New lamps for old

But wait… there’s more

Order now and we’ll…

DOUBLE THE OFFER

(If you wait until the author has finally finished writing it, and pay for the second book)

When I was young, optimistic and foolish (I’ve outgrown the first part) I was talking to Mercedes Lackey about the theoretical framework that I’d created to make an Alternate history with religious magic work (The Heirs of Alexandria series: I’m – of the three of us involved in that project – the one who liked to work in logical and plausible fantasy. Not really ‘fantasy’ per se, I suppose). I eagerly expostulated about how ‘NEW’ this idea was, and how readers and critics alike were always after something new. I paraphrase, but she told me something that stuck with me: “Dave, they say they want ‘new’, but they don’t. They want new old.”

In other words readers – in general – want the characters and story type they have come to love, with a new story (that is sort of like the old story, at least in type). Yes, of course there are exceptions. But there is a lot of truth in that too.

In part it is capitalizing on past success, past achievement, meaning you don’t have to do the hard-yards from the start. It’s a bit like various African regimes renaming colonial cities, streets, buildings and airports etc. It’s a lot easier than starting from scratch. It even fools some of the people some of the time, especially those who want to believe.

It can be done reasonably well. It’s hard to eclipse the first book (or movie) although that happens sometimes if the author was just at the start of learning his trade when he wrote it. Of course sometimes that’s spun off into franchises. No one realistically expects the ‘franchise’ to be the same as the original. Occasionally, and rarely, a new author does such a good job that it’s different but better (Sanderson?) Mostly, of course it’s riding coat-tails. Hell, who am I to point fingers? I wrote the Karres books, and I’m no Schmitz.

Of course what many an author (or film-maker, or comics author) has tried is to use the franchise – particularly ones that are getting a bit ‘tired’ like many of Superhero comics were – with a new twist to attract new audiences and hopefully retain most of the old audience.

The trouble with this is it’s a judgement call, and especially inside the various bubbles (New York Publishing, Hollywood, and in the UK the Beeb’s little Guardian-and-Birkenstock club) they’re often so distant and unconnected with audiences outside their bubble that they assume they think like them and will respond like them. Which is why they have flops like the Ghostbusters remake, because they assumed the audience for the movie was just dying for a feminist version, with lots of man-kicking. Dr Who is trying much the same thing with a female Doctor. It could work because that audience is already pretty much restricted to inside their bubble. Still, with a new writer, and female lead after 12 male ones… She’ll have to be a good actress, and he’ll have to be a better writer. I expect we’ll see a long sequence of designated victim minorities cast in the role in future, until the show dies. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

I expect Jane Bond, 007 will be next.

Funnily enough I’m betting we’re not going to see ‘Tomb raider starring Larry Croft’ or ‘The Handyman’s Tale’ about a dystopian atheist society where men have been stripped of all liberty and rights and relegated to plumbing and other dirty jobs… oh wait… that’s a wet-dream that might sell to certain audiences – so long as it didn’t include the inevitable social collapse from blocked sewer systems because the boss (female, naturally) had no idea how they actually worked in practice.)

Anyway, the market will deal with these as the audiences see fit, probably to my amusement because I’m a bad man. Ask any puppy-kicker. My issue for today was rather more about dealing with the desire for ‘more’ as a writer, and not getting dealt with by the market myself. Because Lackey was right, at least about this – audiences that you’ve established want more ‘new’ stories in a ‘world’ or setting they enjoyed, and characters they want to see more of.

There are of course several problems:

1) You’re catering for the audience you established for your first book. New readers really don’t like starting with book two.

2) You’re walking on the heels of a book they loved – and inevitably that’s hard to live up to (because it doesn’t have that new magic, and also it does, often, follow directions that you thought were a good idea… and your readers don’t.)

3) You’re trying to get new readers anyway. You have to: aside from anything else, readers drift away or move on or die. Even the most addictive of stories won’t have a 100% come back for seconds. And like Hollywood, New York Publishing etc. – you’re chasing them at the possible expense of your old audience.

