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Old 2011-03-28, 18:28   Link #141
Jan-Poo
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Yes it couldn't be called "murder" for the same reason it isn't "murder" if a man kills an animal (even if the action itself isn't different).

That's because the term implies a human as both the subjects and the object of the action.


It still qualifies as "killing" anyway.


Maybe when in the future new sentient beings will appear (robots or aliens) the term might expand to those as well, but right now the only sentient beings that are known are humans.
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Old 2011-03-29, 00:13   Link #142
naikou
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-poo
It still qualifies as "killing" anyway.
Yup - but killing someone accidentally is also "killing", so that doesn't really clear things up.

To be precise and define our terms (with some help from wikipedia):
Human killing human intentionally: murder
Human killing animal intentionally: slaughter
Human killing human unintentionally: homicide
Human killing human unintentionally (and illegally): manslaughter
Animal killing human intentionally: ????? (some kind of killing, maybe there isn't a name)
Animal killing human unintentionally: ????? (again, some kind of killing, don't know the name)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-Poo
Maybe when in the future new sentient beings will appear (robots or aliens) the term might expand to those as well, but right now the only sentient beings that are known are humans.
It might be better to just define a new term, rather than changing the definition of "murder".

Sentient Being killing Sentient Being intentionally: thwacking

So a murder is a thwacking, but a thwacking is not necessarily a murder, unless it's human on human thwacking.

Okay, that got weird suddenly.
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Old 2011-03-29, 00:29   Link #143
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Originally Posted by Chron View Post
It was all one big justification of Vance's approach. Before you ask "why mention it now"? It's because you've satisfied my curiosity that you may have realized the possibility of what I was getting at, but simply discarded it. However, you've made it plain that you missed it entirely, so consider this a freebie.
I discarded it because it's plainly obvious. Vance was only stating that to Markham over and over again every chapter, after every witness, like he was bludgeoning it into our brains. Don't tell me this is the 'genius' you were thinking off? I mean it's a plainly simple idea that anyone who's watched any story about FBI serial-killer profilers would understand. I was actually thinking that back in 1927, they didn't do profiles of killers; which was why Vance's idea was new.

And to begin with this is perhaps not a sign of good writing. If this is the big 'reveal,' he probably needed to leave Vance silent and point it out in the end in a sudden reversal. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt though, as stories from different eras can be very different...

Spoiler for Benson Murder Case:


The thing is, I've thought about this line of thinking; that this kind of thinking only works in a mystery novel rather than real life. Which is fine, though as he is in the business of writing mystery novels. But it's a bit strange to have characters that could *almost* pierce the forth wall, who know they're in a mystery novel.

Anyways, enough with your "More Mystery-Than-Thou" attitude and dismissive comments.

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Originally Posted by naikou View Post
Granted, Van Dine's commandments are somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But yeah, don't expect the guy to go out of his way to make his novels an entertaining read. He's only interested in presenting a problem for people to solve.
Well, knowing that he is only presenting mechanics and nothing else would be a good start to prepare myself. (As this was what I was trying to find out initially.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
I'm with Naikou on this one, I don't see any particular reason as to why a mystery novel should only focus on the mystery without any side dish.

Actually there's a lot of stuff I don't agree with Dine.

I also find ironic how his rules forbid servants as the culprits (because the culprit must be a worth-while person) but there is no explicit prohibition about animals and children as culprits.
I wish there was a bit more to his writing as well, but as I've thought about it like this in the past. Van Dine's rules seems to be locked into a certain era of detective fiction; the circa 1930's era, that is his rules declare things that are cliche based on that point in time as well as things that are unfair. As opposed to Knox Rules which concentrate solely on being fair.

Or perhaps it was the rules that define a type of mystery fiction that he liked. He didn't have time for silly things like romances, characterization or even a plot... just the puzzle like mystery. I can actually see him reading through all that detective fiction and rolling his eyes at things he found a waste of time.

"Three hundred pages is far too much pother for a crime other than murder." -- I figure he must have read something that didn't end in murder and he felt he wasted his time. 8) (Which I may agree with as well, but I'd have to see.)

