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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Let's collar him before he lawyers up."
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May 14 2010

The literary tastes of Joss Whedon fans. Literature Map uses artificial intelligence to map how likely it is that fans of a certain writer will read other writers. The closer a name is to the central figure (in our case, Joss), the more likely that writer will be read too.

To leave your mark on the AI, start at gnooks and click on gnod's suggestions. When I did it with Joss as one of my favorites, it brought up some writers I already love and some I've never heard of before. Looking forward to exploring!

No Warren Ellis?
If you go to gnook you can add him!
How about Stephen King, Robert Ludlum or Thomas Harris? Koontz is a hack.

[ edited by alcabongTV on 2010-05-14 22:08 ]
I totally agree with Daniel Handler. The gap between them is the gap is wish to fill. As a writer. And as a person. As a wrison.
I tried starting out at Warren Ellis and finding a writer that includes them both but no luck yet, I think I took a wrong turn into classic SF. Perhaps everybody who put JW in was more interested in the serieseses than the comics. I used gnooks and coupled him (heh) with Ellis and Millar but it would take a lot more people to do it with these and other comic book authors to get some links.

ETA: Also, if you ask for a map for a writer not now in its system (like Jane Espenson or Tim Minear), it will add it to a suggestion pool and then the writers with the most suggestions are voted on by users for inclusion or rejection.

[ edited by cabri on 2010-05-14 22:25 ]
I've always held out for Ellis writing a Firefly comic book series or even a Dollhouse episode (sighs). I'd also recommend Jonathan Hickman too. Oddly enough I asked our Twitter followers "Ever read a book that's reminded you of Joss Whedon's shows?" the other day.

I put all the answers in a entry over at our .org site.
I don't know why, but Jasper Fforde immediately comes to mind. They are not really alike at all except for female heroines and the humor.
I've enjoyed playing on this website for a while, but it has some major flaws. For example, Jane Eyre is listed as an author.
haha.I love that Joss and RTD are nearly on top of eachother. I am however surprised that Neil Gaiman is so far away and I'm shocked that SMeyer is on the map at all.
okelay, I agree about Neil Gaiman. He's my other favorite writer. A few others I like were kind of far from Joss, and I'm not at all familiar with many of those closest to him.

Did I miss Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut?
There's at least one obvious topical relation between Joss and Stephanie Meyer, so that's not too surprising to me.

What is surprising is the proximity of Megan Whalen Turner, relative to her overall popularity with the general public. Did my response to the Twitter question drive it so close single-handedly, because I mentioned all four titles in her "Queen's Thief" series?
whoisomega, I'm pretty sure I saw Sir Terry, he was hovering over Neil I believe.

but I thoughts relationships were about what the readers like. how many buffy fans like that book that must not be named?
...Ellen DeGeneres...?
Is it just my imagination, or is Kevin Smith getting . . . closer?
Why is Jim Butcher not on this list?
I'm very sad that Steven Moffat isn't on Joss' list! While watching the new Doctor Who I've realized that the reason that I've always loved Moffat's eps best is the same reason I love Joss so much. He terrifies and amuses me at the same time. How can RTD be on top of Joss and Moffat not be near by?!
It's obvious to *me*, based on his strong female characters, twisty-turny plot lines & the unapologetic killing/maiming of main characters, that Brandon Sanderson is a Whedon fan.

If he's ever said such a thing in an interview, I haven't read it. I'm just guessin'.
I always thought J.K. Rowling had a lot of things in common with Joss. The way Harry Potter starts off comparatively small, but grows deeper in back-story and mythology as it goes along. The drama and humour balanced so well. Also how she manages to make you love not just Harry, but every character in her verse.

