(no subject)

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2004 12:37 am
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (jack)
So I've calmed down a little and actually read through the entire thing. And wow. Am trying very hard not to get worked up again. The gender essentialist stuff in and of itself would piss me off, not even considering that he's using it as a piece of "proof" to further his very fallacious chain of reasoning.

And as [livejournal.com profile] hesychasm so kindly pointed out, [livejournal.com profile] yonmei and [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza have written rebuttals, which is good, because so far they are much more coherent than me.

ETA: I take it back. I am ranting anyway. Because the gender essentialist crap really pisses me off and his whole, oh gay people do have the right to marriage! It's like back in the days of non-interracial marriage -- you do have the right to marriage! Of course, with the small footnote that it is limited to a certain pool of people who look like you! I'm sorry. Yonmei goes into the whole marriage without sex thing but I haven't read far enough to see if she (he? I tend to assume LJ people are female, ironic for my gender essentialist argument) points out that his argument itself is very scarily like the Jim Crow laws. Blacks have the right to sit on buses -- just in the back. Blacks of course have the right to go to school! Just these certain ones though. Because of course the whole separate but equal thing was totally fair.

And I am pissed off beyond the telling at the gender essentialism. Wait, only a father can provide moral groundwork? WTF?! Because we poor women are too weak and coddle the children too much, and of course, we are all freaking the same because we have two X chromosomes? Nothing about cultural influence there, or maybe that the centuries confining women to the home space may have caused this, as opposed to genes. Oh no, a woman, any woman, no matter what, will without fail be coddling and cannot possibly *gasp* reprimand her child to provide a moral framework. Uhh, I'm sorry.... surely it wasn't my mother who taught me lying was bad?

I'm sorry. That's honestly the stupidest thing I've read for a very long time. And I'm not being good and logical about it like I'm sure other LJ people are, but oh well.

Ugh. To think I went to his signing.

(no subject)

Mon, Mar. 22nd, 2004 11:16 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (rocket)
I found this on Jintian's recs pages, and, sigh. Read about half of it before really seeing red.

I hate it when I know too much about the authors and it starts tainting their works.

Lots of books

Sun, Nov. 16th, 2003 06:41 pm
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed today, and wow, it is a scary book, particularly because I am only about $1.50 above what the author was earning at Wal-Mart. And now I'm in a rather pissed off mood, which generally happens after I think about my finances too much. Or at all, come to think of it. So. The book itself isn't some grand sociological speculation on the lives of the working poor in America and how to fix the problem, or even much on what the problem is anyhow. There isn't that much analysis at all involved. Instead, it's a gripping, riveting, and very frightening look at Ehrenreich's attempts to live on low-wage jobs in three different places. She works as a waitress, a maid and in Wal-Mart, and she makes it clear just how hard it is to get by on those types of jobs without some sort of external help, be it holding down two jobs, relying partly on a spouse or family, etc. Some of the things she talks about with I remember from waitressing in Charter, esp. the general meanness toward the customers that can seep in, especially with difficult ones. And I was working with friends, without having management monitor my every move. Anyhow, it was a book that scared me greatly. Now just watch me give it to the boy to read... one can already see a giant political argument in the works.

Also read Why Is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond of Guns, Germs and Steel fame. It was a fun, almost frothy non-fiction book... I find I'm reading a lot more non-fiction lately, probably because I keep running across fun looking ones in the bookstore. Generally, when I go to the library or to other bookstores, I make a beeline to the scifi section, but now I'm sorting through all sorts of books. Anyhow. It reads a lot like Guns, Germs and Steel in that Diamond makes me feel that all his arguments are quite logical, with the sort of fun, goofy voice that was in the other book. Why Is Sex Fun? is basically a look at the "weirdness" of human sexuality in terms of the animal kingdom -- our prediliction to have sex despite fertility levels, menopause, monogamy, and other such things -- and how evolution favored the traits that led to our sex lives today. Diamond occasionally risks falling into the biological determinism of the sexes trap several times in the book, despite his liberalism, but in general manages to stay out of the pit. I think while mostly the book is interesting, it loses ground whenever Diamond tries to apply the evolutionary causes of various traits to life today without addressing the issue of determinism (something that I felt he didn't quite address in Guns, Germ, and Steel as well).

