META: Notes on a Genre I Love

Andrew Perron pwerdna at
Mon Mar 9 18:03:20 PDT 2009

On Fri, 6 Mar 2009 03:10:33 +0000 (UTC), Tom Russell
<milos_parker at> wrote:

>   But because superhero stories are about superheroes, who put their
>lives in danger on a regular basis by definition, we're able to
>suspend our disbelief more than we can when following around a society
>wife.  It makes far more sense for mobsters, aliens, and deranged
>maniacs to center their psychosis on a man, woman, or robot that's
>dedicated their lives to fighting said mobsters, aliens, or deranged
>maniacs than it is for mobsters, et al. to focus on tormenting Luke
>and Laura.  (Though, you have to admit, Luke's pretty bad-ass.  You
>remember when he and Scorpio stopped the Cassadines from taking over
>the world with an ice machine?  That was awesome!)

You know, I never quite thought about it that way.  The combination of
serial format + science fantasy genre does allow a lot.

>   People misunderstand optimism and cynicism.  I had a friend who,
>when asked which column he would put himself in, answered that he was
>realistic.  But "realistic" doesn't really figure into it.  All of us
>can and should be realistic; every human being owes it to themselves
>to be a member of the fact-based community.  Optimism and cynicism has
>nothing to do with "realism"; optimism as I see it really has nothing
>to do with Pangloss and "the best of all possible worlds".  Optimism
>and cynicism have nothing to do with the world as it is but with the
>world as it might be.
>   Neither the optimist or the cynic ignore the pain and suffering in
>the world and the capacity for cruelty and selfishness in the human
>character.  The difference is this: the cynic sees all this and says,
>it's just going to get worse.  The optimist sees all this and says, it
>can be better.  We can make it better.  It won't be easy, but we can
>do it.  Yes, we can.  The audacity of hope.  (My goodness, it's a good
>time to be an American.)

I just love this whole bit. <3 So very true.

> (For example, if the Doctor was 'a heavy reader with no
>interests beyond enlarging his vast library', the series would
>probably have to work much harder to get him involved in events.)"

Hmmm, a Doctor Who/Read or Die crossover...

>   "Oh, I still want you dead, no doubt about that," said Samwise.
>"But I will be the one to bring you down, and only when you are at the
>height of your powers.  To let you slowly shrink away into oblivion
>because of some accident of your ridiculous biology?  Bah.  That's no
>victory at all."
>   They started again on their way towards Flojira.  "Never change,
>Samwise.  Never change."

And this makes me want a version of Lord of the Rings that combines
the Sam and Gollum roles.

>That last bit is important: an episode should feel self-
>cohesive.  An episode doesn't end merely because the time or page
>count has expired, but because the story the author was telling-- plot-
>based, character-based, theme-based, whatever-- has been completed.

Hmmmm.  Yes, I agree.  Writing for the trade especially exacerbates
this, as the writer often seeks only to make the collected edition
complete, not each individual chapter.

(Chapters in a book themselves need to function this way as well, I've

>   Less popular than the Surfer, but a character that I and many
>others take no less seriously, is his cousin at Marvel's Distinguished
>Competition, the Black Racer.  The personification of death for
>Kirby's Fourth World, the Black Racer soars through the skies on a
>pair of frickin' skis!  Utterly ridiculous.  Can you imagine Death in
>the Seventh Seal bearing down from the skies on a pair of skis?
>   But Kirby makes it work, for Surfer and skier both.  I've tried to
>analyze this for both but been unable to on any intelligible or
>conscious level.  And that's because these sort of ideas are like a
>swift punch to our subconscious: their absolute ridiculousness defies
>any rational explanation besides, "Awesome!"

I've never seen a work that made the Racer work (other than one issue
of the Morrison JLA), but then, I've read far too little of the
original Kirby Fourth World.

>Ozu and Bresson use the
>slow accumulation of detail, stillness, silence, and a certain formal
>austerity (see Paul Schrader's "Transcendental Style in Film") to get
>us beyond our conventional intellectual and emotional responses to
>someplace more spiritual.  Kirby, being more direct and perhaps a bit
>suspicious of a languid pace, gets us there by punching us in the face
>with the one-two combination of OMAC and Devil Dinosaur.

Hmmmmmmm.  Which makes me wonder if this is what people are talking
about when they use "the creator must have been on drugs" as a

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, a thing which annoys me greatly,

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