foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

Last month over at Fangs, Fur, & Fey on LJ, one poster discussed a conversation she overheard in the fantasy section of a bookstore

Dude: Man, look at all this.
Pal: Wha?
Dude: I'm getting so sick of seeing this shit.
Pal: Wha?
Dude: This, and this and this (*pointing to books on shelves I'd have to crane my neck to identify*) and this and this.... All these books with heroines who wanna be the hero and shit.

(At this point, if I'd been drinking a beverage, I'd have spit it out.)

Dude: And vampires, man, quit with the stupid vampires. We need more books like this.

(He picks up the latest video game tie-in.)
Wow. Just.... wow.

Oddly enough, only a few commentors remarked on the misogyny underlying the conversation. The rest of the commentors discussed the legitimacy of being frustrated with the vampire fad.

Frankly, I don't give a shit if they have reason to bash vampire fiction or not. That wasn't the main point of their conversation. The fact that they're assholes who don't respect women? Yeah, I care about that quite a bit. 

The question of whether or not there are too many heroines and not enough heroes in current fiction was also raised. I've personally considered if I should be writing about more heroes. The conclusion I eventually came to is that the fantasy/scifi genre has historically been dominated by male leads and male writers. This is not exclusive to the genre; it mirrors real life. As much as I dislike how far too many authors portray the new kick-ass heroine in UF, I will admit that it's something that did not exist on bookshelves about 10-20 years ago. And it's such a pervasive concept for exactly that reason.

So, no. I don't think there are too many heroines and not enough heroes. Perhaps one day when women aren't paid seventy-five cents to the men's dollar and one in four women aren't raped and we don't need domestic violence shelters because there isn't domestic violence and other people cease attempting to control, shame, or distort our perception of our bodies and...

Maybe then I'll reconsider.

foreverlasting: (Jasmine Sultry)
I know I'm behind on this, but:



Release Date: March 2010.

With the exception of Dreams Made Flesh, I'm not a huge fan of the newer Anne Bishop covers. (I've warned anyone who borrows my Black Jewels books not to damage them-- or else --because the original covers aren't being printed anymore.) The colors of this one are particularly acid trippy. I've decided that I like the red of the dress, but not when combined with the bleached-looking blonde of her hair. The fountain's cool, though.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Jacqueline Carey is quirky and funny. Apparently she was a psych major (!!!) and found that useful for writing. No joke. Among many, many other things, I'm a fan of Holly Lisle's use of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to brainstorm conflict. She read an excerpt from Naamah's Curse, as of yet unpublished sequel to her newly-released Naamah's Kiss, which unfortunately I still don't posess. However, I did recently finish Santa Olivia and she signed that. Written by any other author, I would have found the first couple chapters boring, but her writing style sold it for me. She said during the Q&A that there would be a sequel, though I don't know how I feel about that. I feels more like a one-shot to me.

A friend and I discussed Carey's Kushiel series on the way home. She's written 6 books, 2 trilogies, and has started a third trilogy, all within the same world. Continuing in the universe and sometimes with the same characters is tough. All too often it feels like--and I say this tentatively--authors write more than one book because that's what sells. Particularly within the SF/F realm. If they're smart, they'll leave a couple doors (or windows, as Jacqueline Carey says) open and when it comes down to a three-book deal, they can write more than one book, and the series will be fluidly connected. It's easy to pick out when authors, especially first-time authors, don't think they're going to be writing more than one book in that world or with those characters. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is one example (more on Twilight in another post). I have a strong hunch that Melanie Rawn did not intend for Dragon Prince to evolve into 2 trilogies. Not because the series itself was bad (it's amazing), but because the first book was so self-contained. I could be mistaken, but as it was her first published book I'm guessing she wrote it as a stand-alone, was at some point offered a multi-book deal, and went from there. The smooth transition from stand-alone to series is testimony to her skill as a writer above all.

Trilogies or series are what sell. When readers get hooked in a particular world, that's all they want to read (hence some of the outrage over Jacqueline Carey's switch to writing Santa Olivia, a completely different kind of book from her Kushiel series). Somehow, can Carey write an evocative series without it becoming trite or redundant (see: anything by Laurell K. Hamilton these days). Color me impressed.

