A moofable feast.

Be brave enough to burn and you'll be brave enough to fly.

STATUS: Thursday, June 2nd
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alexandraerin

The Daily Report

 

Well, yesterday’s schedule was complicated because of post-con stuff and the fact that I decided to kick things into high gear around here on what turned out to be my first day back. To focus on the positive: I did update Tales of MU at a time when it was still Wednesday, June 1st in most of the United States?

I like the chapter. I think the start of the new book is a good introduction for new readers. I’m excited about it and the story and the world and the characters in a way that hasn’t happened organically in a long time. Through the auspice of Patreon, I also know that I’m getting paid ~$39 for it, which should come to me at the start of next month. That’s about a penny a word, which isn’t great, but having that much more of a direct connection between writing and getting paid does wonders for the motivation.

Financial Outlook

Not bad for now. It’s weird to come back from WisCon with some padding rather than a deficit. I’m really curious to see how the Tales of MU Patreon does when I’m getting more updates up. Best case scenario: it goes up. Long term, I’m going to need more sponsorship per chapter to keep going. I really hope to have $50 a chapter by the end of the month and grow from there. I think that’s doable, especially as I get back to focusing on the kinds of stories I want to read, which are the stories I’m best at writing and the ones that resonate the most powerfully with others.

The State of the Me

While I had my best post-con day yesterday, con living caught up with me unexpectedly when I absentmindedly drank two caffeinated sodas and a coffee with dinner. I stopped drinking caffeine past the early afternoon quite a while ago, but that habit goes out the window at con time. So I was up until something like 4:45 in the morning, and am fairly tired right now.

Plans For Today

I have a good start on a draft of a Sad Puppies Review Books, and I’m reaching out to a couple of people regarding collaboration opportunities. I’d like to get a few blog posts up, but I also might wind up taking a nap in the afternoon.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/728692.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.

Sisters, Salt, Shoes: A Review of “Left Foot, Right”
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alexandraerin

When I woke up this morning, the only review I intended to write was another satirical take from the point of view of Sad Puppy blowhard John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired). That’s sitting in a mostly-finished draft, as I try to work out the final flourish that will bring it home.

One of the things that happens to me when I go through a spiral of depression and close myself off is that I stop reading. I was sitting here thinking it would be nice to work on some poetry, and then I decided the first thing to do would be to feed my mind. So I picked a venue that was on my mind (Strange Horizons, because I missed their tea party this past weekend due to a distinct and troubling lack of time-turners in my life) and went to see what I’ve been missing recently.

Instead of opening their poetry page, I found myself clicking on a link near the top of the front page for a short story by Nalo Hopkinson, an author similarly on my mind from WisCon, and I then found myself reading it, and then, eventually, glad that I had, albeit let me tell you that there were more emotions along the way to that gladness. They were all good emotions, in the sense of being well-made, sturdy, and suited to their purpose, but they were not all happy ones.

The mental and emotional state in which I exist right now is one that my partner, Jack, has accurately described as “having more feelings than sleep”. This is either the best or worst place from which to read a story such as “Left Foot, Right“. This story seems to have originally (or at least, previously) been published in an anthology called Monstrous Affections, two years ago, but can be read for free at Strange Horizons.

Let me start by saying that the shortest way to bore me to tears is to tell me a story about something spiritual and transcendent and make it mundane, to focus on what I call the “scienterrific” details that power a haunting, animate the undead, or make magic work.

This story, thank goodness, does not do this.

Good fantasy and good horror should be rooted in the real world, sure, but not in quantum fluctuations or viruses or electromagnetic energy or other things that plainly exist in the real world but just as plainly do not, in the real world, actually work that way.

No, the grounding of a story that touches another world should be found at a more liminal point, a point where the physical, tangible world around us already intersects with the unseen, with things that do work that way. Things like: memories. Feelings. Trauma.

This is a story…

I do not write many reviews. I would like to write more of them. It is difficult to describe what this story is or what it does without committing the sin of simply telling you what happens in it, stripped of context and robbed of emotion. A story is never simply the sum of the events within it, though. A story is not just what happens, it is the story of what happens, and you really have to experience it as intended to get the full effect.

This is a story about loss and regret and guilt and shame and trauma, and letting go, which is to say that it is a ghost story. That’s a bit reductive, of course, but most labels are. All stories are products of a time and place, and of those who tell them, both within the story and without. This is a story that is not concerned with the logic of the dead, but the logic of the survivor, of the living. I’ve often heard it said that funerals are for the living, for those left behind. I have never before considered that ghost stories might be, too.

The realness of the story’s depiction of emotional damage leaps off the page in the opening scene, with phrases like “before her world fell in” and “when she needs to fake normal”. If you’ve been there, you know. If you haven’t, you might be lucky enough to learn from a story from this before you find out some other way.

From that initial scene, the tale unfolds in a structure that will be familiar to many TV viewers: we see scenes from a life that contain haunting hints of something, things that trigger memories within the viewpoint character, which bit by bit, fill in the blanks until finally we have something like the whole story, just in time to make a kind of sense of what we’re seeing at the end.

Not everything is explained; certainly nothing of the supernatural is explained away, nor does it need to be. There are elements for which I no doubt lack the necessary cultural background to understand the significance of, but the story of what is happening still makes perfect sense even to me as an outsider invited to look in. It all fits together. It all comes to bear.