There is actually a fairly brutal and blunt answer to all of this – quite simply you’re selling an existing franchise’s goods to an existing audience. They are your priority. They will – if they love this book, recruit new readers to the prior one (especially if you’ve made it cheap or free). However – they have very high and very, very distinct expectations. Disappoint them… and they’ll never buy one of your books again. What is worse is that one angry or disappointed reader is I would estimate ten times as likely to badmouth you, as one satisfied customer is. Complaints are easy, praise is hard. A good reputation is built slowly and with difficulty. You can trash it in an instant.

You need to work out just who that loyal audience is. You need to learn what they want and like. You need to keep them that way. They will forgive you (perhaps not follow that series) if you write to catch that ‘new’ audience in a new ‘world’ with new characters, far more than if you mess with their established ‘loves’. Some readers – new, drawn to a new series, will explore the old one, and become loyal to that. Some old series readers will like the new. That way you get the best of both old and new. But –as so many authors have shown – chasing new at the expense of the old is a great way of ending up with nothing at all.

73 Comments

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73 responses to “New lamps for old

  1. “Dave, they say they want ‘new’, but they don’t. They want new old.”

    Heinlein, in his novel “The Cat who Walks Through Walls” had his main character (who was, among other things, a writer) say: “Readers don’t want new. They want mixture as before.” He then went on to use the example of baseball. There’s nothing you can see in a baseball game that hasn’t happened before but that doesn’t stop people from enjoying it. In fact, said character said he’d enjoy seeing one himself.

    Newness, when it’s there, is usually more incremental than revolutionary.

  2. paladin3001

    Okay, so let me get this straight. New is good if it’s new. If you have an old series, don’t go changing things around just to make it newer. Don’t piss on old readers and fans by changing things just to change them. *peers into empty coffee mug* Think I need a refill.

  3. As a side note, Jane Bond could actually be sort of interesting, if the writers just let her stand on her own without sniping at the previous incarnations , otherwise attempting to undercut them in her favor, or having her act like a man who happens to have a uterus.

    • Bingo!

      But if I go expecting to enjoy a couple hours with James, and find myself dating Jane… this changes the audience. The new audience may not be so loyal, and may not even be interested, and pretty soon if you want to keep them, you need to change Jane Bond into Jane Hooker, or whatever is the least like the original character… and that’s the final suicide.

    • Bob

      There’s Already been a female James Bond. Jennifer Gardner in Alias. It worked fine.

      • No, that’s starting up a different franchise. Replacing the character in the exact same role is what would be a problem. Doing it in parallel is nowhere near the same as going off on a tangent from a prior starting point.

        • Bob

          I know, I know, I was talking about creating a female superagent role specifically for a woman.

          And maybe I was being unclear, but I intended to imply that this would make a female James Bond unnecessary.

          Heck, I just looked back at that last sentence and realized: ‘a James Bond’ is pretty much synonymous WITH ‘a superspy’ or ‘a superagent.’ Call some character a James Bond and everyone knows what you mean!

          So yeah, the official James Bond franchise has a role specifically tailored for a male character and it would require all kinds of changes to make it for a female.

          But there has been ‘a James Bond’ who’s female. Several of them.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            But why create your own thing, when you can just change some races and genders in someone else’s creation and call it your own?

            • Mary

              Just so long as you change the names, too. . . but next thing you know you end up with only vaguely related. Once upon a time, I was inspired by a story with a guy who was a crow shapeshifter. What I ended up with was Crow Curse which is a story where the crow shapeshifter is a girl, and there isn’t any other trace of the story I took the idea from, either.

            • Bob

              For that matter, what woman would WANT to be James Bond?

              What struck me about Nikita and Gardner’s character from Alias was how deeply unhappy they were: the constant lying, the inability to trust or form relationships due to the aforementioned deception and fear of putting your friends at risk.

              They were doing a dirty, dangerous job that had to be done, and they were the best ones to do it, but what they wanted was to get out.

              For that matter, it’s not necessarily even a man/woman thing. I notice the later James Bonds have been getting more grim and brutal as compared with the early, ‘fun’ flicks.

