matociquala: (writing literature vonnegut)

I figured out in the shower this afternoon why it is that it gets up my goddamned nose so badly when reviewers refer to Carnival as "slash" or "yaoi."

It's because that terminology carries with it the assumption that the only reason a woman would write queer characters is because she's getting a voyeuristic thrill out of it. And that, right there, implies a host of other assumptions. One of which is that queer characters exist only because of the kinky frisson they provide for heterosexual readers.

Hi.

If that's what you think? I'm sorry, but you're an asshole. Try to get over it, would you?

Queer characters exist because queer people exist.* They exist in my books because I know and love many queer people,*** and I see no reason why there should not be stories told about them.

Queer people do not exist for your titillation. They do not exist to be your sexual fantasy.** Please do not assume that faggots, dykes, fairies, perverts, twists, and deviants of any stripe (real or fictional) exist to service your kinks unless you have spoken to them personally and gotten a confirmation, 'kay?

It's offensive. I mean, really offensive. Like, guy at the service station staring at your tits offensive.

Queer people are more than the sum total of who they fuck. Queer people, like straight people, are not actually definied in all regards by who they go to bed with in the .01% of their lives they spend fucking.

In fact, who we fuck (or don't fuck) is a pretty minor detail, and has relatively little bearing on who we are or what we believe.

I know! Shocking! Isn't it shocking? It doesn't matter if your lover has a penis! It makes no difference at all, except when you are going down on them!

Next thing you know, we'll be wanting the vote.

And you know, having ranted, I now realize that all the POV characters in Chill are heterosexual.

I swear. Some mornings I just wake up mean.



*(When I say queer, BTW, what I mean is lesbian/gay/intersexed/poly/asexual/bisexual/kinky/transgendered.)

**(If you have sexual fantasies involving queer people, more power to you. I am seriously not about to tell anybody their smut is wrong, unless they also exhibit features of the Homicidal Triad.)

***(I also know and love many vanilla straights, and I see no reason why there should not be stories about you guys either.)

matociquala: (writing rengeek stratford man)
One of the most entertaining slaggings of any of my work I've seen all year.

This made my entire night.

Oh dear hearts, find out a little about the author before you assume she's ignorant of queer culture. And never, ever assume that character attitudes reflect what the writer believes....

Well, okay, if all the good guys have one set of beliefs and all the bad guys have another set of beliefs, then it's pretty safe to assume the book is didactic. But not otherwise.

For breadth, some Amazon reviews of Carnival, which are (oddly) all positive. (That usually doesn't happen.)

Also, some Amazon reviews of A Companion to Wolves are in. Also, two for Whiskey & Water. And two for Undertow, including one I think I want to have bronzed. 
matociquala: (writing carnival)
[14:56] [livejournal.com profile] matociquala: Okay, seven different versions of this sentence and finally I have one I like.
[14:56] [livejournal.com profile] matociquala: Maybe I can write the scene now.
[14:57] [livejournal.com profile] matociquala: (first version: "It is not that the wolf is particularly concerned with dying.")
[14:57] [livejournal.com profile] matociquala: (last version: "The threat of death is not what baffles the wolf.")
[14:57] [livejournal.com profile] matociquala: You wouldn't think that would take four hours, two snacks, and a trip to the gym, would you?
[14:58] [livejournal.com profile] cristalia: Nah, writing is hard.
[14:58] [livejournal.com profile] matociquala: At least it's a better sentence. :-P

In other news, Bragelonne is picking up French translation rights for Carnival. Woot! A few more foreign-rights sals, and I can cut back to two books a year when the current contracts are up.

Or maybe even a book every nine months. Crikey. Luxury. *

In other news, I just got three bottles of Noodler's fountain pen ink from Swisher Pens. Ordered 'em Saturday. These guys kind of rock.

I highly recommend the Green Marine: it is the tourmaline green I have been looking for all my life. A little browner than jade green, but not as olice as pine green or actual Marine Green.

Actually, the color it is? Is rifle green. Almost exactly.**

Good ink is love. And since this damned book, like Carnival, is determined that it wants in large part to be drafted in longhand, pretty ink is nice to have.

The Ottoman Azure is nice, too. Not as nice as the Ottoman Rose, and it could be a bit darker, but I understand on some intellectual level that New England skies are a different color from most other skies, and I can't judge other azures by the azure we have here at home.


*We used to live in a hole in the road....

