Thursday, September 23, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 45

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand

Atlas ShruggedMost readers of Ayn Rand's work never seem able to distinguish her writing from her philosophy of Objectivism. And that makes sense considering Rand herself generally did not, utilizing her fiction and non-fiction writings to promote her philosophy.

For those who might not know, Objectivism is a philosophy that focuses upon the rational self-interests of individuals. In practice, if it can truly ever have said to have been practiced, this philosophy turns into a form of ultra atheistic capitalism. That is overly simplifying Objectivism to an extreme, so my apologies to anyone who doesn't care for my brief explanation, but in the interests of brevity I don't want to spend thousands of words trying to explain a philosophy that could only be done proper justice by a book-length treatise.

Back to Rand and her writings.

Since most readers are unable or unwilling to distance themselves from Rand's philosophy, I believe they do themselves a great disservice.

Rand is a good writer, perhaps a great writer. Yes, she broke plenty of rules concerning storytelling, but she did so with fantastic structure and unforgettable characters. By the end of reading a Rand novel, one is either rooting for her protagonists or ill at ease over the philosophy within.

There is rarely any middle ground.

If a writer can accomplish that, I generally consider them a great writer.

Writers and readers can learn from Rand, how to set up a story, especially one pushing a particular point of view.

The plot? An extensive outline would be too lengthy. But I'll leave it at this: A steel magnate finds himself at odds with a world where collective governments are becoming more and more common, stepping in to control business ventures. But then the world's brightest entrepreneurs and creators begin to disappear. This steel magnate eventually finds himself among this number, and is offered a future unexpected.

Sounds boring, and kind of trite. It's not.

One has to read the novel. It's that kind of experience.

I will say that Rand has not so much directly influenced my own writing as pointed out to me a different viewpoint, and gave me ideas for new ways to tell stories. While I don't personally subscribe to her philosophy of Objectivism, I do believe it has many positive qualities.

Up next: Battle Royale

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've not read it, or even tried it, though I have a copy. I know I should probably give it a whirl. I've been put off by its sheer size in part. But I've heard so much about it I need to bite the bullet.