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Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Discussion Thread
Hi. What are the rules concerning an entry to the comp. that has a little erotica in it? Thanks :)

That is fine. Usually if it's very gory or vulgar, we just put a warning in bold before the entry. Just do the same, saying some "mild erotica" is there. I doubt it'll put anyone off reading but it's good to be warned.

March 13, 2018, 07:46:33 PM
Re: Most creative and imaginative books of the last 20 years If I had to pick a book right now, and just the one, I'd be a bit torn, but in the end I would say The Library On Mount Char is my choice. You read that and just can't believe it all fit in someone's head.
March 14, 2018, 01:07:49 PM
Re: What are you currently reading? AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaAAaaaaaAAaaAAahhhh!!!!!!!!!!

March 15, 2018, 03:04:34 PM
Re: What are you currently reading? I know, right? It wasn't even sent to me, it was sent to the shop in general, and uncaring booksellers tossed it in the middle of our table, and I noticed it by pure chance in the middle of a conversation. I YELPED to everyone's intense confusion.

I can write you early reviews for it and Circe for the website if you want. I don't do that much non-fiction it could be a good exercise.

March 15, 2018, 08:13:44 PM
Re: Japanese Mythological World I didn't mean things in such a brash way. You certainly can use some words so long as you introduce them smartly.
For example :

Ayame shook his bedroll out, his mind still climbing out of his dreams.
"What are you doing with my futon?"
"Excuse me?" he asked, looking down at the child who stood with arms akimbo.
"This isn't your futon, it's mine! Yours has the flower pattern on it!"
Ayame looked blearily at the swath of fabric in his arms. It was, indeed, patterned with bunnies.
"My bad!"

Not Pulitzer prose, but you get the idea. Someone who doesn't know what a futon is now has a good idea of what it is : a kind of bedroll.
You can do the same with exposition.

A crash resounded, shattering the quiet of the small valley.
[cue, lengthy description of a monster, 4m tall and horned, with red skin and yellow eyes, whatever]
"An Oni! In this valley?"

Boom, visual before name works all the time. Since you're the narrator, you can always give us the facts through description without using the name, and then have the name come later.

But again, I think the best thing for you to do is to research what published authors of japanese-style fantasy do, and how it works.

March 15, 2018, 08:25:55 PM
Re: Third rail of the Forum: Gender in stories
What are you talking about? SFF isn't a run of the mill D&D quest. There are infinitely possible options.

There are infinitely possible details, but there's not infinitely possible moralities. You're either choosing to place children in danger or not. It's either justified or it isn't. For it to be justified, there must be no other reasonable choice and the consequences of not taking risky actions while with child, must outweigh the risk to the child.

Any actions that do not fit the above criteria are by definition immoral.

Ah yes, because every woman in SFF has to be with child, or with young ones clinging at her skirts. You can't have characters without children, or not wanting any, or not able to make any for various reasons (atm reading Banks' Consider Phlebas, in which the MC and his current badass gf can't impregnate each other because they may be "humanoids" but they aren't from the same species. The wonders of imagination!)

Also, you sound very sure that you have the definition of human morality down. You should write a paper about it. No, a book. I don't know if you're aware but the topic of what is moral and what isn't and whether a global system of morality can be found for the whole of the human race are things that have been discussed by philosophers ever since they became a thing, aka, a very long time.
The fact that you decide that SFF cannot challenge your morality without being wrong is making a conversation on this topic quite hard.

I'm not talking about the person who is trapped in a zombie infested country and has to travel through it to survive. I'm talking about someone who was offered a way out, yet didn't take it in order to be some billy badass hero. That is parental irresponsibility.

Again, WHO says that children have to be involved? Why are your women always pregnant? Worse, do you really think that a woman who has a child would be morally wrong if she decided to stay in a zone of danger to help? Are you saying that real life mothers who put their lives on the line in (for example) recent floods and catastrophic events in the USA were morally wrong to do so? They could have died, but they thought they had the power to help, and did. Who are you to say that they are morally wrong to not chose the easy way out?
But really, your female characters do not have to be mothers! We're talking about women on this topic, not moms. There are few enough female characters out there, I'm sure the ratio of mothers of small children is also quite low among them.