I noticed on the .org list someone mentioned Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Completely agree. That is my favourite series ever.
I cant say that I am surprised to see Russel T Davies so close to Joss Whedon, but Im not sure that I agree fully on that. I becomes clear when one watches some interviews with them. Joss, and the other Joss writers, has on several occation said that they never put in things just because they look cool or spectacular. Joss always have the approache -yes, but what does it mean? As for Mr Davies... well, he does on several occations tell us in the Doctor Who Confidentials that "we did that because it looks great" or "it does nothing for the story but it looks spiffy" or things like that.

I do love Doctor Who, but it lacks some of the deapths of Joss'es shows.
Some of these make sense. Dan Brown, though? Yikes.
Agreed fluffybaby18, there is a distinct lack of Steven Moffat. He is one of my favourite TV writers, ever since his days of Press Gang, through to Jekyll and now Doctor Who. I think his style and sensibilities are far closer to Joss's than that of Russell T. Davies.

Interestingly, if you enter Russell T. Davies, Moffat does not appear at all either. And if you enter Steven Moffat, Davies is not shown. I think that says alot. ;)

I was surprised to see both Neil Gaiman and Dan Brown at the very edge of the map. Gaiman because he should be far closer to Joss, and Brown because he shouldn't even be there. I'm interpretting Stephanie Meyer's appearance in the furthest corner of my screen as a "don't go there" warning. ;) I don't have a strong knowledge of authors (though I'm working on fixing that), but there's more than a few TV writers that are missing - Eric Kripke, Tim Minear, Brian Fuller, Toby Whithouse and James Moran to name but a few.

[ edited by JenskiJen on 2010-05-15 07:41 ]
...How does that work exactly? I mean some figures haven't really written text/comic works so I could see why they wouldn't be in the system. (Russel T. Davies did at least once write Doctor Who books before right? If not I know he has had a couple of non-fiction books out.)

That said, where's Brian K. Vaughan? They have other comic book writers. And yeah, I'm also a big surprised that Neil Gaiman is so on the outskirts. Or how/why "A Tale of Two Cities" is mistaken as a writer who people would associate with Whedon?
I was surprised, and happy, to see Megan Whalen Turner so close to Joss. I'm about halfway through her latest book, and it's excellent. I'm also glad to see Guy Gavriel Kay. I just picked up his newest book (in e-book format) and will probably start reading it tomorrow. Is anyone else a little surprised that Kazuo Ishiguro isn't on the list? I'm also surprised that Neil Gaiman is so far away.
I'd have to say this is a work in progress. Not showing Brian K Vaughan and Steven Moffat, must be because the software is not yet done calibrating, I see no other explanation :p.

Plus: where's the other ME writers? I mean, if any should be close to Joss, it's them, right? I mean, they have RTD and Moffat in there too, so I'm sure they're allowing television writers as well.

Also: RTD that close to Joss nearly physically hurts ;). I do love me some Who, but RTD was always - to my tastes - one of the weakest writers of the bunch. I did a small dance of joy when Moffat took over.
Then there is the infamous Cliver Barker, who is quite close to Joss! It's nice but odd to see Megan Whalen Turner and Margaret Atwood so close to each other and both nestled up underneath Joss but I love them all so have no problem with that.
I do suspect that some people who haven't read anything in a while are contributing to this map. Lloyd Alexander wrote a great kids series but that was a long time ago.
And yes, how do we move Neil Gaiman closer?
The only ones I read are the ones fairly far out from the middle.

[clarity edit]

[ edited by ManEnoughToAdmitIt on 2010-05-15 16:23 ]
Hmm, my interest is mainly confined to the Buffyverse, so maybe I'm not *really* a Joss fan as such.

I enjoyed Amber's Calliope Reaper-Jones novels but wouldn't've picked them up if I weren't already in deep fanlove (yes, I spelled that as one word) with her. I've read a *very* little Koontz, and soem Alexander. I've tried to get into Kushner (because I'm trying to write manners fantasy myself) but can't really get thru her books.

