From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) OT: further possible examples of story suites Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 10:45:51 -0700 Mantis argued with hisself, kinda ... > Okay, granted the greater degree of pieces altering each > other's meaning. Neither one is likely to be a story suite > . . . but the final word would have to come from Le Guin. :) Why? She coined a useful term; that doesn't make her the final authority on it. The word "retcon" (which I didn't, actually, coin but saved from vanishing) has totally escaped it's coiner's or my intended meaning, but it's a useful term of art anyway. And when you're dealing with a book like 5HC or ICEHENGE, none of the existing terms really _do_ work. BTW, I like "mosaic" too, but think it more appropriate for something made of more, smaller parts -- in fact, TDE might work here, but (as I said) I don't recall it well enough. > ... [M]y understanding of THE DYING EARTH is that it is 6 > stories, and only one of them was published in magazine > form--that was the same year (1950) that the book came out, > and as such amounts to a publicity release (just as "The > Tale of the Student and His Son" and "The Armiger's > Daughter," two tales from TBOTNS, appeared in magazines). > Or so it seems to me. And you could well be right -- it could well be that Vance conceived TDE as a suite of interconnected stories (are they?) and not just a series of stories. I read it once, twenty-plus years ago; I admit to being sort of blind in one eye where Vance is concerned. I deeply admire his style, and would cheerfully kill to be able to speak like one of his characters -- _nobody_ speaks with that kind of spontaneous elegance! -- but most of his stories qua stories just go in one eye and out the other for me. Only thing that has really stuck is the "Demon Princes" sequence. > So fix-up "in the classic sense of van Vogt," well hmmm. > Divining Vance's (probable) intentions rather than the > publishing record (making TDE a "failed" van Vogt fix-up?). > Ah well, such quibbles! Look, blattid said "more of a > fix-up," not "exactly a fix-up," so there's no quibble, even. Well, yeah. This is more of a matter of degree than a binary "it is"/"it isn't." It can be a floor wax _and_ a dessert topping, for all of me, and a big part of the idea behind "story suite" or "mosaic" would posdef be dat ole debbil auctorial intentionality ... you can draw a sort of spectrum. Most any "novel" built from parts can be slotted on here somewhere... Putting in a few examples to create the sense of this... o Far left, or "fixup," end of the spectrum -- example would be something like "Space Beagle." Stories clearly written as individual parts, shoved together to make a novel with no particular continuity or whole plot. o Somewhere to the right of this we can slot "Foundation" and the rest of the original trilogy, where the stories are linked a bit more thematically (as Delany observes, each story's resolution provides the problem for the next). There's more of a shape to it, but the stories are still very much independent; the experience of someone coming across one of them in an anthology or an old magazine won't be _that_ radically different from that of someone reading it in the omnibus. o Near the middle, a smidge to the left side, we might find Delany's "Tales of Neveryon" and its sequels. The stories are not _quite_ independent; indeed, they follow the pattern SRD diagnosed in the "Foundation" stories, but thematically rather than in terms of plot. (The re-placement of the first tale in the final volume is, in this sense, either problematic or a claim that it's been rewritten by the very existence of the rest of the stories.) o Still near the middle, but a little to the right side, I'd put something like Mike Resnick's "Birthright," whose story-bits are clearly composed as a whole to create an overall effect, but don't really interact beyond that level. This would be the ideal example of a "mosaic," I think. o Somewhere to the right of the middle I'll place Le Guin's own "Tales of Earthsea." The stories can be read independently, but together form more than (as first appears) an historical overview of Le Guin's imagined world; they are a consistent and balanced set of variations on certain themes that play through the whole Earthsea series, and more specifically in the "second trilogy" of which "Tales" is the centerpiece. Those who read its final story, "Dragonfly," in Silverberg's _Legends_ antho, may recall that it was surprisingly thudding in that context; in the context of Le Guin's collection, it opens up and loses a lot of the thuddingness. o And, at the far right end, of course, my exempla would be 5HC and "Icehenge." The point here is not to create pigeonholes or whatever, but to work out a useful term, going forward, for critical discussion of these not-quite-novels. Blatt blatt, --Dan'l --