Just reread Dreadnaught!

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by JRoss, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    But wasn't she the guest main star in a Star Trek fanfic, with Kirk Spock and McCoy the regular players? Or did Paula Smith write all of her ST fanfics about the girl?

    Wikipedia says:

     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013
  2. rahullak

    rahullak Commodore Commodore

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    What's wrong with a Mary Sue?
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As Therin said, the term came from a story written to parody bad fan fiction, especially the tendency of fan authors to insert thinly veiled surrogates of themselves as heroic guest characters who were better at everything than the main cast and whom Kirk, Spock, and/or McCoy all fell madly in love with and/or needed to be rescued by. It came to be a catchall label for such unbelievable, contrived wish-fulfillment characters, particularly ones who didn't actually display any of the qualities that supposedly made them so brilliant and wonderful and adored, or ones that only outperformed the leads/won their undying love because the leads were written hugely out of character. (For instance, the guest scientist in the Bantam novel Vulcan! who's better than Spock at figuring out the psychology of an alien species, but only because Spock is portrayed as irrationally fixated on a preconceived notion about them without any evidence to support it.)

    Since then, though, a lot of people have come to use it as a catchall phrase for "any guest character I don't like," or even "any main character I don't like," so the usage has blurred to the point that it's become effectively useless as a term of meaningful criticism. Which I another reason I resist defining it broadly.

    For more:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Nope!
     
  5. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    I agree with Mr. Governo, that self-insertion in somebody else's milieu is the characteristic property of a Mary-Sue, and with "rahullak," that even though the trope originated with a character created as a parody of bad writing, it doesn't necessarily follow that a well-written Mary-Sue character can't exist (and indeed, I regard Piper as a defining example of a well-written Mary-Sue).

    I might add that there can be no more blatant evidence of self-insertion than having the entire story told in first person, in a milieu where every other officially authorized story (or very nearly so) is told in third person.

    As to Calhoun and the whole New Frontier series (and Gold and the SCE series [and I, for one, would like to see the rest of that series available in hardcopy], for that matter), and other series that didn't originate in produced screenplays, I don't really see them as Mary Sues (or Larry Stus), because they aren't author insertions, so much as they're separate sub-milieus, the same as TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT and the Abramsverse are effectively sub-milieus. Ditto for Mr. Cox's books about Gary Seven, Khan, Shaun Christopher, and Mr. Bennett's books about the DTA; they revolve around characters that are already (if only by reference, in Shaun Christopher's case) canonical, but merely underexplored in canon.

    Ford's How Much for Just the Planet, of course, is a veritable author- and friend-insertion festival.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013
  6. TheAlmanac

    TheAlmanac Writer Captain

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    Well, you can read the entire (rather short) story and draw your own conclusions.

    Thanks for the note of agreement! :)

    I also agree that, despite its etymology, "Mary Sue" doesn't necessarily have to come with a negative connotation. Much like "canon" (to reference another current thread about terminology), the term can be used descriptively without suggesting on its own that a character is well- or badly-written.
     
  7. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Here is Fanlore.org's rather entertaining article, with references to several notable Mary Sue's in fanfic over the decades: http://fanlore.org/wiki/Mary_Sue
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But really, that's the problem. There is no consensus about what it means. Many people do use it in a derogatory way, while others don't. And there are countless different ways of defining it. So using the label tends to create misunderstanding rather than clarity. That's another reason I resist using it if it can be avoided.
     
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    So you're saying the term "Mary Sue" has jumped the shark? :)

    (Another term that has been overused to the point of meaninglessness.)
     
  10. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    Generally speaking, a Mary-Sue character is harder to do well than most other types of characters, because it has to be done extremely well to be worthwhile, but if it is done extremely well, the results can be quite good. Just as it's very difficult to write from the point of view of a radically different species, and end up with anything worthwhile, but if you can pull it off (see Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth prequel, Nor Crystal Tears), the results can be downright spectacular.
     
  11. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I loved the idea of a faceted hul--nacelles trailing off into antennae, and some of the concepts--a tactile hologram of the ship as a decoy, a potential bird of prey carrier even.
     
  12. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    It's been decades. Even shorter than I remember. And yes, Mary Sue's most definitely the "guest star" of a Trek vignette. Why were were disputing otherwise?
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wow. What's so telling about that "story" is that it's clearly parodying a set of tropes that were already well-established. It just put a name to them.
     
  14. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    I read this great online interview with Paula Smith this morning. Paula Block gets several mentions for her 1976 Sadie Faulwell fanfic character.

    http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/243/205
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Intriguing article. Good to get insight into the term from the person who coined it. I have to concede, even she's open to the idea that it's possible for a Mary Sue to be well-done. It's a character whose presence "warps" the other characters around them, causes them to adopt unconventional behavior or roles in reaction to the character, but there are instances where that can be done credibly and justifiably.
     
  16. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. And we can see that in many episodes of TV shows that introduce past lovers/teachers/parents etc. Was Spock only being affected by spores in "This Side of Paradise" or was Leila Kalomi also having an effect, etc? All part of the fun of introducing a guest character in the first place.
     
  17. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If any character were ever a "Mary Sue" it's Piper. Period, full stop.
     
  18. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    That is pretty much how I feel. I have no problem calling Piper a "Mary Sue." Those books were nauseating.
     
  19. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I liked Piper.

    I don't know if Evan Wilson was a Mary Sue or not, but man, she derailed that whole book for me.
     
  20. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    Evan definitely was, although at least of the entertaining kind. Guys were all fighting over her, out-logic'ed and programmed Spock, one step ahead of the crew, etc. Gets a little pass at the end when it's hinted that she's a deity, but yeah, pretty easy example. Just an example where you don't mind so badly.
     

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