**Now I just need Sean Bean....***

***Or Jenny.
matociquala: (comics invisibles king mob)

I just realized that the new IROSF is up, which means there's a review of Carnival (by Joe Tokomak), and also an interview with me (by Lyda Morehouse). 

matociquala: (sf farscape leather)
On Pinion: 1034 words yesterday night, and 767 words this morning. The page count stands at 243, and as always, I have switched over from "I'm never going to invent enough plot to fill up this book" to "How the heck am I supposed to cram what's left into 157 pages?"

Wow.

157 pages. That's like, doable and everything.  That's an average of 6.6 pages a day, under two thousand words, if I want to finish the draft by February 28.

Which would give me all of March to write "Periastron." And then I could start the rewrite of All the Windwracked Stars. I need to figure out what I'm going to do about that narrative break in the middle, the interludy bit, because it disturbs the tension of the book a lot. Of course, having other POV characters will help. This way, the book doesn't take a month in the country.

Just one of the characters does.

You know, years never used to seem short to me before I started writing for a living. There will be time, there will be time.

So I think we will keep up the two-writing-sessions-a-day thing, morning and night, as that appears to be working gangbusters. I'm getting the same amount of writing done in less time, with, you know, time for other things. 1500-2000 words a day seems to be my sustainable max, no matter how many hours I give myself to get it done in.

And six hours a day seven days a week is a reasonable work schedule, too. (Well, yanno, there's the administrative stuff too, and CEMs and crits and so forth, but the only thing that counts as writing is writing.

I may have finally hit upon a schedule that works. Huzzah, trial and error!

I wonder if, as a genre, (SF, not Fantasy) some of the malaise we keep self-diagnosing is a lack of handwavium. Have we gotten too concrete? Are we trying too hard to stick to the possible? The probably? Instead of just digging in there and making stuff up?

Giant sandworms you can catch and ride! Spiders spinning webs between the Earth and Moon! People frozen on the surface of Pluto, still alive and thinking with the speed of slow! Life forms like gigantic orbital habitats, with oceans and continents inside them! Ringworlds! Matroishka brains!

None of this stuff is particularly plausible. Some of it is, to the best of my knowledge, physically impossible.

But it's shiny, isn't it?

This, of course, presumes that the self-diagnosed malaise and lack of young readers and writers is as severe a problem as is reported. (Of the people my age and younger I know who read, most of them read (among other things) science fiction and/or fantasy. But that is anecdotal, and not a representative sample. That fandom, especially Worldcon fandom, is graying, I have no doubt. WisCon is full of young folks, however. And old folks, too. Or, as somebody said, the ratio of purple hair to blue is about 2:1. Readers =/= fans)

So yanno. We could be right. It could be the end of the world. Or it could be us not pushing hard enough to do cool things, being distracted by the possible. (I know I get distracted by the possible. Dust in its three proposed parts is in some ways an attempt to push through that and get myself thinking on a grander and weirder scale.)

Or it could be not a problem at all. I mean, sure, there's a whole world of pretty generic adventure fiction with SF trappings out there, but there is also a fair whack of Big Idea SF being written. I mentioned the Matroishka brains above. Blindsight is full to brimming over with sensawunda. Light and Spin and the work of Iain Banks and Al Reynolds and various other recently-published SF is full of really cool ideas.

Sometimes it's hard to get at. (Harrison never actually tells you what some of the cooler things going on in Light are--you have to figure them out for yourself, and that's not, you know, necessarily the easiest thing going). But I think there's room in genre for a range of attacks, from the accessible to the more occult.

The most popular and best-selling work may be a little safer, a little less brain-stretchy. But then, pop music usually does sell better than the avante garde.

It's all about the choices and the balance. And making them aware of the consequences. And being aware that you are making trade-offs, and not doing things for sentimental reasons. And now I am gonna have to talk about my own work and some choices I made there to illustrate my point. Some MAJOR spoilers for Carnival follow: )

In other news, I'm going to Boskone!


Sat 10:00am   Fantasy, Folklore, and Myth
If folklore is the traditional customs, stories, jokes, and songs of a people, is myth old folklore? Is fantasy folklore you just made up? What common motifs thread through all three forms? How do you give fantasy the patina of myth, or the arbitrary edges of folklore? Who's great at this, and how?

