Colin Harris (palatinate) wrote,
Colin Harris

What I love about SF&F

In the midst of Dr Who, there was a moment that reminded me of what I love about SF&F. It's something that I think can only happen fully in a literature of ideas and imagination, and it's that moment when a writer can use language as a trigger to send your mind into another world. A reference made in passing, without too much detail, somehow connects directly to the brain and starts you fizzing, filling in the gaps ...

Of course there is a link between this and the old adage that filming books never works for the specific reason that the minute you create a physical image, it will fail to live up to your imagination. Take a simple line like "she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen". Of course no actress will match that, because noone is perfect. But in our mind it works, because we simply take a broad image and attach the description and the associated emotions to it - we don't actually work out what the person would look like.

Take one of my favourite lines from Blade Runner: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die." We don't know what a C-beam is, but we all insert an image there - or, more likely, if the magic is working, we get that little bit of sense of wonder that makes SF&F special.

I had the same response tonight when the Doctor described the last days of the Time War. We don't really understand what a Time War is of course, but I thought RTD chose some great language - and by not explaining it, just reeling them off, that little moment really worked for me.
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