I tend to like Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Robert E. Howard, Alan Dean foster, HP Lovecraft, SM Stirling, Christopher Stasheff, and Louis L'Amour myself. I'll have to go to the site and see how these all settle out.
I must be one of the few who prefers RTD to Moffat on DW . . . They're both great, but while the latter structures terrific one-off episodes, those don't have the depth, for me, that Davies's eps have. About Dan Brown, the less said the better.
I have a huge problem with modern Doctor Who, even this current one that I'm quite enjoying, and that's with the female characters. They throw themselves at the doctor with no subtle, exciting UST. Then I realised what it is: they're fag hags. Moffat has continued RTD in this quirk of writing annoying asexual women without nuance.
I'm another person pretty surprised that Neil Gaiman is so far away from Joss!
annoying asexual women? which show were you watching,fraac? wether you like the couple of any combination of Doctor/Companion or if you thought any of them had any UST is one thing but asexual women? where did that come from? THe Doctor's the one who's supposed to be asexual.

and,IMO, RTD writes women about a million times better than Moffat does.
Presumably this is unrelated to style but is more like the Amazon idea of "People who bought [i.e. read] this also bought..." ? Which is why Dan Brown's on there - lots of people read Dan Brown so there's likely to be some cross-over. Same with Dean Koontz etc. even though stylistically they're pretty dissimilar (stylistcally Neil Gaiman's also not a good fit IMO - Joss is a "showier" writer in some respects though not in a bad way).

It's a nice idea (and looks cool) but I reckon Librarything does a better job of providing actual recommendations that you might enjoy given that you already enjoy X (even though you have to join up and put a representative sample of your books on there for it to work properly).

(would love to know how it works though, Googling just turns up vague handwaving like "using AI". Presumably it's some sort of Bayesian expert system ?)
and,IMO, RTD writes women about a million times better than Moffat does.

Granted, I've only seen RTD's Who work and Moffat's Who episodes and Coupling, but I don't really get why RTD would write women better than Moffat based on what I've seen, okelay. When comparing what I did see by these writers, Moffat wrote some good scenes for the women on Coupling (although, imho, the guys fared a bit better), and I think Amy is the most well-rounded 'new Who' companion, this early in the season. So while I'm sure some argument could be made either way, I'm not sure why you'd argue that RTD writes women 'a million times better' than Moffat? ('Cause that's quite a lot of times, right there ;)).

They're both great, but while the latter structures terrific one-off episodes, those don't have the depth, for me, that Davies's eps have.

I find it hard to wrap my head around that one, SNT :). I'm honestly interested to hear what it is that you find attractive in Davies's writing. Certainly the lack of depth in Moffat's episodes when compared to Davies's is something I just don't see.

For my money, Davies had a couple of good episodes during his run (none of which were season openers or finales), but most of his scripts ended with huge Deus Ex Machinae (Machina's? ;)) and had plotholes one could fly the Tardis through :).

If you ask me, that's one of the major differences with Moffat. I prefer the guy on dialogue (although, to be fair, funny one-liners were also one of RTD's strong suits), he's a much better plotter and - overall - has more intriguing ideas. The opener to this Who season was the best opener of new Who I've seen and his episodes, so far, have pretty much consistently been winners (although his recent two-parter was somewhat below par, for him, but still better than most of what RTD produced ;)).

