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Old 2011-03-17, 18:34   Link #61
Chron
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I dunno, I mean, I think my disdain is rather justified just from looking at the overall presentation, rather than nitpicking over plotholes.
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Old 2011-03-17, 19:12   Link #62
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Originally Posted by naikou View Post
@Jan-Poo -

Maybe I got the wrong impression from that essay, but I didn't think he was referring to plot twists, or last minute developments in a novel. Rather, I thought he was talking about writing sequels, and revealing facts about the original story in the sequel. Sometimes these facts change the very nature of the original story itself! Sort of like how "Lord of the Rings" provides details about "The Hobbit".

This isn't all that uncommon, either, in fiction. It just isn't done in mystery novels.
He wasn't talking about plot twists in particular, but when story X shows culprit A and then story Y shows that it was actually culprit B, then it becomes a plot twist.

This discourse encompasses a wider filed, "plot twist" was just an example.


"Lord of the rings" it is certainly something very different from "The hobbit" but it didn't really change anything about the original story. While Ryuukishi was talking about additions that rewrites what has been written before.


Basically...

You have a story X that presents truth A
then you have story Y that presents truth B which erases or alters truth A
finally you have story Z that presents truth C which erases or alters truth A and B


There are substantially two elements that are radically important for this scheme to work.

1) In the end the reader must be able to see that the final truth C not only exists in story Z, but in story Y and story X as well. If this can't be seen then the reader will have the feeling that the author simply "changed the cards on the table". Leading to the same kind of bait and switch indignation that Renall and I were discussing in the appreciation thread.

2) The elements that led to truth A must still have a meaning after truth B is exposed. And the elements that led to truth A and B, must still have a meaning after truth C is exposed.
The best possible system to achieve this is making so that the very elements that first supported truth A and B can then support truth C when their true meaning becomes apparent. Stories that reach such objective are truly the kind of masterpieces that I enjoy the best.
Conversely what must be avoided at all costs is to give the feeling that the elements that first pointed to truth A and B had no other purpose but to fool the reader into believing in those, and once story Z comes, they are simply forgotten as if they never existed. That's really the worst.
The only case when this can be considered acceptable is in case this deceit was operated by a character inside the story to fool another character.


It all comes to this basically. But it goes without saying that preventing these problems is almost impossible if you add something that wasn't planned since the beginning.
There is a reason why sequels usually suck. Well... there are actually many reasons. This is one.


"The later queen problem" therefore... it's really not a problem. You think that an author can rewrite the truth of a story however and whenever he likes? There's just no way. Even in the few cases that this can actually work, there are just very limited choices.
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Old 2011-03-17, 19:25   Link #63
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Originally Posted by Renall View Post
I hope we're not comparing a doujin VN author with Stanley Kubrick here. Like it or not, Ryukishi isn't treating WTC as a professionally-produced series (he most certainly could, as he clearly has professional connections and clout, if only as "the Higurashi guy").
Professional, bah. No one complains that Franz Kafka and Emily Dickinson were not professionals.

But I am not suggesting that Ryukishi is more talented than Kubrick, no. He is, however, very young, and has a lot of room to grow. No one considers "Paths of Glory" to be Kubrick's best.

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Originally Posted by Renall
Besides, it's a little harder to do a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin comparison there. Kubrick was capable of moderating his message: 2001 was not a radical departure from the themes Clarke himself wrote about
Actually, the novel and the film were written simultaneously. Clarke co-wrote the screenplay with Kubrick, and Kubrick co-wrote the novel with Clarke.

If you want a better comparison, look at "The Shining", which was adapted from Stephen King's novel. Stephen King hated Kubrick's movie, and Kubrick could not give less of a damn.

