Thursday, December 13, 2012

Narcissus in Chains--chapter seven

I remember reading on a feminist thing that the biggest difference between a male writer writing a woman and a female writer writing a woman is the male writer writes as if the woman is aware of just how many goosebumps she's got on her breasts at this particular moment. Since then I have paid attention to this, and it is sometimes true. Sometimes it is not. It most frequently crops up when the writer is trying to write about a woman, as opposed to just writing a woman. John Ringo has many, many, many many many MANY issues with women (...I read Ghost, okay? I read Ghost more than once.) but he has not, to my knowledge, done that "feel of the fabric brushing across her small breasts" thing that a lot of male writers do (...given that his sci fi novels have a tendancy to devolve into either harem scenes, BDSM orgies or all of the above, I guess he figures he doesn't have to) (Also: WHERE IS THE NEXT COUNCIL WARS BOOK?!?)

Why do I bring this up?

Jamil paced up the stairs on point, his muscular upper body showing in tantalizing glimpses through a series of black leather straps. The pants fit his narrow hips like a second skin, and I’d learned long ago from watching Jean-Claude undress that you didn’t get that smooth line if there was underwear between the skin and the pants.
Also, forgive me, but I read "on point" as "toe shoes" and I now have the image of a BDSM punk racing up a staircase with pink toe shoes wrapped around his calves.

Objectification of men is not the solution to equality between the sexes. Also? this Jamal has waist leingth corn rows. He either has the world's most patient hair dresser or he is vain up the wazoo.

So they're up in the hallway running after Anita's missing leopards, and the truely disturbing thing is, I recognise some of the men she's got with her from the later books, and it does not fill me with confidence. Anita also proves she is a self-centered, egotistical bitch by rambling in her head how she'd rather have Asher be with Narcissus as gallant self-sacrifice, rather than because Asher actually wants to be there. Because nobody else deserves to have self- fulfillment. Fuck you, 'Nita.

The description of the companions continues. Apparently knowing that spraypaint shirts are in this year is more important than RESCUING THE FUCKING WERELEOPARDS. Also:

Her leather top showed a very discreet line of flesh from neck to waist where a belt cinched in her tiny waist. Her breasts seemed to stay magically on either side of the line of skin, as if they were held in place by something more than a bra.
It took three read-throughs for me to understand that this character has Elvira's neckline and is using boob tape to keep "the girls" from coming out to play. It's so delicately and carefully described that it makes no sense whatsoever. For someone who has written porn for the last twenty years, LKH has some real issues with describing actual nudity. And sex, for that matter.

And it still amazes me how we're having to rescue wereleopards from other weres. If these were chickens or geese or baby hippos I could understand. But they're leopards. Big scary cats who WILL eat you. There is one eating people in India right now. They are not pretty kitties purring on the rocks.

(Speaking of which, I saw Life of Pi the other day, it was FUCKING INCREDIBLE, and you all need to go see it, every one of you, but most importantly the tiger. Oh my god, the tiger. They did not humanize the tiger one little tiny bit, and you realize how scary-wonderful those cats are. They are not pets. They will never be pets.)

Right. Sucky book. *sigh*

So they finally get to the door, and one of the vampires decides to stand in front of it when they go in. Anita legitmately points out that the idiots inside were armed and may still be armed, and it's stupid to stand in front of a door someone might shoot through at any second. The vampire (Faust) decides it's more important to prove he has a bigger penis and just...stands there.

Nothing shoots through the door, so they all go inside and discover it's the knife room. No. Seriously:

The room was white— white floor, white ceiling, white walls— like a room carved of hard snow. There were blades on the walls— knives, swords, daggers, tiny glittering blades, swords the length of a tall man. The bodyguard by the door said, “Welcome to the room of swords.” It sounded formal, like he was supposed to say it.
Also? Laurell? Hard snow is called "ice". You might need to check your thesaurus for that one, though.

And they are greeted by a werelion, and then a weresnake, and then by Gregory the wereleopard chained up and bleeding. Apparently the weresnake came here looking for wereswans Aka "Swanmanes" and figured the dude they were playing with was their leader, when instead it was one of Anita's leopards.

So far we have:

Actually I think that last one would be kind of cool. There is flying and dancing and whenever somebody tries to go "oooh, lookit the pretty birdy, lookit the pretty birdy" you can break both their legs.

I want a weresheep, though. If we can have all of those, I demand a weresheep. Merino breed. Because every time it shape shifts it grows a whole new coat to sheer. I would live with being a weresheep if it meant I got a lifetime supply of merino wool to play with.

Right. Sucky book.

So the weresnake and his people tormented Gregory by cutting at his...yeah, I'll stop there. Let's just say they hurt him bad, and Anita rushes to get him off the wall. The bad guys in the room use this moment to attack her. The other guards leap to her defense and...uh...

...yeah. Okay, time to discuss the shit I'm not that good at.