For example Satele Shan from Star Wars. Offered a chance to retire from the Jedi Order and go away and raise her son, but instead chose to give the baby away and never see him again in order to be billy badass jedi. While the jedi system isn't fair it's what she agreed to beforehand. What kind of "hero" chooses to have their sexual kicks, knowingly breaking the rules, then throws their children away like old shoes just so they can be superheroes.

You're right, that sort of person doesn't exist in the real world either. That doesn't sound like a situation that could really happen with a real person, right?
How boring would reading be if everyone just chose the nice retiring way out? Being badass doesn't mean that you're a role model. Some books feature anti-heroes. Intelligent readers are able to see through character bad life choices.

The Fifth Season is about a mother who comes home to a murdered son and goes chasing the killer (her husband!) who ran away with their surviving daughter. It's a mother's quest in a world that is ending, and it's one of the best fantasy trilogies out there!

The son is dead and the daughter isn't with her. So she isn't actually with any dependent young when going on the quest. So it's only her own life, which she's free to risk all she likes.

I'm sure she's glad you're giving your blessing for her to do what she wishes with her fictional life. The author is probably stoked that she managed to honour your strict views on the role of offspring-bearing females.

You have Ayla, from the Earth Children series, making 2 kids along the series, which doesn't stop her from walking across europe in prehistorical times and inventing the domestication of both horse and wolf...

This isn't about if the someone can do it, it's about if they morally should. I'm sure plenty of warriors in fantasy CAN swordfight while juggling babies, they just wouldn't come off as a good people for doing it.

Oh, ok, so you actually admit to it. In the end you simply don't fancy good fantasy of sci-fi with realistic people who do mistakes, self destruct, or have bad judgements. You want propaganda-smooth stories where people abide by your personal definition of morality (because yes, "morality" is a branch of philosophy, a very, very soft science, and differs wildly from one sub-culture of human to the other).
You don't care about the representation of women in your books so long as they stick to what the good, obliging female-with-children does, or else it's amoral?

In Art philosophy, your position is described as that of a moderate moralist. Someone who says that moral deffects in a work make it less aesthetic. I myself am a moderate autonomist. Someone who thinks that morality or  amorality doesn't change the aesthetic of a work. (in very broad terms)

Too bad your vision of morality has to encompass women in such a way.

Why do you want to read a book about men going questing while women stay home and cook supper and change diapers? I mean, suit yourself, you have decades of fantasy to chose from.
But there are more book out there where women are pictured normally, as creatures that aren't bound to want the heroe's attention and D.

Again, I'm not saying a woman or female of whatever species can't do this, and that it shouldn't be portrayed. I'm talking about the writer being aware of how it makes the character look. It doesn't make them look good.

To you. And even then, so what? Do you think the author isn't aware that he's writing characters with defects and bad choices? Drama is built on conflict. The perfect world of morals you want is just a sermon reading. I want characters who are morally grey, or forced in situations that challenge them. I want the author to think of devious ways to injure or challenge the characters, and save them in satisfying ways. Better, I want the characters to react differently from how I would, because otherwise I would never see the world through any different perspective.
The author may or may not want to make their characters look good, and in a world such as ours, there is no pleasing everyone. I'm stunned you think that having characters acting in a realistic, flawed way makes "them" (whoever that was meant to mean) look bad.

What about fathers? They can't want their kids far away from danger and war? You never met a loving dad, or a single one?

Same applies to fathers. Except the pregnancy part.

So your perfect story sees no parents ever stepping up in any act of heroism because they're all too busy fleeing the main plot line... Who can behave like heroes then? Who is left to go on a quest? Are single women ok? Old women with grown up kids? Do they get a pass, or is being a future mom or a grandma an over-arching priority?

Are your "mothers" always whores or something? Or is it normal for the man to go questing and risk his life whilst the missus stays home mothering? Come on.
I want some good stories with dads too! Even if they abandon their kids forever in order to be good (Interstellar) or go the illegal way to be reunited with them (Inception). Good male representation wouldn't hurt.