(M)  Elizabeth Bear
Tobias Buckell
Esther Friesner
Greer Gilman
Gary A. Lippincott


Sat 11:00am    Sniglets

In Sniglets, the moderator will provide a  term out of a science fiction story and the panel makes up definitions. See how many audience members can pick out the "real" definition. In some cases, examples may be picked from works by the panelists. Can they make
up a definition that sounds better than the one they originally came up with?

Elizabeth Bear
Tom Easton
Matthew Jarpe
(M)  Lawrence M. Schoen


Sat  1:00pm     0.5 hours    Reading (anybody got something they want to hear?)

Elizabeth Bear


Sat  3:00pm    The Fantastic and the Mundane:  A Look at Urban Fantasy

What is urban fantasy? A discussion of definitions dealing with what is essentially another umbrella term: we have vampires, werewolves, wizards, elves, ghosts and more all falling under the concept of urban fantasy or authors identifying themselves as urban fantasy writers. Is it new?  Who is writing it?  Some people self-identify as urban fantasy writers.  Some think of themselves as something else.  And some reject the categorization.  Is Neil Gaiman urban fantasy? Margaret Atwood? Anne Rice?  What makes them different or same as Simon R. Green, Jim Butcher or Laurell K. Hamilton?

(M)  Elizabeth Bear
Mark Del Franco
Catherynne M. Valente
Andrew Wheeler


Sat  4:00pm    Literary Beer

Elizabeth Bear


Sun 10:00am   The Best New Writers: Recent Campbell Award Winners Talk

Fresh winners of our field's  Newbie Nobel give a tip of their tiaras to other notable up-and-comers. What are their best new stories? What topics or trends obsess them? What  magazines, small presses, websites, or other venues should we be watching to catch the greatest of the latest? And is it easy being green?

(M)  Elizabeth Bear
John Scalzi
Wen Spencer


Sun 11:00am    Autographing

Elizabeth Bear
Rosemary Kirstein
Tamora Pierce
Steven Sawicki


Sun  1:00pm    What Is American Fantasy?

Is American fantasy different from fantasy in other parts of the world?  What distinguishes it from, say, British fantasy?  What are  the common threads, styles, themes? Or does it even make sense to talk about American fantasy as if there were common threads?

Elizabeth Bear
(M)  F. Brett Cox
Debra Doyle
Greer Gilman
Michael Swanwick
matociquala: (geeks with guns)
So that fretfully awaited Locus came, and I have read it. And the reviews of Carnival are, I think, quite good. (Apparently, the way one reviews Carnival is by presenting a plot summary and then saying "but despite all this, it's really quite actiony!" This seems to be a trend. Perhaps it's a reviewer's polite way of insinuating that I have too much stuff in my books.) I mean, I'm still not a sooopergenius, and I think I've missed my window for being a child prodigy, but I am pleased by the response. (I bet you didn't know that a Locus review could make you a sooopergenius, did you?) I think that everything I put into the book made it into the reviewers' heads, anyway, which is a step forward.

I may be getting the hang of this. I suspect at this point if I want better reviews I will have to write better books, and I am not sure how to do that yet. I sometimes wonder if my own particular gifts as a writer are not suited to being a brilliant pioneer of science fiction.

(The reviews of Fast Forward 1 and Subterranean 5 are also quite positive. And also agree: I am not an innovative genius. ALAS! Well, whatcha gonna do? I only got the brain I got.)  

Still, I seem to write good characters and interesting plots. So that's something.

(Also, there are rave reviews for Ink and Brasyl and a short story of [livejournal.com profile] truepenny's and some other things I was happy to see well-reviewed. Not that I root for my friends or anything. Maybe while we're asking Rob Sawyer to shelve things, we should get him to shelve Ink; I think they're marketing Hal as science fiction, aren't they?)
matociquala: (writing carnival)
Sigh.

Via [livejournal.com profile] razorsmile, another review of Carnival calling it slash. *Insert eyeroll here.* 

Heh. If they want slash, fine, I'll give them slash.

Just you wait. Watch this space.

And yanno, the review itself is pretty positive, in general, thought rather spoilery. You'll need a rot13 reader to decode it. I gotta say, though, did this guy never know the ingenuity that is a twelve-year old cracker when he was in junior high?*

I used to know this one phreak who could whistle telephone access codes....

Well, as long as I'm this cranky, I'm going to go work on these contracts and galleys so I don't have to do it in the morning. I'd eat something, and try to get my blood sugar up, but I'm too bitchy to want food.

