All posts by Violette Malan

[GUEST POST] Violette Malan Asks: If Setting Can Be a Character, Where Does that Leave Mary Sue?

Violette Malan lives in southeastern Ontario with her husband. People tend to ask her about the choreography of stripping – and she’ll answer – but most of the time she’s the author of the Dhulyn and Parno novels, and  the Mirror Lands novels, fantasies available from DAW. You’ll find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and check her website:

If Setting Can Be a Character, Where Does that Leave Mary Sue?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about dystopias vs utopias – why are we seeing so many of the former, and so few of the latter? Are the novels being touted as dystopias really dystopias, and so on. This talk can be seen as part of the larger concept of world building, something which, for F&SF writers, takes up at least as much of our time as creating characters, and working out plots. After all, none of us is really dealing with unadulterated representations of the real world as we live in it. The other day I found myself thinking about a variant on the utopia/dystopia paradigm: how much MarySueing is there in our complex imaginary worlds?

In other words, is there a world-building version of the Mary Sue? If we agree with those who suggest there aren’t any utopias out there right now, we’d conclude that, no, there isn’t. But I wondered whether there might be any Mary Sue elements which writers find surfacing in their work. So I did an informal survey, asking this question: Are there any “improvements” on our world/society that you routinely try to introduce into your work?

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