Archive | September, 2013

Censorship and Book Reviews

23 Sep

With all the wankery that I’ve seen in regards to book bloggers in general, I want to thank you book bloggers for being honest with your thoughts. I know it’s hard – especially if you’re drawing fire for that honesty. I think society could do with more book discussions.  

For me, as an author with a small-publisher, those of you who are willing to review my book and be honest about it, you’re giving me a huge gift. (And those of you who can’t because you’re back-logged, busy, I get it, and I appreciate the guest-posts, author interviews and all that too!) I could run to my friends and ask them to review my book – but what I don’t need is, “L.T. Getty is awesome! She helped me move last weekend! Read her book!”  What I need is for people who don’t know me to talk about the book. What they liked, what they didn’t – and hey, even if they DNF-kill-it-with-fire. I acknowledge not everything is everyone’s cup of tea, and I think when I’m trying to sell my book, it’s a feather in my cap if I have a variety of opinion surrounding the book.

I don’t think this new policy is a good thing.

It is about censorship. I know that it’s under the guise of putting the focus on the books, and while I think there needs to be some policy and censorship has its place (I can’t go onto your blog, post violent images, mock your thoughts as to why you liked a book, and insult your hamster and expect it to stand as a freedom of speech thing). There’s a rather slipperly slope of censorship, especially when individuals think that a bash against a book is a bash against the author.   

I self-censor all the time; but the government/radio/store isn’t telling me I can’t have it because I’m X. I decided for myself,

“Maybe I shouldn’t listen to music that keeps saying ‘die young’.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t watch that movie that RaceBending.com proves Hollywood is racist.”

“Maybe I should look away from the train wreck TLC has become so they stop exploiting the uneducated on tv.”

Now, I’m hardly a shirking violet – it’s not that I can’t discuss the topic or get the vapors when someone says something potentially offensive. I decide to surround myself with certain content, and I decide to mute others. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, I just chose not to partake in that aspect of culture.

So what sort of potential issues could there be with censorship? Let’s list some sample trigger topics:

Religion

Pedophilia

Slut-Shaming

Abortion

Now, are those topics that can potentially turn a polite crowd that was getting along into angry, very vocal and dumb nitwits. These are also all topics in books that are discussed, and let’s face it: Unless the book is famous for it, most book blogs don’t have a content sticker on them – and while sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes, books have themes that beg to be discussed. I think individual readers have a right to say to themselves, “This author slut-shames. I don’t want to support this.” This is perfectly legitimate criticism – even if the reader didn’t catch Poe’s Law, or got a factual detail in the book wrong. The product left a bad taste in the reader’s mouth, and even if they, the consumer, is 100% wrong, that person still has the right to say, “Ugh!” I know I have my agenda when I’m writing, but if I’m noticing a trend where nobody’s catching the tone, I’m not doing my job as a writer. (The audience misinterpreting the book is a topic for another day; if you must, go google shipping wars).

Do corporations have a right to set out whatever rules they want? Sure – so long as they’re not breaking any laws based in the territory they’re based on, and I have the right to complain about those rules. We’re not always going to see eye-to-eye. So if Amazon wants to have Goodreads go to a standard, it’s their prerogative, and I’m going to ignore the money aspect here, which I suspect is the actual trigger.  Goodreads, if it has policies in place that stifles discussion, is no longer a place where you can get an unbiased review.  Its function is to help sell books, not tell people why they shouldn’t buy the books. The 1-star review suddenly becomes about “Oh, she just doesn’t like romance!” not, “Oh, she pointed out a running theme of abuse-as-love.”

Furthermore, I think the view of separating the book from the author is naïve. I would have agreed with you ten years ago – I used to think that anyone can write anything and we shouldn’t judge books based on the people that wrote them. I absolutely believe that the quality of writing should be judged on its own merit. However, I can’t remove the author from their body of work. If I were to go and get my masters, I wouldn’t be studying one title, I’d be studying a single author. I judge Octavia E. Butler a lot harder than most writers out there, and it’s not because I’m sexist, racist, or hate certain types of science fiction. Her prose is some of the most wonderful I’ve ever read, and I still find her concept of Earthseed silly. Her bar is higher.

