ljlee: (reading)
As previously discussed, my first foray into Anne McCaffrey's Pern series was a couple of out-of-order volumes that I found alternately intriguing, boring, and creepy. About twenty years later, I made a second entry the way it should have been all along, with Dragonflight, the 1968 novel that started the series.

My impressions were as follow:

Two positives, two negatives )

In short, as Julie Andrews sang, the very beginning is a very good place to start. Dragonflight was a better start for the series than my original introduction, and it certainly had a lot of fun elements. The experience was marred for me, however, by the narrative playing favorites and getting into outright rape/abuse apologia. (Yes, it was published half a century ago. No, that does not make it harmless.)

Next up is Dragonquest, which I read once before and have almost entirely forgotten. I don't have the patience to re-buy and re-read it, so I think I'll follow along with Silver Adept's deconstruction instead.
ljlee: cover to Apocalypse World (apocalypseworld)
I read the Pern series only in part and badly out of order. A long time ago, and we're talking around two decades, I found Dragonsdawn and Dragonquest in a bookstore and read them one after the other. I found them a) to have some good ideas, b) boring in the execution, and b) skeevy as hell in places.

Discussions of rape and reproductive coercion. )

Fast forward to the present, where [personal profile] chordatesrock got a bout of nostalgia about the series and asked if I wanted to read the series, in proper order this time. I decided to see if that made things better, and hoo boy. If I thought the abusive relationship dynamic in Dragonsdawn was bad, Dragonflight would deliver much, much worse.
ljlee: (peach_moved)
I have been meaning to do a Mad Max: Fury Road post approximately forever since I've seen it (and you won't convince me there was a whole world, history, and civilization before it came out), but everything kept coming out as FTBRRLT MUST MARRY IT AND HAVE ITS BABIEZZZ. The only halfway coherent thoughts I got down were in a discussion with overlithe, so I decided to repurpose my comments into a blog post.

My thoughts on Fury Road are many and tangled, but one aspect among many is that it took and demolished common sexist tropes. Here are three major ones I can think of:

Spoilers, of course )

These three, Plucky Girl, Damsel in Distress, and Women in the Fridge are the major tropes that Mad Max: Fury Road did an excellent job of dissecting along with a whole host of toxic assumptions about women and men. The best part is, as Charlize Theron (Furiosa) said, the movie didn't even have a feminist agenda; the story is feminist by way of being honest and truthful, simply by presenting women as people. I've read stories with feminist agendas and they tend to be dreary and moralizing as agenda-driven fiction tends to be. (Legend of the Last Princess, though a concept, is representative of the type.) The latest installment of Mad Max is driven not by agenda but by truth, and that's why it is among the best feminist films of all time.
ljlee: (muzi_shock)
Following on the discussion of the highly rapey Sky Maiden and Woodsman story, I looked through my niece's copy to see it for myself. It was just a standard telling, but there was a page at the end of the book talking about the "lessons" for children. I read it, wondering if it put the problematic elements of the story in perspective.

I don't have the book with me anymore, but here's the general gist of the note:

Rage. So much rage. )

This is just one book among thousands, of course, and it does not by itself create culture. I wouldn't even care if it weren't part of a consistent message we are bombarded with, over and over from all directions. There is no need to censor the media we consume, but there is a need to question them. The only harm is in pretending that stories told to children are apolitical, because acceptance of the status quo as "harmless" is itself political.
ljlee: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] amyraine's comment, and as a reminder to myself:

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone in this video mentioned a simple rule that I find really useful. Basically, if the words "and then" belong between the beats in your outline, it doesn't work. The connections should be "therefore" or "but." If the summary is basically "this happened, and then this happened," that's a list of events and not storytelling. And because alliteration is fun, here's my take on it:

The driving force of story comes from causation and complication, not cataloging.

It's the only way to write a story that makes any sense, or rather it's the only way to write a story, full stop. I fully expect to use this rule as long as I am writing anything.

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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