To me, both of these writers are miles apart. I certainly respect what RTD did with new Who - he was obviously a fan boy and his enthusiasm translated to the screen - but much of his writing - for me - boiled down to "lets get to the big/iconic set piece, and let's not worry about how we get there, just as long as we do". When added to his tendency to overfill season finales and major episodes with all kinds of characters, thereby downgrading the impact of all of them, I feel he - despite writing some truly great scenes and a couple of strong episodes - just wasn't that great a writer on Who. Which is why, while Moffat still hasn't proven anything, I'm still pretty confident his run will prove to be better than RTD's.
What GVH said - plus there hasn't been a weak ep of the current series, IMO - I even loved the Gatiss-penned Dalek episode and I am so bloody sick of the Daleks. I've seen all of Moffat's work and I think the male characters more often end up with the short end of it than the female ones. Always enjoyed RTD but felt the seams were more obvious if that makes sense - he didn't blend genres as well and sometimes it felt like "here's a gag for the kids, here's a gag for the parents". I also feel like Moff & co. trust the audience more.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2010-05-16 16:08 ]
Never thought i'd be saying this but i'm actually missing certain aspects of RTD's episodes, primarily the big emotional moments. I know Steven Moffat can do those, it's just that he doesn't seem to be, instead going for the more Who traditional lower key endings (spoilers for 'Vampires in Venice' Great episode in pretty much every other way but not a great ending IMO). Maybe he's saving it for the finales but where's the "slow road" resonance from 'The Girl in the Fireplace' or even the bittersweet feeling of time running through our fingers from 'Blink' (nevermind the joyousness of 'The Doctor Dances') ?

Almost everything else is better, the dialogue zings, the layers, as zeitgeist says, are better integrated, a few bits aside the plots feel more organic, less deus exy and the cast are great (Matt Smith in particular looks like he's been playing him for years). But i'm missing the size, just a bit worried that in trying to avoid Davies' operatic tendencies they may have pulled too far back.
Must be a taste thing, GVH. I thought "11th Hour" was just OK - and its last 20 minutes of frenetic running about and gobbledegook-spouting drained the big set-up (Doctor asking Amy to trust him, Doctor standing up for the Earth) of any great power or emotional resonance, in my view. At the end, I was relieved it was over, to be honest.

I think plotting within an episode matters relatively less to me; I prefer RTD's dialogue - I love his occasional wink at the audience and his apparent delight in wordplay; I love his handling of episode-to-episode continuity (say, "New Earth" to "Gridlock," the latter of which is close to being my single-favorite episode of new Who); or the Master-ful trilogy that ends Series Three. Whereas I didn't love "Girl in the Fireplace" or "Blink" as much as most seemed to. They were well-wrought eps that didn't really add to my knowledge or love of the Doctor himself . . .

In general, I've noticed that the moments, -usually emotional and poignant, often with a sense of the Doctor's evolution through the years, the things that he has sacrificed and lost over that time,- that make me *love* the new Doctor invariably arise in RTD episodes. What can I say - I really love opera. :-)
I should say that I did love RTD Who, so please don't misunderstand me. As far as emotional moments/resonances, I still feel that in the new Series and I find it to be more whole cloth than a series of connected deus ex machinae. I find Matt's portrayal (to my eyes anyway) in concert with the way he's written constantly recalls bits of past Doctors. I see the what he's lost/sacrificed in every episode inn more subtle ways. When 11 goes from 0 to 100 in no time flat - "No human has anything to say to me today!" for example and back and then realizes that people like Amy can still teach him things, n matter how much he's seen and done. SNT, our difference of opinion makes more sense yet when i hear you mention "Gridlock" - an episode that I can't imagine ever being on my top ten list for the modern series even.

I feel like there's a bit more subtlety and trust in the intelligence of the audience than there ever has been in Who and I appreciate that. I mean the are certainly enough unsubtle moments to go around still, but there hasn't been a giant spider lady screaming an embarrassing bit of nonsensical dialogue. I've been a fan for thirty years give or take and this season is one that I wholeheartedly and unapologetically love. There haven't been any moments that have made me cringe in the slightest and I feel like there aren't a lot of seasons/series of the show that I can say that about with complete honesty.

I feel like I need to repeat it, but I am a huge fan of what RTD did for Doctor Who and I can't count the number of times the man's episodes have made me feel a startling range of emotions, but I just feel like Who is really brilliant this year full stop - 11th Hour is actually the weakest ep of this series/season, but it got things kicked off in a serviceable way. My wife, who loved Tennant, while occasionally rolling her eyes at some of the melodrama and deus ex endings hasn't had a bad thing to say about the new series and she swore she wouldn't even like a new Doctor/Companion after Tennant/Donna, who, let's face it, were both utterly brilliant. She actually said, "Not only is this my favorite series of Doctor Who, it's quickly becoming one if my favorite series period.".