*Why is it that nobody has nailed me on any of the completely stupid plot developments in Scardown, I wonder?**

**In fact, nobody ever picks up on the various plot developments in my books that *I* consider stupid. Probably because I know they're stupid, and go out of my way either to gloss over them or kick leaves over them or shore them up. The stuff I consider perfectly evident, like the dangers inherent in long-range microwave power transmission, or the existence of underground rivers in Hartford, that I hear it for.***

***Bitch bitch bitch, ah shaddap Bear, nobody cares, and at least he liked the book. I sometimes think I should just give up writing science fiction and concentrate on the fantasy, because there's a certain type of SF reader whose main joy is making up reasons why a book's logical system doesn't work.****

****But I like science fiction.*****

*****I think I'll give up reading reviews, instead.******

******I'm all out of Criminal Minds. Do you suppose Torchwood has downloaded yet?*******

*******Oh, for fuck's sake, Bear, shut up and do your paperwork. And when you are done doing your paperwork, you can read that book you are meant to be blurbing, can't you? Yes.********

********Oy, I hope I don't get asked to blurb anything again for a while. I can't keep up.*********

*********Yes, I do feel better now.

.
matociquala: (carnival)
...but [livejournal.com profile] razorsmile really wants to talk about Carnival. And can't find anybody else who's read it yet.

If you want to go chat I won't promise not to peek, but I'll promise to pretend I'm not peeking.

Also, I have a post up here where you can talk about spoilery things. Or ask me questions. As you wish.
matociquala: (carnival)
Paul Di Filippo at Scifi.com reviews Carnival, mostly very favorably, some fairly serious spoilers. I think his criticisms are really rather fair, overall (especially the bit about shorting the bacchanal), although I take exception to the word "Utopia."

*g* "Dystopia" isn't quite right either. More a rational exploration of the various ways in which an over-reliance on ideology at the expense of personal freedom can lead to fucked-uppedness.

Let's just say that I wouldn't want to live in either of these societies.

It's not noir, though (not that Paul says it is: I'm just riffing, because I am the most interesting topic I know) or at least I don't think of it as noir. It's not nearly atmospheric enough to be noir--this is linked to the lack of setting problem.

ETA: And an old review I just found for the Jenny books, Christian Sauve mostly worrying about whether I'm going to find the review or not.

...there's some shallow sort of irony there, I guess. Curse you, Google Alerts!

Still, it sounds like he mostly liked it, except for the bad French (TM). Yeah, I've learned my lesson there. No more Franglish for me.

And what he saw as the wandery bits in Hartford.

.
matociquala: (carnival)
If you want to have spoilery conversations or ask questions about Carnival, and you don't want to take it over to [livejournal.com profile] worldwire, you may do it here.

I'll put my fingers in my ears. Unless you don't want me to.
matociquala: (headbang)

...and apparently somebody swiped them from the lobby. Charming; I suspect one of my new neighbors is to blame, as there are reports of some other things going missing recently.

Anyway, I'll get the contract copies soon enough. But. That does mean Carnival is real; it exists; and will be in stores soon. The official release date it Nov. 28th, but things do tend to turn up early. So, yanno, it can't hurt to check. Or ask if they're floating around out back. Or pre-order if they don't have it. Ahem.

I'm really excited about this one. I mean, really, really excited about this one. It's the first novel of mine to be published close enough to being written that I feel like it's a fair current indicator of the state of my writing skills, for one thing, and for another, it's very dear to my heart. (I love all of my children, but there are some I love more than others, and I think I nearly got this one right.)

In other news, I'm up, the coffee is on, I've added my WFC loot to my LibraryThing (LibraryThing *loff*, and thank you northmen for the most useful word in the English language, to wit, "thing."), and I'm about to feed the cat so she leaves me alone for a while and go see just how much of "Chatoyant" I can finish in one day, as I've got the plot figured out and now I just need to write the damned thing. It would be nice to finish, wouldn't it? (Of course, then I need to revise, because it's horribly disjointed right now and I need to figure out a way to get two offstage characters more present early on, but that's all diddling if I can just get a bloody draft.)

Also, if I finish the draft, I can clean the apartment, which badly needs it (yes, I'm far enough gone to use cleaning as a reward, don't ask) and watch a movie tomorrow guilt-free.

