Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Sunday Salon -- The Fantasy/Sci-Fi Disconnect

I was reading over on Carey's blog about how she enjoyed the new Star Trek movie and she mentioned that she doesn't read Sci-Fi but likes it on film/TV.


It's the weirdest thing, really. In television shows and in film, it's almost as if I can't get enough of it. Almost all of my favorite television shows have a fantasty or science-fiction element to them. The movies I seek out definitely do as well. (I'd like to throw in horror/spooky/supernatural--another thing I cannot seem to get enough of lately)

But when it comes to books...apart from urban fantasy (fantasy set in contemporary times with a real world setting as opposed to totally imaginary) I just don't really read it. At all. And I definitely can't think of any science-fiction I've read recently.

Why? Why is that the genre I crave in TV or Film but not books? In fact, I almost avoid it when possible in books. Is my imagination poor? Do I need the filmmaker to take that extra step for me?

Is this true for you in anything? Are there any genres of books you like to read but not watch or vice-versa?



Lenore said...

I read and watch a fair amount of science fiction. But I'm really not into purely imaginary worlds at all.

Blodeuedd said...

I don't like to read mysteries, murder and thrillers, but i love to watch them on tv.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

Great question!

There are some things that work much better on TV, and some which are best left in books, but I don't think whole genres can be generalised like that.

I'm not a big fan of science fiction on paper or TV. I think it is quite odd that you enjoy watching it, but not reading about it. I've never heard of anyone like you before!! Unique in your own special way - lol!

Nymeth said...

It's definitely easier for me to go into sci-fi series and movies than books. I have no idea why. Over the past few years I've been making an effort to give sci-fi more of a chance, and I did discover some great books... but for some reason it takes an effort, while with TV it doesn't at all. I could watch Stargate or Babylon 5 all day.

What makes it even weirder is that I'm all over fantasy, so it's not like I have a problem with imaginary worlds in general. I really don't know why this happens.

Julie said...

How funny! I am the exact opposite. I would much rather read sci-fi than watch it. When I am watching sci-fi I get distracted by wondering how they made the special effects. I can't lose myself in it the way I can when I'm reading. Crime fiction, on the other hand, I would rather watch than read.

Court said...

It's the same for me with scifi. I used to read only that, but in the past few years I can't find any real desire to read (contemporary) scifi books but it's pretty much the only thing I watch on TV, and I can't watch enough scifi movies. Devour the genre on TV and in movies. I was actually wondering why as well. My theory is that most of the contemporary scifi stuff I've picked up is very space opera-ish (space operatic?) and I have no patience for soap operas whether they take place in space or not.

Jen said...

The thing with Science Fiction books is that a lot of time is spent on world building and explaining the technology - which depending on the author can get very boring very quickly. TV shows and movies don't have a lot of time for that information and tend to focus on the action more than the setting.

There's also the idea of character driven rather than plot driven - most books tend to be plot driven while TV shows and movies tend to be character driven. Most of the SCIFI books I read are young adult books which tend to focus on the characters more than the plot.

Alexa said...

I'm with you in that most of my favourite tv shows are sci-fi. I haven't read that much of it but what I have read I've loved. One of my favourite series is the Deathgate Cycle.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I read a lot of scifi but I agree with Jen - they are very difficult in the beginning because you have to learn a lot of things to figure out how the universe works. On tv or movies, it's visualized right there for you and then you can't start concentrating on the story. Much easier!

Ti said...

It's the same with me. I like to watch sci-fi on the big screen but not read it. For me, it's a special effects thing. It's just so much more vivid and so, forgive me, HOLLYWOOD to see it done up right.

Meghan said...

I feel very similarly. Star Wars has always been my favorite series of movies, but I have never managed to get into any of the books or much sci-fi in books in general. I also really like other shows and movies that are very science-fictiony, but it's always been hard for me to get into any science fiction that isn't outstanding. I always assumed it was because it wasn't as character driven but focuses too much on futuristic world-building and technology, neither of which are really mentioned in TV shows or movies.

