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March 2017

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criminal minds reid yes i'm a genius

tomorrow morning when you wake up with the white noise....

I'm two episodes into The Middleman, and enjoying it, though I suspect it would wear thin pretty fast if I tried to watch it too quickly. I mean, it's funny as anything, and it's very interesting to watch a TV show that is entirely constructed of meta--but there is no there there. At least not yet.

It's like that great Champions game you were in in college where you never actually fought bad guys, just hung around and ate chips and tried to top each other's one-liners. I put in a request to review that for Tor.com too, but it's possible somebody else has already claimed it.

Speaking of Tor.com and reviews, my review for Criminal Minds 4x02 is up. In which we discuss SpencerCam and Trauma Hair, and other staples of the fandom.



On a totally different subject, Jed Hartman (one of the Strange Horizons editors) discusses a twist plot he's seen too often. Which leads me to talking about stories whose entire existence is justified by a last-line twist.

Guys? They're not stories.

Yes, O. Henry wrote stories whose lasting impact relies on a moment of crowning dramatic irony. But the thing is, that's not the only thing going on in those stories. They're stories, with a strong narrative and character development, which is revealed or... I dunno, counterlit... by the irony. The irony serves the story. The story does not serve the irony.

And that is why you cannot sell your story in which a serial killer's victim turns out to be a vampire and eats him. Yum.

No, really. It is.

Comments

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the link for the Tor.com review is bad...
Typical. *g* I'll fix it.
the middleman is fun fluff with quips and pop culture reference flying as fast as morales can talk (i almost DIED of glee when she waxed poetic on usagi yojimbo), and that's all it seems to be in the beginning, but by the time you get to the end of the season, there is some good pathos going.

there's also sekrits, which tease us a bit, and i like.

it is just fun. morales is hilarious, and keeslar (the middleman)? well, ultimate boy scout (who wants to be a cowboy), yes. but there's more to him than that. and that's why the show hooked me.

i won't say more cuz i don't want to ruin anything.
Heh. I personally dislike twist endings. But, as devil's advocate, I feel compelled to point out that some pros get away with stuff like that all the time.

Even pretending that M. Night Sh** doesn't exist, Heilien wrote an entire book just so he could use the pun "a star-mangled spanner" in the last paragraph. Or at least that's how it felt to read it. ;)

Plenty of other examples.

Personally, I feel that short stories without endings are just another type of twist. The twist being -- "Oh, look, it doesn't have an ending. It must be literary."

Sorry, been reading too many of those recently. Grr. *steps off soapbox and sets it ablaze*
Please note that only one or two of Mr. Shyamalan's movies actually work, depending on who you ask. (I also give him Unbreakable, but I realize this is a minority opinion.)

The rest stink on ice, frankly, because while The Sixth Sense has a lot more going on than the twist--it stands up to rewatching, after all--the rest... just don't. They're entirely structured around the twist, which makes them essentially disappointing.

I'm not by any means arguing against the twist ending. My favorite plot structure is the caper, after all. But when all you have is a twist, you don't have a story.

The fact that you can get away with something--especially if you're an established pro who may already be under contract--doesn't mean it works.
Maugham also pulled off the last line twist quite well.
I don't know if it's just me, but I can't get tor.com to load, not with any URL variant or on either my PC (Vista, firefox) or my husband's Mac ... I tried last week and thought it was a temporary problem, but it's still not working. Sigh.

Any idea who over there I'd email to report this? Presumably they want their site widely-viewed.
questions@tor.com would be my best guess.

Sounds like an ISP problem....

I can't get one of the UK SF sites (Futurismic) to ever come up, which makes me sad.
Ooh, yes, The Middleman is a lot of fun, and does indeed get a bit deeper as it goes.
I think there must be so many crummy twist-ending stories because the good ones are just so damned good

Bob Shaw's "The Light of Other Days" is this tiny, tiny little story but it has greater strength than many novels I've slogged through. That is the kind of story I'd like to write. But if I did, and submitted these things, that would be why editors are grumpy and do not want to here about any more twist endings, kthanx ...
But "Light of Other Days" strikes me as a great example of a story where there's far more to it than just the twist.

It has a brilliant sf concept (which was strong enough to carry a number of other stories too), and it follows some of its implications throughout; the ending has the emotional punch of revealing that other logical implication ("Slow glass works both ways"), but the body of the story doesn't feel like a set-up which is just there so Shaw can go, "Ha ha, I tricked you!"

Doesn't hurt that it's got one of the great opening lines of all time, either *g*.
Have to agree with people that have said that the Middleman gets deeper as you go. Each episode builds on the previous work yet still can stand alone, which is a feat the X-Files forgot how to to pretty early on. Even in the first few episodes, there's a lot more going on underneath the pop culture refs and the rapid-fire quips; it's just that sometimes it doesn't click until three episodes later.

And... well, Wendy looks good in a white bikini. Yes, I'm such a guy. But more seriously, Wendy is the lead protagonist in an action/adventure/comedy show. Anyone who thinks MM is the lead protagonist is wrong wrong wrong. Wendy's the apprentice, but she's also the show's focal point. And that's just, you know, a nice, positive development.

And is it just me, or is this show kind of subversive for ABC "Family"?

I'm so on the edge of my seat waiting for season two.
Woot, Middleman! :D
IMHO, the second 2 eps are the weakest of the series, it's all uphill from ep 4 on.
Yanno, I worked in the same department as Dick Feynman, and there wasn't really anything wrong with his dress sense.
John Nash's, however, is terrible.
"He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided."
I read that last bit as "your story in which a serial killer's mom turns out to be a vampire and eats him." Maybe that would make a better story? ...maybe not.
Oh, I like that. Like a hamster mom.
It is fun to read your squeeing review here back to back with the very calm review at Tor. I have to say that this: "a character who is sort of the bastard love child of Nikola Tesla, John Nash, and Richard Feynman, complete with overlong fingernails and terrible dress sense.", might be my favourite description of anyone ever.
Hee. Well, you know, there's fan-voice and pro-voice. And that's part of the difference....

And thank you!
One twist which I think works, in a folk story in various versions:

Two men are working in a turnip field. One asks the other "Do you believe in ghosts?"

"No."

First one: "Neither do I." And vanishes.

But that's probably easy to overuse.
Figure that anything that's achieved folkloric status has almost certainly outlived its usefulness as sheer twist ending.

And the "This house is haunted...by *you!*" twist ending is a variant I'm pretty sure was used by both Lord Dunsany and Guy De Maupassant... for starters.
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