Bought and read Anne Bishop's The House of Gaian, the last book of the Tir Alainn trilogy, mostly because I already have the first two. Unfortunately, the world of this trilogy isn't half as stunning or interesting as that of the Black Jewels trilogy to me, probably because I was fascinated with the way the Black Jewels trilogy took some very typical fantasy tropes -- levels of magic/strength, etc -- and turned it upside down by having an entire society devoted to the Darkness, etc. Unfortunately, the bad things about the Black Jewels trilogy haven't been changed in the Tir Alainn one, and the world that was so dark has also disappeared. Instead, we have what I fear is a reversion to the Mercedes Lackey type universe (sorry ML fans), in which the good guys wear white cowboy hats and are not only Good, but also Right and Nice (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] butterfly I think who came with the Terry Pratchett article on that). I felt the Black Jewels trilogy was able to somewhat sidestep this problem because the society in general there was so dark, and the characters of Daemon, Lucivar and Saetan weren't exactly pushovers. And while Jaenelle's court was a little too Mary Sue-ish, there was that feeling of overwhelming power and of danger. Here, though, the witches are in a fight for their lives (and are quite obviously in the right), while their main enemies are the witch hunters of Wolfram, who commit atrocities against women. People who don't help the witches are evil at worst, selfish and foolhardy and bitchy at best, and the ones who do help all seem to achieve a sort of understand (except, of course, for the times when a misunderstanding proves more fun... aka a brother is overprotective about his sister's new lover). And talking about it with Cyrus pinned my thoughts on it -- no one really grows, because everyone who we are supposed to like already is Good and Right and Nice (some less Nice). Although Cyrus may have liked this one better than the Black Jewels trilogy (Cy? Do you?) thanks to the completely undisguised hegemony of women in the latter. I feel this one is more carefully disguised, although, as you can tell from the villain, feminism isn't really a background issue. And while in principle I don't have a problem with this, having read waaaaay too many Robert Jordan/Tokien-esque fantasies in which females are either non-existent or horrible caricatures of themselves, I can see how this would bug people. I was much more able to see the female hierarchy in Black Jewels as an interesting what-if type society, although I can very much see an argument about biological determinism and etc. But then, there is so much of that in fantasy already (Elves, Dwarves, various stereotypes, etc).

Also saw Orson Scott Card on Thurs. and got two copies of Ender's Game signed (one is my old copy that's pretty ugly, one is shiny and new, to be kept untouched). It was rather odd. The boy though OSC sounded exactly like his books, while I was a bit surprised. Of course, it was also strange (kind of like meeting LJ people in real life) because I was listening to him gripe out loud about things he had written about in various intros and author's notes in his books. So much like for LJ people, in which my brain does things like, Oh look, Masq brought Harry Potter to the Board meet. I remember reading about the trouble she had in getting in, and feeling kind of odd bringing it up because of the cross of LJ and real life, my brain was compiling: ah, this spiel is from the intro of Pastwatch. Ah, I remember this from Shadow of the Hegemon. Ah, this is from the intro to "Blue Genes in Space" or a title like that. It's a bit odd, because I feel almost as though I've been picking OSC's brain for quite some time, while he quite obviously doesn't know me at all. He's much louder than I expected, and in general seemed personable, with a tendency to assume that he easily offended people. Course, I can see this reaction as happening because some of his politics/thoughts can be rather controversial -- America already in a long decline much like that of Rome, the wrongness of ultra-PC people condemning Columbus, war as a necessity (probably particularly controversial to people with very different interpretations of Ender's Game). I also was wondering if he ever got annoyed that everyone wanted to talk about Ender, despite the fact that he was out touring because of The Crystal City and the Alvin series, which he admitted as being the one he enjoys writing the most. Anyway, so my brain had tons of thoughts on public and private personas, and how the distance and the not-quite distance between an author and the people who read his/her books can be somewhat like the not-quite distance of LJ. Speaking of which, I am a little curious about the phone post thing, but mostly shying away from it. I think I write more intelligently than I talk, which is really saying something, considering the random, stream of consciousness nature of how I write. You don't want to hear me babble. Really.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (book addict)
Well, sadly, Crystal City hasn't revived my nascent interest in the Alvin series, although I can almost sense Card trying to take the story back to where it began by suddenly remembering things like the Unmaker, Taleswapper, Tenskwa-tawa, and others. I may be exaggerating though, as I haven't read Alvin Journeyman and Heartfire in a while. The book also felt very short and abrupt, although that could also be because I read it in a night. And yet, what really happens? We have the Crystal City (finally!). Alvin has freed some slaves/helped people. Verily doesn't do anything. Margaret doesn't do anything. Calvin whines a lot. Arthur Stuart does some stuff. And what should have been miraculous and awe-inspiring, like Alvin's bridge, was perhaps glossed over or gone over too fast. In fact, I feel kind of as though this book were the first hundred pages of a rather weighty novel dealing in weighty things, except Card hasn't gotten there yet. And I'm quite frustrated, because I've been waiting for him to get there for almost eight years or more! Sigh.