If I want to read a book or see a movie, that’s my choice. If I want to abstain, it’s also my choice. If I find something offensive and I don’t want to support it for numerous of reasons, I have the right. What I don’t have as a right, is to tell people how they felt about the work. If I said something that upsets someone, especially as an author putting out a short story or novel, which is a very one-sided conversation, they have every right to talk about it. Especially on a book-review site.

NO

20 Sep

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1499741-important-note-regarding-reviews

 

Let’s say, for instance, that most of those Authors Behaving Badly posts are crap – oversensitive crybabies that take things too seriously spoiling for a fight. I don’t think that’s reason to censor it.

Come on, fellow authors – Goodreads is a site for readers. Let the ones who cause trouble have their fun. I don’t like the idea of banning books – let’s not ban the discussion, even if that discussion isn’t to our liking.

An Interactive(?) Girl in the Tower

20 Sep

I stumbled across this in a discussion yesterday – I tried to download it to my phone this morning, but it says it’s no longer available. I watched the ‘game’ below, I think it’s missing a part at the very end.  Still, how many times did you beat the game on the first try?

It’s more of an experience than a game, playing with the other side of the rescue the princess of the average game. It’s interesting someone made this – granted, when I was a kid, I was way more empathetic to the captured, and even though the games of the Nintendo and Sega Genesis weren’t generally heavy on story, I was the person who read the story in the little manual, even if it had very little impact on the game play. I didn’t like doing subquests, because I felt bad for the imaginary captured thing, but eventually I got older and realized it was just an objective, video game characters don’t have feelings, and although I’d say in general, story-telling in games has gotten more sophisticated, the purpose of the game is entertainment, not necessarily winning.

I wouldn’t say Hope is the first game that’s more of an experience (I’d say Shadow of the Colossus is also more experience than game, and once again, in the ending your actions are pointless). Effectively, you control where the princess wanders around her small cell – A is or Cry, B is for Sigh.  Honestly, it kind of cartoonized my depression when it rears its head. It got me thinking about the trope – how this is a story we’ve seen a million times (I used it in my debut, dangit) and it went in a very different vein then what I did. I think I’ll go into this more in the next few days, so I’ll leave ToO and focus on my own interpretation of that story.

I don’t know about the rest of you; I don’t play that many video games now, it was more of something I could get away with before University. However, I have noticed habits. I have a hard time interacting through the game in a way I wouldn’t operate in real life – I turned off a game because it involved execution of someone unarmed to progress, and even in those open-sandbox RPGs, I won’t steal or do things I find morally reprehensible.  Even though I’m hurting nothing, I think it’s the conscious decision to do something I view as evil that bothers me. (Slicing up and shooting monsters, however, I’m apparently okie-dokie with).

I thought about the use of a ‘game’ in which the players actions have no effect on the outcome, compared to that of a literary device – I have no qualms with having my characters act out morally reprehensibly. This had more of a narrative-based story-line, the actions of the princess are limited and, as said before, inconsequential. Without having played it as an experience – I think the fact that one controls the princess does have a more direct sense of being in with the narrative, whereas depending on the style of the prose with fiction, the audience is either in the character’s head, knowing their motives, or filling in the gaps. Even if all roads lead to the same destination, I think video games offer a much more open-concept and empathy compared to fiction, and I think one of fiction’s strengths is that good writers can utilize the audience’s expectations to question the prose. I think this can still be done in other media, in particular film, but I haven’t studied it much so I really can’t say. I tried to use that ‘unknowing’ with Aurore’s character in ToO, whereas with Hope’s narrative, all we know is the Princess’ s fears and despair. Beyond that, she’s every kidnapped Princess ever, and the feelings of isolation and helplessness are universal. Is the hero coming? Did he die? Do the words of the guards bear any truth?

I was skeptical before I watched Hope – I wouldn’t say it’s the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen, but I think it gets its point across, though I’m not sure if my interpretation of depression would suit everyone. When your actions are limited, or of no consequence, and you’re forced to go along with someone else’s desires, that feeling of helplessness is overpowering, especially when ones actions are met with failure or inconsequence.  I chose a very different path with ToO – which I think I’ll get into tomorrow, unless I rant about that Quebec Rights Charter.

