Sick Days

Well, my brother finally finished his blog post on how the ‘nice guy syndrome’ is as bad for men as it is for women, but he’s disappeared again, and we never got him set up to post here.

Oh well. I’m sick, it started last night, although I didn’t recognize until after I’d posted. I knew subbing was dangerous.

And yet, it was a fairly productive day. I walked myself over to Rite Aid and found cold medicine—there are so many—and managed a reasonable budget for lunch. Still got my cookie though. I finished the first wrist warmer, though I haven’t yet started the second; I’ll cast on after finishing this post. And at work, after my boss left, a woman came in fundraising for an international student’s program and I got a very nice necklace and made a donation. My last roommate was an international student, too.That made me happy.

After I got home from work, I went on a nice long walk. Only half an hour, but considering I hadn’t expected to walk much at all, and had barely been able to focus at work, it went pretty well. It was sunset, with gold-edged clouds streaked across the sky, which meant most of the time I wasn’t walking with the sun in my eyes. Also, the sun just hit the mountain pass, leaving the rest of the range in shadow. The odometer has been a worthy investment.

Finished one of my books, too. And it was a library book, so I don’t have to worry about running out of time. It was Blackout, by Connie Willis, and a really interesting time-travel historical novel. Unfortunately it less ends than stops, because it’s part of a two-parter, and the second book isn’t offered by the digital library or the local library and I’m not sure I want to pay $11 for an ebook, and I don’t have any more room on my shelves.

Oh well. Even if I didn’t finish The Invention of Solitude in time for the book group, I enjoyed it, and it was worth buying. And we had some fantastic tangents in the discussion.

Meanwhile, I want to kill the rest of the time until my next allowed dosage by not thinking, as I have to do when writing, so I’m going to watch more White Collar and starting on that mitt. Something nice and simple but will keep my fingers busy. Let’s hope this cold doesn’t hang on.

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If You Can’t Say Anything Nice


Teasing a Sleeping Girl

Originally uploaded by Maulleigh

Having written some 4000 words on Killing Time—a book that I can’t stand, less because I hate it, but because it has so many of my pet peeves—I’m suddenly questioning my reasons for posting it online.

Not that it isn’t practically tradition online to do so. There are several websites dedicated to nothing more than poking fun at badly written, plotted, and conceptualized stories. Sometimes published works like the Twilight ‘saga’, the two series of Laura K. Hamilton, and even the later Harry Potter books. Sometimes, and more often, the focus is on awful fan fiction or other online stories.

Killing Time wasn’t meant to be published, but it was published, so I think I’m covered. It’s started to seem kind of mean though. Which I don’t like to be, I think it’s a bad habit.

While I’ve thought before while reading some sporks that they go too far, I allow myself to be seduced by the amusingness. In some cases. For example, I generally don’t read the websites making fun of fan fictions. They aren’t as funny, to me, so I can’t claim a virtue here, but they are also generally working with avereragely bad fics. As opposed to those, say, Rose Potter. Which are well-known in sporking circles for their exceedingly awful badness and creepiness. So fandom itself will sort out the worst of the worst, and those are funny sporks.

Anyway, I think I might continue with my various reports on Killing Time, but only likely if I can continue to post more short essays about the tropes that I dislike rather than an actual spork. Although maybe later I’ll find time to do so, if on a more appropriate medium.

But this whole thought process came about because Laurell K. Hamilton recently made a blog post. Another author wrote a response. A link was posted on amazon.com and discussion continued for several pages. Naturally, this ended up on FandomWank. Well, I don’t really remember the wank report, but I was, intrigued, let’s say, buy the other author’s response.

Now I’ve never heard of Jennifer Armintrout, the other author, but I thought her blog post rather well-reasoned. As did the person who posted it on amazon, unless they intended to cause a kerfluffle (which is entirely possible). However, the thread really got going when someone, called R. Harinandansingh (R.H. and given the masculine pronoun, because the shes are confusing already), objected to Armintrout’s calling out L.K.H. Because it’s ‘unprofessional’. When I first got to his comments, I immediately dismissed them. First they were inflammatory, and secondly ridiculous. In what way does being a published author take away your right to critique? How does being any kind of career-artist (as he seemed to imply) mean you can’t have an opinion on others in your field?

Then I started feeling uncomfortable about having dismissed R. H. so readily. It’s not like the original post was an attack on Armintrout. As another poster brought up, yes, there is a long history of author’s taking pot shots at each other—see Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”, and Twain is vicious, though witty—but it’s never been nice.

