July 18, 2014
My Loncon3 schedule
My Loncon3 schedule
Not with a Bang, but with a Metaphor
Thursday 12:00 - 13:30, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
From Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' to McCarthy's 'The Road', apocalyptic and dystopian futures are a perennial favourite with writers who might be labelled 'mainstream' or 'literary'. Why do such scenarios have an appeal that goes beyond a genre readership? What does a non-genre apocalypse have to offer that a science fictional one might not, and vice versa? Do we all share broadly similar nightmares, regardless of what ratio of science to sensibility we prefer?
That's it. One panel. WhodoyathinkIam? (And of course, the Hugo Ceremony. Because Hugo Nominee!)
Its likely though, you will see me in the company of the Skiffy and Fanty crew there at the con as well--Shaun, Mike and Julia. We'll be around. We are going to be doing interviews. Come meet me. I'm shy, but friendly.
My dear friend Felicia will also be around. She's much more gregarious than I am, and wants to meet all the lovely SF people I talk to. Don't disappoint her, okay? Come say hi.
July 17, 2014
Traitor's Blade, by Sebastien de Castell
Traitor's Blade, by Sebastien de Castell, contains some of the virtues of Musketeer fiction. High paced action and adventure rule the first portion of the story of a disgraced set of swordsman of justice for a King who has been killed, replaced by a set of squabbling Dukes who would rather rule their petty little fiefdoms with an iron fist rather than offer justice. Falcio and his companions have become outlaws, swords for hire, dreaming of better days. The first act also shows us how Falcio got on his path in the first place.
The book misses, however, a good bet with a very questionable structure choice. Midway through the book, the action focuses on Falcio, alone, and someone he has sworn to protect. The novel completely abandons the fresh banter and interplay that is one of the best things about Musketeer fiction, and replaces it with a base-under-siege sort of storyline. I felt cheated by this. When I read Musketeer fiction, I want fast paced action and adventure. As said above, Traitor's Blade has those in spades. I also though want that Musketeer dynamic, and Traitor's Blade takes that away from me, the reader and replaces it with something lesser. Similarly, the movie The Musketeer, often having D'Artagnan go solo, completely gets this wrong as well.
However, 'fridging' a female character to provide motivation to the protagonist to go on his life path is more than just lazy writing, its a perpetuation of a very tired and sexist trope. There were any number of ways to get Falcio to meet the king and resurrect the Greatcoats. To do it this way helped set the book on the wrong foot for me early on, and the book never recovered. There is also a brief encounter between Falcio and another female character in that second act that was frankly offensive to me.
The denouement of the book is a muddled mess as well. The already murky motivations of the antagonists compounds with a lot of coincidence and hand waving. Worse, while the first part of the book reveled in swordplay, and the second, while questionable structurally, at least provided some action beats, the third act has the wheels go off entirely. A crucial fight scene in the end of the book is not described at all. The big battle at the end is a wet firecracker. The book feels like an imperfect but entertaining first act, and then loses its way as soon as Falcio goes off on his own.
July 15, 2014
Done with the Blue SF crowd
I'm done with the Blue SF crowd.
Really, I'm done with them.
All of them.
Today was the breaking point. Tom Kratman suggesting Western Civilization could only survive by killing every felon in the US, and the progressives as well, was genocidal and bad enough.
Teddy Beale, Vox Day, suggesting the USA would have been in the right to machine gun down the children at the US-Mexico border is a whole new level of evil. Congratulations, Teddy. Theodore Beale, Vox Day, you are an Evil Sick Fuck.
So I'm done with reading anything they do. Any of them. I was banned, once, twice, at Sarah Hoyt's blog. I should have taken the message, then and there.
Now I have.
I read what they say no more.
John C Wright, if you read this. I know you've considered me a friend. So has your wife. I'm sorry. Your publisher speaks evil. Evil as bad or as worse as you condemn "The Left" for.
Can you not see this? Can you not stand against this?
Will you say nothing? Silence IS assent.
July 13, 2014
"Back to School" and the Problem of Time
Bear with me on this one.
I've been thinking about the time investment of novels lately versus other media. A post by Damien Walter [http://damiengwalter.com/2014/07/13/novels-are-losing-the-narrative-arms-race/] and my comment on it
got me to thinking about the problem in terms of a movie scene. I recognize the irony.