So Gender or Religion. Controversy ahoy!

Autumn Blog Hop/ ABC’s of Reading

19 Sep

 

FALLFESTIVAL

I just participated, so if you’re feeling sad that summer’s over, or you happen to love the autumn season, go and check it out. I used the term Autumn, even though it’s definitely Fall around here – technically, the snow can start to fly any time in October, though lately we’ve been getting it late November, which is awesome on account of Halloween costumes.

Okay – with the exception of A, I will not mention Burroughs, Lewis, Butler, or Orwell. GO!

ABC’s of Reading

Taken from I’m not sure where, exactly, seen in on a number of blogs

Author You’ve Read the Most Books From: Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’m sure other people have written more than 50 books in their lifetime, but I’m not sure if this is likely to change…

Best Sequel Ever: Don’t know if it’s “the best sequel ever” because technically Druids was a prequel in terms of when they wrote them – “Captives” by Barb Galler-Smith and Josh Langston.

Currently Reading: Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliasotti

Drink of Choice while Reading: Tea. I like to have wine or port on occasion while reading, because I want you all to pretend I always look classy in some sort of swanky baby-pink ballgown before a billowing fireplace posing thoughtfully when I read in some sort of Victorian-style study, but I’d be drunk all the time if it was a requirement to read. I usually save it for social occasions, but wine with cheese is nice when you’re reading.

E-Reader or Physical Books: I love my ereader, but physical books feel… better. My ereader is nice for when I’m traveling though – takes up less space and I can bring my whole library with me, not to mention, I get less flack from people who see all the books I already have.  The bad side, is that I can be technologically inept – I have a book I’ve been wanting to read and it’s still not loaded onto my ereader properly.

Fictional Character you Would Have Dated in High School: Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. He’s a nice guy – you know, past the whole ‘carrots’ thing. Jerks don’t do it for me in a romantic sense – granted, they are fun to write about, but I actually treat them like jerks with comeuppance. I like nice guys – bonus if they’re nice and they can banter with me. Playful banter is always a bonus. Every time I see one of those Alpha-Douches I just imagine Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and I’m getting off topic. So back to Gilbert.

Unless Ben Barnes is Prince Caspian.  Pre Dawn-Treader Beard. [/Purr]

Glad you gave this book a chance: Surrender by Rhiannon Paille. I gave it a low mark on Goodreads because the prose came across as a little rough in the beginning, and I’m a believer in showing that the series gets better, the writing is starting to keep up with the story (at least, the two books I’ve read thus far). Anyway – it’s interesting – kind of new-agey, but I like a different take on what we assume is a classic love story – it goes dark, and it seems like Paille isn’t afraid to go into that dark place in fiction.

Hidden Gem Book: Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell.

Important Moments of your Reading Life:  When I realized that there was no one ‘way’ to write, and that style is something to use to the author’s advantage.  Once you figure this out, manipulation of diction becomes almost natural.

Just Finished: Urban Green Man Anthology, edited by Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine

Kind of Books you won’t read: I’ll normally give anything a whirl – not interested in erotica or anything that strikes me as pedophilic, though. I don’t normally care for romance novels or erotica – I find them kind of predictable.

Longest Book You’ve Read: Are we counting book series? Because I think that’s The Malazan Series or Michelle West’s stuff – but if it’s an individual book, it’s Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. In English, anyway.

Major Book Hangover Because of: Terry Pratchett. I’m now a snob when it comes to humor.

Number of Bookcases you own: Three.

One Book that you have read multiple times: Maskerade! By Terry Pratchett. It ruined The Phantom of the Opera in all its incarnations for me. Particularly, Christine!! I know, it might come across a bit gimmicky – !! But I love how Pratchett puts so much character(!!) into simple dialogue!!

Preferred Place to Read: On a patio in the sunshine. If that’s the case though, it’s probably iced tea…

Quote from a Book that Inspires you/Gives you Feels:

Schmenderick: The magic chose the shape, not I. I am a bearer, I am a dwelling, I am a messenger…

Molly: You are an idiot!

