Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 17

Something positive before we start, because GOD this stuff is garbage. I've been reading Gandhi's autobiography. I usually avoid the stories of uber-special people because I don't like feeling like I'm picking my reading to be special. You should read what you like, no matter how uplifting or problematic it might be, and you should be honest about how you enjoy it no matter how good it looks. I like John Ringo's work, and will continue to like his work no matter how awful he gets because damn it I like his work. And I'm reading the autobiography of one of the best people that ever lived because it sounds like he was as obsessed with spinning as I am.

Anyhoo, there's only one little tiny part of it that bugs me so far, and maybe it's a cultural thing, and maybe it isn't. The ideal that a child's first loyalty ought to be towards their parents. Yeah. No. Well, in an ideal world where people don't suck, your first priority should be other people. Parents, partners and children, then friends and strangers. But that just doesn't work. Unchecked unselfishness is just as bad as selfishness, and vice-versa. And if you apply the virtue of selfless love to a dysfunctional're fucked.

An individual's first priority in the world has to be themselves. It's not "love everybody with no thought for yourself" it's "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." And if you don't know how to do that last part, how can you do the first? Same thing with "do unto others". Self sacrifice only has meaning if you want the same things you are sacrificing for. If I choose to be in poverty because it does something for me--brings me closer to god, gives me time to write, whatever--it has no meaning beyond what it does for me (See: JK Rowling choosing to be on welfare so she could write Harry Potter. Now she has all the money) But if I choose to go without so that somebody else can have, that does have meaning. It's saying "I want to be well fed, so I'm going to give up part of my meal so that you can be well fed too." "I want to be cared for, so I'm going to care for you." "I want to be accepted for who I am, so I'm going to accept you."

In other words:

There. There's your happy thought  for the day. Now, you might want to put it in a safe, velvet lined box so it doesn't get any sucky stuff on it.

Merry is crawling across a bed.

...can I go back to talking about how to act like a real human? Because I don't think I want to do this.

No, no, it's okay, she's just doing a "business call" with Queen Niceven. From her bedroom. From her bed, while being draped with naked men.

Because using other people as props is totally alright.

Also? Merry has apparently taken time to coordinate her bedroom in all the shades of dead roses. Because the text decided we needed to know every single detail about her pillows. And I have to say it, the thing that has probably contributed the most to the decline of Western civilization is the advent of Better Homes and Gardens. Yes, folks. The world will fucking end if you don't have a twenty piece pillow sham and comforter set with matching dust ruffles. (Or to quote The Narrator from Fight Club: The people I know who used to sit in the bathroom with pornography, now they sit in the bathroom with their IKEA furniture catalog. Where is Tyler Durden when we need him?)

 So Niceven says she's been waiting for Merry to call because she "knows (her) fondness for the green knight" and--NO. OH NO. OH HELL NO. OH FUCK NO. FUCK FUCK NO, MERRY.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Okay, so there will be business in this post, a very fucking premature announcement. You guys can consider the entire Exiles stories released so far to be one book. And there's going to be two more, and the next one I am basing on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight because it is a fucking beautiful narrative about honor and honoring promises and the imagry. OH MY GOD THE IMAGERY.  It's a poem that does this:

And they gazed at him a long moment, amazed. 
Everyone wondered what it might mean 
That a man and his mount could both be coloured 
The green of sprouting grass, and even greener— 
Like emerald enamel that glowed on a
ground of gold.

Being invoked in a book that compares a brown skin tone to rotting leaves and is basically a self insert sex story with every slightly shiny object in Celtic-British-Germanic mythology ever.

(And for the record, if you ever want to study the power of alliteration, Read Gawain. Rhymes are few and far between, so the poem depends on the simularities of the words within the stanza. The whole gazed-moment-amazed thing kind of makes me giddy with how awesome it is)

I am now devoutly hoping that LKH didn't get sick of borrowing dieties from her "Witch's Encyclopedia of Celtic Gods" or whatever reference book she's using, and that she hasn't just jumped straight into Arthurian legand fan-fic, but that hope is on life support. If you're playing in the universe of Celtic and English mythology as fuel for your fairy tale porno, "The green knight" is very specific imagry.

(At least it isn't Taliessin through Logres. I'd really have a shit fit then)

 Anyway, Merry asks for healing for Galen. Niceven continues desecrating the classics and insisting that Cel wants (sigh) the "Green Knight" to remain injured.

