Poll "Small Universe Syndrome" - Yay Or Nay?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by wayoung, Sep 9, 2021.

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Do you enjoy fiction that has Small Universe Syndrome?

  1. Yes! I love when my favourite characters all end up connected!

    27 vote(s)
    67.5%
  2. No, it breaks my suspension of disbelief

    13 vote(s)
    32.5%
  1. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Speaking of which, there was a BBC miniseries from a few years ago called Dickensinian that made an effort to connect all of the Dickens characters and stories together.
     
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  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Honestly, on a less high-faluting level, part of the fun of a big, interconnected fictional universe, be it STAR TREK or STAR WARS or Marvel or DC or Godzilla or whatever, is playing with all the toys and smooshing them together. So if you're doing Godzilla, of course you want to bring in Mothra and Ghidorah eventually. And if you're reading (or writing) the X-Men, you want them to cross paths with the Avengers or the Fantastic Four once in a while. The fact that they all exist in the same universe, and are connected to each other in weird ways, is a feature, not a bug.

    Says the guy who had Khan cross swords with Gary Seven, and Kirk meet Seven of Nine. :)
     
  3. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We're all part of Tommy Westphall's universe anyway.
     
  4. The Return of Zombie Cheerleader

    The Return of Zombie Cheerleader Moar Nu Trek Pleeze Premium Member

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    None of the above. Case by case for me.
     
  5. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Understandable.
    Less so ;)
     
  6. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Admiral Admiral

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    What was the Kirk/Seven encounter in, Greg? I read (and enjoyed) your Khan series long ago but I’ve dropped out of Treklit some time ago.
     
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

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    Anyone who hates “small universe syndrome” should avoid looking up the Wold Newton Universe. It springs from the works of Philip Jose Farmer who found ways of connecting Tarzan, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes. But his fans have found ways of expanding it to well... everything. Your work is cited often.

    I never understand the complaint. Fans love “World Building”. Part of that is connecting all the various people and places. It’s fun.
     
  8. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, to the OP's point, it comes down to suspension of disbelief. All these individuals that we know interacting on such a small scale can feel either a bit forced or unrealistic. Now, in the SF world unrealistic sounds like a silly complaint, but it's a matter of how far can I believe this happening. Introduce too many coincidences or magic beans and it can become more difficult to suspend disbelief.

    I've noted, especially in fan discussion, that part of the appeal of a fictional world is the verisimilitude of reality. So, if something feels more unrealistic then it pushes on that illusion. One or two is fine but it can strain it too far, no matter how fun it is intended to be.
     
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  9. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's not like the MCU forced other Studios to want to try that stuff, it was just their experiment to see if it was workable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
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  10. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And it made money so success means others will try to replicate it.

    So, while no one forced it, I still hate the MCU for how it went. And that it influenced others to do similar things in that experiment.
     
  11. Ricky Spanish

    Ricky Spanish BillJ Premium Member

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    Just depends on how much and how it is handled.
     
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  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Thanks for asking. No Time Like the Past, published back in 2014. Seven falls through time and ends up back in Kirk's era. Together, they have get her back to her own time before the future is changed irrevocably! (Dramatic music!)

    I will also cop to having written a novel in which Wonder Woman fought the Frankenstein Monster. My inner twelve-year-old is still thrilled that I actually got paid to write that! :)

    Speaking of Philip Jose Farmer and the whole Wold-Newton universe (which, yes, I devoured back in my youth), that tradition is carried on these days by the likes of Alan Moore (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc) and also Kim Newman, who shamelessly mixes and matches famous (and obscure) fictional characters in outrageously entertaining ways, as in his ANNO DRACULA novels and other works. In fact, I just finished rereading his book, ANGELS OF MUSIC, which is basically a 19th century version of CHARLIE'S ANGELS, if "Charlie" was the Phantom of the Opera, and his angels were rotating trios of celebrated literary adventuresses, including Irene Adler, Eliza Doolittle, Rima the Jungle Girl, etc.

    Is it "realistic" or "believable"? Honestly, I don't care. I love this sort of thing and always have.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
  13. The Return of Zombie Cheerleader

    The Return of Zombie Cheerleader Moar Nu Trek Pleeze Premium Member

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  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    At risk of channeling my inner curmudgeon, this may be a generational thing. I can't say I ever worried much about "verisimilitude" when watching or reading about Sinbad or Tarzan or the Mummy or even Star Trek or Planet of the Apes growing up, so I occasionally push back against what strikes me as a modern fetish for "believability" and for treating the audience's willing suspension of disbelief as though it can be broken by the slightest trace of artifice or theatricality.

    Granted, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here, and lot depends on what kind of story you're trying to tell and what approach you're taking. One doesn't expect the same degree of "realism" from a James Bond movie that one might from a John LeCarre spy story, nor expect "believability" from, say, the Broadway musical version of "Camelot."

    Depending on the project, "fun" and "cool" and "colorful" trump mundane matters of plausibility. Why let reality get in the way of a good time? :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
  15. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    It can go too far, but as long as there's new world building still going on as well, it's fun. TNG introduced the Q, the Borg, Cardassians, Ferengi, Bajorans, Betazoids, etc. and many great new characters, but still had Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans etc. and had Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Sarek pop in, and they visited DS9 a couple times and showed us Admiral Janeway.
     
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  16. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No, it didn't, but the effect was undeniable.
     
  17. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm 60 so maybe not...
    "Plausibility" is part of "fun," "cool" and "colorful" for me. Otherwise, you generally will get a :rolleyes: from me. But hey, it is all subjective and that's me being me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
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  18. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I once travelled halfway across the world, only to bump into someone who used to live in my hometown. Small universe stuff happens all the time IRL, so of course it's gonna happen in the sensationalised, exaggerated world of TV and film.
     
  19. Takeru

    Takeru Space Police Commodore

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    The MCU is probably not the best example because it is mostly centered around a small group of people, superheroes on earth, it makes sense that they would be drawn to each other and interact.

    It's also not as much of a time investment as you seem to imply, so far they have released 25 movies and 4 tv shows with one short season each ("WandaVision" and "What if ..." with 9 half hour episodes each and "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" and "Loki" with 6 one hour episodes each. That's roughly the same amount of content TOS produced over 3 years except the MCU did it in 13! So it's actually much more manageable for the audience.


    Generally speaking I don't like it although I will make exceptions, sometimes it's fun to see a character again but the keyword is sometimes, do it too much and it becomes annoying.
    Another problem is when they make the universe intentionally small as an excuse to dump some exposition on the audience like this:
    "It's the USS Something under the command of Captain Whocares!"
    "I know Whocares, we served together on Deep Space 3, good man, back then he was really into the thing that's relevant to this episodes plot!"


    Yes it happens but it's so rare that it's noteworthy, that's the point. If a fictional story uses it as a noteworthy exception occasionally it's cool but it can easily reach the point of "Do they know everyone?" when it happens too often.
     
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  20. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Isn't part of fiction that we are focused on the noteworthy events? Like, most of this isn't what would happen in the day to day, with regular degular people.