I agree with you that editors would be good, and I hope Ryukishi eventually learns to work with them.
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Old 2011-03-17, 19:48   Link #64
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I wouldn't say that Ryukishi transcended the mystery novel. He just side-stepped it and wrote something different. After all, mystery novels are not art, while Umineko is.
I'd beg to differ. Saying that Umineko is art while mystery novels aren't doesn't sit well with me in any way. But again that would depend on your definition of art.

As for that essay...I really, really hate it. In fact I hate it more than anything in the actual series.

He talks like Umineko transcends the mystery genre, but it can't hold a candle to it. He put emphasis on how the series was a game, but he never had the decency to actually play it.

His attitude towards the mystery genre is misguided at best and arrogant at worst. To borrow a friend's words, "he mistakes foreshadowing for clues." If you read his essay with that mindset everything makes sense. His idea that you can just change the final answer indefinitely is absolutely ridiculous if you are writing a story with a solid plot. Umineko is different in that it is intentionally vague. His rants apply more so to his own story than to the actual genre.

But see, having that mindset when talking about mysteries(or any genre that involves precise plotting) is just mind bogglingly idiotic. "You can change the answer as much as you want with the mystery genre!" No you cannot.

It boggles my mind how someone can actually think that. Twisting your own story for the sake of twisting it isn't worth of applause. It's...bad.
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Old 2011-03-17, 20:07   Link #65
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Twisting your own story for the sake of twisting it isn't worth of applause. It's...bad.
Like anything, it can be done badly or well, it is not only bad or only good. At best, you can say it would be difficult to do well. I thought he pulled it off rather well in Higurashi (which is not a mystery).

I think you're forgetting that he hasn't actually done the "Later Queen" thing with Umineko, yet. He's just saying that it could hypothetically be done (as a thought experiment), to show that the outcome of a mystery is not certain, even when the novel is over.

It would be tremendously difficult to pull it off well... but not impossible, I think.
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I'd beg to differ. Saying that Umineko is art while mystery novels aren't doesn't sit well with me in any way. But again that would depend on your definition of art.
Don't think that "art is good" and "not art is bad". Because there is such a thing as bad art. You can consider Umineko as such, if you like.

But a traditional mystery novel (without any trappings), is a game. You would not consider a game of chess or basketball to be art, would you?

Now granted, there might be some overlap between games and art (some video games in particular straddle that boundary). And there are some mystery novels which could be art too! But in general? No, not art. Golden Age authors themselves didn't consider them to be art (according to Ian Ousby's "Guilty Parties" - very good book on the history of mystery novels).
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Old 2011-03-17, 20:22   Link #66
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Like anything, it can be done badly or well, it is not only bad or only good. At best, you can say it would be difficult to do well. I thought he pulled it off rather well in Higurashi (which is not a mystery).

I think you're forgetting that he hasn't actually done the "Later Queen" thing with Umineko, yet.
That would require a solution to be presented before he did anything else. Unless he tops himself and goes Vance style with answers on Rei, that's impossible.

Quote:
He's just saying that it could hypothetically be done (as a thought experiment), to show that the outcome of a mystery is not certain, even when the novel is over.

It would be tremendously difficult to pull it off well... but not impossible, I think.
Not impossible to some degree, but the degree he describes it is certainly impossible to be pulled off well.

Quote:
Don't think that "art is good" and "not art is bad". Because there is such a thing as bad art. You can consider Umineko as such, if you like.

But a traditional mystery novel (without any trappings), is a game. You would not consider a game of chess or basketball to be art, would you?

Now granted, there might be some overlap between games and art (some video games in particular straddle that boundary). And there are some mystery novels which could be art too! But in general? No, not art. Golden Age authors themselves didn't consider them to be art (according to Ian Ousby's "Guilty Parties" - very good book on the history of mystery novels).
Is it a game? Sure. Is it just a game? I'd disagree there. Never heard the expression "it is more than a game to me" or something similar?

I consider art something that influences the logical or the emotional side of one's brain, which has been accomplished with Golden Age stories. While the game of chess can't be considered art, a specific match that keeps you at the edge of your seat and has you cheering for black to checkmate white could be considered art.