LKH, you are comparing a dude who just cooked dinner in jeans, a lacy apron and nothing else to a fairy knight who had his own head chopped off to prove a point to king Arthur, and then walked out of Camelot carrying his head under his own arm. Galen =/= the Green Knight. STOP INVOKING SOMETHING AWESOME FOR YOUR SHITTY PORN STORY. 

And as the conversation continues, the guys start making out with Merry.

Has anybody else seen "Save the Last Dance?" I hated it, mostly because "OOOH INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIP" and admittedly cool dancing (that only happens at the fucking END of this supposed "dance movie" does not make up for a shitty, shitty story. (ooooh, the white girl saves the black boy from a life of crime and jail with the power of love and dancy-dancy-ness. Because the fact that he got into fucking medical school and is way smarter than his idiot gangster friends isn't enough to keep him from being a dumbass. Thank you movie. Thank you.) But there was a scene where a little old lady gets offended at the black boy and white girl sitting together on the bus (actually, the black boy and white girl assume the little old lady is offended re: race and not, you know, a little old grumpy lady frowning because her knee hurts or she just found out her daughter has cancer or something, and she happened to be looking in their direction while thinking about death and chemo and arthritus and stuff) and so the boy and girl start making out in front of her because that's the really mature way to prove that you are better than a racist. Yeah. This scene here? It's exactly like that. It's not sexy. It's the genital equivilant of waving your tongue around while muttering "Neener neener neener."

Niceven is apparently really horny, though, and watching the boys sex up Merry is all it takes to get her hot and bothered. WOW. We totally couldn't have had a scene involving faerie politics without having sex thrown in as a seasoning.

This is a porn book. Can we please just have porn for porn's sake, and stop getting it all over everything? YOU DO NOT NEED TO JUSTIFY YOUR PRIMARY CHARACTER HAVING SEX.

So the make out session continues until Niceven finally asks what she can get in trade for "Making the Green Knight whole."

( the end of Sir Gawain he surrenders himself to the knight to have his own head chopped off--it's complicated--and the Knight, having proved that when it comes to his own self-interest Gawain isn't above lying his ass off, just gives him a little tiny touch with the axe and explains everything that just happened, then sends him home to Think About Things. It's a story about honesty and honor, and yes, they throw the whole thing on Morgan's doorstep at the end and it's problematic and it doesn't degrade my enjoyment of Gawain one iota because at least Morgan had the guts to actually screw with her brother and try to scare the utter living shit out of Gwenivere. I'm stuck in a book with a female character who doesn't do shit. SIR GAWAIN DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE INVOKED HERE.) 

(...and in case you interpret the "screw" part literally, that was Morgause, not Morgan. We're leaving Mordred and incest out of this conversation)  

(Can I please start discussing the female figures in arthurian mythology, please? It might be misogynistic but it sure as fuck is better than this shit. Please? Please?)

( about the Christ figures in the Grail cycle? I know at least one of them was a woman. Please?)



I don't think I've addressed how fucking bad the dialogue in this book is. Oh, I discussed the "give me your guns" "no" nonsense, but the narrative in this book is just awful. Here's an example:

“What would Queen Niceven of the Diminutive Fey want from Princess Meredith of the Unseelie Court in return for curing her knight?” I’d purposefully put both our titles in the same sentence, emphasizing that I knew she was queen and I was not. I was hoping to make up for Frost’s outburst.

All the problems are in the tail that dialogue is wagging. Let's see: Telling instead of showing, check; stating the very fucking obvious, check; adding more information than the reader needs to enjoy the story, check check check fucking check.

Then Merry tries to tempt the Queen to cure Galen by offering her sex:

I turned my eyes toward her, knew the effect that those tricolored green and gold eyes could have through a frame of blood auburn hair, coupled with glimpses of skin like polished alabaster.

Your Mary Sue makes Lisa Frank's artwork look restrained, Laurell. And it's important to note: Merry is not offering to let Niceven have sex with her. She's offering Niceven the chance to drink her blood and taste the wonderful straight sex that Merry is having with her men. No. I do not know how the fuck that can even work.

Also, apparently Niceven has an eating disorder, because she's "cadaverous" but she thinks her body is beautiful, and if that doesn't fit the defintion of somebody with anorexia/buliema then fuck if I know what does. Thank you for villifying mental disorders like anorexia while praising the actually dangerous things like sociopathy and homocidal psychosis, LKH. I am sure the whole fucking world will benefit from you making Anadais's torture of underage men look like a good thing.