Once an Angel didn't revive much interest either. First though, why didn't anyone tell me it was inspired by A Little Princess? I loved that book! (ooo, must dig up a copy of my own now) I think I might have liked it better had I not expected a tortured heroine. For anyone just wandering in, tortured heroines are my thing, especially when they're emotionally withdrawn (like the typical romance hero). I think Emily was tortured, but I didn't quite feel her to be so, because the things she did appeared to me to be exaggerations of things that "spunky" heroines (who I usually want to strangle) will do. Also: she rescues puppies. I didn't get a sense of much moral quandry or even real hate/ambivalence toward Justin. I did enjoy lots of the Little Princess scenes -- the name Emily (was the Carew girl named Emily as well as Sara's doll?), Emily's doll, Tansy/Becky crawling from under the table after Miss Amelia/Minchin breaks the news to Emily... I have to admit I got a little confused wiht the names too... I think Medeiros squashed Miss Minchin and Miss Amelia into one character. She also got rid of the two characteristics I loved the most about Sara, her love of books/knowledge and her iron control over her emotions. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Sara tells herself that there's nothing as strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in. This is something I can't see Emily the impulsive doing. I guess too many typical cute romance scenes when I was looking for giant angst (Emily chases a lizard! She breaks a tea set! She conquers the nice natives! etc). I actually haven't read the final chapter yet because I ran to the bookcase and read bits of Kinsale's The Prince of Midnight, which pretty much always takes care of my need for angst.

Despite being slightly disappointed with the book, I had a wonderful what-if in my head: what if the Magic never happened to Sara? What if Ermengarde's father took her out of the school? Or what if Sara simply continued to freeze out Ermengarde, Lottie and Becky? Year by year, she grows more bitter and more tired, and her stories of the Bastille and the Magic and her belief in stories begins to fade. She's tired of watching Melchisedec's family die, of watching the Large Family grow up happily. She's forever hungry, not only for food, but for books and words and new ideas. She's afraid that she's really become nothing but a beggar girl, and she can't remember India much anymore because of the London fog. She's so angry at life she wakes up with blood on her lips, and she's tired of the unending monotony of her days. And every night, she stands with her head poking through the skylight, and she wishes for something to take her away. She wants to fly, like the sparrows, and sometimes she can almost convince herself that tonight, she can conquer gravity. And if not, maybe that wouldn't be so bad either.

!!!

Sun, Nov. 9th, 2003 07:17 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (book addict)
Orson Scott Card is coming here!! Well, here as in the San Jose Barnes and Noble on the 13th! And I can actually make it and hopefully get my copy of Ender's Game signed and listen to him and meet an author! I am quite excited ^_^. I've never been able to go to one of these signings before as most authors I read don't tour in Taiwan. Or in Princeton it seems. I'm kind of scared to go because I've read some of his essays on his site and an interview with him in Salon, and I feel I'm not sure I actually want to hear what was going on in his mind when he wrote the books because it seems to very much disagree with what I see in them. So I don't want to have that impression in my head forever when reading the books, unlike Neil Gaiman, who seems from his blog to be quite personable and as quirky and as interesting as his writing suggests. But I'm going anyway because I really want a signed book, hee. And I've never gotten to do the fannish thing before.

