I have two things to babble about in this entry. The first is brought to you by Planetary Defense Command. Relax, it is not scary! PDC is a science fiction review blog. It contains reviews on novels, computer games, etc. The concept is that the ratings for the items reviewed are given # of four stars. This removes the 1-5 rating style we are all so comfortable using. In doing so, the “3″ or “average” is mercilessly ripped away from us and we are forced to choose Good or Bad. There are only four possible ratings – so 1 and 2 are dung and bad, respectively. 3 and 4 are Good and Great respectively.
How do I feel about this? I do appreciate it. I don’t think I could rate novels using this, however. because I think some novels are entertaining and edible, just not delicacies or fine dining. Some you eat on your Jarolina china, others you toss on the Corningware. It doesn’t mean you don’t eat or the thing is inedible, it just is not anything beyond any expectations. Three stars. I do not like the term “average” because that is flexible and relative. Three stars on my blog basically means edible fare. Eat it, be sated, move onward.
Interestingly, if I look at the numbers, I have a nice bell curve distribution going on. Most items are rated three stars. I only have 1 one star. Two stars 36 and five stars 39. So, maybe, in some way, on my blog three stars is actually “average.” Regardless, this was good enough to run on the brain back-burner last night, thanks to PDC.
Second topic: Introductions!
Lately, I’ve been reading really well-written introductions. I have a friend who despises introductions and purposely skips them. In my own writing, I have to stop myself from making a Preface, Introduction, Preamble, Second Introduction, Foreword, and Overview in every document. Nevertheless, I admit most of the time introductions are these boring “supposedly necessary” elements in the front of the book that do nothing to enhance anyone’s learning or fun.
However, the Introduction in Orbit 1 by Damon Knight is fun and engaging. The introduction in More Soviet Science Fiction by Isaac Asimov is interesting and valuable. The introduction to Alternate Gerrolds by Mike Resnick is witty, intelligent, and fun. I usually do not recommend introductions, but lately, I have found myself wanting to have people read the introductions – and not caring if they go ahead and finish the actual book!
As a subpoint, I’d like to mention that I think outside of (obviously) non-fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy has the most introductions. I rarely find introductions in other genres. Classics always have introductions – some academic giving us a bio of the author followed by some droll interpretation of a few elements of the novel. The introductions in books of Classics are particularly tedious and boring.
All of this led me to wonder about the “elements of a worthy Introduction.” I need to think on this a bit more to see if there are common elements which are accepted as necessary for a worthwhile introduction. Let me know if you want to suggest some.