Pip and Flinx: 30+ Years and Counting
Recently, I’ve been reading several books for a Category Fiction course I’m taking at OU this semester. I’ve just finished Alan Dean Foster’s “For Love of Mother-Not” which is chronologically the first in the Pip and Flinx adventure series. It’s interesting to note that this was actually the fifth book written (in 1983) while the first book that was written in the series was actually written in 1977.
I find that quite interesting, after having read the novel, because it’s been successful for thirty some-odd years. I find that curious and have to stop and ask myself what made it so successful. The story was really not very remarkable. Perhaps the premise of the story was so unthinkable during the time it was written, when Sci-Fi wasn’t all that common, that it was popular simply because it was science fiction. After all, Sci-Fi is everywhere now and so I guess I’m partly jaded in regards to it. It had better be something AMAZING for me to get excited over.
What really made me think was the fact that this was the fifth book that Foster had written, you’d think he’d have the hang of things by that point. I’m almost afraid to ask what other books in the series were like. This one has so many obvious flaws that it’s almost painful to read certain parts.
So the question that led to this blog posting was, “What makes a poorly written book stay in print for so long?” This is a question to which I’m very interested in finding the answer. Often when a story is poorly written, it is carried by the fact that the story-telling is so concise and powerful that readers overlook the flaws and immerse themselves in the story itself. I wasn’t able to do that with this book. It was interesting, no doubt, but not very captivating. The story-telling is sub-par at times, especially when (and yes I’m going to spoil parts of this 20+ year old book) the main character goes to confront the folk that have kidnapped his adopted Mother, and they’re all conveniently killed right then and there. For the majority of the book, Flinx is in pursuit of these kidnappers and trying to reclaim his Mother-not, and yet, right when you expect to have the confrontation that the whole novel has been leading up to… you instead receive disappointment. It just falls short.
So what is it? Is it fascination with the genre and then later a reader’s sense of loyalty to the series, the characters, and/or the author? Whatever the case may be, I will continue to try to understand why these books manage to be as successful as they are.