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Old May 12 2005, 02:46 AM   #1
ghyle
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Post secrets of Anne's success

If we sat down and thought about it, I'm sure we can think easily of the basic reasons for the success of Pern, as a series and setting. What I'd like is for us to explore these, and other ideas why the Pern books are such a success, and I'd like to open this discussion up with a question: are the Pern books chick lit that blokes can enjoy?
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Old May 12 2005, 03:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

they're not chick lit.
I think their success is due to the wide audience they attract.
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Old May 12 2005, 06:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

I agree with Edith plus, for me, it's Anne's ability to describe her characters in such a way that I have no problem picturing exactly what they look like. Then too, there's the "conversion" of the dragons from traditional evil beings to friendly associates of humankind.
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Old May 12 2005, 07:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

I agree that they're not chick lit in the sense of Bridget Jones's Diary, but they are, as far as sci-fi goes, SF chick-lit. They're very, very light on the science (except DB, which has a lot of what honestly strikes me as BS biology, and I don't mean a bachelor's degree, not to mention it's dealt with very clumsily.) They are EXTREMELY heavy on the romance, often in very traditional romance-novel ways (F'lar and Lessa in the taming of the shrew, F'nor and Brekke's date-rape-as-romancing, Jaxom as the free-spirited sexually experienced Lord who falls for his charming nurse, etc.) They are vastly more accessable to the average female reader than some of the less relationship-centric science fiction writers. That definitely plays a role in the majority of Anne-fans being female (check out the polls at the NKT about members sometime--there is a definite distaff skewing.)

They're also written accessibly. They are NOT literature except in the loosest sense of the term, meaning unlike, say, 2001, Anne puts in a pretty stock plot and makes the characters interesting personalities, not puppets there so the author can play with an idea.

While I'm not sure about the whole 'making dragons good' thing being an initial selling point (as I honestly never thought much about dragons at all before reading it, except possibly "The Reluctant Dragon" or other Disney variants, so it never occurred to me to think "oh, dragons can be good, too!") but I think what the dragons bring is the bonding element. It's the same as the Companions in the Valdemar books--the idea that you have this beautiful, intelligent, creature that loves YOU beyond all other things, in the case of the dragons and most Companions would literally die without you, that is your lifetime advocate and ally, is a serious wish-fullfillment fantasy for a lot of readers.
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Old May 12 2005, 11:57 AM   #5
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Anne creates a world that you feel as if you are right there. I felt as if I were with Menolly as she was running from the hold. Her wrighting is so vivid.
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Old May 12 2005, 05:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

I have read, albeit by the uncharitable, that Anne's books are the SF equivalent of the pony books of girlhood. That is, women (and they specifically limited Anne's readership to women) who had grown up on pony books gravitated towards Pern.

How do these arguments from sex and perceived failings of aesthetic appreciation affect your self-perception as an Anne fan? Do these flip and erroneous dismissals make you see red? Is steam whizzing out of your ears? Or do you just laugh, and return to Ruth's written antics?
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Old May 12 2005, 05:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

Well other than the fact that I detested pony/horsey books when I was growing up and I've always detested romance novels I don't think that Anne's books are chick books. I do think they are on the lighter side of SF but they do appeal to a wide audience.

I think part of it is that she does do character development very well (both for humans and dragons). Her descriptions are so wonderful and vivid that I have always pictured myself there when I am reading her books. I cry when someone dies (my husband no longer asks if SOMEONE died but WHO died), I laugh when someone gets themselves into trouble, and I get mad when someone like Kylara or Toric acts up and causes major trouble for our heros.

I know for me, the people and places of Pern have become a part of my life but I don't think it's because the books are chick books.
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Old May 12 2005, 07:21 PM   #8
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

i definately don't think they are chick books. yes, they are a different kind of sf, as anyone would agree, but people (IMOHO) don't read them for that. they read it for the fullnes of her whole world. it's as if anne has a globe in her room with every landmark and place on pern perfectly marked out in detail. The characters, are people can realte to. Despite the odd character flaw/mix-up, they are fully rounded people. the heroes are anything from perfect, and the villans are never pure evil. she lets you get into people's heads, and portays a daily-life account of a very beleivable planet and race.

ps. hated "pony" books too.
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Old May 12 2005, 11:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