Right, time to quit stalling. And yes, I am stalling.

five, four, three, two--

matociquala: (carnival)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] jaylake gave myself and [livejournal.com profile] bravado111 a brief driving tour of Austin. Then there was food with a local writing group, the Slug Tribe, and then... Le Goff. We hit eighties night at Elysium and danced until they threw us out. Man, the club funk may never come out of my vinyl boots.

This morning brings good news. Whiskey & Water is listed on Amazon, though not yet available for pre-order (you can wish-list it, or, yanno, armed with the ISBN, pre-order at your local independent book retailer, should you have one of those.) It's that much closer to being a real book.

Anne my editor has agreed to give me another couple of months to work up a proposal for Dust, so it's due after Christmas. This is vital not so much because of the writing workload of the last year (which has been my lightest year yet) but because of all the Other Stuff that has worn me the heck out--the move, the traveling, the brief flirtation with full-time employment, the... yeah. All that stuff. Also, the book informed me that none of the preliminary work I'd done is any good, and we're starting over from scratch with much cooler and grander worldbuilding. La. *g*

And in even more good news...

A Booklist starred review for Carnival. (thanks to Bill my editor for the heads-up.) This is my first starred review of anything, anywhere, and getting one for a MMPB is making me a little giddy.

Despite the scandal that clouded their last job together, AIs Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones and Vincent Katherinessen have been reunited for a diplomatic mission to New Amazonia. Their ostensibly peaceful mission involves returning priceless art to previous owners, but they've also been sent to find out the secret of New Amazonia's seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. One of them is planning to ensure failure, which will be a blow to the Coalition and also the terrible assessments of the AI governors. New Amazonia challenges them, for while its gynocentric society, though not completely beloved by all, makes their maleness a handicap, their relationship, which is illegal back on Earth, is the only thing that allows them to be diplomats on New Amazonia. More than human politics are in play here, though, for the city, which was left behind by an unknown nonhuman intelligence, has secrets to hide. Bear's exploration of gender stereotypes and the characters' reactions to the rigid expectations of a world of strict gender roles proves fascinating, as does her exploration of political systems gone too far in more than one direction. Her sense of pacing and skill with multifaceted characters prone to all sorts of confused motivations and actions also enrich this action-packed, thought-provoking story.

(N.B. Angelo and Vincent are not AIs. *g* They work for AIs. I suspect an editorial slip-up.)

*has a moment of they like me. they really like me*

Also, I read one and two halves books on the airplane: finished Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town; read Changeling, and started a very snarky and amusing biography: Aleister Crowley: the Beast Demystified, which will serve as part of my eventual backgroudn reading for Patience & Fortitude, Rag & Bone, and Balm & Oil.

I liked both SCtT,SLT and Changeling Rather A Lot. More discussion later, maybe, weather permitting.

*
matociquala: (carnival)
And, as promised, the Publisher's Weekly review of Carnival at Amazon:

It begins:

In this enjoyable, thought-provoking science fiction adventure, interspace ambassadors Vincent Katherinessen and Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones have been sent by the Old Earth Colonial Coalition to the renegade planet of New Amazonia....


*
matociquala: (carnival)
With a bit of grace from Anne-my-editor, I'm able to make the first chapter of Carnival available for free on the interwebs.

I hope you like it. I'm really excited about this one.

The rest of the book ships in the last week of November.

In other news, I am not Bear's diamondlike clarity of focus. I have not done as much today as I wanted, though there was some telephone work stuff, and I did pay my bills--But I have gotten to page 100 of the Undertow revision. As per usual, there's a bunch of stuff Anne wants put in the manuscript that is already in there, because (all together class) I am too goddamned subtle.

But here we go.
matociquala: (carnival)
The cat is farting. I should make coffee and shower so I can get back to the CEM.

And JJA gave me a lovely plug for Carnival at SCI FI Wire. Yeah, I say "sort of" a lot.
matociquala: (softcore nerdporn _ heres_luck)
I was working on the end of Scardown in January and February of 2003. (I tend to write the ends of books out of order--which may be why the end of Undertow is kind of crawling; I haven't actually written the last twenty pages yet, and usually by now I would have.)

It was a creepy synchronicity.

Godspeed, Discovery. Assuming the launch doesn't get scrubbed due to that heater....



I just broke 100,000 words for the year. Man, I have not been writing much in 2006.

But that's okay, because I don't suck! They're all great words! And I've done a lot of other important stuff!