Art is a very broad word though. There are many theories on art. One of the "best" is "art is what the art world says it's art."

I just prescribe to the theory that art is something that intentionally appeals to your senses, intellect and emotion. That definition makes games, and mystery novels by default fit very comfortably with the definition of art.

I don't think Golden Age writers were trying to create art, but I'd say they did. Only they called it a game instead of art, because of how critics basically dominated the literary world back then and the public had little say on what literature truly was.
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Old 2011-03-17, 20:27   Link #67
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For an example of what Jan-Poo said working, see The Greek Coffin Mystery, by Ellery Queen; it goes through three false solutions before exposing the true one, yet the elements that led to false solutions still make sense after the truth is revealed. (EQ did that a lot, which may have influenced the term "Later Queen".)

For an example of it not working, see the movie Mark of the Vampire; it's fairly clear they were planning on doing a remake of Dracula, then changed their minds right at the end.
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Old 2011-03-17, 21:12   Link #68
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Art is a very broad word though. There are many theories on art. One of the "best" is "art is what the art world says it's art."
I'm of the school of thought that aesthetics is equivalent to linguistics. So art is "Whatever is commonly referred to as art." Not very different from your definition, I suppose.

A good list of properties which are commonly referred to as "artistic", written by philosopher Berys Gaut:
Quote:
(1) possessing positive aesthetic properties, such as being beautiful, graceful, or elegant (properties which ground a capacity to give sensuous pleasure); (2) being expressive of emotion; (3) being intellectually challenging (i.e. questioning received views and modes of thought); (4) being formally complex and coherent; (5) having a capacity to convey complex meanings; (6) exhibiting an individual point of view; (7) being an exercise of creative imagination (being original); (8) being an artifact or performance which is the product of a high degree of skill; (9) belonging to an established artistic form (music, painting, film, etc.); and (10) being the product of an intention to make a work of art."
So for mysteries: (1) Some are beautiful and elegant, some are not (the beautiful ones are probably better candidates for art. (2) Most mysteries are barely emotional at all, but again, some are. (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), and (8), all definitely yes. (9) No not so much. You could argue that it is part of literature, I suppose. But mystery novels aren't exactly studied as examples in literature classes. (10) No. Except the ones that are, of course.

So overall, it is definitely 6/10, maybe more, depending on the particular work. I think it is a bit shakey. Poetry, for example, easily fulfills all 10 requirements, as does film, as does literature proper.

But YMMV.
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Old 2011-03-18, 00:21   Link #69
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And yet we all remain in agreement that in this essay of his, that ryuukishi is full of shit
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Old 2011-03-18, 05:42   Link #70
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But see, having that mindset when talking about mysteries(or any genre that involves precise plotting) is just mind bogglingly idiotic. "You can change the answer as much as you want with the mystery genre!" No you cannot.

It boggles my mind how someone can actually think that. Twisting your own story for the sake of twisting it isn't worth of applause. It's...bad.
Before the Ryuukishi bashing train goes any further, I'd just like to point out that he said outright in the narration of EP6 that changing the answer after the fact is cheating. Noting that something is technically possible isn't the same as condoning it.
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Old 2011-03-18, 08:02   Link #71
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Doesn't EP6 shows that the GM can do that all the time?

I don't remember Battler ever questioning the morality of such actions. And in the end Beatrice wins by making her own alterations to Battler's gameboard.
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Old 2011-03-18, 08:43   Link #72
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Originally Posted by naikou View Post
Professional, bah. No one complains that Franz Kafka and Emily Dickinson were not professionals.
Maybe Kafka would've finished more things if he had been, eh?
Quote:
If you want a better comparison, look at "The Shining", which was adapted from Stephen King's novel. Stephen King hated Kubrick's movie, and Kubrick could not give less of a damn.
Stephen King's writing has a whole lot of problems, and the film version of The Shining was better off for not including most of them. King's work can be notoriously difficult to adapt; "Low Men in Yellow Coats" was changed substantially to create the film version of Hearts in Atlantis (which wasn't even about "Hearts in Atlantis," a completely different story from the same anthology). Would it have been a better film with all the references to The Dark Tower still in it? Probably not.

