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Have I been too harsh? - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Have I been too harsh?
For sure, this is probably not my last post on Nyssa's Guardian, and I hope Reese Gabriel, if she's googling for people talking about her, takes it all in the spirit of Oscar Wilde. Some of you have read the excerpt and now know the daunting challenge I face in finishing this load of tripe, and yes I probably will finish it, if only to figure out if the author's quoting of Thucididyes was accidental or deliberate-- or if she just stole it from some other clueless S&M novelist.

Omaha suggested last night that I was being harsh, but only in the company of people who would understand why. The sort of people who click on the "Bondage" sub-genre don't care about the Lost In Space quality of skiffy, and could care less that the author has done a terrible job of contemplating what a cornucopia machine in every home and hotel room really means for a society. They'll accept her cyber-dildos and flouron-beam hygiene rooms so long as they get their mundane S&M long-drawn-out kink scene as routine as an oil change. These aren't the sort of people who want my melange of sci-fi, sociology, and sex in equal proportions: they're putting up with a backdrop in the hopes that it'll lead to sex and not much more.

Be that as it may, I believe that every writer has a responsibility to be true to the tropes they choose to wield. Science Fiction writers have a plethora of tech levels in which to play: everything from our current TL8 all the way up to TL18 (if you're a gamer, you know what this means). Gabriel plays mix-and-match, badly. What's most annoying, however, is that when the skiffy is center-stage, characterization looses. Consider this scene from Gabriel's book:
One night, after Nyssa had returned from a party that Estriana had been forbidden to attend, she'd found the beautiful blonde obedient naked in the sanitizing chamber. She was standing against the wall, pushing a large cyber dildo inside her asshole. She had a gag in her mouth and clamps on her nipples. The warm, red cleansing beams were pouring down on her as she moaned through orgasm after orgasm.
Now compare it to a similar scene from a recent Journal Entry:
"I... A couple of months ago, I thought you might have, you know, missed boys. It was so unfair that I got all the pleasure of intercourse and you didn't, and I wanted to be able to give you what you gave me. So I bought a... a strap-on. With TCNI. The guy at the shop told me it was the one all of the women who came in raved about."

Linia was so surprised she let Misuko go, then sat on the bed next to her. "You did? But Misuko, you hate transcutaneous neural interfaces!"
Both Gabriel and I slipped in a bit of jargon: "cyber-dildo" versus "transcutaneous neural interface." But I think the JE version illustrates two important aspects to writing: one, the characters come first and, two, the jargon respects the reader's intelligence. Gabriel's "cyber" is completely gratuitous. It tells us nothing about what the toy does and only serves as cheap decoration. The introduction of "TCNI", however, tells us a lot about what the toy is capable of (and I assume the reader is smart enough to puzzle out what "transcutaneous neural interface" means) and that Linia obviously means a lot to Misuko, as she's willing to try this thing after previous scenes had established that she's a bit phobic about technology that feeds information directly into the brain.

I'm just thinking out loud here, but I hope this makes sense to others: you have a moral responsibility to understand your genre before you dip pen to ink. Even moreso, you must respect your reader's intelligence. If you don't, the only readers you get aren't worth respect.

Tags:
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: The Brilliant Green, Forever To Me

19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mothball_07 From: mothball_07 Date: February 15th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Even moreso, you must respect your reader's intelligence. If you don't, the only readers you get aren't worth respect.

IANAWriter, however, I've always heard you should show, not tell. You do that in your paragraph. You show, AND you make me want. I WANT A TCNI DEVICE! Ok..you didn't do that - I've wanted one since the first time I slept with a woman, but that's another issue. :D

She tells, and she does so boringly. I won't take that apart though, as you already have. "red cleansing beams"? Ugh. I don't think you're being harsh. I think you're looking analytically, and critically, at something you're invested in.