Progress notes for 1 July 2006:

Undertow

New Words:  247
Total Words: 71114 / 81250
Pages: 325
Deadline: August 1
Words per day to meet deadline: 605
Reason for stopping: going to the gym!

Stimulants:  canteloupe
Exercise: going to the gym, and then for a walk.
Mail: My contributor's copy of Subterranean 4 is not in yet, but other contributors have theirs, and it looks quite loffly in a hideously cliched way. Scott Westerfeld has... haiku. ([livejournal.com profile] cristalia, [livejournal.com profile] katallen, I left him a rejection haiku. Because I could.) I of course think you should go buy it, so you can tell me how [livejournal.com profile] papersky's story is. *g*

Best evisceration of one of my short stories ever: SF Crow's Nest hates on Interzone 203, and specifically "Wane." Rarely have I been so succinctly and comprehensively panned.

There was another helping of Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam witch detective. 'Wane' was much the same as the others in the series and unless you're into the sort of thing, you'll treat it with a certain amount of indifference. There was nothing actually wrong with this story, it's just a case of personal preference.

I wonder if he's been rejected by Ellen Datlow? Because I have a small pile of rejections from her that end, more or less, "There is nothing actually wrong with this story, but I'm not going to buy it."

I think I got girl germs on the page. I also think I will now give up trying to explain any potential differences between a witch and a sorcerer.

Also, it looks as if it's official: I'll be reading at KGB on August 16th with William Shunn. (aka [livejournal.com profile] shunn) Come down! Bring a friend! No clue what I'm reading yet--maybe the cockatrice story? It's set in New York....

Today's words Word don't know: apports

Mean Things: spontaneous human combustion
Jerry-rigging: see below, for the continuity patch job.
There's always one more quirk in the character: Michelangelo is such a sexist pig. Just saying. Even when he doesn't mean to be.

Other writing-related work: I completed the page proofs for Carnival and sent in the changes. Hey! I like this book. Fancy that!

Behind the cut, for your amusement, I've reproduced my list of changes. Because, yanno, not everybody gets to see this stuff. I noticed one medium-sized continuity error while I was going over it and managed to cobble together a fix. When you see it, I predict that the published novelists will all wince in sympathy, and the unpublished novelists will wonder "How do you make such a boneheaded mistake? I would never do anything like that."

Heh. You just wait 'til you're in print. That's all I gotta say.

my email to Spectra: )

Books in progress: Martin Cruz Smith, Stallion Gate; Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
matociquala: (headbang)
God this is a terrible sentence. Why did none of you make me fix this sentence in draft?

"Ambient radiance glowed from the walls."

What is that shit?

*contemplates anything the same size that might be better*

Ambient light radiated, maybe. At least then the radiance isn't glowing.

Because what the frell else is radiance going to do? Radiate? Snog?
matociquala: (Default)
This post is a direct result of the synchronicity involved in conversations during the Shadow Man panel I was on at WisCon, my current final reread of Carnival, and the conversation ongoing in comments here.

During that fateful panel, I made a comment that basically boiled down to, "not every book needs to tackle sex and gender issues," and the mighty mighty Aaron Lichtov shot back "Yes they do." I replied that there was only so much you could do in 400 pages, and then we sadly never got to have that brawl, because the panel was ending, but since I'm back working on Carnival again it's very present in my mind.

(Aaron is right, for certain angles on the concept of "right." Every story that involves any kind of gendered creature comments on gender roles somehow, even is just by uncritically repeating the author's preconceptions. And any story that removes gender roles from the equation comments, too.)

On the other hand, right now I am being brought hard up against some of the things I couldn't do in Carnival. Which is a book that's about perceptions of sex ([livejournal.com profile] skzbrust would yell at me for my sloppy use of the word "gender" if he were reading this, and point out that nouns have gender; people have sex. But I'm trying for clarity here, not grammatical accuracy. See? An example of what I mean by the need for compromise.) and sexuality.

For those of you joining us since last year's thrashing, Carnival is the book I got when I decided that it would be really fun to put "When it Changed" and Farnham's Freehold in a box and watch them fight. It's a Libertarian, dystopian, feminist first contact novel that is almost a black farce. That is to say, Peter Watts noticed it was a farce, but I'm not sure anybody else will.