              What can you expect: Bond only found true love once, and she was gunned down in his arms.

        • Mary

          That’s the way to do it. Changing the sex of the character can, in fact, be a useful trick in the course of filing off the serial numbers.

      • Patrick Chester

        There’s also a video game called “No One Lives Forever” with a female spy named Cate Archer as the main character.

    • Bob

      Also La Femme Nikita.

      • Bob

        If anything, those stories had an advantage over the Bond ones: they were able to explore the emotional toll of being a super agent.

        • One problem. Nobody wants to explore the emotional toll of being a super agent. That’s why Alias is off the air and James Bond is still 007.

          They’re going to hit the wall with this Dr. Who thing a lot harder and faster than they expected. That’s what my crystal ball is saying, anyway. When you start making changes to an established show, you have to be careful. This particular change seems to have been made to give the BBC a chance to heap disrespect upon their audience, rather than to make the story entertaining.

          • Eh. It’s apples and oranges comparing TV shows to movies. Alias made it for five seasons and 105 episodes, which is above average for a TV show, particularly one with an actual storyline.
            That having been said, Bond is possibly the longest-running movie franchise in history. Personally, I think people actually like a little bit of exploring the emotional toll of being a super spy, as long as the primary focus is competent people doing what needs to be done to save the world or whatever–see the most well-regarded films of the James Bond franchise as an example.

          • It’s going to depend on the writer. Moffat played too long and his stuff started getting boring and badly-plotted; if they give this actress some decent material it will work out just fine.

            • I agree. I adored the Twelfth Doctor, but it helped that Moffat had stepped back somewhat from the messes he created in Eleven’s run. (Still, there were a few that made me eyeroll.) I know Chibnall is a good writer, and the actress they’ve cast is a good one. I’m cautiously hopeful that this will work. And Who is better than some shows about staying relatively politically neutral. (Not always, but it’s only ever reached the level of making me roll my eyes, not get furious and stop watching.)

              I also have fewer problems with an alien being who can change bodies/personalities also being able to change gender (because why not?) than I would with, say, a female James Bond or something. (Though I agree with the theory that “James Bond” is a code name, hence why so many different men use it. 😀 But it would still be jarring for it to suddenly become Jane Bond.)

              Still, I do not envy the new Doctor the burden she’s gonna have to bear. They’d better really step up the stories, or it’s all going to be blamed on her (when in reality, it’ll be the writers).

              • The old fanfic Doctor Who videos from Seattle fandom included three or so eps with a female Doctor. (This was shot back in the Eighties or early Nineties, during the long hiatus.) She was played by a very gifted actress who was good at comedy, drama, and pretending that cardboard walls were real. The show basically dealt with the transition by not doing much at all, and by keeping the personality appropriately Doctorish.

                But they had no agenda, other than “This lady is a great lead for our show! And technically, it could happen by regeneration!” I do not trust the professional show staff as much as I trusted those fanvidders.

                And unfortunately, the actress died young, so she is not available to show them how it’s done.

                • Mary

                  What I would like is — “The New Lord of Time”! The Tharils having, with Romana’s help, freed their race, look upon the universe and say it needs a new race of Time Lord to prevent time snarls. Romana is deeply involved as their adviser, given her expertise, and in fact is always having adventures because they need her on the spot.

                  Making up some repeating characters as lions all the time shouldn’t be too hard.

              • a lady Brit I have known online for a very long time, is not at all happy about who they chose. At the announcement of it being a woman and who that was, she said “Meh” and “Oh her, don’t like her. Probably not bothered abut the Doctor for a while”
                but then said “As long as Clara stays off the screen, I’ll be happy”
                Also she wanted a Ginger as in hair color, not a female name (Marianne?)

          • Sam L.

            I was reading earlier that the NEW Dr. Who is taking fire from the fans.

        • Bob

          Shrug. I liked the depiction of the strain of living a double life, and the danger you expose your civilian friends who aren’t in the know.

  4. I solve the problem of audience expectations by writing for a single audience: myself. That way I know readers who share my tastes will always be satisfied.

    • There you go. Me too. I follow along with my handycam and record the action as the characters go to it.