A single father with dependent young ought not to go into forseeable danger if he can avoid it.
This is not to say that it should not be portrayed, because fiction is obviously full of characters who make morally flawed decisions. I'm saying the narrative needs to recognise it as such. Because I've seen writers on other fantasy forums argue otherwise, which I believe to be a sorely misguided position.

Oh ok, a single father huh? So if the mom is still around, it's morally acceptable for the man to go on a dangerous quest?
Honestly you could have just said that and explained that you want to see your morals reflected better, but that's a different conversation. We're talking about women, their representation, etc.
You basically wish that authors who make women with children step up in action instead of fleeing (in the shadow of the burly male saviour in his lion-pelt-loinclothe), write the act with a disapproving tone so that every reader can pick up that it's a bad choice and the act of a bad mother who shouldn't be emulated. The narrative ought to bend around your morals.

I couldn't disagree more. I think morality has nothing to do in a work on the author's place. Characters can have their morals, and the author may want to make a point, but if it's unsubtle and I'm being told what to think while I read instead of being left alone to make my own opinion, then I put the book down and go read some other author. I read non fiction if I want to feel lectured to.
But I guess each his own. Just don't count on me as a writer to abide by such rules.

March 17, 2018, 09:41:57 PM
Re: Third rail of the Forum: Gender in stories
Show me a single father who needs to earn a buck to feed his baby and can only do it via questing (and who has no one he trusts to look after the kid) and ok sure.

Funnily enough, that's the entire plot of Lone Wolf And Cub, where you follow a roaming samurai carrying his baby son, going from job to job and killing everyone who opposes him and the people he swore revenge on as his son grows slowly. He even uses him a few times to trick other ronins. It's a classic manga, and it doesn't make the apology of endangering kids. It becomes obvious the kid isn't going to grow up to the most stable of individuals.

March 19, 2018, 08:15:22 AM
Re: Third rail of the Forum: Gender in stories
Anyone going on a quest in a world without birth control and modern food surplus was not being responsible. Whether you were male or female, or even infertile, going on a quest was neglecting your duties. You were depriving your family/town/clan of an able body it needed, and as soon as you had sex with anyone, you've just created a baby with no intention of caring or providing for it.

Why, why why why??

Why do you assume that the questing person :

1- Has a partner?

2- Owes anyone anything?

3- Can't go on a quest that is more important than lugging back in his tiny village/clan?

The idea that you have to stick to your family is a pure mental trap that families put on you to keep you attached no matter how shitty they are, but in truth you owe your parents nothing, and staying in a toxic environment does noting but hurt you. As an adult, you should treat your parents like you do friends: if they're nice, good, you can be nice to them too, and help out. If they're horrible, you can go and leave them to be horrible without you.
As a child, they brought you and raised you without your will or approval, and you cannot enter a contract with them. They raise you because they want to, and you can't morally hold a child responsible for any consequences.
Same goes with a clan, it's only a wider family.
Plus, many communities/clans could be small enough to go inbred if young people didn't go marry in other communities too, so leaving your village, be it to apprentice to someone, to fulfil a career, to marry a hot chick two villages away, or to go questing, isn't something you can point a finger at and say it's bad.
People aren't cattle. They aren't bred to become a village workforce. Your average fantasy come-of-age character can go questing if he wants to.
Worse, you can simply invent a setting in which questing is a rite of passage, and everyone goes on a little quest before returning home (or not), a bit like the Amish do, leaving their community and deciding to come back or stay in the wider world. Your MC can then stumble on a bigger adventure than planed, etc.
Blood is thicker than water is only half the actual expression. It's "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the waters of the womb". Meaning that the ties you make for yourself are stronger than the ones given by your birth.

About fucking strangers... How about your character doesn't do it, huh? How about staying professional with your quest-mates? Going to professionals along the way?
Also, please, having sex with someone unprotected doesn't magically make babies. Babies can take weeks or months, sometimes years of dedicated sex before they come. Basic herb lore can give you mixes that keep fertility at bay too. It's not the pill but it's probably better than nothing.
Plus, who knows, maybe your valiant quest going man is actually into other men, and has been eyeing the barbarian polishing his sword by the fire this whole time, and can have as much sex as he pleases? How about that huh? Or is homophobia a thing in your fantasy worlds too?