More specifically, it's a book in which a planetload of gunslinging Libertarian women with some crackpot ideas about biology meet a pair of gay diplomats from a repressive, postapocalyptic Earth (eco-terrorist nanites ate all the white people, and the rest of the planet breathed a huge sigh of relief... ) with secret agendas and their own weird ideas about biology.

One of the plot threads revolves around the moral quandary possessing two of my three protagonists. Which is to say, Vincent and Angelo are on this mission because they are lovers, and gay men have a marginally higher status in this particular society than straight men, who have none. The situation is reversed on Earth; homosexuality is a capital crime (they have a lot of capital crimes; refusing genetic surgery is another one, as is unauthorized childbirth), women have a status roughly equivalent to what they had in the West during the Victorian era, and the alpha males fancy they run the place but really the people-eating nanites have the whip hand. Er. So to speak.

Everybody on both sides of the argument assumes that a bunch of things are behaviorally and genetically fixed. Which is to say, they all think that such things as male aggression and sexual preference are hard-wired and immutable.

Now, I'm doing some things to undermine their assumptions (for example, the alert reader will notice that a lot more than 3% of the people we meet on New Amazonia are queer)... but the fact of the matter is that there's a conversation in which Angelo matter-of-factly asserts that what's "wrong" with him could have been cured by prenatal gene therapy if it had been caught at the time. And I know I'm going to get flack for that. Also, the thought experiment I'm setting up is farcical, to the extent that various things asserted by various characters at various times are complete addlepated nonsense (the New Amazonian assertion that gay men are "gentle," for example. Which is, we might add, not exactly backed up by domestic violence stats.).

But I'm not writing nonfiction, so I have to rely on the reader to notice that the characters are frequently a bit dumb, adept at doublethink, false-binary, and culturally blinkered. I mean, the narrative knows it. But in tight third POV, it's really hard to demonstrate the fallacy in various character assumptions.

So here I sit, waiting the next six months to see if it works, or if I screwed it up.
matociquala: (tapestry _ froud)
One of the things that readers ask writers is "Who would play your characters in the movie?" It helps, I think, give a crisp vision to the reader if they know things like that.

For most purposes, in this case, I am absolutely no help. But I have had to learn, you see, because one of the things that editors sometimes ask you is to provide photo references for the cover artist. Now, several of mine still aren't helpful to the casting director (Morgan looks like Brian Froud's "Tapestry" (see icon for a detail of the painting), and Carel is Queen Tiye.) but I did manage to figure out that Matthew looked like Eric Stoltz with more jaw and Julian Rhind-Tutt's Keen Eddie hair, and I guess Claudia Black is about as close as anybody I could picture to Elaine.

Murchaud looks like a taller Ioan Gruffudd with blue eyes. Which, yes, explains a lot about Murchaud. And his social life. And [livejournal.com profile] sosostris2012 nominated Tony Curran for Keith. So now I can point to him, too.

(Oh, and Lucifer, of course, is Tilda Swinton except when he looks like Travis Fimmel. But he's got that knack.)


For the Jenny books, after being asked seventy or eighty times, I realized that Jenny looks like Buffy Sainte-Marie, horribly scarred and with her hair butched. And if I had to name somebody to play Razorface, it would be Michael Clarke Duncan. And of the Carnival crew, I can at least say that Robert looks like Laurence Fishburne in the Othello days.

Other than that, I was more or less sunk.

Until I started writing Undertow. Which, fittingly for a novel that should end with a caper plot, if it all works out, keeps telling me who everybody looks like. Andre looks like Isaac Hayes, but he acts like John Cusack. Jean Kroc is Jean Reno. Timothy Closs is Sidney Poitier, and Jefferson Greene is either a youngish Derek Jacobi playing a heavy (without the toga) or the Kiefer Sutherland of Dark City.

Today, I realized that Nouel Huc is a Korean Jonathan Rhys-Davies in Raiders of the Lost Ark mode, and gave up. This book has apparently decided it's GOING HOLLYWOOD!

At least Cricket only looks like herself. She must have wandered in from a different book.

...and so to bed.
matociquala: (patience)
In case you missed it buried in the muck last night, by the way, the cover art for Carnival is in. And, giving me an excuse to repost, so is the cover art for The Chains That You Refuse.

honking great image files behind the cut. )

I think I definitely won the cover lottery on these two. Also, how geeked am I that, although his face is mostly concealed behind the mask, the millimeter or so of Michelangelo that's visible is definitely melanistic?

***

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