Of course, Armintrout never claimed to be nice. And though L.K.H. may not have directly addressed any specific author’s in the post, she was talking about the craft of writing. And as another author, and especially a published one, she has a right to respond to a post that essentially demeans authors who don’t write the same way L.K.H. does. Also, when it’s online, it’s public. As far as I’m concerned, when it’s published (and a blog is a form of publication), it is, by definition, published. Now, if L.K.H. had written this in a protected, private journal, online or otherwise, I might take more issue with the propriety of responding like that. But she made her opinions public.

I just don’t see why the response by Armintrout, however emotional, is less than professional. R.H. makes a point of saying that only artists can’t critique each other (or he seems to) and that lawyers and doctors should because their professions actually make a difference. (Or so I recall, it’s been a few days since I read the thread.) However, I very much enjoyed the beginning of Armintrout’s first (only?) response on the amazon thread, defending her original post:

1. I did not write the blog because I have a problem with LKH’s writing. I have adored all the books I’ve read from her…My blog was not a criticism of her as a writer.

3. I didn’t write the blog out of professional jealousy or “cattiness”. I would love to have the word “catty” removed from any discussion of female authors from now on. When Nicholas Sparks routinely slams the romance genre, no one calls him “catty”. They call him “outspoken” and “opinionated”. “Catty” is a word we use to describe women who aren’t acting like sugar, spice, and everything nice, and it’s bs.

I wrote the blog because I don’t like it when people who are feeling insecure for whatever reason decide that the only way to bring themselves up is to attack others. LKH has a lot to be proud about, and other authors do not threaten the success she’s made for herself. You may find my blog unprofessional. That’s fine. I’m really, really unprofessional. I approach my career as one approaches their first year of college: too much partying and running of the mouth and not enough work. But I get really p.o.ed at the idea that LKH gets a free pass to sling passive-aggressive attacks at every other author who puts a pair of fangs in their books in order to make herself feel smarter, more successful, more like an innovator, or whatever she was trying to accomplish.

Can I say, firstly, that I love number 3 wholeheartedly? Spot on, and also, Nicholas Sparks strikes me as an obnoxious idiot. And, actually, fits the definition of “catty” to a T. So perhaps it just needs to be a cross-gender insult. But it isn’t and so should be given up.

And the only way any profession keeps itself going is by discussion. Authors don’t write in a vacuum either. Perhaps all the cutesy niceness has done nothing for the quality of writing produced. Perhaps a good challenge once in a while might do some people some good.

Brothers-in-Arms: or, Your Definition is Different than Mine

The Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia contained th...

Image via Wikipedia

That missing date of the 3rd from my update schedule will haunt me for the rest of my days. Or at least what days I actually see the update calendar on my main page of that month. And assuming I can keep my posting on-track otherwise. But, hey, fell asleep before I could even write my post; there was nothing to be done.

Now:

The Real Part 1 of the Killing Time review, spork, or whatever this actually is, because I don’t know what to call it. “Random-thoughts-and-notes-taken-during-the-reading-of-the-book-which-may-or-not-be-relevant-or true-but-drive-me-nuts-nevertheless” perhaps.

I started rereading this today, because I hadn’t picked the thing up since I made my original notes (but I had to because it’s very hard to finish ‘reviewing’ a book that you haven’t actually read), but had to start from the beginning to, well, get back in the spirit if you will. And promptly made more notes. One-and-a-half, actually. Although at least they are in cursive, and I have very large handwriting in cursive. For instance, I found quotes like this, from page 3 (remember, the first printing):

[Kirk] felt the familiar telepathic door swing open between himself and the Vulcan. It was something which had formed between them over the years, something which had saved their lives countless times and made them brothers.

Firstly, that “telepathic door”. Does that bother anyone else? It’s just such a…dull, but stupid, image. Too physical a metaphor for the situation perhaps: suddenly I realize I’ve never actually minded the “silver thread” of mindlinks before—although talking to a friend who actually reads much more fantasy than I do, this appears to be a fanon thing for Star Wars than fantasy itself. And why is the door telepathic, and how does that help Kirk? Talk to the doooor, Spock….

Also, those “which”s should be “that”s. Or something.

This does however lead me to the two points that I really wanted to make in this part one. Actually, first I only had one, which relates to the title, but the second is also important, and leads to the first. So I suppose it should be first anyway.