In a scene in the movie Back to School (Starring Rodney Dangerfield), there is a conversation between the lead, Rodney Dangerfield's uneducated but wealthy Thornton Melon and Sally Kellerman's Dr. Diane Turner. Turner argues that a movie version of a novel gives you only the director's point of view, and why would you want the director to dictate that point of view. Melon on the other hand, points out it does allow you to "get in and out" of the story in a rapid fashion, without having to make the time investment.
I think, in our time-pressed culture today, Melon's point of view is winning out over Turner's, or threatening to do so. The rise of the HBO Series is a way to try to bridge the storytelling weaknesses of episodic series and movies to provide strengths novels have had to themselves. And, more to the point, marry the advantages of the visual medium to them.
And that doesn't even touch the narrative potential of videogames like the Dragon Age and Assassin's Creed series, either.
Can the novel continue to succeed in this day and age on a mass scale, when it does require such a time investment as compared to other narrative forms?
July 9, 2014
The Kratman Doctrine
So let's talk about the Kratman Doctrine.
Tom Kratman is a science fiction author with rather extreme views. One of his SF novels was a polemic against Islam, positing a future where Islam had "conquered" Europe and the U.S. bravely held out against "Dhimmitude".
And then there was this. (Link to Theodore's Beale's place, a place where you will lose SAN points visiting.)
Aside from anarchists like Chris, the relationship here between citizens and police is complex, has a different history than it does a present, and is changing for the worse. There's a lot that goes into it, that arises, I think, from leftist driven societally suicidal idiocy.
The usual and reasonable percentage of cop to citizen is about 1 per 300 or so. At that level, provided we do not retire cops at 20 or so years (which has all kinds of other problems) we can have good policing, by people who are suited to be cops, which is to say people, almost always men, who can use violence, and look like they can use violence, but who actually prefer not to; men, in other words, who are a stablizing influence. But 1 to 300 is it; any more than that and you start letting in too many hyperactive yet not too bright, violence prone sorts. (Obviously I don't have a problem with violence; I have a problem with excessively and needlessly violent police.) No 20 year retirement? When you retire cops long before their useful life as problem solvers and calm and peace maintainers ends, you make the problem much, much worse, because there are not sufficient replacements.
Now add into that a revolving door legal system, failure to put to death common law felons so that there is at least a chance to improve matters, and a prison system that graduates much more capable criminals than it takes in. Think about that last one for a minute, because it happens in the UK, too: our schools are failing at producing educated and responsible citizens, but by God our prisons can educate people and make them better at their chosen calling.
Add to that that while police are necessary to civilization (and, sorry Chris, but anarchists are not), civilization is also necessary to police. They can only be police in a society where policing is actually generally possible. Increasingly that society is not ours.
Right now we're stuck in a self reinforcing cascade of civilizational decay. What is happening to the police and to civil-police relations is partly cause and partly symptom. It is unclear that there is anything we can do about that that we will do.
So as not to be seen as too negative, however, let me offer a somewhat holistic solution: Kill all the common law felons in custody. Round up and kill all the people ever convicted of a common law felony currently at large without clear and convincing evidence that they have amended their lives (job, wife, home, no further crimes of any kind). For us, that's probably in the range of 6 million people. And then we need to round up the progressives and kill them too. (Why do we call them "progressives," anyway? Their job isn't progess; it's decay.) And then use all the overmilitarized police and prison guards to round up and kill or deport illegals. Then put them on the border to our south, and on small patrol craft at sea. They'll be happier, and so will the rest of us.
That's all pretty harsh, right? Unjust? Horrid? Horrible? Unthinkable? Yeah, well, the collapse of civilization, which is where we're heading, is going to be a lot worse, and to much more innocent people. Think little kids turning on spits over low coals.
Rather than being a Swiftian parody...Kratman, in comments (read them if you dare) has said that this is murder...but "necessary" to save Western Civilization. To save America.
In a comment, Tom says:
Thing is, though, that except for putting to death all common law felons, I don't _want_ to do hardly any of that. Really don't. I just don't see any other way. And, ya know, WTF, _I'm_ not one of those who got us into this mess that requires what amounts to mass murder to prevent worse mass murder.
I don't want to live in a United States where the Kratman Doctrine is put into effect. Period.