Now consider, since we're going for "quests" instead of Sci fi or general fantasy: what if you're reading a special-snowflake-farmboy-of-destiny story?? You know, like wheel of time and stuff?
Do you realise that since it's his destiny, it has been pre-ordained and Rand is the ONLY person capable of defeating the pure evil that seeks to destroy the world, if he doesn't go and decides to stay at home to help mommy cut wood-fire and daddy's smithy or whatever, then his whole village will die, along with everyone in the world, when the Evil goes unchecked.
That's the concept behind quests! Unless you're reading some morally ambiguous story about ambiguous characters going questing for the heck of it and having loads of irresponsible sex in the middle, you ought to find your MC being forced into going.
The good Quester is presented with the quest and sort of convinced that it's his or his family/friends best interest that he goes. He has to have motivation, or else you lose the reader to boredom and lack of logic. Why go, and stay in peril as adventure goes on, if you don't have a solid reason to be here??
So even if your MC has a partner in a loving village, you can make them go on quests if you present it to them well enough (revenge, safety for loved one, a chance at taking his family out of the muck, etc). Then it's up to you to write a character who can keep his reproductive organs inside his breeches.

All of this is rendered moot if you consider sci-fi (where technology and social mores are as advanced as you want them and mean family/clan or contraception are as you want them), or urban fantasy (Since it's modern times, and don't we all have sex without babies, and leave our families to go travel or work abroad?), or horror (in which spawning a monster on your quest-mate after your entire village was slowly devoured by giant spiders is kind of cool)...

This entire conversation makes no sense. You're like TBM, projecting your visions of family and morals unto a genre that doesn't need them to be good, or even morally good, in the eyes of others.

March 20, 2018, 10:22:42 AM
Re: Third rail of the Forum: Gender in stories You can't ask someone to tone it down and use "ffs" in the same sentence.

Also, we're talking about fantasy settings. I'm taking a single, realistic idea/version, a hypothetical family setting, but fantasy allows you to have ANY of those, so really, it doesn't matter.
I'm not even coming close to saying all families are like this. I'm simply annoyed that we're in a topic on women, and family and child bearing is the first and main thing that pops on.
Even if your female mc has a family, it's doesn't have to be a familiar one (with sets of heterosexual parents and grandparents with familiar idead about child-rearing, etc), or even a good one. And it could be one that can easily be left behind to go on the quest. Using toxic families is merely an example, so please chill as well.

March 20, 2018, 04:39:50 PM
Re: What are you currently reading? Just pushed through the last 1/4 of Record of a Spaceborn Few (it's 2.26am)

What a feel ride. If you thought you cried in Long Way or Closed and Common Orbit, get ready for the real tear-show... Ok, there was also a lot of humour in this book, but man it was so emotional. I think this book is Becky coming into her own as an author.
The Long Way was fantastic, even though it had some hint of being a debut, it was clearly a long-time pet project.
I felt like Closed and Common Orbit was more rushed (obviously...), and though I liked it, I didn't enjoy it as much, since there were fewer characters, and the MC had a lot of teenage worries I became a bit bored with. It was a good book, not a tremendous one.
Now Record of a Spaceborn few is tremendous. It tackles deep, worrying, super human subjects, and wades through them with emotion, compassion, and insight. The cast is fantastic and there wasn't a single character whose chapter I wanted to skip. (tbh in this book chapters are extremely short, sometimes not more than 3-4 pages)
This book made me think about everything space opera doesn't usually make you think. It's so grounded, it's a great mirror for us to gaze into right now. And so the book feels a lot more mature, and the execution is also perfect, like the author is also entirely mature now.

I have no clue where Chambers is going from now on, I'll be sure to ask if she comes to sign, but I'll be reading it, whether it's in that universe or not. She has, for me, proven herself beyond the gimmicks of a well thought world, into someone who can write incredible drama, make me laugh and make me cry, make me happy and warm hearted.

Damn but this book will sell like cookies when it comes out.

10/10 and legit don't know what to read now.

March 21, 2018, 02:36:52 AM