Fri
Aug 8 2008 10:18am

Worldcon: Conversation

I'm at Denvention IV, the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon for short. There's a worldcon every year; they move around. There are loads of smaller conventions too, but worldcons are the ultimate fannish gathering of the tribes. People get together from all over the world to talk about science fiction, the universe and related subjects.

There are panels and awards and signings and parties but the overall effect of worldcon is like a live version of one of the best of the comment threads here. You walk around the convention center or the hotel lobbies and you run into your friends and start talking.  It's wonderful. But while it's possible to report on panels and signings and so on, it's hard to report on conversations. I mean, I could report a string of unrelated cool stuff, but it wouldn't be the same. I'm sorry. I wish you were here.

Just one conversation thing I want to share, because it's nifty. I had a kaffeeklatch yesterday morning. A kaffeeklatch is where a group of people sign up to sit and chat with an author for an hour. So I sat down with an assorted group of people I knew and people who wanted to know me, and we talked and it was a ton of fun. One of the things that came up was how many versions of Pride and Prejudice there are. I mentioned that there are also lots of versions of the story of Belisarius. Somebody else said you also see lots of retellings of Hamlet, but not so much the other plays.

So, Heinlein said there are only three plots. Clearly, he was right, there are only three plots: Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, and Belisarius.

12 comments
Paul Weimer
1. PrinceJvstin
Although its mostly retelling the story of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, Theodore Judson's The Martian General's Daughter also has elements of Belisarius in it, too.

Hmmm...Prince Benedict in Zelazny's Amber Chronicles has a bit of Belisarius in him, too...
Clark E Myers
2. Clark E Myers
It's a given I think that once Robert Graves looked at it there would almost by definition be lots of versions of Belisarius: "but some say ......."

My mind does boggle at the prospect of Hamlet facing the Nike rebellion.

I'd have said far more Lear than Hamlet - including Harlequin romances - but maybe I'm missing the Hamlets with happy endings? John Buchan does have a little character study after the Roses where the rightful heir is disguised as a stable hand and stays right there figuring it's a reasonable sacrifice of his life to make for the people IIRC.
Abigail Sutherland
3. evilrooster
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a great general must be in want of an ambiguous relationship with his royal parents.
R O T
5. rogerothornhill
If you count Moranis and Thomas' Strange Brew, in which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take center stage (as in Stoppard), I think you definitely may have identified them. They're not Heinlein's three plots, and they'd probably disappoint ole Joe Campbell too, they may very well be The Three.
Liza .
6. aedifica
Being unfamiliar with Belisarius I looked him up on Wikipedia. Is his traditional plot "X is assigned task, gets no support, fulfills the task with flying colors anyway" (which brings Miles Vorkosigan to mind) or is it "X is blinded by person in position of power, then forced into begging"?
Clark E Myers
7. Clark E Myers
I'd vote for the Nika riots as the prime file the serial numbers off usage. One of the more obscure perhaps:

"In 1974, the ITV science fiction television series The Tomorrow People ran a serial entitled The Blue and the Green, citing the role of the D'henagali, an alien energy-based species that fed on human emotions, as the cause of the Blue and Green factions, and the Nika riots, as similar factions re-emerge in the United Kingdom in the early seventies. " Wikipedia on the Nika Riots see there for more literary references.

David Drake uses the riots repeatedly for Hammer and others; Jerry Pournelle puts Falkenberg in the leading role and so it goes.
James Enge
8. JamesEnge
It seems like The Tempest has been done a lot, too.

I think it's a truth not universally acknowledged that there are not just three plots.
Clark E Myers
9. Mike Glyer
You've posted something from the Worldcon and I thank you for that.
Clark E Myers
10. Tim May
I first heard of the Nika riots in a The Tomorrow People episode summary. (Never actually seen it.)
Bruce Cohen
11. SpeakerToManagers
I'd agree that those three plots are among the archetypes, but, really, you can't leave out Cinderella. Even Jane Austen used this plot in Mansfield Park.

evilrooster @ 3: YOMANK!
Clark E Myers
12. Zed Lopez
there are only three plots: Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, and Belisarius.

Or, as Heinlein put it, Boy Meets Girl, the Man Who Learned Better (or didn't, in Hamlet's case), and the Brave Little Tailor (in increasing order of stretched point.)

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