In our Mind Meld posts, we pose a single question to a slice of the sf/f community and, depending on the question, other folks as well.
This week, we address the the (possibly) misguided efforts of Hollywood to produce quality science fiction.
With most television shows on hiatus due to the writers strike, it’s a good time to reflect on the quality of the genre shows of this past TV season. If you ran Hollywood, what changes would you make? What would stay the same?
Chris Roberson’s novels include Here, There & Everywhere
, The Voyage of Night Shining White
, Paragaea: A Planetary Romance
, X-Men: The Return
, Set the Seas on Fire
, The Dragon’s Nine Sons
, and the forthcoming End of the Century
, Iron Jaw and Hummingbird
, and Three Unbroken
. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as Asimov’s
, and Subterranean
, and in anthologies such as Live Without a Net
, and Forbidden Planets
. Along with his business partner and spouse Allison Baker, he is the publisher of MonkeyBrain Books
, an independent publishing house specializing in genre fiction and nonfiction genre studies, and he is the editor of anthology Adventure Vol. 1
. He has been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award three times-once each for writing, publishing, and editing-twice a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and twice for the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Short Form (winning in 2004 with his story “O One”). Chris and Allison live in Austin, Texas with their daughter Georgia. Visit him online at www.chrisroberson.net
The facile answer is to say that there should be fewer crappy shows and more good ones. Just what makes a show “good” or “crappy” is, of course, purely subjective (with the caveat that anyone who disagrees with me about Heroes being crap is just kidding themselves), but I think most viewers can agree about a certain level of objective quality. Or can they?
I think when it comes to genre shows, fans are often like abused girlfriends. “He doesn’t hit me much!” They approach a show that incorporates fantastic or sfnal elements with a certain set of expectations, some of which depend on the show’s quality as a television show–writing, acting, directing, even wardrobe and sets–and some of which involve its use of the “furniture” of genre–originality of concept, execution of ideas, etc. Often, sf/f fans will excuse a considerable amount of failing in the former category if a show does reasonably well in the latter. And if the deplorable quality of writing, or the wooden acting, or the lumpen directing is called out, fans will often respond with “It could be worse” or “At least it isn’t as bad as X,” or they’ll squint and say “Yes, but look at the story arc” or “check out the orbital physics of that starfighter.”
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