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Originally Posted by Sherringford View Post
It's hit-or-miss sometimes, but a few of his stories are really, really good. But as far as characterization and all? You are probably off avoiding him, really. I love his stories because to me a good mystery is about a larger than life detective godstomping a mystery.
Can you give a bit of a preview on the other novels? Like which ones are good? I'm assuming that it's the puzzle/mystery aspect that gets better, right?
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Old 2011-03-29, 01:02   Link #144
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To be fair to Van Dine... he was a literary critic. He was used to reading the absolute best in literature, and Mystery was just a fledgling genre with a lot of inexperienced writers who couldn't hope to keep up with Joyce, and Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, and Steinbeck - all of whom were writing during Van Dine's era. From his perspective, it made a lot of sense to keep mystery simple - that way you can still enjoy the puzzle without gagging over the terrible writing of young mystery authors. And it doesn't waste nearly as much time, so you can get back to studying Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

Basically:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kylon99
"Three hundred pages is far too much pother for a crime other than murder." -- I figure he must have read something that didn't end in murder and he felt he wasted his time.
Yeah. He probably got to the end of some second-rate mystery novel and thought, "If I wanted to read about something other than a murder mystery, I'd be reading a real novel!"

You see the same argument applied to video games these days. "Why would I play a 40-hour RPG with terrible gameplay when I could just read a good book?" And I somewhat agree - there isn't an RPG out there that comes close to matching the best of literature. But that doesn't mean I think video games should never have stories. Just that, at the moment, I tend to prefer gameplay-centric video games, where I can enjoy myself without having to waste time reading some two-bit writer's unedited rants (hi there Hideo Kojima, fancy seeing you here).
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Old 2011-03-29, 11:04   Link #145
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kylon99 View Post
Can you give a bit of a preview on the other novels? Like which ones are good? I'm assuming that it's the puzzle/mystery aspect that gets better, right?
Canary Murder Case:

Slightly disappointing, I found it one of his worse stories. The descriptive quality of the work is great, but the mystery itself is not his best work. The locked room is solved in a rather wishy washy manner, and the impossible alibi is destroyed in a very bland manner.

Greene Murder Case:

Fairly similar to Umineko in many ways. I can't explain too much on how similar it is without spoiling the story. There are many murders, each with a cunning(and...realistic) plan. The motivation/plot is slightly different from Benson, and contains more action than Benson did.

Bishop Murder Case:

One of my favorite Van Dine novels. It started the "poetry murders" tradition like the epitaph in Umineko or that annoying thing in and then there were none. It's his most scientific novel.

The Scarab Murder Case:

If you want an actual plot, this is as close as you will get from Van Dine. I liked the story for what it was, not just for the puzzle.

The Kennel Murder Case:

I personally didn't like this one as much as the others. It has a pretty good locked room mystery, but aside from that, it doesn't hold a candle to the rest of his works.

The Dragon Murder Case:

My favorite Van Dine book, I think. The plot isn't anything to write home about, but it got one godly setting and a mystery that some people find it "yeaaaah" but that I personally find it "HELL YEAH."

...I'm trying to remain spoiler-free with those comments.

The Casino Murder Case:

I can't for the life of me figure out what to say about this one. It's just so...Van Dineian. There is no other way to describe it. It's what you would get from putting all other Van Dine books in a blender.

The Kidnap Murder Case:

Pretty okay plot, good mystery. I've seen people call it a hardboiled mystery, but I really, really wouldn't go that far. The people that I've heard saying that were doing it as a joke, but it's just that...ehhhhh, hard to explain.

The Gracie Allen Murder Case:

It's...pretty weird, but I like it. Just keep in mind that a few characters in the book are actually real people and you'll get confused(but delighted) as you read it. Okay mystery as well.

The Winter Murder Case:

This one is actually a novella, rather than a novel. Van Dine wrote novellas then expanded them to novels, but since he died before he could expand this one to a novel, it's just a novella. Some critics have said it's one of his best works, but some critics are idiots. I personally think this is his worst book. It feels incomplete and I wouldn't be surprised if the novella wasn't entirely finished by the time he died and someone gave a hand in filling a paragraph or two.
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Old 2011-03-29, 12:00   Link #146
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What about The Garden Murder Case?
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Old 2011-03-29, 16:49   Link #147
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Oh yeah, forgot about that one.

I found it quite disappointing to be honest. The solution was hardly something to write home about, and it seemed like Van Dine was, at that point, rich to the point of not trying too much. Fortunately he recovered much of his earlier drive in his latter novels, but Garden Murder Case feels like a bit of a letdown. It does however let us have some of the best "Vance Moments" which are always fun to read.

It's an okay read, but if you read it after say Dragon Murder Case, you are going to be disappointed for sure. It's not as good as Van Dine's best, hell it's not even as good as Van Dine's average, but it's not terrible. It really gets on my nerves due to a few things that annoy me on a personal level, but again I haven't read the novel in years so I maybe it's not as bad as I remember. Overall, "read it only if you are a Philo Vance fan" would be my recommendation for it.

For what it's worth, I've re-read all Van Dine novels at least once, with the exception of this one.

