Sifting the wash of the internet.
Jetstream days. Packing and re-packing. Emails about strange scientific experiments, conversations about hackable implants, being poisoned in China, cyborg lawsuits and the alternation of power. Drinking an energy shot designed and tested by US special operations forces. Documents raining in to be read, rewritten, signed and sent. On a plane tomorrow, for two weeks of beige supermodern…
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I have two essential reactions to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
First is that I have lost the ability to not-see issues of representation in my fiction. I spent a great deal of time wondering why on Earth the human lead, Malcom, could not have been a woman of color. I couldn’t think of a single story-related reason for it.
I also noted, with tired resignation, that for a story set in…
miss america chavez talks to kate bishop the way han solo talks to princess leia why isn’t everyone on board this ship w/ me i don’t understand
that’s some formative otp shit right there
Everybody gets the “crap I wish I’d thought of that!” thing if you’re in a creative field, I imagine, it’s one of those buttons wired into our brains, but Mieville’s writing doesn’t so much push that button for me as take a sledgehammer to it until the plastic shatters. I think it’s because he has the absolute disregard for conventional plausibility that I strive for, and he does it without ever once blinking, which I think is the trick. People will accept almost any weird thing, as long as its A) kinda neat and B) you never admit for a minute that it’s completely absurd. You start “Perdido Street Station” with a beetle-headed woman, and you immediately think “I dunno, I’m not gonna suspend my disbelief for THAT, and by about twenty pages in, you realized that the author doesn’t apparently care if you do or not. There is no effort spent to tease you into letting down your guard with careful rationalizations of the history of the noble talking whatsits, all the standard fantasy stuff to make sure that you’re not rolling your eyes or weirded out or troubled by the strangeness of it. Be troubled! This is troubling shit. You’re either seduced by the fabulous weirdness of it all, or you can get bent. It’s fantasy that’s actually fantastical—not in the sense that anything gets used as a deus ex machina, (terribly far from it!) but in the sense that the world is just full of weird stuff. It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” meets hell. And it doesn’t blink.
And now, to trot out a variant one of my favorite rants, god, I wish more people would do that. God, I wish *I* would do that. All the infinite possibilities of fantasy, and instead we get ten thousand rehashes of a quasi-Western European culture with elves, fairies and telepathic wolves, and magic systems so stratified and carefully explained, so that nobody ever gets the idea that the author is using magic as an excuse for stuff, that they have all the exuberant joy of a rectal exam. Given an infinite canvas of potential oddity, we spend our time recreating Pern, Valdemar, and Middle-Earth with different hats. Strange is like a lost art. Trying to think of books that are genuinely bizarre and fantastical gets me the aforementioned Mieville, Clive Barker’s Abarat, King and Straub’s “The Talisman,” maybe Gormenghast, to a lesser extent Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”…and…um…some of the fantasy bits in Tad William’s “Otherland” which was science fiction anyway. Stories where the laws of physics were different, where the world is a gigantic house, or where an archipelago was made of islands of different times of day. Whereas if I made a stack in my living room of books where a young girl bonds telepathically to a horse/dragon/wolf/tiger in a quasi-European society, the fall from the top would probably break my neck. Ursula Vernon (via fuckyeahursulavernon)