Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happily Ever After


The previous two posts here tackled the problem of the villain and the happy ending.

Before I get to my ConDor panel schedule, I'd like to point out that there's another reason many (actually most) consumers of fiction (narrative text, graphic novel, or film or TV series) prefer the happy ending.

When you read a lot of biographies, and compare them to the underlying astrology of the subject's life -- or just study the natal charts of people you know -- you discover that life has patterns.

I mean "real" life really does have just a handful of general patterns.

There is what I call the "pillar to post" life -- such as you follow on soap operas. People snear at that as "melodrama" -- but I know a lot of people who live that sort of life for their whole lives.

There is the life without challenges which results in a person who isn't ever going to be the subject of a biography or a police docket report -- not so much as a friendly divorce mars such a life. (know a few of those)

There's the life that is jerked out of its proper channel by an early trauma (loss of a parent or sibling, child abuse etc) -- and forever after relives variations on that event or fights that battle long after it's over. Such people make marvelous subjects for biographies or bases for fictional characters.

And there's the "happily ever after" life which is fine UNTIL (place event here) and then that event is resolved and life goes back to being plain and uneventful (i.e. happy).

When we are living through (place event here) -- we like to believe it's a single thing that will be over -- and life will get back to normal. That's the appeal of "happily ever after" -- that you who live a plain life can have a story-like event to recount to your grandchildren, or that you who live a "pillar to post" existence might eventually get to a safe haven or clear sailing point.

We all like to believe that life could be different than it is -- that we can have someone else's life instead of this one -- and in some cases, you can! (whether you'd really want to or not is a different question). But that's the appeal of fiction in general -- walk a mile in someone else's moccasins and ask yourself if you really would rather have that life.

Can you have a different life and still be you? Another deep philosophical question.

The reason I like Alien Romance is that the relationship gives each party a "different life" than they had, and the romance makes each person a different person -- or more accurately a very different version of the same person they were.

One of the tricks of the writer's trade is figuring out what a given character COULD change into -- and what they couldn't. Can you really change a person's life? And if you did, would you then change the person? Or is it the other way around -- change the person and the life will change?

That's the kind of deep question you find in the best alien romances -- what are the limits of a human life and personality?

OK, that said, here's my schedule for ConDor March 2-4, 2007

http://www.condorcon.org/html/mainmenu.html is the con's website.

Hotel for 2007 - The Handlery Hotel and Resort
located on Hotel Circle North.

Address: 950 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108

On my schedule, Sunday and 10AM is a Roundtable discussion about "Harry" -- the Harry in question is Harry Dresden of THE DRESDEN FILES -- but I'm sure we'll talk about Harry Potter too!

Here's my panel schedule --

Friday 3:00 PM: Religion and the Brain Presidio Room With: Jean Graham, Blaine Readler, William Stoddard

Friday 4:00 PM: New Directions in Biological SF Executive Room With: Cody Goodfellow, Howard Hendrix, Paul Stuart

Sunday 10:00 AM: Roundtable: Why I'm So Wild About Harry Executive Room

Sunday 12:00 PM: Establishing Relations With Aliens Presidio Room With: Todd McCaffrey, Stephen Potts

Sunday 2:00 PM: Making Monsters Sympathetic Presidio Room With: Gary Babb, Kevin Gerard, Cody Goodfellow, Karen Taylor

Sunday 3:00 PM: Fantasy Outside Tolkienian Model Directors Room With: David Bratman, Stephen Potts, Chris Weber

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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