      It’ll be fun to finally get some feedback from somebody else for a change.

  5. Bob

    The female Doctor: they may be making a mistake, since so many of the fans are women who LIKE a male Doctor.

    Ironic, that I just saw a Yahoo article mocking men who objected to the change. Nary a mention of women. I thought erasing females was bad?

    • This is the same BBC that felt it had to justify NOT changing the relationship between Watson and Holmes into a gay romance. And the article then said it was all female viewers who wrote in asking the writers to make the characters gay. I wonder if the Old Whovians *raises paw* don’t pester, we watch or don’t watch, go to Cons or don’t. The young activist types and old activist types write in and make noise. *shrug* YMMV but they lost me with that news.

      I’ll probably have a rant on my blog later today.

      • TRX

        We watched them all, from the surviving black and white ones with missing episodes, in order over the course of a year or so. (“The power of the Internet, etc.) Then a couple of years later the new ones came out with Eccleston, and we watched those. But I gave up after too many episodes of “dancing crack monkey guy” Tennant, and my wife finally gave up during the Matt Smith era.

        The Doctors became annoying instead of fun; the storylines became incoherent, nobody seemed to be using the Continuity book any more, and I eventually realized I no longer cared to watch poor Tom Baker imitations prance and gibber while saving the universe One. More. Time.

        • Mustn’t fanfic … musn’t fanfic … Argh!

          “What are we going to do. Doctor?”

          But the Doctor had walked away. She sat on the ruined steps and stared at nothing.”

          “Doctor?”

          “I’m not going to do anything. You can, if you like, but I’m getting into my TARDIS and my nice comfortable pocket universe and have some tea.”

          “But Doctor, if we don’t -”

          “I never asked for this job, you know. It was a sort of sentence, passed by Time Lords who never existed because I mucked up the time lines.”

          She stretched out her legs in a peculiarly male way and patted her pocket. “I miss the jelly babies. I could really use one now.”

          “Doctor, if we don’t, the universe could -”

          “What? Die? Hardly. The universe has looked after itself billions of years before I came along, and will for billions after I’m gone. Everyone we know? Maybe. Probably.” She looked at him. “Do you know how many time lines I’ve seen die? The trillions and trillions of death? I used to care, but it doesn’t matter.”

          “Doctor!”

          “I used to think it did, but everything changes.” She looked down at herself. “Everything.” She raised her eyes. “People I knew who never were; that I did know but who died. And I no longer care. I haven’t in a long time.”

          “Maybe that’s why I regenerated a woman this time; maybe someone thought I’d go all maternal and save the universe One. More Time.” She looked toward the sky. “It won’t work. I don’t care anymore. I’m tired of caring.”

          She got up and dusted herself off. “The universe can bloody well save itself. I’m off for a spot of tea.”

      • SheSellsSeashells

        I am old-school; my favorites are Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy, though I *adored* Nine and wish we could’ve seen more of him. And yeah, I just…don’t watch. Tell me a STORY, people, don’t tell me an excuse-for-SJW-moments.

        I am mostly amazed by this mass consensus that you can only dislike a female Doctor for nefarious reasons. Reminds me of my deeply fundamentalist friends who, if somebody said maybe alcohol wasn’t inherently evil, would sniff “You just WANT to get drunk.”

    • Luke

      As best I can tell, it’s “Roll Left and Die” again.
      I have a good friend who’s had “The Doctor” as his online handle since the Prodigy days. He’s been very unimpressed with the last couple of seasons. His response to the news was little more than a resigned shrug.

      Look, if they wanted to do transgressive gender bending, they could have easily made The Master female. That would have worked brilliantly with everything already established. Canon, plotlines, relationships, everything..
      But The Doctor as female, just doesn’t. And can’t be made to be.

      • Bob

        They did make the Master female. It worked great: check out clips of her performance.

      • Missy was brilliant. Which is why I finally came round to being tentatively willing to accept the idea of a female Doctor. If she can do as well as Michelle Gomez did with The Mistress, then it’ll work out. Here’s hoping, because aside from a few messes, I’ve still been enjoying the heck out of Doctor Who, and I loved Peter Capaldi. (And hate the new Doctor right now just because she isn’t Peter.)