~The Last Unicorn by T.S. Beagle

Reading Regret: Don’t know if I have one – probably that I don’t get around to reading as much as of the titles as I’d like, and I wish I could read more small/indie/self-pubbed stuff and help the gems shine. In terms of reviewing regret, I’m kind of annoyed that I let something someone said to me years ago affect my reviews – I really enjoyed talking about my books, but, now I’m an author so I have to be way more careful, and starting it up again would just invite trouble.

Series you Started and Need to Finish: Malazan Book of the Fallen. I’m getting on it!

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: Oh screw it (the no C.S. Lewis rule):

Dune by Frank Herbert

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Major Cheat – I have an Illustrated Anthology for Children – it has everything from 1000 Arabian Nights, Aesop’s fables, to Rikki Tikki Tavi. I’m happy to be loaning it to my niece, who just started grade 1.

Unapologetic Fangirl for: My own stuff…?

Very excited for this release more than any other: Like everyone else, I really want to finish George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. And I’m waiting until the series is done before I continue on – I know, DwD is out – but I want matching covers, darn it. Because once I finish the books, I can finally watch the HBO series everyone is crowing about. I refuse in the meantime.

X Marks the Spot (Start on your Bookshelf and count to the 27th): This was a Principles of Paramedic Care Vol #3. Instead, allow me to direct you to the next book on my reading list: Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart.

Your Latest Book Purchase: Kobo – I bought The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin, and alas, I could no longer get it in paperback, so I have The Killing Moon in that format, and The Shadowed Sun in digital. Sad Panda.

ZZZ-Snatcher (last book that kept you up way too late): I like my sleep! It’s Tetris that’ll keep me up far too late…

Daily Book Challenge: Day 30

15 Sep

Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

TWHF

I’ve talked about this book and this author a lot already – as said with The Screwtape letters, this is the sort of book that makes me work, but unlike Screwtape, there’s a lot of reading between the lines.

Our story is about Orual, an ugly-queen who lodges her complaint against the gods, which in her time would have been hubris. Orual is the sister of the mythological Psyche, who was famed for her beauty and compared to Aphrodite. Aphrodite would have none of this, so she sent her son, Eros, to make her fall in love with someone. He accidently shoots himself, and he falls in love with Psyche. When she goes away, Orual goes after her and convinces Psyche to betray Eros’s trust (she hasn’t seen his face and Orual loves Psyche in a possessive sort of way, her intentions are not pure and she wants Psyche to come back home, not out of jealousy of her husband like in the original myth) thus Psyche is condemned by Aphrodite and sent to her trials, whereas Orual, her part in the story is that she too would face trial and tribulations. Their lives go in opposite directions, and although Orual’s situation improves, she never sees her sister again.

The story goes before and beyond the myth – I can’t recommend it to those who haven’t read the story (it’s in Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, but you can find a cartoon that’ll give you the jist of it on youtube).

The novel takes its time to set up this scenario – Orual’s strained relationship with her father and her coming into power, her being ashamed over something she cannot control (her looks) and her eventual covering up her face, which leads to question as to whether or not she’s so beautiful, she needs to hide herself away. The story, from her own words, sort of makes you despise Orual, because she is venomous and feels wronged, but the narrative reveals that those around her like her and she comes across as a much more competent ruler than her father – and while I chagrin to use the term ‘progressive for her time’ those who claim Lewis is sexist will find no problem here.

In addition to the story-telling, there is the use of metaphor. Many ancient stories that have survived over the centuries did so because they were preserved – in the Western Tradition, this was done primarily by Monks, and if you study the history of it, for the most part it was because these monks found virtue in the ‘pagan works’, of which is a huge topic and I can’t discuss with any great merit in this blog. This is Narnia without the fat, without the preachy obviously-for-children-but-not-really-it’s-for-adults-who-think-they-think-like-kids. Lewis extended the ideas of his Christian theology (of which there are numerous books)into classic ‘pagan’ myth. I love mythology, and Greek mythology was my gateway – and I love discussing philosophy and religion, so when we put this altogether, we have something written on numerous levels, talking about Christian virtue in a non-Christian setting.

