 at 11:04 pm

  3. I don’t think we’re relentlessly trying to change your mind as much as we’re trying to understand where you’re coming from in the first place. You asked a fairly general question about where the right-wing coming-of-age books were – and that didn’t seem to me to limit the question to the type of book that you personally found so meaningful. If you want to discuss only those coming of age books that are about the real world, featuring a girl from a similar time and place to your own – well, that’s fine, but I can’t remember reading anything really similar, although I must have. They just didn’t make much of an impression on me. So, naturally, any comment I am going to make on this subject is going to be extremely general and/or about the kind of books that did make enough of an impact on me to be remembered all this time later – and that doesn’t mean I’m trying to convince you that you should have read and remembered those instead of the ones you actually read, loved, and were influenced by. It just means I can’t really comment on those, although I can comment on books with similar themes and possibly on their politics.


    26 Jul 12 at 7:31 am

  4. I think the first “female role model not doing what was expected of her/me” books I read were Nancy Drew, honestly. I was just like her, except for the money. Yeah. Right.

    What I’m marveling about is the underlying purpose for reading, when you come down to it, isn’t that different. Jane was looking for examples of how to achieve her dreams very close to home, I was looking for wildly different examples but still, they were my dreams.

    Thank goodness that both types of writing were available to us. I found Nancy Drew at age 8. SF & Fantasy grabbed me at age 10, and kept me enthralled until about age 25, when I returned to my mystery/detective roots, and now I read about half & half.

    It helps in understanding another viewpoint to say “my dreams don’t bend in that direction” rather than “I can’t stand (or don’t get) that type of story.” Whatever that story might be. It helps me understand *why* my own interests lie where they do, and why someone might not “get” what I get so enthusiastically.

    Of course, I also enjoy Dickens, Conan Doyle, a few other classical writers. There’s no accounting for taste. ;)


    26 Jul 12 at 1:09 pm

  5. One of my wife’s favorite books is Hard Times in Paradise by David and Micki Colfax, which is an autobiographical story of a family who give up their jobs and a home in the suburbs to carve out a homestead in California’s Redwood Mountains on very modest funds. I don’t know why I have a feeling that we may end up following in their footsteps…


    26 Jul 12 at 11:12 pm

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