Unfortunately, as much as I worship Anne Bishop's writing, I don't think the Black Jewels series needed to be continued past the trilogy timeline-wise.  I appreciated Dreams Made Flesh because it gave some closure and answered some questions, but Tangled Webs (albeit funny) seemed like a... complete tangent. The Shadow Queen seems like more of a return to her style in The Invisible Ring, but because it's after spoiler ), it's not the same world. The desperation that drove the characters in the trilogy and The Invisible Ring isn't there anymore. The characters may still have needs and conflict, but it isn't anywhere near the same scale. I'm still going to buy her books for as long as I can, especially if she switches to writing another, new world (don't touch Tir Alainn. Don't touch it. It's done, it's perfect, leave it alone). I still love her writing style. She's still my favorite author. But I think it's obvious that she didn't plan for these books past the trilogy, and her newer Black Jewels books don't resonate with me in the same way as the originals.

That said, meeting her was a buzz. She signed the copy of Daughter of the Blood I've been carrying around with me everywhere for the past 6 years, and a new copy of The Invisible Ring for a friend who introduced me to the books.

It's been a crazy week.
foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

I understand that a genre can start out as one thing and evolve into another, but when even the origins of said genre are misrepresented, it becomes a little too much.

1. If a book is referred to as 'urban fantasy,' then it damn well better feature a setting that could even remotely be considered urban. Set in the present real world outside a city? Contemporary. Contemporary. Urban fantasy is a subset of contemporary fantasy, not the overarching umbrella of all modern-era, real-world fantasies. A novel can be both urban fantasy and contemporary, but not all contemporaries can be urban.

2. Urban fantasy existed before Nail Gaiman AND Laurell K. Hamilton. They didn't appear on the UF scene until the mid-to-late 90s. Charlaine Harris didn't publish her first Sookie Stackhouse novel until 2001. Who were the harbringers of the genre, then? Charles de Lint. Terri Windling. Emma Bull.

UF originated in the 70s and 80s, not the 90s like too many people tend to believe. My guess this occurs because UF in the 70s and 80s didn't necessarily (if at all) feature what we consider to be the earmarks of UF today: kick-ass heroines and their string of boy-toys. Instead, they focused more on regular people who were connected in some way to magic while living in an urban setting. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Urban fantasy is NOT about the kick-ass heroines. In fact, let me go a little farther and say: ENOUGH. I don't want to read about some half-vamp, half-wolf wanna-be slayer who takes names while wearing stilettos* and fucking every goddamn male being that trots along. Stop it. Just stop it. I'm all for consensual sex regardless of the number or type of partners, but the "ambiguity" of the heroine's relationship HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH URBAN FANTASY. If you want a book that deals in HEA-less sexual affairs, go petition the RWA into changing their requirements for a romance, or write literary love stories and give Nicholas Sparks a run for his money. (Or, hell, just convert all the way and write erotic romance or straight-up erotica.) UF is not the ghetto to write whatever won't fit into other genres.

Additionally, from a feminist standpoint, I can see why ass-kicking heroines are often portrayed as magically and/or physically strong AND as women uncommitted to any particular relationship. It's a short-cut. Why attempt to go through all the effort of writing a character that is strong because of who she is and the choices she makes, when all she needs to do is have sex with multiple God-like men? Newsflash: having sex with 2+ partners is no more feminist than having sex with one partner. It does not make her stronger, and in some cases, it simply makes her indecisive; the victim of yet another stereotype of femininity.

Urban fantasy is about people living in urban settings that interact with magic or magical beings in some way. I can appreciate the lean toward equality by making the majority of lead characters women, but it's not about the ass-kicking heroines. It's really not. And if you're going to portray a heroine as kick-ass, regardless of the genre, make her genuinely kick-ass, emotionally and mentally. Don't take short-cuts.


*Speaking as a ballroom dancer, if slaying demons were possible while wearing heels, I'd drop out of college and start hunting.

Found via Smart Bitches.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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