Are there people who won’t like it? Absolutely – I’ve seen lots of people dismiss Lewis and not dig into what he was getting at, and lots of people despise him anyway. Other people aren’t familiar with the source material, and other people aren’t going to find the topic interesting.

But I adore it.

That ends this challenge – in the meantime, I have a book tour going on with Pump Up Your Books – you can check out the schedule here. I will be posting more regularly – I have a lot of work cut out for me before Winnipeg’s Comic Con – but I’m going to try and keep things somewhat regular.

Daily Book Challenge: Day 29

15 Sep

So I’m behind again – cannot finish on time, as that would be yesterday, but I’ll make the next post go in a few hours, so I’m not coming up with an excuse. I had a tension headache two nights ago – yesterday, I was rewatching Les Miserables last night on call while I was sketching, so no real excuse other than I just didn’t feel like it.

Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked

I don’t normally follow reading trends, I’m more likely to read small-press books and I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks of them unless we’re sitting around talking about books. I’m going to cheat and talk about a movie. As much as I like indie films, I have a lot harder time finding them then indie books.

JC

I know that not everyone hated it – it got written off before it came out as a flop, even though it grossed super-high overseas and, at the very least, everyone seems to agree it’s an aesthetically beautiful movie.

And I don’t think there were too many purists crying out that they ‘changed it’ because the source material was so old, and those of us who grew up with Burroughs know that it heavily influenced other works. Hell, without going into details, it influenced me directly – even though I read my share of other pulp authors and got comic books, if I had to pick one source for “Why do you like science-fiction/fantasy so much?” it would be because of these old pulp novels – particularly the Barsoom series, though I read all the books I was given.

 I watched the movie the first time in theatres with really fond feelings with my dad because he’s the one who gave me all the pulp science-fiction Burroughs novels – he got them as a kid from his parents, who I learned about two years ago they got them from a friend for Christmas. We both knew we weren’t being objective because we both read and adored the books as kids, but we would have been the biggest moaners if the source material was being treated badly. We rewatched the movies again on DVD, and neither of us could really take issue with the movies. I watched it again last week – trying to nitpick. Honestly, my biggest complaint is that it was going for a POTC sense of humor at times, but it also broke up the overdramatic tone. I overanalyze everything; my dad, he’s not generally as fussy but he’ll say when he thinks something is stupid. Thing is, the rest of my family, the ones who think this kind of stuff is stupid, they for the most part also enjoyed the films. (My one sister made it a point to come with us because she knew who John Carter was).

Anyway – I’m not saying that the movie is the best thing ever because there was no way to adapt the source material and make it new and exciting because we’ve seen Superman, Star Wars, and if we were to change it too much, it would no longer be the Barsoom series. Edgar Rice Burroughs was influential on what the genre became, and while I think Tolkien set the standard for high fantasy, I think Burroughs and Robert E. Howard set the standard for the less-epic scope of adventure fiction, be it science-fiction, fantasy, or a combination of the two.

Daily Book Meme: Day 28

12 Sep

Day 28 – Favorite title

200px-Reaper's_Gale

Picked because it’s also my favorite cover of the series.

I suck with coming up with my own titles. I’ve had finished books sitting there for a while before I came up with a title – come to think of it, I’d already written ¾ of Tower of Obsidian before I came up with a title beyond, “Historical Fantasy – Untitled”, which, by the way, I wrote the latter-half of the novel mostly first (I wanted to swap with Ron, so I had to go back and write the beginning because we swap stuff in mostly chronological order – it’s easiest to judge work if that’s the case).

I like a lot of the titles in the Malazan Series – some more than others. I like that the series has its sequence name without being just named after the first book (The Malazan Book of the Fallen – love that series name). Runners up outside of this sequence includes River of Stars (Guy Gavriel Kay) and Kiss of the Fur Queen (Thomson Highway). I love it when an author can name the book something, and you think you know why, but you find out why about halfway or three-quarters through the book, but I like it when you reference something seemingly natural and it’s absolutely not.

On the other hand, sometimes you just need to call it something. That’s how I feel about titles. “That Book where That Guy does That Thing…” I think catchy titles are a must, and I swear I’ll get better at them over time.