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General A&A Discussion > Homage, Pastiche, or bad rip-off

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 814 comments I recently listened to Old Venus.
From pulp adventures such as Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Carson of Venus to classic short stories such as Ray Bradbury’s “The Long Rain”, the planet Venus has loomed large in the imaginations of science fiction writers. Here, that steamy, swampy jungle world with strange creatures lurking amidst the dripping vegetation is explored in sixteen all-new stories collected by bestselling author George R. R. Martin and editor Gardner Dozois.

As the description says, these are new stories, but they were supposed to be based on the old Venus of SF. The one that was habitable in SF adventures. In looking back over my review, I wondered at my own reactions. I'm dead certain that I hated some because they seemed like bad rip-offs while others were obviously a pastiche or homage to a well loved fictional character. What's the difference between them? Where do you draw the line? Can you point out other examples?


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Apr 25, 2015 06:47PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) There is 'artistic influence' and there is 'standing on the shoulders of giants' and there is 'creative license'. There is 'springboarding'--beginning a new story of your own from where someone else left off.

But the line is drawn (demarcating all that) vs pastiche/homage, wherever you don't invent wholly new characters of your own. That is when you have turned down a path already mapped by someone else. When you borrow the same elements necessary for a story--borrow them from someone else--and use them in just about the same way, that's a rip-off. That's the zone Stephen King works in.

And then you have the lowest of the low: Quentin Tarantino. He does all of the above and more. What marks him as different is that he outright steals/lifts whole sections of movies and grafts them into his own without giving credit or even, gratitude. He re-brands the work of better men than he, as if he is the innovator. Nothing is more vile.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Huston (telynor) | 5 comments I can cope with pastiche or homage, but rip-offs annoy the hell out of me. I started to get really annoyed with fantasy back in the 70's and 80's when so much was put out that was obvious rip-offs of Tolkien.


message 4: by Feliks (last edited Apr 25, 2015 10:53PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Such as? 'Dark Crystal', 'Heavy Metal', 'Watership Down', 'Neverending Story', 'Last Unicorn'..all good stuff.

The real target of our blame should be Luc/Berg. Hollywood only randomly did epic fantasy until they changed the whole paradigm. That was the rising scourge which we failed to damn up at the source, when it appeared.


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 814 comments Feliks wrote: ...But the line is drawn (demarcating all that) vs pastiche/homage, wherever you don't invent wholly new characters of your own...."

I think you have a pretty good definition there. Anyone else read Old Venus? "Greeves and the Evening Star" by Matthew Hughes was a lot of fun. If you like P.G. Wodehouse, it's Jeeves & Barty doing Venus. They're obviously renamed, but the tone & all make it obvious it's a homage just in an SF setting. The author came up with a unique setting & problem that fit perfectly with the pair & made a new adventure that tickled me.

OTOH, "The Wizard of the Trees" by Joe R. Lansdale was stolen from Edgar Rice Burroughs & then poorly done. The hero an Indian-Black guy rather than a white guy that ERB would have used. It didn't make any difference, but the rest of the world, the problem, & solution was cribbed right out of ERB's books. It wasn't a homage, just a rip-off. Anyway, I wound up listening to a stolen story that was poorly executed. Yuck.


message 6: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Thanks. So in the 1930s writers thought Venus was covered with jungle, eh? Ha


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 814 comments Feliks wrote: "Thanks. So in the 1930s writers thought Venus was covered with jungle, eh? Ha"

Probably not, but that's the way many portrayed it - the jungle planet with lots of rain & dinosaurs. ERB's Carson of Venus was very similar to his Pellucidar & such. Bradbury did the heart breaking one about the little girl & the rain. Heinlein had his Space Cadets battling in the jungle along with Podkayne of Mars & her brother Clark when they visited there. Ditto with the kid from Between Planets. I can't recall what Asimov's Lucky Starr faced, though.

Did you ever see "The First Space Ship on Venus"? It was done in the late 50's. Not quite the classic "Forbidden Planet" was, but it was pretty good.


message 8: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) You're far more familiar with SF than I am. Good to know. Making a mental note about this in case I ever need info...


message 9: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (last edited Apr 26, 2015 07:08PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
I think pastiches can be a lot of fun. A pastiche freely acknowledges the source material and shows respect for it, even if there's some humor involved.

Ripoffs seem very derivative with no real uniqueness.

I sometimes wonder if the test of time makes the difference. The original has become part of the collective consciousness and has stimulated creativity to a greater degree.

I think one of my big pet peeves right now is reboots. Nowadays, it's very common to reboot a franchise, after eight to ten years. It's kind of weird.

They are about to reboot The Transporter. I can't see Frank Martin without Statham. The tv show was okay, but I don't want a reboot film franchise. It's not like Statham is too old.


message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 814 comments I agree, Danielle. Reboots fall under the same umbrella as pastiches or homages, IMO. They can be fun or awful. I'm not fond of the way they turned "21 Jump Street" or some other serious shows into comedies, though. That's a 4th category: Ruin. It is if you remember the serious show with any fondness. I guess most didn't wait every week for Johnny Depp to play the high school kid. We did. Most of my kids liked the comedy. I tried to watch some, but couldn't take it.


message 11: by Feliks (last edited Apr 27, 2015 08:25AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) If you're a novelist--even a crime novelist--and you write the exact same story three times in a row (same premise, same setting, same characters, etc)--the world will correctly label you an unimaginative hack. It will be suggested that you find another profession. You'll be panned by critics and called a loser by crime fans.

But if you're a screenwriter and you write the exact same movie three times in a row ('Transformers' 1-2-3, 'Saw' 1-2-3, 'Taken' 1-2-3) you remain a faceless unknown and a nonentity. But you get paid $6-$7 million dollars.

That's the crazy world we live in.


message 12: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "I agree, Danielle. Reboots fall under the same umbrella as pastiches or homages, IMO. They can be fun or awful. I'm not fond of the way they turned "21 Jump Street" or some other serious shows i..."


We're in agreement about 21 Jump Street. I thought it was inane and ridiculous. I didn't bother to see the sequel although I did think the "Mexican Wolverine" line was pretty funny.


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