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Bar-sur-Loup Provence France

Removing the SFnal element from a story

During the VD3 workshop I presented a story that is really actually about marriage and family life, though it had a fantasy trigger element in it. A couple of reviewers commented that they thought it would be stronger without that; just the couple and their two kids (what? autobiographical? of course not...).

Then someone -- I think it was Chance -- started riffing on that idea. I mean, how many genres out there can you do that with? Could you imagine someone writing a Western, and then in the workshop someone says, "Why don't you take the cowboys out? And it doesn't really need the saloon and the Indians" Or a thriller, and someone says, "I think it would be better without the guns and spies." "You know, this Harlequin might be better without the tall handsome mysterious guy with the shadowy past." "I don't know... I think the thing under the bed should really just be a teddy bear."

It's a funny idea, but it does underline a point about the universality of good SF that is generally missed by most critics of the genre.


Unfortunately, I think it also says something about the disregard so many seem to have for SF. I don't think anyone would look at a mystery story and say "why don't you take out the murder and the detective?" Why SHOULD you take out the fantastic element? Shesh.

And if this is the story I think it is, then I'm glad you're still working on it. I thought it was a strong story & have often wondered what happened to it, and hoped that you hadn't filed it.
Bar-sur-Loup Provence France

December 2011

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