        • Different tastes – I hated Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, though I was very glad at first that they had gotten off the “let’s make the Doctor even younger” train.

      • Frankly the BBC lost me with turning everything into “Oranges Aren’t The Only Fruit”. I put up with their crapping on the Who franchise and Torchwood; but I’m old and still recovering from cancer surgery and just not willing to accept their SJW excuses for poor writing.

    • It could work well, but I doubt the BBC has the gonads to go in that direction. Consider that until now the Doctor has been male. Now the Doctor isn’t. Several lifetimes of being male isn’t going to evaporate. Nor would the Doctor be entirely comfortable with a major change of anatomy. There also has to be a reason the Doctor regenerated as a female, considering that each time before the Doctor regenerated as males. So we have someone who’s always been male become female, and worse, doesn’t understand why. It’s not supposed to happen. Something went terribly wrong. What?

      There’s not only the issue of adapting, there’s the issue of fear, not from being female, but that something that wasn’t supposed to happen did. The Doctor dealing with all this could not only be highly entertaining, but getting to the different natures of men and women, something I doubt the BBC really wants to tackle because it would sent SJW heads to spinning.

      • That would be enjoyable, but I agree we’re not likely to see it. Or, not a lot of it. I will say this for the show: they have at least been foreshadowing the *possibility* of it happening as far back as season six (“The Doctor’s Wife”), starting with a throwaway line about the Corsair (a now-dead Time Lord) being both genders over the course of his regenerations. Then we had Missy (who was a glorious example of it working really well), then the general on Gallifrey. So story-wise, it at least is not coming out of nowhere–and if one chooses to read some remarks of the Twelfth Doctor over the course of the last season as such, he’s rather expecting it, and has done since he encountered Missy.

        So in that, at least, they aren’t just ‘suddenly’ deciding the Doctor can now be a woman.

        Me, I’m one of those who really does prefer to watch a male Doctor (I have a crush, leave me alone), but with the foreshadowing, etc going on, and the casting of an actress I at least am familiar with as an excellent dramatic actress (I saw her in Broadchurch, where she was amazing)…I’m not actively upset about it. For me, it’s now a case of “Okay, they did it. Now let’s see if they’ll do it well.” (Also, the fact that they ignored the screeching harpies years ago when they were first clamoring for a female Doctor, and instead took the time to set it up so it WON’T be out of nowhere also gives me hope.)

        (And I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of Twelve’s run, Moffat notwithstanding, so I’m hopeful that Chibnall–who has written some excellent episodes, and did a great job on Broadchurch–will do even better.)

      • Perhaps the Doctor wishes to have another child, and just can’t find the right woman?

    • Actually, this is one show that could pull this off if done right. The gender change could be explained as a by-product of the new set of regenerations they have already had to add.

      The secret is to just roll with classic Dr. Who stories instead of making it about the Dr. being a her. It would be especially good if the Dr. get annoyed when people want to focus on it because she wants to focus on Dr. stuff and not how getting extra regenerations had an interesting side-effect.

      I’m not saying they will do that but I can see it working.

  6. Musical version: if you’re ZZ Top, don’t start playing 25-minute instrumentals with meter and key changes every 10 seconds — people who like that sort of stuff (I do) go to see Dream Theater, not ZZ Top. And conversely, if you’re Dream Theater, don’t bore the lenadunham out of the music geeks with one 12-bar blues after another. A rare bird will be able to offer something that appeals to both audiences, but Jimi Hendrixes don’t get born every minute…

    • (side note: love Dream Theater)

      We went to a concert once that was B.B. King, with Jeff Beck (not “Beck”, that’s someone else) as the opening act. Jeff Beck plays blues. Jeff Beck plays the loudest blues you’re ever going to hear. We had gone to see Jeff Beck, but a lot of people who had gone to see B.B. King were a little shocked.