I also remember absolutely loathing the movie version but I can't for the life of me remember why. I think I blocked it out for some reason. Huh. Now I feel compelled to try to watch it again. How hard is the movie to find nowadays?

EDIT: I actually can't remember much of the movie. I know for a fact that I dislike it, but I don't know if I actually watched it. Now I'm curious. I must track it down.

Last edited by Sherringford; 2011-03-29 at 20:11.
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Old 2011-04-06, 01:00   Link #148
Kylon99
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Originally Posted by Sherringford View Post
Overall, "read it only if you are a Philo Vance fan" would be my recommendation for it.
(Quote only slightly related.)

Anyways, thanks. I'm going to follow your recommendations on his later books and skip the ones you mentioned may have not been good. Don't worry, I won't hold you to it as I realize there are often matters of opinion and taste, but I'm encouraged at least to see he gets better.

I figured that it's not good to judge the author just from his very first book anyways...
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Old 2011-04-10, 16:18   Link #149
LyricalAura
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Not precisely a mystery novel, but it occurs to me to wonder whether Ryukishi ever read a translation of Quarantine by Greg Egan.

Spoiler for Quarantine plot:
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Old 2011-04-11, 01:43   Link #150
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Then I'll say, the novel "The turn of the screw" and the discussion between fans and critics that followed the release of the novel sounds to me like it's the prototype for all of Umineko.
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Old 2011-10-16, 19:01   Link #151
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Hey, let's revive this thread. 8)

Have any of you read or watched shows based on Higashino Keigo's detective and/or mystery novels? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keigo_Higashino) I'm pretty sure even the characters of Umineko has mentioned his works but I've never learned to recognize his name until recently.

For an english audience like us, we can still get access to one of his novels: The Devotion of Suspect X. It's on Amazon and other places.

For those of us who can find places to ... um... acquire Japanese drama series, there are a few of his series that have been adapted to TV (source: http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Higashino_Keigo)

Of the series I've watched:

http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Meitantei_no_Okite
This is a comedy detective series that pokes a lot of fun at genre conventions where even the characters are allowed to break the fourth wall at will. The detective loses motivation if he doesn't get to have his proper scene of exposition, etc.

http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Galileo
This is the TV adaptation of his Galileo series, of which that novel I mentioned up there is related to. I watched this and it was a semi-decent series, but I'd say the director wasn't up to the source material, I think. 8)

http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Shinzanmono
This is a recent adaptation of his Kyoichiro Kaga series. The themes of this show seems to be understanding why people lie and what they do to cover it up. I'd really, recommend this series, although the main TV series feels like filler at least for a couple of episodes. It gets good at the end. The Special that came out at the end however is VERY good, showing the crimes and coverups from the criminal's point of view.

This adaptation seems to have been done especially well, so it's recommended. In addition, there's a Shinzanmono movie coming out next year in January as well.


Since this IS animesuki, I figure you guys will have the tools to find the materials in question without me linking it... 8)
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Old 2011-10-17, 05:19   Link #152
RedKey
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Originally Posted by UsagiTenpura View Post
Then I'll say, the novel "The turn of the screw" and the discussion between fans and critics that followed the release of the novel sounds to me like it's the prototype for all of Umineko.
Yeah, that thought crossed my mind too when I first read The Turn of the Screw, one or two years ago.
That novel was a big catbox all along. And before the concept of the box was even invented, no less. I'm not an expert at all, but do we have any older mystery-like story revolving on keeping the real truth concealed even from the reader itself?

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Originally Posted by Kylon99 View Post
http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Meitantei_no_Okite
This is a comedy detective series that pokes a lot of fun at genre conventions where even the characters are allowed to break the fourth wall at will. The detective loses motivation if he doesn't get to have his proper scene of exposition, etc.
Duh, this caught my interest. I'll look into it. Thanks.
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Last edited by RedKey; 2011-10-18 at 02:09. Reason: typo
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Old 2011-10-17, 22:44   Link #153
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I finished watching that series after that post and I'd have to say that some episodes are a hit and some are not. Mostly due to having a good director who understands comedy timing and another that doesn't. But it seems to me that the detective in the show is not battling criminals, but the ratings. Especially since the characters are so genre aware. 8)
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Old 2011-11-13, 20:28   Link #154
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"The Quest", a poem series by W. H. Auden, is not a detective story, but is definitely enigmatic, and hits upon a lot of the same ideas as Umineko in a different way. Like Umineko, it paints Fantasy in ambiguous, murky grays and is weirdly compelling.

It's online here. There are some typos, though! A print edition is better.

A choice bit, complete with veiled reference to Dante:

Quote:
Originally Posted by W. H. Auden
The Tower

This is an architecture for the odd;
Thus heaven was attacked by the afraid,
So once, unconsciously, a virgin made
Her maidenhead conspicuous to a god.