Actually, now that I think on it, Ryukishi and King are not entirely dissimilar. With a pinch of David Lynch in there.
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I think you're forgetting that he hasn't actually done the "Later Queen" thing with Umineko, yet.
With all due respect, how do you know that? He never once showed his cards, so how do you know he's always had the same hand?

Go back to ep4. Make certain assumptions as to truth (veracity of certain identity theories, identity of a killer, etc.). Now assume they're false. Notice how in almost all cases you can come up with a plausible solution, assuming it's false doesn't suddenly make the story unworkable. The correct answer... shouldn't do that. Let alone the supposed "answers" he's offered.
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Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
Doesn't EP6 shows that the GM can do that all the time?

I don't remember Battler ever questioning the morality of such actions. And in the end Beatrice wins by making her own alterations to Battler's gameboard.
Does she? We don't actually know that. That's the problem. Your average mystery novel is a discrete entity; if I get to the end and something doesn't feel right to me, I can flip back from the answer and find the part that doesn't seem to square with it. If I never actually get to the end, I can never tell if I'm just getting clarifying information, replacement information, or more misleading stuff. In an episodic series, the mystery never has to end. Which... is kind of a problem. You ever see "Twin Peaks?" Or "The X-Files?" Lot of those mystery answers were kind of disappointing by the time we actually got them, precisely because of how long it took us to get there, and how they seemed to round off with what we'd already seen.

That aside, he never bothered to have anyone explain some of those tricks, so we haven't even an inkling as to his own thought process on the solutions there.
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Old 2011-03-18, 08:58   Link #73
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I've seen Twin Peaks but that series was prematurely ended for drastic interest drop from the audience, plus it was a total mess if you ask me. and the movie was a total flop.

That being said Twin Peaks tells you who's the culprit early enough, and it turned out to be a bad choice whom David Lynch strongly opposed (but he was forced to make).

Oh and David Lynch is exactly the kind of author that would pull a "Later Queen" anytime, he could have chosen anyone as the culprit really, he (admittedly) didn't even make up his mind when he was forced to reveal him.
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Old 2011-03-18, 10:05   Link #74
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Didn't Lynch admit that he was just making Twin Peaks up as he went along?
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Old 2011-03-18, 13:12   Link #75
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Didn't Lynch admit that he was just making Twin Peaks up as he went along?
He did. I think he also admitted he didn't even plan it to be a mystery to start with, but it interested people so he ran along with the idea.

Same thing with Lost. The writers(despite claiming everything had a solution) later admitted they made things up as they went along.

I can't really blame them. As a serialized writer, if you see something that interests your readers, you might as well run with it to get more money. I can understand their situation. I wonder if Ryuukishi's focus on mystery was also something along those lines.

"I wasn't even going to mention it, but since people like it so much..."

Quote:
Before the Ryuukishi bashing train goes any further, I'd just like to point out that he said outright in the narration of EP6 that changing the answer after the fact is cheating. Noting that something is technically possible isn't the same as condoning it.
To be precise, he said that in a mystery it would be outright fantasy, but in a witch's game it was a "beautiful double checkmate." That opens some worrying doors.
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Old 2011-03-18, 13:30   Link #76
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Doesn't EP6 shows that the GM can do that all the time?

I don't remember Battler ever questioning the morality of such actions. And in the end Beatrice wins by making her own alterations to Battler's gameboard.
IIRC it's around when Erika starts forcing the logic error, and they're discussing whether Battler wanted to change his explanation of the letter delivery. Considering that Battler and Beato were forced down that path by a player who was already cheating, I don't think you can turn around and level the accusation at the whole story.

