On the Virtues of "Trashy" Fiction

I'm a great fan of trashy fiction of all sorts, and not at all fond of "serious" fiction. I read adventure novels, romances, fantasy and science fiction. My theory is that these trashier genres are closer to the myth and legend that have been the mainstay of story-telling since the beginning of time. So-called serious literature is a relatively recent, and ill-conceived invention.

My favorite adventure novelists are Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo),Rafael Sabatini (Captain Blood, the Seahawk), Baronness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Anthony Hope (Prisoner of Zenda). For romance authors, I've been reading Elona Malterre (the Celts, Mistress of Eagles) and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager).

The authors I've been reading most recently have been Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars), Lois McMaster Bujold (the Mile Vorkosigan novels, for instance Cetaganda and Falling Free), and Judith Merkle Riley (The Oracle Glass, The Serpent Garden, In Pusuit of the Green Lion). The first two are what I consider hard science fiction. Riley is historical romance with enough magic to border on fantasy. I'm looking forward to Diana Gabaldon's next two books excitedly as well.

There are lots of other good books available on line, for instance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many others.

And a thing to remember: Books, tales and stories, literature as well as trash, are valuable and important, and must not be banned or censored.

Comic books are also good trash, and I read quite a few of them. Some of my favorites here are Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's Astro City, Dark Horse's Ghost, DC's Legion of Super Heroes, Wonder Woman, Wendy Pini's ElfQuest and Hilly Rose.

The TV and movies I watch are a lot like the books and comic books. My favorite TV series at the moment are Highlander, Hercules, Xena, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: The Various.

I've started watching Sinbad and Tarzan, as well, and haven't really decided if they stand up. Tarzan is more faithful to the original ERB books than any previous TV or movie, but they had him leave Jane behind in London so that he coul be the Unattached Male Hero that Hollywood seems set on. (One of the things that made Highlander's first season so good was that they had a hero in a committed relationship.) Sinbad's not bad, but its cast is a little too Caucasian for Sinbad. I can buy Maeve being a Celt -- she's a sorceress they picked up in a mystical land (and I am a sucker for tall, milk-complexioned, red-headed Celtic maids) -- but Sinbad's brother is a dirty blonde. No one except the occassional villain looks really Arabic. They seem to have imported the major cast members from the US and Canada, so you'd have thought they could get someone a tad more Semitic-looking for some of the roles.

And of course there are the trashy shows that have gone off the air recently: Legend, Forever Knight, The Kindred, and the like.

Movies on the Web

Since the movies are pretty transient, rather than citing specific movies, I'm doing that thing I don't like: a list of pointers:

Film.com has movie reviews and previews. An excellent source on the movies.

Another resource is Hollywood Online. It's pretty accessible and updated daily. They have movie and video reviews, news, film clips and just about everything you'd imagine for a Web site devoted to Hollywood.

The Internet Movie Data Base has become something of an internet institution. There are both US and UK versions of the site. Their new simplified search page makes finding information on movies or the people who make them quite simple. The data is provided by people on the net so it is occassionally flawed, but most contributors seem to be obsessive fans, so it is impressively good.

Many movie and TV studios have Web pages covering their latest productions.

December 19, 1996