Borrowing From the Masters

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Hereford Eye, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

    Sep 2, 2002
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    Classics Whose Approach I Would Love to Imitate:

    The Mouse That Roared, Leonard Wibberly, 1955.
    At 14 years of age, this story of the world’s smallest nation declaring war and defeating the U.S.A. was not only funny, everything that happened resonated with me, every misstep by the U.S.A. and the Duchy of Grand Fenwick seeming to me perfectly in character for the governments of the time. Imagine writing a story now where the Vatican City declares war on the U.S.A. and wins. That seems so obvious that I wonder no one has yet written the damned thing.

    The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell, 1957 – 1960
    Imagine telling an sf story 4 times from 4 different viewpoints. As close as I’ve seen is Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Real Story.

    The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury, 1951
    Tying a series of vaguely related short stories together with a stand alone tale seemed genius to my 11 year old mind. It still does. I have tons of short stories that I’d like to do the same for.

    Birthright: The Book of Man, Mike Resnick, 1982.
    I learned of Robert A. Heinlein’s basement wall and the future history displayed thereon in the early 1960s. I believed that to be an awesome achievement. Then, I read Birthright and I saw that Resinck trumped Heinlein. Birthright is not just a timeline; it’s a magnificent future history… because, with everything I think understand about people, Resnick’s history makes sense.

    The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell, 1996
    Back in 1954, I read Louis de Wohl’s The Second Conquest, a story of first contact with folk on Mars and what that meant for Roman Catholic theology. Since I was checking it out of a Catholic school library, the theme and plot played to those virtues. But, it was a heck of a read. More so, to me, because I had eavesdropped on a conversation among my dad, my uncle, and two Franciscan priests who were debating what it would mean if intelligent life were to be discovered out there. Then, in the 2000s I read ]The Sparrow and finally discovered someone ready to treat the topic in real terms, with real understanding of church politics. Add to that, she added a marvelous conundrum to be addressed by the church. Imagine a story with a similar conundrum to be addressed by imams of all the monotheistic religions.
  2. KatG

    KatG Garrulous Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 22, 2003
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    I liked the writing in The Sparrow, but I had a much harder time with the science fiction aspects of it which got increasingly ridiculous. It was not exactly plausible. But I would like to read some other stuff she's written because her writing is very nice and her aliens were indeed interesting.

    I read The Mouse That Roared when I was much, much younger. I'm afraid I only remember thinking it was lovely satire at the time and not a great deal else.