P.S. - Love love love Karen Gillan's portrayal of Amy, best companion since our beloved Donna and Gods bless Moff for getting the multi-companion action going again for the time being. This weeks ep was yet another slice of brilliance. Another thing about this year - every non head writer penned ep has slipped seamlessly into the show maintaining a new ease of transition between genres/moods on a dime that... Yep, I'm going there... Is rarely seen outside of Joss/Tim/ME scripts (special nod to Brynn Malone's eps of In Plain Sight, bless her).

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2010-05-17 01:24 ]
...11th Hour is actually the weakest ep of this series/season, but it got things kicked off in a serviceable way.

Well, this is odd. Now I disagree with both of you ;).

None of them since have had the same mix of coolness, humour and emotion IMO, i'm with GVH on that, best first episode of the new series by a pretty handy margin. 'The Beast Below' had a decent, emotive ending but wasn't as consistent within the episode, apart from that i've felt next to nothing at the other endings ('Victory of the Daleks' and 'Vampires in Venice' in particular have felt like they "just finished" and left no mark on me or the world in their passing. 'Flesh and Stone' was cool in its understatedness but still ... sometimes Who is about overstating, that's just part of the blend). 'The Eleventh Hour' had the great part at the end. And then everything in-between was, y'know, great ;) .

edited to invisi minor spoilers and add a couple

[ edited by Saje on 2010-05-17 09:35 ]
I think RTD brought more fun to Doctor Who. Moffat's Who is like more proper and stuff. But not quite as interesting so far. Smith is good though. He's like a young Bill Nighy.
Yeah, he's like if Bill Nighy and Tom baker had a son. Eccentric without being too mannered and (one of the things that worried me most) he genuinely sometimes looks about 25 and sometimes looks about 900+ (or not but definitely older than 25). I love the details he puts in (like the way he leans in just a bit too close to people when he's thinking, as if the bit of his brain used for social awareness is currently in use or his "fingers" riff or the "bow-ties are cool" semi-riff, in fact the first time he says "it's cool, bow-ties are cool" in TEH I laughed out loud the delivery was so perfect).

If you'd told me two months ago that 7 episodes in i'd have more issues with the writing than with Matt Smith on a Moffat helmed Who series i'dve asked you if the crack had a minty taste and what colour your crazy-glasses made the sky look but there we are (which isn't to say I think it's a disaster by any stretch, it's just not - usually - quite managing the complete package for me yet. And in fairness, RTD's eps did that maybe once in every 5).
I agreed with most of what zeitgeist said there about RTD/Moffat, apart from his comments on TEH, which Saje then pretty much covered. I now have nothing to add (which is good, as I'm currently at work ;)). You guys are quite handy to have around ;)
We may be Borg. But in the good way ;).
And I remain unassimilated, as always. :-)
Well, again I liked TEH a LOT, and actually you have a point, and here I'll backtrack a little -- Beast Below may actually be the weakest to me, but I really do think that it is saved by being penned by Moffat and having such a meaningful ending and resonating with one of the core show chords, which is that this ancient brilliant alien master of the universe is occasionally wrong and one of us short lived little human types is there to catch him when he falls just like he saves our bacon on a regular basis. While on that subject, heresy, I know, but I actually feel the Weeping Angel's eps didn't quite live up to expectations, but then they probably had no hope of that, did they?