Here on dark nights while worlds of triumph sleep
Lost Love in abstract speculation burns,
And exiled Will to politics returns
In epic verse that makes its traitors weep.

Yet many come to wish their tower a well;
For those who dread to drown, of thirst may die,
Those who see all become invisible:

Here great magicians, caught in their own spell,
Long for a natural climate as they sigh
"Beware of Magic" to the passer-by.
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Old 2011-11-17, 00:24   Link #155
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I understand that this isn't a request thread, but would anyone happen to know of any story that features a sort of "meta-world"? I ask because it's still my favorite element of Umineko.

(I also want to thank everyone for their discussion on certain mystery novels, John Dickson Carr and Van Dine have been fun to read. )
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Old 2011-11-18, 02:18   Link #156
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Golden Dream: Technically, any story where one internal narrator tells a bunch of other people about the mystery, and then those people solve it has a "meta-world", especially if that internal narrator tells an incomplete story. In other words, when the solver or solvers act as doubles for the reader and solve the mystery after the fact, from the outside, one can say that a "meta-world" is in play. This is doubly true if the meta-solvers treat the mystery as a story, and try to use the rules of stories to solve it.

A few examples:

* Isaac Asimov's "Black Widower" mysteries work this way. One character brings a problem to a club of people who try to argue it out over dinner, discussing the plausibility of different hypotheses.

* Agatha Christie's "Tuesday Club" short stories, collected in The Thirteen Problems, also work this way, and may be one of Asimov's inspirations.

* ... one could go as far as to call Twelve Angry Men, set in a jury deliberation, an example of a meta-world mystery, even more purely than either of the above two cases. Not only do the characters argue over the innocence or guilt of a person based on unreliable testimony, they also argue over the rules they need to make a decision - what counts as proof, and what doesn't.

* Somewhere, there must exist Umineko fanfiction in the style of the originals that follows new mysteries. But I have yet to see it.
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Old 2011-11-18, 03:27   Link #157
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Originally Posted by Golden Dream View Post
I understand that this isn't a request thread, but would anyone happen to know of any story that features a sort of "meta-world"? I ask because it's still my favorite element of Umineko.

(I also want to thank everyone for their discussion on certain mystery novels, John Dickson Carr and Van Dine have been fun to read. )
If you want a non-Mystery novel, there's the Pages of Pain by Troy Denning. This takes place in the rather strange unconventional fantasy universe of Planescape. The story itself is told by the Lady of Pain, one of the great enigmas of the Planescape universe who appears to be but isn't quite the same as a goddess. In it she tells the story of a hero and his quest to regain his lost honor, but she tells it as it is happening. At times though, she talks to the reader directly, and at times she figures out that the reader has interfered with her manipulations of the hero. (For good or for worse, as the pain she inflicts she claims will help the hero.)

Not a mystery, but I thought the interplay between the reader and the Lady of Pain was interesting. (If any character from that setting could be on the same level as the reader it is her.)

I'm not recommending it as a mystery, but just pointing out the interesting aspect of 'surprising' the reader by making it sound like you were involved.

Spoiler for About the story:
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Old 2011-11-18, 04:15   Link #158
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A piece of interactive fiction with a much more literal meta-world would be Spider and Web, a 1997 text game by Andrew Plotkin. It's tough, but there's a gorgeous puzzle in there, and solving the implied mystery requires serious chessboard thinking. At the start, it seems like a standard spy gadgetry game. By the end, it's Umineko with a text prompt, spy gadgets, and some brutal puzzles.

(Yes, it's literature. Yes, it's mystery.)

To quote part of the author's description:

Quote:
It is a game about deception, incomplete knowledge, and the ways that stories in other people's heads can be the best lies. It is also about how the role of the narrator works in interactive fiction -- but you don't have to worry about that to play the game. (Well, not much.)
I recommend downloading it and an interpreter, such as Gargoyle, but if you want to play it online, it's here: Spider and Web

A minor spoiler: (this is shown within the first several turns)

Spoiler for The gameboard and the meta-world:


In hindsight, newsgroup discussions of S&W years ago sounded a lot like current discussions of Umineko. Many of the same deductive tools are required.
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Old 2011-11-19, 10:34   Link #159
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Thank you both for the suggestions, I'll be sure to look those up.

Spider and Web has been pretty entertaining so far.
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Old 2011-11-19, 11:41   Link #160
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Add Asimov's "Union Club" stories (sometimes referred to as "Griswold" stories) to the list. They have a similar structure to the Black Widowers stories.

And Spider & Web is brilliant.
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