- J is for Eloisa James – Olivia Waite discusses The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James and the book sounds awful. It sounds as bad as the one James novel I read that combined ableism, racism, colonialism, a stereotypical gay man and a lying, patronizing heroine. Not recommended.
As we saw with Sandra Hill’s book at the start of this week, it’s profoundly dehumanizing to turn experiences of secondary characters’ oppression into a metaphor for your privileged hero and heroine. It’s equally dehumanizing to kill off a disabled character for the sake of an able-bodied protagonist’s emotional journey. TVTropes calls it Bury Your Disabled, and it reduces the disabled person to the level of a prop for abled characters’ development or convenience. I really feel angered to have to lay this out plainly for a professor of literature in the year 2014. It’s especially frustrating in light of the fact that Rupert’s own story, of which we see hints, looks fascinating: he has led a band of misfit soldiers, several of whom are also disabled in various ways, into an unlikely and significant victory. This is a tale that would be worth the telling, a historical heist with a diverse cast and a unique plot. Instead, we are left with the old cliché of the Inspirationally Disadvantaged character, and his death becomes deeply, distressingly fetishized
- List of Sci-Fi Romance Non-Jerk Heroes – Heather Massey pens an essential list of heroes who aren’t jerks. I love this genre.
A few days ago, author Ros Clarke fielded the idea of putting out a call “for suggestions of books with non-jerk heroes to read next” (contemporary/historical romances). I’m guessing this was for a book club.
At any rate, seeing her tweet reminded me of just how many non-jerk heroes I encounter in science fiction romance. In my experience, non-jerk heroes are the default in SFR. Therefore, I culled a list of non-jerk heroes from the books I’ve read!
Here are some titles to start us off. It’s by no means inclusive and is in random order.
- How Book Blogging has Changed Us – Oh, this post is so accurate for me. I barely remember those days where I read for pleasure and without worrying about being able to review it for the blog.
Before Becoming a Book Blogger: I was happy take random suggestions on books to read. Hence my BFF owing me hours back in my life for reading for reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. (And Sparky is still planning epic revenge for the one who bought him the Sword of Truth series)
And Now?: Oprah’s book, or random recommendations are not going to cut. I head straight to Goodreads and read the reviews, google the author, check out the author’s webpage and even read a sample chapter or two before committing. When you are short of time and have a pace to keep up, you don’t have time to just pick up a book because some random person thought it might be up your alley.
And if it’s outside the genre? I don’t care if reading it causes spontaneous multiple orgasms, it isn’t clogging up the to read pile!
- My final word on content warnings – I’m linking this as a discussion topic, not an endorsement. I happen to think content notes or warnings are a good thing and something innovative fan fiction gave us. I mean, what’s more patronizing: alerting a reader to objectionable content and letting her decide if she wants to read it or refusing to indicate the content because you think readers should be challenged and leave their comfort zone?
But as a person who is also a reader? They infuriate me. It’s belittling and degrading to me, as a reader. How dare they assume that I, or any other person intelligent, educated, and motivated enough to pick up a book and read, need to be protected from anything, for any reason, much less protected by them? How dare they try to paint me a hapless and passive victim of the media I seek out? How dare they assume the authority to know what is objectionable and what isn’t, to designate some literature safe and other literature as something people need to be warned away from?
- Reviews, Reviewing, Reviewers and Gender – Fantasy author Juliet E. McKenna discusses the most recent issue of the British Science Fiction Association’s journal and how 17 of the 19 authors reviewed were male. Publications really need to stop behaving as though unequal gender (or whatever) ratios just happen, they’re the result of the decisions they make. The solution in this case is easy: just seek out and review more women. Problem solved.
This matters because while, yes, overall, every reader and reviewer will be different, irrespective of gender, there are definitely some things which male and female readers will notice differently. Two of the titles reviewed in this edition of Vector are SF novels I have read, where the female characters play into long-standing and unhelpful stereotypes and those women all lack agency to a greater or lesser extent. Neither male reviewer mentioned this aspect, either because they didn’t notice or because they didn’t consider it significant. It’s significant to me, particularly when there are fine SF writers out there, male and female, who manage to write convincingly independent women characters who initiate action and avoid such dated roles within a story. So any review of either novel which I wrote would be very different.
- My Cane is Not A Costume – Convention Exclusions and Ways to Think About Oppression at Cons – Canadian blogger Derek Newman-Stille has a great post about con accessibility and creating welcoming spaces for a wide variety of con attendees.
Our society seems to have become one that believes that disability means “disability perks”, that somehow because the larger bathroom stall is marked with a disabled sign and the closest parking space has a disabled sign, that this means that disabled people are getting “perks”, “extras”, things that the able bodied don’t get. I think a lot of people forget that this is because we need more space to maneuver our slightly different bodies, we need closer spaces to keep our pain levels down or give us room to exit our vehicles by chair. Rather than paying attention to the needs of bodily difference, there is an assumption that “fair” means “the same”, without understanding that my “day’s activity” may cause me debilitating pain where an able-bodied person’s “day’s activity” won’t. I may need to sit. I may need to rest. I may need to not be pushed or shoved because these cause extra pain on a body that is already stretched to its tolerance limits so that I can enjoy the same con, share my experiences with other conventioners, and maybe even give some panels that will entertain.
The following two tabs change content below.
An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.