Monday, June 4, 2012

JoLynne Lyon: Cross-Genre Appeal: Sucked Into Sci-Fi


Hope you've all had a great weekend, and I hope you're excited for a week of awesome guest posts! JoLynne Lyon is our brave soul today, a former journalist and current PR type who writes speculative fiction. You can visit her blog where she mostly talks about her life away from her desk. She has an amazing post lined up for us, so I'll stop talking. Give it up for JoLynne!

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For most of my adult life I told my friends I hung out with Trekkies.

That was understating it.

I started watching Season Five of Next Generation with my husband before I married him. At first I watched it for love, but I was hooked years and years before I'd admit to being a Trekkie myself. I mean, we had seasons three through seven on DVD, for crying out loud.

Why keep it in the closet?

Because Trekkies were the kind of people we all saw in the conference scene of Galaxy Quest.



So how did Star Trek suck me into sci-fi? For me it was because they threw in a bone to readers of classical fiction. The writers of the remarkably successful, stone-cold-space franchise explored the nature of feeling. Conviction. Passion. Love.

They did it through characters without emotion, like Spock in the original series and Data in Next Generation. They did it through Deanna Troi, who literally felt other people's pain and—in a couple of unforgettable moments—lost her composure in spectacular ways. The latest Star Trek movie revealed that Spock did in fact have deep, explosive passions, he just hid them better than most. (In my opinion, that movie was a lot more about Spock and the nature of love than Kirk the womanizing adventurer.)

I loved it. And yet Star Trek's faithful still showed up. Somehow the writers managed to put in a plot line that suited me without derailing their tech-loving fans.

It's a technique good writers use all the time. Just about every book review on National Public Radio starts with, “It's a (insert genre title here) that reads like literary fiction.” I'm not saying all writers should be literary, but it is smart to put in elements that appeal to a different audience.

It's probably safe to say that YA fantasy writer Rick Riordon isn't literary, but he did reach out to older readers in The Red Pyramid. He explored the similarities between Memphis, Egypt and Memphis, Tennessee—and threw in a lot of Elvis lore. I'm not sure the kids recognized it, but their grandparents probably thought it was a hoot.

Which gives me an excuse to put Mark Cohn's “Walking in Memphis” video in a blog post. I've always wanted to do that!



I'm JoLynne, and I'm proud to say I'm a Trekkie. I also love to make wood-fired oven pizza, read Dean Koonz and ride my bike through the countryside. Not necessarily all at the same time.

21 comments:

  1. I've been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. And it wasn't the tech so much as the characters that were engaging. I don't write literary, but I have always tried to focus on characters. And that does lead to a wider audience.

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  2. Ernest Hemingway said" Write true and the readers will believe your story because they first believe your characters." STAR TREK, when well done, did exactly that. THE VOYAGE HOME worked so well because you believed in the humanity of even Spock in it. What did Kirk say at his funeral in THE WRATH OF KHAN? "In all my travels, his soul was the most ... human."

    Great guest post. Roland

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    1. Roland, that's another corny line that absolutely works.

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  3. I've never watched the entire Star Trek cannon, but I have pretty much loved every Star Trek spin-off and film I've seen. I suspect it's for the same reasons you did, JoLynne :) Except I'd be too afraid of being shouted down by "REAL" hardcore Trekkies to call myself a Trekkie.

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  4. I agree. It's the characters and relationships that make Star Trek good, that make any story good. I've always loved Star Trek for this reason.

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  5. I have never seen a single episode of Star Trek. Or any films. I know, I must have been living under a rock, right? I've heard nothing but good things. Maybe it's about time to start? :)

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  6. I am a Trekki from a way back. Don't ask me how long. lol and to Julie, I cover my bleeding ears!

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  7. I've been a star trek fan ever since I was a kid sitting with my folks while they watched the original Star Trek on tv. I loved that and the Next Generation and the movies. Love it all!

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  8. Excellent guest post, JoLynne. Glad to have you on the Trekkie side. It was always funny having to explain to people that being a Trekkie didn't automatically mean I wanted to dress up and play out the parts at a sci-fi con. So glad to virtually meet ya, fellow Trekkie :-)

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    1. Good to meet you too, but you know the next step for both of us is Star Trek pajamas.

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  9. I'm a Star Trek fan too. I prefer the classic ST episodes to the new generation. Great Post!

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  10. What a wonderful guest post! Love how you analyzed the importance of character. :)

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  11. Oddly enough, I got sucked into Sci Fi through Farscape, which I watched for my hubby as well. :) Great post!

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    1. I've never seen Farscape. Must google it.

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  12. Great post, JoLynne ;) Trekkie's forever! :D

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  13. I've never actually seen anything Star Trek related. Before you all hit me, let me just promise that I will do so immediately :)

    Great post!

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  14. I've been a Trekker since I first laid eyes on Classic Star Trek--when it was first broadcast. No reruns or syndication. Been one ever since.

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  15. The thing I loved about Star Trek was the acceptance that all the people had for alien cultures. They didn't expect everyone to be just like a human or for that matter, for all humans to be alike.

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  16. I started watching Star Trek for the first time this year, and I agree--it's the character's feelings that often help drive the story(ies).

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  17. I'm really the only sci-fi geek in my large family - how did that happen? We are watching Stargate SG1, which made my best girlfriend say "Blech" (she's french). But I agree - let your inner Trekkie out!

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