(urth) BSG Spoiler vs Wolfe

Thomas Bitterman tom at bitterman.net
Wed Mar 25 15:22:59 PDT 2009

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 5:51 PM, Chris P <rasputin_ at hotmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM, James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com> wrote:
>  Enamel: In BSG people have (and don't have) sex for
> all sorts of human reasons, and have all sorts of
> human reactions. In Wolfe people apparently have
> sex to show what bad people they are, and suffer for it later.
>  Wynn: That's ridiculous. Do you really intend to compare the
> writing of BSG to Wolfe in favor of BSG?
>  Enamel: Yup.  In the case of male-female sexual relationships,
> BSG beats the pants off of Wolfe.  The motivations of the
> people involved and the effects the relationships have on
> them in BSG are more interesting and realistic than what
> Wolfe has shown.
> Wolfe doesn't typically set his scenes in "naturalistic" settings so I
> think you are comparing things that don't map.
> TB: BSG is hardly naturalistic.  Sci-fi (even the pulp sci-fi Wolfe uses
> for his own ends) is still about people, what happens to them, and how they
> deal with it.
> ***
> This sort of evades the point. Of course these are fantastic settings. It
> is the characters themselves that are more ordinary, and have more ordinary
> motivations, than the Wolfean characters you're trying to compare them to.

I'm not sure what you mean by "ordinary motivations".  Both universes around
the usual needs: eat, sleep, and not get killed by space robots.

> And the more "ordinary" characters that Wolfe writes about are generally in
> the short stories, which you for some reason are explicitly excluding from
> comparison.

I excluded the short stories because I wanted to compare the way BSG has
handled relationships as they evolved over the course of a 4+ season show to
the way Wolfe does.  The sort of depth I think the BSG writers gave some of
their characters' romantic relationships takes time to develop.  Time that
short stories don't generally have.  So best to stick near an apples to
apples comparison.

If you want to compare say, a romantic relationship in one particular Wolfe
short story to, say, the Baltar-Six relationship solely as it is portrayed
in the final episode, that's different.

> Even amongst the characters you do bring up, Latro for example at BEST
> provides no support for your main contention, and may show the exact
> opposite.

I'm not sure what my main point is taken as, but let me try to restate it
with less hyperbole (and in brief):  Extramarital sex in Wolfe's longer
works is bad.  The characters doing it are bad for doing it (and are often
bad in other senses).  They will pay for it at some point.  The relationship
itself will be poorly portrayed and unhealthy.

My reasoning:

Some rules seem to apply to a lot of Wolfe's fiction:
- Sex outside of marriage is a bad thing.
- A character is bad insofar as they do bad things, and they will pay, or at
least not profit.
- The reader is not supposed to empathise with characters who do bad things,
in the context of the bad thing.

The following situations are common in a lot of Wolfe's fiction:
- Most characters, while "on-screen", are single.
- Some have sex/enter into romantic relationships, from time to time.

Put the rules and the situations together, and you get:
- Some characters act badly.
- They will pay, or at least not profit.  The plot will see to this.
- The relationship must be written in such a way that the reader is not
tempted to sympathise/empathise/relate to the characters.

- Sex that is condoned by society can be considered morally neutral (at
best).  The society is stained by association, though.
- Sex between people who are engaged and later get married is ok.  IIRC,
Horn fits into here.
- Apheta.  What was going on there, anyway?

The BSG writers did not start with the same rules and so were free to write
(IMHO) deeper, more realistic romantic relationships.

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