And that's ignoring the evidence that the whole thing was a setup anyway. Practically every scene in the episode was aimed at getting Erika to fall into the "incompetent author" trap so that when the idea of multiple truths came up at the end, she'd immediately apply the wrong explanation to it.

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Actually, now that I think on it, Ryukishi and King are not entirely dissimilar. With a pinch of David Lynch in there.With all due respect, how do you know that? He never once showed his cards, so how do you know he's always had the same hand?
Which is exactly the point Ryuukishi was making. You can't ever tell for sure whether an author has pulled a switch on you, so you just have to trust that he didn't. Wasn't "trust between the author and the reader" one of the main themes of the entire story?
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Old 2011-03-18, 13:56   Link #77
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A trust he gleefully violated, by the way. So that makes his preaching on that subject truly, hilariously, ironic.
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Old 2011-03-18, 14:05   Link #78
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Which is exactly the point Ryuukishi was making. You can't ever tell for sure whether an author has pulled a switch on you, so you just have to trust that he didn't. Wasn't "trust between the author and the reader" one of the main themes of the entire story?
No. There cannot be a switch before there is a work. Murder on the Orient Express cannot change the identity of the culprit halfway through. It's a single, discrete, finalized work sitting in my hands and if I flip ahead to the ending and read it, that ending will (1) be there and (2) not change after I go back and read all the way along to it.

A serialized story is entirely different, and the problem Ryukishi comes up with really only applies fully to his own work. Carr didn't have the benefit of releasing half of Death Turns the Tables, cruising the Internet for two to four years, then writing the ending (and not even really resolving it to boot).

There's a huge difference between...
  • ...sitting down before you write out the story, hashing out drafts, maybe running some things by the editor. Thinking to yourself "What if the culprit wasn't Hideyoshi at all, but Gohda?" and reconfiguring your plot to that effect, going through your editor several more times, submitting a finished manuscript, and getting that mystery published as a complete work.
  • ...and potentially not even deciding on a culprit until two years and four "question" arcs in (meaning you aren't even really obligated to answer a thing yet), based on speculation you have easy access to about your own work and what your fans think, want, or suspect.
If Ryukishi is trying to argue the two are the same thing (and I don't think he is, but I think apologists may be trying to argue that he is), he's simply flat-out wrong.

I'm not saying he did the latter. But the point is, it is impossible to know now. If an author publishes a mystery novel, they can't take it back without everybody knowing about the first edition. That isn't "changing the answer after the fact." Going back and rereleasing the book with a different ending is changing the answer. The rest is just the craft.
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Old 2011-03-18, 15:02   Link #79
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I'm reminded of The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill, originally published in serial format. It's been a while since I read it, but despite his claims in the forward that whenever he got a letter claiming that so-and-so was the culprit, he'd add some twists to invalidate that suspect, until only one suspect was left, it reads like it was planned with a single solution in mind.

OTOH, despite Ryu's claim that he's had a single solution the whole time, I think he's been making it up as he goes along.
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Old 2011-03-18, 15:30   Link #80
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IIRC it's around when Erika starts forcing the logic error, and they're discussing whether Battler wanted to change his explanation of the letter delivery. Considering that Battler and Beato were forced down that path by a player who was already cheating, I don't think you can turn around and level the accusation at the whole story.
Forced? Erika didn't force Battler to do a damn thing. Battler put himself in that predicament first by giving Erika a retroactive power (who the hell said that it had to be retroactive?) and second because he was too stubborn to simply accept his mistake. He only needed to let Erika find the seal broken, he didn't need to try to win that first round at all costs.

That was just the first twilight for crying out loud! He had plenty of chances to still win the game!

also I refuse the claim that there was any setup from Battler's or Beatrice's side as long as a real evidence isn't shown.
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