Regeneration of the Author.

Books Lindsay Ellis's latest video essay is about Barthe's Death of the Author and the relevance it has to some modern texts, especially John Green's The Fault In Our Stars. Barthe posited that one should only approach a text on the basis of what's in the text rather than the author's intent or any paratext, that such things are irrelevant.  As Lindsay points out that would be fine if we lived in a perfect world were every writer had the same opportunities and could reach the same public and be accepted writing about any subject matter, but that simply isn't the case.

She notably doesn't mention how this works in shared, multi-author universes in which no single voice controls the entire output.  You would think that spin-off fiction for the great franchises would demonstrate the death of the author in that it features a group of authors working towards a much larger grand narrative - except that isn't the case.  Back when I was reading Star Trek novels, I knew that something by Diane Duane or Peter David or The Reeves-Stevens would be different experiences, in terms of wordage, subject matter and view on the franchise.

It's also particularly true of Doctor Who, which is essentially an anthology series with a single protagonist (for the most part) and regular supporting characters.  Setting the RTD v Moffat v Chibbers comparisons to one side, even regular spin-off writers have a particular style.  Paul Magrs, Johnny Morris, Lawrence Miles, Steve Lyons, Jac Raynor and Eddie Robson among many others others all have different interests and I'd say that there are some writers whose work I always go out of my way to read or listen to no matter which era they're working on.

What was especially interesting was when authors who'd become synonymous with a particular era went on to write for the revival tie-ins.  Would a casual reader appreciate what Paul Magrs is doing in Sick Building or Lance Parkin in The Eyeless and how that compares to some of the more down the line, less experimental works?  I don't know.  But as Ellis shows in the video, its impossible to view a text in and of itself.  There will always be patterns, expectations and assumption on the part of the reader generated by their perception of the creator.

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