I love fantasy though, so I think it's just the science/technology aspect rather than world-building. That may be because fantasy is set in a medievalesque atmosphere and I'm already very familiar with that mindset/world-type, though. Can you tell I've thought about this? =)

samantha.1020 said...

I can't say that I watch sci-fi or read it for that matter. But I really enjoy fantasy and urban fantasy so maybe I should give sci-fi a try. I like to watch tv shows with a supernatural element to them :)

bermudaonion said...

I can read violent, graphic books that I would never be able to watch as a movie. I think my mind skims over the bad parts.

Nari - The Novel World said...

I'm sort of the same way with Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I like watching the shows (LOST, anything Joss Whedon, Supernatural, etc), but I can't really sit through the books. I think I like that the shows are real people in unreal situations, were as fantasy books really take you out of that realm and just plop you down in a world of make-believe. I'm a bigger fan of the sci-fi that could actually be a possibility than sci-fi involving dragons and elves.

The extend of my Sci-Fi/fantasy reading is Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin, which are both more about character development and wit in a fantasy land, than the fantasy land itself.

Helga Marie said...

I totally get what you are saying~!
I love to read anything vampires, but usually when it comes to watching the movies or tv shows I get scared because they are too graphic.
I watch alot of sci-fi with my husband, but besides Enders Game I have never enjoyed a sci-fi book on my own.

Memory said...

I felt the same until quite recently. I liked a number of science fiction TV shows, (including the new Doctor Who and Firefly, which are both among my favourites), but I steered clear of the books. I'd read a few in the past, and I inevitably found that they were very ideas-over-character. Ideas are all very well and good, but I need people I can connect with alongside them.

Then, at the beginning of this year, I took part in Carl's Sci Fi Experience. I challenged myself to read some modern stuff, rather than the classics I'd dipped into before, and I found that I did enjoy it. There were definitely a few books that fit the ideas-over-people stereotype, but I also found a number of books and authors that really worked for me. I'd previously focused on a teeny, tiny portion of science fiction, and that didn't really give me a full picture of what it was capable of. I'm still not completely sold, but I'm definitely willing to give other stuff a try from hereon out.

Thomas said...

What about Harry Potter books? Could they be put under the sci fi lable?

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Britt said...

I'm with Bermudaonion-- I can put up with a lot more in books-- language, violence, etc, but I would totally turn off a movie or show with the same ammount!

Amy said...

Lenore..I struggle with the wholly imaginary world as well...ah well.

Blodeuedd--hmm now that's a genre I read and watch. ;)

Jackie..ha, thanks! Gladly I'm noting there are others like me. :)'s a mystery!!! I think what others have said about the world building makes a lot of sense. that is an interesting perspective! Crime fiction I can easily read and watch, but I see there's a disconnect for others!

Court...intersting indeed! but I"m glad to know I'm not the only one.

Jen..perfectly said, I think you are 100 percent right.

Amy said...

Alexa...glad to know I'm not alone!

Jill..I agree with what Jen said as well. Any recommendations for books I should try?

Ti...Glad to know I"m not alone! And hooray for Hollywood! ;)

Meghan..good point. I prefer character driven everything. I love Star Wars, too! ;)

Sam..ME TOO! My favorite shows are almost all otherwordly in some way.

Kathy..I hate too much violence in anything. Sometimes books are worse for me depending on how talented the author is at describing it.

Nari...I think of Buffy and Supernatural as being urban fantasy and I can definitely read and love books in those genres! But I'm glad to know others feel the same way!

Helga Marie..glad to know I'm not alone! I do love everything vampire, though, lol!

Memory...I'd love to hear some recommendations!

Thomas..I think they ARE fantasy...good point.

Britt...reading violence is hard for me as well!

Florinda said...