So. One thing that really stood out to me on second reading—which was actually, I think, the reason I was so bothered in the first place to start this project—was the characterizations of the characters. Now, this may be somewhat silly of me, but I have higher standards for franchise-published stories pulled from existing canon, and actual fan fiction, which doesn’t really have to hold to any standards, primarily because it’s completely unauthorized. At least the published stuff is reviewed by ‘officials’.

Not that I’m objecting to fan fiction. For one, I read an awful lot of it, and fortunately have a clear distinction between what I can expect there as, well, practically a media in itself, versus other my other reading, even in genre fiction.

But in fan fiction there’s a curious thing that develops called “fanon”. It’s like canon, which is to say, the information from, in this case Star Trek: TOS. Fandom, however, takes from these facts and builds on them, and since there wouldn’t be a name for fan fiction unless it’s shared, fans themselves create information to, usually, fill in gaps. For instance, I’ve heard that Uhura was never given a first name by the show, but somehow, because so many fans use “Nyota”, official Trek eventually used in a movie—thereby making ‘fanon’, canon. But fan-made-facts don’t become canon unless it becomes accepted by a significant portion of fandom. After which point, most newer/younger/less dedicated fans may not even realize it isn’t canon, but have made it part of their experience of canon. (Writing this paragraph has made me feel like such a geek.)

The most blatant version of this in my experience is in the fanfiction.net (known for its total lack of quality control) section for Lord of the Rings. Naturally, the place got a huge boost when the movies came out, and as I was reading in high school—forgive me! I’d seen the movies maybe once, and never quite finished the trilogy, no matter how much I loved The Hobbit in fourth grade. Frankly, many characters are, well, not resembling any character of the original books, nor, particularly the characters in the movies. Especially the elven twins Elladan and Elrohir (do I actually remember that?). They aren’t in the movies, and have the tiniest part in the books as I recall, but in the stories I followed they were joke-y like the Weasley’s and great friends with Legolas—who had naturally been bestest of best friends with Aragorn for some unspecified length of time. And many of those stories were pretty good. But totally, completely, fanon.

Killing Time uses heavily ‘fanon’ versions of both Kirk and Spock.

They’re positively cuddly, for one, although I can hardly count that as it was supposed to be edited out (although I don’t know how far). But mainly, it’s the feeling of the characters. Neither acts like the Kirk or Spock who you see on the show: for instance “[Kirk] reached across the table…’I know it’s an inconvenience to your Vulcan logic to have this link with a human, but just tell me!’ But the gentle smile robbed the words of any harsh implications.” That might not be the best example, mostly because it’s such an over-arching issue, but it does get across how blatant the author wanted to make their relationship, any relationship. No subtlety here.

But because of the fanon ‘slash’ version of this relationship, the overtness is taken for granted. That doesn’t mean the author doesn’t try to show how close they are through other words, however. Like in other slash fandoms, the insistence in calling them brothers.

Back up to that first quote, paraphrased “the door that made them brothers. Or years, whatever. Why do so many slash writers, especially those transforming close friends into couples, insist on describing them like brothers? Or as close as brothers? Now, maybe it’s because I have two brothers that it bugs the heck out of me. Because I know what interactions these stories draw from: the good-natured squabbling, similar tastes, and in-jokes. My brothers do that. So yeah, creepy. Why don’t they ever think of the to-be significant other as “a spouse, but without the nagging”? Which, sexist, yeah, but not so creepy.

Other characters will also comment on the brotherly love going on, in this case, McCoy.

“When you go to sleep, the little boy in you needs someone to relate to—and that little boy automatically chooses Spock—sort of a big-brother figure for your dreams.”

Now, a sophisticated argument might say that such other characters can’t see past their assumptions to the true UST and are making excuses for the characters’ closeness, or falsely identifying the relationship. I’m not seeing much an argument from that, though we’ve only seen McCoy this once. And a threesome would be too much, so I think we can safely conclude that the primary reason for this Freudian metaphor is to ‘prove’ how much they love each other.

Which, no. As soon as you call them ‘like brothers’. Yeech. Is it something to do with maybe people having fewer siblings anymore? Is it because families no longer stay together as adults—you grow up and move out and therefore are only supposed to see your siblings no more than to stay a week every couple years if they’re far away, or drop by for dinner every couple weeks if close? I don’t know, but this trend is disturbing, and not even the same way as deliberate incest or twincest or Wincest or any of the other disturbing combinations that such fans have come up with. At least they know what they’re doing.