(That was in the last book)

Then, when Niceven agrees to cure Galen, Merry decides to push for an alliance by offering a once-a-week feeding. LKH continues to invoke fairy-tale/horror mashups that are better than hers by continuing to call Galen "green knight" even though he's about as knightly as a windsock. The boys continue to do sexy things behind Merry, and when she invokes her alliance with the goblins I think the whole world can figure out this alliance business is just Merry getting yet another sex partner. And yep, that's exactly what happens.

Does LKH have like, a fetish checklist? I mean, we've done feet, we've done tenticle hentai, there's a lot of oral stuff, now we're doing gigantism again, and do not get me started on Kitto. Is the reason why she can't do another Merry Gentry book because she's run out of fetish-related material to try?

...and can I skip the book where she does in-depth bestiality?

Also...this means Merry is bribing an anorexic with food. Merry is doing the subtle version of "eat a hamburger" here.

Guys, we're curing anorexia with the power of sex. This is not a good book.

The alliance is struck, the conversation ends...and Rhys is now brushing out Doyle's hair.

I don't get it. The "interesting" thing is over, so why is the chapter still here? least we're acknowledging that ankle-length hair is kind of stupid.

And now Doyle and Frost are fighting over whose turn it is with Merry. Uh, the correct way to fix this is "Who would you like to sleep with tonight, Merry". You don't need to stretch the chapter out to include--you are, aren't you? Goddamn it.

He shook his head. “No, but you have had three months and there is no child. She is a princess and will be a queen. She cannot afford to give her heart away where there is no marriage.”

But...but...but...the van. back in the van. Back at Maeve's house. Six minutes ago in the living room. Last book in Queen Anadais's room. MONOGAMY IS NOT A RULE AMONG THE FAE NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU INSIST IT IS. This is basically two men arguing over who will get to be Merry's one and only while Merry is trying to manuver her way into all the things penises and THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. I want romantic machinations to make SENSE, damn it.

Finally, Merry says "Hello? Vagina-owner here? This is not a time share." (actually she says "You're talking like I'm not here" but the dialogue is so awful I want to start inventing my own) and Doyle is all like "Oh, right. Would you object to whatever we decide?" and I think feminism just had a collective anurysm because that is not how this whole "Acknowledging owners of vaginas" thing works.

Good fucking God, did I miss the chapter break? Apparently somebody decided something and Merry is in love with Frost and Doyle is still here and Rhys leaves, and for the life of me I can't decide what decision got made at all. Is she sleeping with both Doyle and Frost tonight?

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you GOD this chapter is over before we answer that question.


  1. There is so much wrongness here I don't even know where to begin. I mean, plot in porn exists to give people an excuse for wild sex, but that doesn't mean the characters should be having sex while the non-porny bits of the plot are happening.

    Plus Kitto. I just realized that 'Kitto' sounds both like 'Kit', as in kitten or fox kit, an like kiddo.


    So a non-Merry question for the textile person - What do you do with flexible electronics? Computers that can be printed into flexible surfaces (Cards, blankets, plush toys), control-circuits that can be tattooed into skin to detect nerve impulses, completely transparent display systems...

    1. Oh boy. :D

      The nerd in me would love it. The potential, the toys, the good it could do. I think it'd be great.

      I also think it'd be bad for humanity in terms of "survival of people". Mostly becasue smart fabric would be something the general public can't replicate, and it would get them used to thinking of fabric manufacture as something beyond the reach of the individual.

      That's bad.

      Think of it as the deserted island test. What would you, the individual, have to bring with you onto a deserted island to gaurentee survival for a long period of time? Everything you DON'T have to bring with you indicates a skillset or a knowledge base that would allow you to survive without technological intervention. The first three things most of us would say are string, fire starters and food. And then a knife.

      This tells me that we, as a culture, have lost the ability to make our own fabric, light our own fires, create our own tools and find our own food. These are the basic building blocks of survival, and we've lost the ability to manufacture them ourselves. And that means if an event that isolates us from our tech base, we would either have to find someone with the right skillset, be rescued within a few days, or die.