I DO want to know, when you're done, how it turns out. Does Nyssa discover her submissive nature, or does Guardian discover equality?
sarekofvulcan From: sarekofvulcan Date: February 15th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, the Pendor device I want is the one that lets you switch senses with your partner. :-)
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: February 15th, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Personally, I want S-disks. For sex purposes, the famous Pendoran shower head (with integral micro-S-Disks) is perfectly adequate for my needs.
ladyerin From: ladyerin Date: February 16th, 2006 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah....I am all about the S-disks....in my shower, in my iced tea glass, etc...
elfs From: elfs Date: February 16th, 2006 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I think if you had one in your iced tea glass you'd need another in your bladder, ne? (Actually, there are characters in the JEs who already have exactly that.)
(Deleted comment)
patcat From: patcat Date: February 15th, 2006 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is only tangentially related to the point at hand, but I created a TCNI-like device for one of my own stories. Mind you, I called it a Dendritically Integrated Linearly Dynamic Organ. :)
Hey, if Geordi can have a VISOR...
valarltd From: valarltd Date: February 15th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
you have a moral responsibility to understand your genre before you dip pen to ink. Even moreso, you must respect your reader's intelligence. If you don't, the only readers you get aren't worth respect.

Exactly. Otherwise, you're just writing about light-speed whoopee wenches in presurized lingiere.


The Journal Entries always felt "real" to me. Her stuff feels like Amazing Stories from the 40s filtered through a porno lens.


This is why my map has gone through three revisions, my timeline has undergone three, my basic tech level is stalled at 9ish and I keep rewriting to make sure that things look "right."

elfs From: elfs Date: February 15th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Light-Speed Whoopee Wenches in Pressurized Lingerie.

My Gods, what a beautiful title.
valarltd From: valarltd Date: February 16th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't take credit. That's a Berke Breathed.

Opus is all in his space-man suit and goes up to a harried woman with 2 kids and 3 bags of groceries at the bus stop. "Excuse me, madam, but we're from Mars. And Mars needs women. Plague killed off all the gals. You can be the emperor's concubine. Come with us and you'll be a lightspeed whoopee wench in pressurized lingiere for ever!'

She looks at the kids and the groceries.

The last panel has Opus carrying her to Cutter John. "She said okay-dokey."
(Deleted comment)
valarltd From: valarltd Date: February 16th, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mars Needs Women was a 1967 made-for-TV movie, with Tommy Kirk and Yvonne Craig.

IMDB entry
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 15th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fundamentally, that piece of tripe is just plain badly written. The parts you've quoted come off as an unholy crossbreed between Eye of Argon and a drugstore bodice-ripper. (BTW, there's a whole sub-sub-genre of "science fiction romance" now... instead of belonging to warring clans, the lovers are from different planets, or different times. Personally, I hate romances - but I think the crossovers do violence to both genres.) The only similarity between Nyssa's Guardian and your stories is that they're written in English...
(Deleted comment)
srmalloy From: srmalloy Date: February 16th, 2006 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I am reminded of an Alexis Gilliland cartoon from an issue of Science Fiction Review from the 1970s... "Amazing! With my new word-processor, I can hack out sci-fi, westerns, gothics, and modern stories just by re-programming the nouns!"
halloranelder From: halloranelder Date: February 16th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
These aren't the sort of people who want my melange of sci-fi, sociology, and sex in equal proportions: they're putting up with a backdrop in the hopes that it'll lead to sex and not much more.

Where as in a lot of cases I'm the exact opposite. I'm "putting up" with the sex so I can read more about the wonderful world you've created.

Being gay and not interested in woman at all a lot of the time I skim through the straight sex bits just so I can get to the rest of the story. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 16th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)

About those scenes...

I'm a straight female and I also sometimes skim through the sex scenes to see what happens in the rest of the story.

(Although sometimes I go back and reread it.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 16th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: About those scenes...

Straight male here, ditto.
From: bogobob Date: February 16th, 2006 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: About those scenes...

What comes after ditto?

Tritto?
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