    • Van Halen: Still to this day the iconic Van Halen lineup in my mind has David Lee Roth as frontman. However, I think the Sammy Hagar days were arguably more consistent for quality music, and those are the albums I go back and listen to over and over again. After that it’s Who Is This? Sabbath is much the same. There’s the Ozzy days and then there’s Dio. After that it’s pretty much Huh?

      And really, neither of those groups changed radically with their sounds during those changes. Unlike say, early Pink Floyd in the ’60’s to later Pink Floyd in the ’70’s. When Waters ‘left’ the band and it continued for a couple of albums in the late ’80’s/early ’90’s it tried to stay fairly consistent to it’s hey day sound of the ’70’s.

      • Oh, it’s not nearly that complicated. Just 125 time changes over 256 measures, most of them 7/16 to 9/16 and back.

        Opera, now, you’ll get double flats when any sane person would say “that’s just a regular step down, what are you doing?” And 4/4 time over 3/4 time on a different line. And that’s just Gilbert & Sullivan, not even something complicated.

  7. I don’t see that there will be any particular problem with making the next incarnation female, but I clearly recall Dr. # 1 as something I watched, and have seen little since. They could as well have brought back #1s very young granddaughter and given her a Tardis that she faces challenges maintaining.

  8. Thing is, we’re all in a sort of bubble. The family is pushing me to release those book I wrote for their entertainment, and while trying to write a new one and prepare the first for indie, I’m thinking it’s going to flop horribly. So what if the family likes it; we’re in a bubble.

    The difference between indie and traditional publishing is that when it flops most of us knows it’s because it’s not as good as we thought. Bubble goes pop; we lick our wounds and try again. Traditional publishing grabs the duct tape of denial to maintain the bubble.

    • Families are tough critics.

      If your family hates it, that is not much indication. Zillions of people could love it without impressing your mom favorably. But if your family likes it, that is actually a pretty good sign that it has broad appeal.

  9. “Dave, they say they want ‘new’, but they don’t. They want new old.”

    Reminds me of that garden party song… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PECmjB9df0w

  10. Uncle Lar

    Atomic Blond, staring one of my favorite African Americans, Charlise Theron, is currently being heavily marketed in the US as the new female 007. Excellent prognostication there Dave.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2406566/?pf_rd_m=A2FGELUUNOQJNL&pf_rd_p=1971069222&pf_rd_r=0YT83NFVRY4G61WB9P96&pf_rd_s=right-8&pf_rd_t=15061&pf_rd_i=homepage&ref_=hm_cs_t1

    • When I saw the trailer for Atomic Blond while waiting for Wonder Woman to start, I thought it might be a pretty good popcorn movie–which is all I ever really expected out of a Bond flick.

  11. If we start with the premise that there are only X number of basic plots (I’ve seen it range from three to seven), then plotted fiction should have a familiar foundation.* Let’s say you do boy meets girl, girl prefers other boy, boy shows that he’s better and wins the girl. And add dragons. Fantasy dragons, sci-fi dragons, living dragons or mechanical dragons or … That’s where we can take the new and add it to the old, keeping things familiar.

    Anne McCaffrey took a medieval setting, a revenge story and a love story, a mysterious threat to the kingdom, and added trope-shattering dragons (they are considered the first “good dragon” in sci-fi/fantasy). Publishers had doubts, readers glommed onto it. There was old with a splash of new, all well done.

    *New-wave, lit’rary post-modernist fiction seems to eschew plot, or make it so convoluted that I can’t tell if the oroborus is a ring or a tesseract.

  12. Christopher M. Chupik

    I have been long resigned to the possibility of a female Doctor. The groundwork has been laid. More than anything, it was a very predictable choice (I wasn’t even slightly surprised by the announcement). If they handle it well, all the problems won’t matter. If they handle it poorly, they’ll rue the day they thought of it.

  13. mrsizer

    The advertising rule is that people like three things: New stuff, better stuff, and the stuff they’re used to. One product cannot be all three. However, that’s where “New and Improved” comes from.