      (continued in next post)


    2. Right now our society is in a pretty safe place, technology wise. If it broke down in a fundamental way, we'd be able to regress to a more primitive, still functioning technology because we haven't been dependant on high tech stuff long enough to lose the more primitive skillset. There are enough people actively fostering the old ways as a hobby for us to jump up with spinning wheels and axes and mushroom recognition books to teach the rest of you how to survive. But I don't think I'd pass the deserted island test without backup food and matches. (I could make my own knife, though I'd probably have to use my cell phone to do it)

      There are a lot of jobs smart-fabric could fill in that could erase a lower, but still valuable skillset. Which not only would be a fucking disaster if access to the higher tech were eliminated, but it would make the divide between the haves and have nots even wider. Either the have-nots would be looked down on for using a more primitive (yet still functional) skillset, OR the have nots wouldn't HAVE a skillset, and would be dependent on the "haves" for basic necessities, which would not be a good thing. And if there were a disaster that made smartfabric scarce, and it had replaced something vital in, say, medical fields or search and rescue, and nobody had the skillset to fill in the void, that'd be BAD.

      Admittedly, the likelihood of that happening would be small. But the likelihood of any one of us getting lost in the woods or trapped in a disaster zone would also be small, and most of us, myself included, would not be capable of downgrading to a more primitive skillset until we are either rescued by technology or until we walk out on our own. And the idea of society becoming that much more dependant on a tech source the individual can't replacate makes me VERY uncomfortable. It's setting up a "Whoever controls the tech controls the world" scenario. It's something that can't happen right now because we DO still have the primitive skillset...but that's a dying art. I do firmly believe that in a few generations we'll probably hit a point where we're utterly dependent on tech for survival, and the loss--or rather, purposeful withholding--of that technology would mean a lot of people would die.

      This is actually something I'm playing with in Starbleached right now. It's why doctors in the novels are reliant on 20th century tools when they're out doing field work, and why Adry's skillset--on the fly emergency triage--is in such high demand. It's a society that has mostly lost "primitive" medicial skills like physical surgery and low tech sterilization methods as common knowledge and has since realized that this knowledge base is a valuable necessity when technology breaks down, as it will always do in warfare and extraterrestrial colonization.

    3. Hm. Multitudinous interesting thoughts. Must mull answer.


  2. The parents-first is a very big cultural thing, yes.

    Oh. my god. Just. wow. this chapter. wow.

    There's a lot of hate from Anita towards women who are skinny and/or diet, so I'm not surprised at the villainizing of anorexia here. Nor by the 'my heroine is so hot even the girls want her, but they won't REALLY have sex for real!' since she did the same thing with Anita (Anita has dream-sex with Belle Morte by experiencing Jean-Claude's memories of having sex with her, and gives Black Jade an orgasm by letting her rub on her a bit like a dog humping a chair leg).

    And the neener-neener-neener making out also seems par for the course for LKH's idea of what's cool and mature, as well as her need to believe everyone is jealous of her heroine and wants what she has (again, comes up a lot with Anita)



    oh god please no


    just no

    Also, yeah, I expected that, this being a porn series, there wouldn't be a need for people to bend over backwards for reasons to have sex that aren't just because they want to. I mean, Merry has to get pregnant, she gets a harem to do it, isn't that enough of a set-up for all of it? Apparently not.

    1. If I remember all the porny scenes from the first book:

      Merry makes out with Cult Leader to find out about McGuffin so she can save a client. Not initiated for pleasure (this is immediately preceeded by a conversation about if wiring a vagina for sound is possible. It COULD be a joke, but that's questionable)

      Merry makes out with Roan while under the aphrodiasiac powers of the McGuffin. Initiated for pleasure but implied to be done because of the magic and not because Merry and Roan want to. Cel is driven insane by being dunked in the same shit and left alone.

      Merry makes out with the Jack of Irons in the back of the car. This one could be for pleasure

      Merry gives Sholto a hand job, because Sholto has been sent to kill her and if she makes out with him he'll keep her as his own ally instead. She's also utterly grossed out by Sholto's tenticles. Not for her own pleasure

      Galen and Merry almost make out in the back of the Black Coach due to a fertility/sex spell tied to the Magic Ring of Fertility Detection +1. You could argue that one isn't even consensual.

      The scene where either Galen or Rhys takes Merry's stocking off with her teeth. This one could have been for pleasure.

      The sex scene immeidately after the court scene where Merry has sex with a guy and Kitto bites her to seal her treaty with the goblin king. There's a double whammy with this one, first because it's to hide the pain of sealing the treaty, and second because Anadais told Merry that if she didn't "fuck one of them tonight" Anadais would have her killed.

      That's a grand total of TWO sex scenes that could POSSIBLY be consensual, and none that I can point at and go "They had sex because they wanted to."

    2. Wow. That is just sad/disturbing.