It's the same way for me. I rarely read genre sci-fi or fantasy, although I'm not averse to elements of either in more conventional fiction, but I do enjoy it on TV and in movies. We saw Star Trek today, and I LOVED it :-)!

Renee said...

OMG...I LOVE the new Doctor Who (David Tennant is sooo cute, I'll be sad when he leaves) but I can't bear to read ANYTHING scifi-ish!!! Maybe the reason I like Doctor Who so much is because there is a lot of humor and witty dialogue between the there's always a little bit of romance!

As for why I don't read Scifi...well for one thing half of the Star Trek character names I probably couldn't understand, another thing is I don't think I could stand to read about all the scifi technology mumbojumbo...I'd rather SEE what it is on screen!

I usually don't read any mystery/ suspense books either but I LOVE the new detective dramedy, Castle! Again I think it's the chemistry between Detective Beckett and Rick Castle and the dialogue between the two!

Great questions Amy!


caite said...

I watch some sci-fi..and read some too. Love mysteries, in books and movies and anything.
But horror, well, I love Koontz and some rather gruesome mysteries, but I NEVER watch horror movies. Never...ever. Maybe because in a book, I can control it, to a degree.

Marie said...

That's so me too. I don't read scifi- never have- but love scifi tv and movies. of course, i did marry a trek nerd who watched it every night (EVERY NIGHT) for the first two years we lived together, so after a while it's like, you know, go along to get along! :-)

Janet said...

No, I can't think of any. But I sure hope you'll make an exception for my fantasy novel when it comes out... ;o)

Holly said...

I don't like reading graphic murder thrillers. So, it's weird that my favorite show on TV and really the only thing I watch other than Doctor Who (British husband), is Bones. I love it. But, I can't read the books by Kathy Reichs. I tried, but they were too graphic for me. Weird, since I love the show, but it's also the only show of that type that I like. I can't stand any of the CSI murder investigation type shows. I'm not big on horror movies/books either.

Love tie-in novels for Buffy/Angel/Doctor Who/Quantum Leap.

Ms Ulat Buku said...

Yup! I'm exactly like you too. I love watching Sci-fi on screen but cant seem to read it. I'm trying though. Just got myself a copy of Ubik by Philip K. Dick and will see if I'll enjoy reading that.

Amy said...

Florinda...I'm so glad you loved Star Trek! I did, too. ;)

Renee...It's REALLY interesting to me how many people don't read crime fiction but like to watch it. I never would have guessed! I need to check out the new Dr. Who!

Caite...that makes sense though I enjoy watching horror films. ;)

Marie..hmm I can see how that would be an influence! ;)

Janet...oh for sure. There are some exceptions! Is your novel total fantasy?

Holly..Bones can be pretty gruesome, but it's not really a dark show which might help. I've only read the first book, but I really enjoyed it.

Ms Ulat Buku...I also have a Philip K. Dick book to read and I'm actually really looking forward to it!

Literary Feline said...

This is an interesting topic! I was just over at Carey's blog, as a matter of fact. :-)

Where my movie and book tastes seem to diverge is in the romance genre. I love a good romantic comedy when it comes to movies. Not always true when it comes to books. There are exceptions, of course. I just tend not to read those types of books very often.

S. Krishna said...

HOW FUNNY - that is me as well! I absolutely love sci fi TV and movies, but almost never read sci fi/fantasy books!

Jenny Girl said...

Good question!
I love watching sci-fi. I even sometimes watch those crappy movies on the sci-fi channel on saturday nights, you know with giant killer scorpions or snakes.
I read some sci-fi, but it depends on the sci-fi. If there are too many crazy names, or it's a universe I can't wrap my head around, then I put it down.
I guess I read sci-fi light as oppossed to hard core? Again, I judge books by their covers. If the gentleman on the cover looks like he is from He-man or something, it's out for me.
A good sci-fi show to watch, if you can find the DVDs is Farscape. Cancelled before it's time, but they did do a movie and tie up loose ends.

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