Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Exactly Like Nobody Else

Reading through Karen Traviss' Wess'har series for a second time, I realized that comparing her to other SF writers -- even popular and award winning authors like C. J. Cherryh or Nancy Kress, is just not fair. Not to them, not to her.

Because Karen Traviss writes like nobody else. She is unique. Read all the books by Brin or Viehl that you want, you won't know what it is like to read a book by Karen Traviss. Her quality of thought is unique, her characters are unique, her plot twists are unique, and most certainly the ethics embeded in the Wess'har books are uniquely hers.

In some genres, it is the predictability of the characters and the outcome that is the attraction. In mystery, suspense or romance, many books are published that could nearly be any other book -- just change the setting and names of the characters.

In the Science Fiction genre, there is the challenge of introducing something that has never existed before, something new from which concentric, expanding ripples of "what if" are extrapolated to shape the story and intrigue the reader. Silvergull mentioned this unique attribute of the SF genre in a thread at Forward Motion yesterday. She explained that a lecturer at her university designated the concept "novum" -- something new.

A novum fits exactly the description of the Wess'har series by Karen Traviss. She fulfills the SF challenge, (to create something new), and does it within her unique style, logical consistency, and cliff-hanger plot twists.

The first time reading the series, I could see it being made into a movie or movies. In the second reading, I'm convinced that it has to be put on the big screen. I wonder if Lucy Lawless could play Shan Frankland?


heather said...

it's tough for most writers to come up with something original, but i think SF is hit the hardest because SF readers almost demand that, compared to other genres. the genre is about breaking boundaries, exploring the unknown. which is hard to do if you're covering known territory.

my two bits anyway. will have to check traviss out!

Pandababy said...

Hi Heather,

"breaking boundaries" and "exploring the unknown" -- yes Heather -- two excellent descriptions of SF. I agree, I think SF readers are more demanding because of that.

Jaye Patrick said...

SF readers want to 'see' the possibilities, but it's up to the writers to create the possibilities and that is the hard part.

If a writer can't come up with something new, all that's left is a different twist on a theme.

But... we are only limited by our imaginations and no-one else can write a book like you no matter what the story is, because of your own experiences and influences.

Hmm... Lucy Lawless? When I get to the books, I'll now have an image. I wonder if I'll agree?

Pandababy said...

Hi Jaye,

Your thought on 'seeing' possibilities reminded me of a passage in "Matriarch", where I was so struck by the possible scenarios that I just stopped reading to take notes! I'm having fun with my digital books because it's so easy to add a 'sticky note' or underline to a passage -- and so easy to "erase" it!