I think people are thinking more defensively here and not rationally. No one who's read the other Grand Masters of Anne's generation (Asimov, Clarke, etc.) can really ignore that Anne's books are very feminine even in comparison to other women writers like Ursula LeGuin. It's not a coincidence that Anne also wrote romance novels. Unlike the other SF written at the time, they are weighted drastically toward character in general and romance and romantic stereotypes in particular. And again, look at the memberships of Anne fan sites--the overwhelming majority of her fans are women. The critics are absolutely right about Pern--compared to some of her short stories and some of the older books in the other series, it is rather romance-novel. Frankly I don't mind. I don't particularly like hard SF or plot-at-expense of character stories.
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Old May 14 2005, 12:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

While I don't beleive Anne's books are chick lit, they do, as others have mentioned, revolve more around characters and romance. Of which I am very grateful for, I vastly prefer character grounded stories than hard sci-fi. Come to think of it, I hardly read any sci-fi at all for the resons of not being stong enough in the character department. Most of Anne's works, at least Pern, aren't very scientific at all, it's more towards fantasy. She has enough plot in there to make it beleiveable and have subtance, but characterization drives the story forward. That, in my opinion shows the signs of a good writer and is why I love Anne's books so much.
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Old May 14 2005, 02:37 AM   #11
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

Exactly what Spiff said.
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Old May 31 2005, 03:23 PM   #12
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IMO all of Anne's books are about interesting characters doing interesting things. I've never seen her in competition with Clarke or Asimov (whom I've also read extensively). She writes books which people enjoy reading, simply that. If most of those people are women, so be it. Most of the readers I know are women. Most of the men I know think reading is a waste of time they could be spending watching sports on TV. I've been aware for years that some people will take every possible opportunity to point out the flaws in Anne's writing and even her mentality but it has never interfered with my enjoyment of her books.
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Old May 31 2005, 04:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anareth
I think people are thinking more defensively here and not rationally. No one who's read the other Grand Masters of Anne's generation (Asimov, Clarke, etc.) can really ignore that Anne's books are very feminine even in comparison to other women writers like Ursula LeGuin. It's not a coincidence that Anne also wrote romance novels. Unlike the other SF written at the time, they are weighted drastically toward character in general and romance and romantic stereotypes in particular. And again, look at the memberships of Anne fan sites--the overwhelming majority of her fans are women. The critics are absolutely right about Pern--compared to some of her short stories and some of the older books in the other series, it is rather romance-novel. Frankly I don't mind. I don't particularly like hard SF or plot-at-expense of character stories.
One thing that one shouldn't ignore is that Asimov was one of Anne's very good friends & encouraged her to write--evidently he liked her style.

In all honesty, it has to be that Anne's works are character driven as opposed to the previous GM generation of Hard Science driven. Asimov always included little personal anedotes in his Non-Fiction that related to the subject he presented, thus I found it far more enjoyable than his Sci-Fi. I think it was for this, that Asimov found DRoP enjoyable, too. Any time he mentioned Anne, it was always with the highest praise.

True, Anne often blows a detail here & there, and evidently has problems getting beyond the Romance Fiction nature of the character's relationships. But her characters do evolve as the stories progress, figuring out problems within their personality trait, learning from their mistakes & like many people, sometime repeating them, and sometimes--like real people at times will--fail to learn from ANY mistakes (Fax, Thella, Kylara, Torric for examples)

Add to that, the dragons are characters, supposedly a "mirror" to the rider, but often something that is considerably different from their rider's personality--I think that "the Rider is the Dragon/the Dragon is the Rider" is a bit of a stereotypical mantra that is prevallent in the society, but example after example (Ramoth/Lessa, Mnementh/F'lar, Canth/F'nor, Ruth/Jaxom, Prideth/Kylara) proves that the mantra is really myth.

The dragons suplement their riders--the dragons force their riders to consider a different perspective than that which they themselves hold--even if the rider eventually rejects the dragon's advice, they are still forced to look at the situation from another viewpoint. Because of that, the dragons are some of the most interesting characters Anne created--& that's why we often want to see more of them and less of the rider
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Old Jun 1 2005, 12:57 AM   #14
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

That's true! And her dragons are mostly mild-mannered characters who are enjoyable to read, and there are no Mary Sue dragons (Anne's, not Todd's), and therefore appeal to a very large audience. The romanciness and the characterization is, IMO, one of the things that sets Anne McCaffrey apart from the other sci-fi authors, especially the male ones (though I'd have to admit Heinlein does a fairly good job of characterizing, especially for a guy). Her weak spots would probably be in the plot, since she often scatters it and leaves it sort of unorganized. But overall, she is a very good author indeed
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Old Jun 1 2005, 01:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

Any author who claims to have makde NO mistakes is probably making a mistake right there!
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Old Jun 1 2005, 05:39 PM   #16
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Default Re: secrets of Anne's success

I'm an author who makes no mistakes, whatsoever.

Then I wake up.
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