The concept of a partial change was brought up in chapter six. When Narcissus is trying to force Anita to shift, he starts shifting himself. Anita comments on it:

The really powerful alphas could do that, partial changes.
It's hinted at that being an Alpha gives you power over the whole pack and allows you to draw power from it. This sentence, then, implies that this is something only alphas can do. However, in chapter seven ,this happens:

The really powerful shapeshifters could do that— partially change at will.
Right now, I'm editing Planet Bob. I've got the first set of edits written out, and I'm typing them into the computer now. Probably as you're reading this. The way I edit is pretty simple. I print it out and read it, because editing on a computer makes me feel claustrophobic. I mark it up using a red pen and post-it notes for things like names and quotes that I'm not sure about. When I've gotten all my edits entered into the computer, I print it out and read it again, make lots of marks on the pages and so on. When I'm making maybe one mark every ten pages, I give it to somebody else to read. When they give it back, I go through their suggestions, discard the tiny handful that are less "this doesn't work" and more "this isn't to my taste" (these are usually the ones that add words rather than remove them) and use the rest.

I run into things like this alphas/shapeshifters mess ALL THE TIME in my own writing. But I fix it, because this? This is a really important point. Can ONLY the alphas shift, or can other shapeshifters shift too? Which one is it? This isn't something basic that an editor should catch. This is something basic that the author should catch, LONG before it goes to the editor.

Okay, moving on.

So they have a sword fight in the knife room, and Anita draws on Jean Claude's memory of fighting to survive. It's cheating but I'll give it because Anita herself gets pretty fucked up in the process. The snake dude gets pretty upset, though, and Anita sees why. They used Nathanial as a sword pin cushion, and he's still alive because he's a were and weres tend to do that.

I am not posting the description of this, and you cannot make me. It's that bad.

But I'm not criticizing this moment itself. Sometimes very bad things happen, and characters need to be able to deal with very bad things. This whole thing has been leading up to something bad happening to Nathanial anyway. Anita is very calm, very collected about it, which would normally indicate that a number of people are either going to hurt or become dead. Which I could agree with. Narcissus's guards are all like, "We don't owe you an excuse". In a normal universe the main character would reply, "You fucking well do, this is a human being, you Lion King reject, now get off your fucking ass and go call an ambulance before I go all Van Helsing on your tail."  but Anita does not.

The problem with the violence is it's accepted as part of this world. Anita is the outsider, not the voice of reason. Other people get to be playthings, not people. Anita does wind up rescuing everyone, but the concequences of that rescue are negative, as if she has done something wrong. The leadership of this world--Jean Claude and Richard included--shrug their shoulders and go, this is the way of the world. And it's that attitude--Nathanial was penetrated by multiple swords? it's alright. He'll heal--that makes the violence in this book more than a little unforgivable. It's violence that is accepted for the sake of retaining power, and that is such utter bullshit.

I jumpped series from Anita Blake to Mercedes Thompson. Mercy is an entirely different kettle of fish. First you have Mercy herself, who is a werecoyote (somewhat) and a mechanic. Then you have Adam Hauptman, the local werewolf alpha, who is bad-ass, and Stefan, her vampire contact, who is not a good guy but who somehow...still is a good guy (it's complicated. He has a volkswagon van painted like the mystery machine. As in Scooby Doo) And then you have Bran, aka the Marrok, the Alpha of All Alphas in the United States. You do not fuck with Bran. Bran helped raise Mercy when Mercy's mom realized she couldn't handle having a coyote for a daughter. Adam is scary. Stefan is scarier. Mercy isn't all that scary at all, but you don't fuck with her because if you're  fucking with her, you're fucking with Bran, and as I said, you don't fuck with Bran.

So if it were Mercy in this situation, with Adam instead of Richard and Stefan instead of Jean Claude? Narcissus would not have been all "Give me presents or the leopard gets it". He would have been all "'re the coyote that Bran raised? And you can tell Bran what's going on...oh, shit. Go get your Leopards. No, wait, sit here, have some tea, I'm going to send a medic up to their room right now. No, no, don't get up."

And even then, Bran would probably fly in to personally disassemble that little club. Bran's potential for violence in the Mercyverse shuts down more violence than it causes because, as I said before, you do not fuck with Bran. And Bran, meanwhile, shows up on your doorstep looking like the pizza delivery boy you forgot to tip last week.

Violence in the Anitaverse? It's just something that, you know, happens. get over it.

No thank you, Ms. Blake.

So Anita tries to take the swans with her, and gets attacked again. There are big snakes and leopards and feathers flying everywhere, and then...

...Anita passes out from blood loss.

Of course she does.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding your first paragraph - I could easily see it being appropriate for a female character to be aware of goosebumps or cloth or whatever regarding her breasts. In a sex scene. But yeah, that or similar Awarenesses appear in a lot of places where they just don't belong. "Have I mentioned today that I have breasts? Allow me to point them out to you again?"

    (Note to John Barnes - Yes we are aware that thirteen year old girls have clits. But that doesn't mean we needed a masturbation scene focusing on said thirteen year old girl's Jane Thomas)

    As for the rest of the chapter - The only thing I take away from this is an image of Crossdressing Goth June Cleaver rolling his eyes and tapping his foot and sighing heavily while saying things like "Will someone *please* just get on with the sexing already?!"