The looping structure of the story is hardly unique to the screen, but it is one of which the screen is that much more forgiving. It is hard to pull this off well in text. You either must be able to move fluidly from present-detail to past-memory, stepping backward and forward through moments in time with a deft, purposeful touch, or you have to use the literary equivalent of jump cuts, interrupting your prose with rows of asterisks or an extra line break. The latter is a serviceable solution to translating this form of nonlinear (or maybe superlinear) storytelling; the former is more satisfying when it works, but less likely to do so.

Nalo Hopkinson takes the former tack, and succeeds so beautifully I’m not sure it was the more difficult approach. I believe this is because she understands that this sort of storytelling is not exactly nonlinear, as I suggested in the previous paragraph. There is a line, a constant thread, running from moment to moment. While we are riding along with her viewpoint character, we follow that thread as she does. We learn of events that happened before, but we do not see them in flashback; we experience them in the present as the character experiences them. We learn of what she has gone through the way we might, if we could know her in real life: bit by bit, and only by hints and inference at first.

If you think about a richly layered musical piece that starts with a single voice, a single instrument, quiet and plaintive but hitting a few piercing notes, which weaves a theme that is then echoed and layered over by other voices, as motifs are woven in and it builds to a crashing crescendo and then the song recedes, and we’re left again with the quiet stillness of the opening movement, albeit transformed by what has happened along the way… if you think about that, if you have ever experienced something like that, then you will have an emotional picture in your head of the way this story unfolds.

This story is published in both text and audio form, with a play button embedded near the top of the page. I read the prose version so that I could follow the looping thread of the story at my own pace, soar and swell and unfold and spiral downward and inward and outward with it. I did not regret it. My mind rebels at listening to a story when it could be reading it. Other readers may find it useful to indulge themselves in the audio version, though, to not just read the story but hear it told, as I think that the aural medium might well serve it best for many audience members.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/728889.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.
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Sad Puppies Review Books: The Giving Tree
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alexandraerin

giving treeTHE GIVING TREE

Reviewed by John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired)

The so-called Social Justice Warriors always say they want strong female characters and realistic role models for women but they once again prove that SJWs always lie by ignoring this book, which provides the most complex, intricate, and yet startlingly true-to-life depictions of females of any book I have read or will ever read.

The Giving Tree is the story of a real man, a red pill-downing alpha male who knows the importance of maintaining frame and consistently demonstrating value to any tree he wants to fuck by being confident and taking what he wants, then leaving her alone so that she knows his time is valuable and that he is not to be trifled with. This pleases her because as a female tree it is her biological imperative to find a male with a high sexual value. It is so refreshing to finally see a believable depiction of a woman like this.

The tree supports her man through all his endeavors. Whether he is working hard to sell apples, harvest lumber, building a house, or cutting down the tree to make a boat to get away from the shrew of a wife and the children she no doubt conceived to entrap him into marriage, she leaves him alone to get on with the hard work and the sacrifices he makes to achieve his dreams.

As vivid a portrait of the female psyche as the tree paints, though, it is the man’s wife who steals the show. She is first deftly foreshadowed when the man shows up at the tree explaining to her his plans to build a house. Why does he need a house? So he can have a wife and a family. This is the moment when we know our hero has slipped into blue pill thinking. When he was a child, before our female-dominated society had filled him with its propaganda, he was happy doing nothing more than going from tree to tree and having his fun with each one, keeping many plates spinning in the air, but when he grew up he drank the Kool-Aid and believed he had to settle down with any woman wily enough to steal his sperm.

And the wife. The story brings her to life in nightmarish detail. Overbearing, emasculating, controlling, frigid, and ugly but with an inflated sense of her own value given to her by feminism and its lies. The book almost spends too much time and detail making you picture her, and his life with her. You can’t get away from her.

Or can you?

Because our hero turns it around. He realizes he’s had enough, and he goes his own way. He takes the red pill. With nothing but his own two hands and the sweat of his brow, he makes a boat out of the tree and he sails away and we never have to see his wife disgrace the page again.

As satisfying as his escape from the clutches of her tyranny is, it’s almost too little, too late to save the book. She had too much of a presence in the book to begin with. The story is not about her, it’s about him. Why did they have to interrupt the fascinating story of this man in order to focus on her?

The ending of the book is a complete letdown, when the man who had gone his own way before comes back and settles down with the used-up old stump of a tree. Why? A man of his proven sexual value should never have to settle for a woman his own age unless he wants to, at which point there’s no reason for him to not keep a dozen or more plates spinning because men of his value become even more rare with age. This is the point where the book goes from grounded, realistic depictions of female existence into a flight of pure fairy tale fantasy, and it is the point where I check out.

Using strong, fully-developed female characters with personalities deeper and realer than I assume most actual women have and a classic tale of red pill redemption to sucker the reader in and then deliver this ending is such a classic example of SJW-style entryism that Saul Alinsky himself might have penned it.

Two stars.


Note from Alexandra: If you enjoy my coverage of the Sad Puppies and related nonsense, satirical and otherwise, please help me get to WorldCon 74 in Kansas City. For every $150 I collect towards my goal of $1,800, I will write another piece similar to this one.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/729246.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.
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