Posted October 15, 2007on:
After reading another lacklustre fantasy effort from McKillip I decided that a second serving from a different author was required. Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer had the lucky number. I had tried the book earlier this year and found it very, very strange. It was shelved in the fantasy section but it was unlike any other fantasy I’d read so my brain creaked from side to side, trying to find its equilibrium in the story. This was all shot to hell when I got to the scene during one of Duncan’s underground journeys in which he discovered a strange machine composed of steel, wires and hundreds of thousands of glowing, severed bodies. Mayday! Mayday! Science fiction elements here! Mayday! Mayday! I promptly abandoned the book, sure that I would try again…some other time. I even felt a bit ashamed that I couldn’t handle a “fantasy” novel that pushed the definitions of what that could be, if it didn’t break it entirely. Sort of the way I felt about experimental lit fic (though I’m getting better at that now *beam*).
Well! Over 6 months and one and a half science fiction books later I felt that I was better prepared to take it on. No matter how I felt about it at the end, the one thing I would bet against was disappointment. Handily enough Dark Roasted blend — the site for wonder and coffee lovers — put up an “exclusive” interviewwith VanderMeer who explained, among other things, what the heck “New Weird” is.
Moving to the YA field Gail Gauthier, a YA author herself and great all-round blogger at Original Content, posted a three part series on the questionable gender portrayals on Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I admit my initial interest was in no small part due to the fact that it’s a series that has received all but unanimous approval from all quarters. (Even reviewed in the NYTBR for heaven’s sake, although I don’t know if it was a positive notice.)
This relationship no longer has any pretence of equality. Edward is beautiful, intelligent, strong, kind, witty, wealthy, worldly. You name it, he’s it. Bella, on the other hand, appears to be none of those things. She goes to school where she’s not a stellar student (which I like, by the way), she does the family laundry, and makes meals for her father. Except for a very part-time job and visiting a second boy “friend,” that’s it in terms of activity. It’s hard to tell what she does with herself when Edward’s not around to entertain her.
Forget “feminist sensibilities”, Bella sounds like a whiny clinger in general. But maybe I just need to mix the kool-aid, which I’ll probably try a sip of eventually.
Recently I discovered that The Book depository (best online book seller ever, ’tis true) has a nifty Tuesday top ten feature it puts up weekly. Generally this sort of thing would be met with a yawn but you actually get a lot of intriguing choices. Of the ones I read so far I liked — “liked” meaning it made me scribble a lot– Stephen Mitchelmore’s top ten that “defy simple classification” the best.
We end with quizzes! taken from my dependable cool quiz source, Gwenda Bond.