Loot from Barnes and Noble: Anne Bishop's The House of Gaian, which hopefully will be better than the middle book of the trilogy; Teresa Medeiros' Once an Angel; the last fairy tale anthology edited by Datlow and Windling. Black something Ivory something? I always get the titles confused. Splurged and got it even though it was in trade because I love the anthology series very much.

Drooled over: Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which I very desperately want to read, but will wait patiently until a) the library copy is up for grabs b) the bookstore gets one or c) it comes out in paper. Generally this all happens at the same time, go fig. Also, saw the new Bujold book Paladin of Souls and really really really wanted to get it. The description looked interesting, the cover is quite gorgeous, then there was the added factor of a blurb from DWJ and several friends already talking about Bujold... didn't get it though, am still waiting. I'm pretty stingy with books (at least the non-mass-market ones) because I would be so broke if I weren't. If I don't see it soon in my bookstore with the employee discount, I'm probably going to end up splurging...

I haven't been on LJ lately because I've been buried in Jaqueline Carey's Kushiel's Avatar, which I finally got from the library. More here )

And now, onto the beginning of The Crystal City: here )

Alias up to Phase One )

(no subject)

Tue, Jul. 15th, 2003 09:22 pm
oyceter: Delirium from Sandman with caption "That and the burning baby fish swimming all round your head" (delirium)
!!! I just found out some people are trying to make The Last Unicorn into a live action movie! I desperately hope it will be good. I loved the animated version when I was a kid, and when I found it was a book first, I was ecstatic.

I finished rereading Ender's Game for the who knows how many time. I still love it. I first read it summer of sixth grade, and it affected me so much I felt unreal and disconnected for about a week, as though my world of summer school was the fantasy and Ender's world of Battle School and war games was real. I think I've finally figured out why Ender's Game continues to hit me so hard time after time and why I resent Ender's Shadow.

I love Ender because he's always alone. And he doesn't want to be alone, just like everyone else, he wants to be accepted, he wants to be liked. But he finds that his talents and his genius set him apart from others, and the teachers and administrators behind the war effort won't leave him alone and insist on setting him off. I love Ender because his abilities so often feel like a dead weight to him. It sounds horribly whiny, and in another story, I would maybe feel like Ender didn't appreciate all the good things he had and all, his brain, his insight. But Card somehow writes Ender so that I never do think that. Instead, Ender reminds me a lot of how I felt back in school, how everything was relentlessly focused on getting into an Ivy League school, of having the best grades and of never, ever failing. Unlike Ender, the earth wasn't about to get run over by aliens if I failed, but the pressure was still there all the time. And like Ender, when there's too much riding on something, I can freeze. I get so tied up in the need to not fail that I can't even begin. I hated being the smart one in my class even as I loved it. I hated that everyone expected me to keep doing well, that no one ever really believed that I was petrified of failure. I hated the distance that it could put between me and other people who wanted to be first.

Ender's isolation speaks volumes to me, especially the fact that he is utterly alone because only he can do what he's been trained to do, because he's been taught again and again and again that there is no one but him. There is no one he can rely on, there are no friends he can lean on. And that is his tragedy.

And that's why I resent Ender's Shadow, which tells the story of Bean. And while it may be a great book by itself, I refuse to think of it as the other side of Ender's Game. I think instead I'll think of Ender's Game, Speaker of the Dead, Xenocide and Children of the Mind as one series, and Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon and Shadow Puppets as another series taking place in a universe parallel to the one of Ender's Game. But still a different universe. Because Card seems to have gotten tired of Ender, and I haven't. He makes Bean smarter and faster than Ender, which completely ruins the thesis of Ender's Game for me. Because Ender's sadness lies in the fact that he has to be alone because no one else is as smart, as ruthless, and as empathic as he is. And I don't like how Card made Bean, the nice, almost normal child of the first book, into a strange, alien, almost mechanical character in his own book. Bean's too smart, he's too fast, and he has no real human emotions outside of a fear of Achilles. And I hated how Card undermined the weight of Ender's final decision to blow up the bugger homeworld by having Bean be the one who relayed the order. I just thought there could have been a book on Bean that would have made Bean interesting without having to tear down Ender's image.

And I'm not even going to get started with the issue of Peter.

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