    For storytelling, I don’t really see a lot of room for drastically “new”. I’ve mentioned here before that I’d like to write aliens that are actually alien. The problem is: No one would want to read it because nothing would make sense. Nadrak was the closest I’ve seen and his race (spacing the name) isn’t so much “alien” as “mirror-image”.

    Lots of room for “improved”, which could be considered “with a new twist” (see “good dragons” above).

    And I hate to say it because Mercedes Lackey is one of my most-purchased authors, but her series tend to become “same old stuff” after the third or fourth book, which is better than Orson Scott Card who tends to go from “awesome” to “yuck” in three books (e.g. Lord Valentine’s Castle vs Majapoor Chronicals or Ender’s Game vs Xenocide).

  14. Sometimes it takes an author a book or two to really find the right feel of a series. So, ‘old stuff’ but with ‘new stuff’ added I guess?

    While I liked Clive Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper it wasn’t until Iceberg and especially Raise the Titanic that the Dirk Pitt novels really took off for me. Unfortunately by Sahara he was losing me again.

    Aaron Elkins is another one whose first foray is a bit different than the rest of the series. Fellowship Of Fear is a decent book, but it’s almost a James Bond/Jason Bourne wannabe compared to the rest of the series which focuses more on Gideon Oliver’s forensics abilities rather than his derring-do. Plus, they don’t introduce his wife (well, new wife) until the second book The Dark Place.

    Orson Scott Card has probably done the best 1-2 punch going in different directions with the same protagonist/series when he did Ender’s Game followed by Speaker For the Dead, where EG is more mil-SF and Speaker is more of a religious/political thriller mixed with alien first contact. Unfortunately Xenocide became maybe a little too much of the religious/political book and sort of lost steam audience.

  15. For movies I think The Empire Strikes Back is just as good as Star Wars was, though they were much the same. Empire was a little darker, but there no real change in style. Unlike say Alien which is maybe the best SF/Horror movie ever made, followed by Aliens which is among the best mil-SF or SF/Action movies ever made. The styles were different, but both done so well that they both were huge hits. I didn’t mind Alien3, but after that they lost me.

    Americans didn’t get the theatrical release of Mad Max, so when they finally saw it after The Road Warrior became a hit a lot of them were left shaking their heads somewhat.

  16. We all need to find new readers. But we need to remember that most of the problem is being unknown. The fans we’ve got are proof that we’re doing it right. We just need to find more readers who like the stuff we write, not write what we think “This other huge group of people will just love.”

    Mainly because we don’t actually understand why they like what they like and will both aim for the wrong thing _and_ do it poorly because we’re forcing a story we don’t live in our own heads.

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    I see a certain vile website has linked to this with the oh-so “clever” title of “Mad Penius Club”.

    Oh, my aching sides.

    • Dr. Who and the BBC troll the fans with their equivalent of The Death of Superman, but Dave Freer is the bad guy. Yeah.

      Maybe if we get a guest post from Larry C, China Mike will take his clickfarm traffic elsewhere? One could hope.

    • Patrick Chester

      Once again that sort reminds me of that scene from Spaceballs where Dark Helmet acts out a battle with his dolls, but Colonel Sanders didn’t see him doing that again.

  18. Men stripped of all rights?

    Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price

    (Inverse Regency with Steamboats)

  19. Some of the best advice in the Save the Cat screenwriting book was directing the writer to “give me the same thing, only different.” As much as I hate being about to distinguish the same structure in every movie, I get why it works, and heck, it does make writing easier.

  20. John R. Ellis

    I recall a few years ago, when Capaldi was announced as the New Doctor, several feminist and progressive leaning SF sites (and even some pros like Paul Cornell) were upset they didn’t cast a woman. I wonder how they would have reacted if Capaldi had done what the actress cast as the new Doctor has done and said “Don’t be afraid of my gender!”

    ….yeah, probably wouldn’t have worked out.

    Me? My favorite Doctor is Colin Baker. Still plays him on the original audio book adventures. Don’t mind, I’m good.

    • I always felt bad for Colin Baker and the way he was screwed over (in so many sense of the word) during his tv run. But you’re right–he is *amazing* in the audios. His adventures with Evelyn are some of my all time favorites!