[LMB] Exposition and Quantum Theater

Debbie lioness at bellsouth.net
Wed, 22 Sep 2004 19:03:37 -0500

>And that's where we hit the problem. Rowling's exposition has exactly the 
>same problem, for me, that I've just described with regard to Bujold's 
>books. Both of them do a good job of presenting new information exactly 
>when it's needed; however, they both do so in a manner which makes me say, 
>"Oh, you're just making this shit up as you go..." And that's a 
>significant weakness in their books, for me, a weakness that prevents me 
>from holding either the Harry Potter or Miles Vorkosigan stories in as 
>high regard as Kate and many other do. Both worlds have a sort of 
>stage-set quality to them: because essential facts about the world aren't 
>revealed until it's absolutely essential, I don't feel much of a sense of 
>depth. It's even worse that, though: the way it's handled makes me suspect 
>that nothing exists beyond what we actually see until the author needs to 
>show it to us. Call it "quantum theater."


*nods vigorously* EXACTLY.

It's a narrator problem.  Bujold's books all have third person limited 
narrators.  However worthy these individuals are, they are not 
omniscent.  They don't know everything and they can't represent every 
viewpoint.  Yet since they are the only way we have of learning about the 
world, we must accept their views of The Way Things Are.  That's okay in a 
single book, a sequel, or even a trilogy.  But once you get up to four 
books you need to present more complexity for your world to grow.  Lois has 
FIFTEEN books in the Vorkosigan Saga, and the opinions of her original 
limited narrators are still presented as The Only Right Way To Look At 
Barrayar.  Anyone who shows up with a different opinion is Wrong 
Somehow.  Much as I enjoy the stories, I'm tearing my hair out over the 
lack of variety.

Forex:  Barrayar has a thriving holovid industry.  It's been mentioned 
several times.  That didn't come from nowhere.  Where's the widespread 
Barrayan theatre community that holovid industry grew out of, that provided 
the trained professionals for the first generations of holovid 
productions?  Even if it's completely disappeared in the past two 
generations, the remnants should still be out there somewhere.  (I'm 
tempted to digress into technical questions regarding stock characters and 
the difficulties involved in live theatre, but I'll leave them for the 
experts on the list.)  And where are all those holovids getting made 
anyway?  Somewhere on that planet is the Barrayan Hollywood, a town that 
considers anyone from the Vorkosigan District as hopeless hicks and Vorbarr 
Sultana as too staid and bureaucratic to stay in any longer than 
necessary.  Goodness, they roll up the sidewalks there at sunset!  There's 
no night life beyond what appeals to the limited tastes of soldiers and 
bureaucrats and the limited budgets of college students, nothing to appeal 
to people of -- esoteric tastes.

And then there's the matter of stereotypes and folk tales, but I'll save 
that rant for later.

Aggh, I'm sick and tired of Vorbarr Sultana.  I want to see the rest of 

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