To Simon's comment, I think that there is near constant fun in the new series. There are tons of brilliant little interactions and quips especially between Amy and the Doctor, they just don't stop and jab you in the side and go, "Eh, right? Catch that?" like they did so often in the past. To Saje, I feel VoV's didn't "just end" - it had resonance (to me anyway) with many things, not least of which the way the Time Lords went out (or didn't). While the endings have been less gonzo, I feel like they are more thoughtful and asking more of the audience and I don't think that that's a bad thing.
Well, when I say "big" I also mean emotionally "big" (even without the Jedi-esque leaping of tall gravity wells, the "Everybody knows that everybody dies ..." ending to 'Forest of the Dead' was very impactful. Also, as I say, the "slow road" poignancy of TGitF - very quiet and mournful but still "big"). Not got that as much from series 5/31 so far and since, Cornell aside, it's previously been Moffat's episodes i've got it from most i'm kind of wondering why.

As I say though, there's loads to love there (and I do/am). 'Vampires of Venice' was a classic Who episode for instance, aside from the aforementioned slightly anti-climactic ending - I agree BTW that there was resonance with the Timelords in the sense of a parallel but when I say resonance I also mean something felt, something that strikes an emotional chord and that I didn't get, possibly because I was still a bit "Is that it ? For realsies ?" after what went before (by "just ended" I partly mean reaching an end rather than reaching a climax). And i'd say this is probably the most quotable series of 'Doctor Who' ever (in fact the dialogue has been so good and not only that, so consistent that I wouldn't be surprised if Moffat does a Jossian "polish pass" on each script. Either that or he and his writers are really on the same wavelength because the authorial voice is very similar across eps/writers IMO).

Also agree to some extent about 'The Time of Angels'/'Flesh and Stone' but again, mainly with the ending (I actually liked it in and of itself, liked that it came down to him simply knowing stuff and being aware of his surroundings since that's basically - the odd time related thing aside - his "superpower" but after 'Victory of the Daleks' it felt like it needed a slightly bigger climax).

In fact, listing them out here has me thinking it's not individual episodes so much as the pace of the series as a whole that I have issues with so far, something he's previously not had to worry about. Follow an understated ending with a bigger one or an Amy driven solution with a Doctor driven one and it's all good. But two or three in a row feels a bit uneven to me.

And I remain unassimilated, as always. :-)

Therefore resistance is NOT futile, therefore the Borg are imperfect therefore the very basis of Our world-view is called into question. Congratulations, you've just defeated the Borg, We hope you're happy now.

(you probably are cos We're evil but still ... in fact, We don't hope that because a) We don't hope and b) We're evil so We take that back)
You are right, there -it has been quieter- and you are also right that the incredibly poignant bits had been Moffat-produced in the past. Saving up for the big finale? I would definitely like to see some more endings like those that you mentioned - perhaps he feels he is in the process of earning it (whether rightly or wrongly) and so is holding back? I do wonder about that and it hadn't occurred to me that that was what was going on in the back of my head until y'all shook it loose. We'll have to see what it looks like when viewed as a whole series and whether next year feels that way as well as it goes along. I do agree that it is by far the most quotable series of Who and that it is possibly the result of a polish pass, I wondered that as well.
Personally, I'm lamenting over the fact that I can't see Zelazny. Obviously, not the first guy one would compare Joss to, but seems all his stuff has both the sense of fun mixed with constant, underlying, apocalyptic peril.

That, and I remember dropping the name Zelazny a while back and spurning a big discussion over Joss directing movies based on Zelazny novels. Fillion as Corwin, anyone...?
Yeah, why isn't Zelazny on there?
Maybe it's more A than I ? ;)

...but seems all his stuff has both the sense of fun mixed with constant, underlying, apocalyptic peril.

They're both into genre bending too. He's more similar than Dan Brown, put it that way.

(Zelazny fans seem like more traditional sci-fi fans - stick him in and you get a veritable Who's Who of 20th Century sci-fi authors, Brunner, Bradbury, Ellison, Bester among others - so maybe there's less cross-over than you might expect ?)
Brian K. Vaughan NEEDS to be here.

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