Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter eight

It's way early, but I'm calling it now


Holy. Fuck. how did I read this the first time and not be completely disgusted by it? And it's Kitto. It's all on Kitto. I had a lot of reactions to NIC but never once did I actively want to flush my brain out to make the image go away. Possibly because Anita Blake is a horrible world of torture and madness, and Merry Gentry is one sparkle away from being an episode of My Little Pony. Only with blood in it.

Ugh. Let's just get this over with. 

Now. In a normal book we'd be meeting Maeve Reed. We'd be meeting Maeve Reed because meeting a new character is supposed to set a plot in motion, and we need to save room for that plot to happen. Instead, we're going to do the same thing we did last chapter.

Second verse same as the first, Ethan follows Merry into Maeve's living room. It's big and white and shiny and designed by a decorator and, oh yeah, IT IS CHRISTMAS. There were no christmas lights before now, or presents, or carols, and I don't remember there being too many after this (in fact, in a couple chapters Merry and Maeve will be debating bikini tops) so my theory is this book was started in November, this chapter was written in December, and by the time we make it out to the pool, it's May.

I've dropped by LKH's website a couple times and read the many, many, MANY "WHERE IS THE NEXT MERRY GENTRY BOOK" questions from fans, and LKH's "Uh........" reactions to those questions (The deadline, if I remember right, was back in 2011) and I have this to say: The woman writes slower than continental drift. She says that she writes in 12 point Times New Roman, double spaced, one inch margins, but that's what I work with (that's basically industry standard. Most agents/publishers will accept that), and my novel's first draft, when it was 190K, was about six hundred pages. If I remember right, LKH's books number in the eight hundred pages, because pages are all she talks about, and I do not think her books are anywhere near the 200K range. And I don't see how she'd have an editor toss 50-100k worth of book and not pitch Kitto out with it.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe her output is roughly 2K a day. Moving on.

Marie, Maeve's servant/secretary, is potentially a brown person. She'd be the first human brown person we've encountered in the book so far. Just...making a note of it. She offers Merry a drink.

Merry thinks it could be poison and refuses, but manages to do so politely.

Frankly, I think her primary motive in refusing booze shouldn't be "it could be poisoned" but rather "I'm trying to make a baby in my off hours, and I could be preggers now, so no thanks." But that's just me. Maybe Faerie babies don't get Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

The men are all glaring at each other, because testosterone. Merry tries to make them sit down. Hey, what's Kitto doing?

The big white living room seemed to have triggered his agoraphobia. He sat pressed up against my legs, one small arm encircling them like I was his teddy bear.
Good GOD. HOW CAN YOU BE DOING THIS EVERY TIME YOU DESCRIBE THIS GUY AND NOT REALIZE WHAT YOU ARE DOING? The men in this book are not characters. They are sex objects. And LKH is doing everything she possibly can to also turn this one into a  child. It's like when I read a webcomic about a highschool student who was also a crime fighting prostitute (It happens?) and the author went OUT OF HER WAY to make sure everyone knew the kid was 18. As in that was 90% of the dialogue for the first several pages.

No. I'm sorry. If you go out of your way to make a character thousands of years old, and then spend every single fucking second after that infantasizing the guy, you are not writing a meaningful character. You are providing fap fuel for pedophiles and you're trying to do it in a way that won't get you signed up as a Registered Sex Offender.

I absolutely despise Piers Anthony for his pedophile male leads (the guy does a lot for new writers, but it can't make up for how many of his novels contain twenty+ year old male leads and fourteen year old females.) but you know what? At least he was fucking honest about it. At least he's not like "No. This character is a legal adult older than China, Who also happens to be wearing a power-ranger's T-shirt and light up flashy Nikes. Want me to talk about his 'teddy bear' again?"

Guys, if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. And Kitto looks, acts and quacks like an abused and traumatized child. He should not be in this book at all. 

Meanwhile, the bodyguards are overcompensating because Merry is Unseelie Fae and thus is dangerous to be around.

I agree with this 100%. They're people who consider having your eye ripped out during rape so your rapist can keep it in a jar for later a simple failure to properly negotiate a safeword. (Green=go, Red=stop, so would Holy fuck you tore my eye out be purple? How about "Lovely shade of char--HOLY FUCK YOU JUST RIPPED MY EYE OUT!")

But Merry starts up a debate with Ethan about how this is prejudice and wrong.

This would be true IF the Unseelie had not introduced themselves to us through rape potions and rampaging monsters. Merry has proven herself to be a good person, but the men around her are killers. Two of them--Doyle and Frost--were Queen Psycopath's go-to guys for pain. Rhys just proved he can't contain himself around Kitto.

At the risk of inflaming social justice folk everywhere, a certain amount of prejudiced thinking is necessary for safety. Prejudice against a man because he is a man is just plain wrong. Prejudice against a man who is an obvious member of a violent gang is problematic, but something you have to account for in your thinking processes. Prejudice against a man who is an obvious member of a violent gang who also has a rap sheet of his own is something that you have to do because you cannot predict what he'll do. He might leave you alone, he might not, but he's proven that he'll hurt people if he has motive to do it. The issue is not the race or gender of the person, it is the fact that their friends are violent, and sometimes they themselves are violent. If I know a man has a best friend who is a registered sex offender, I'm not leaving my kid alone with them. If they are a registered sex offender I am not being alone with them. If the people this person associates are known to be violent, and if the person themselves is known to be violent, you have to take precautions. Especially if being a bodyguard is your job. Everybody Merry is sitting with, with the possible exception of Kitto, is a killer. If I were Ethan, I would not be comfortable being alone in that room, let alone with allowing my boss to come within six miles of it.

It's not a "We are the poor oppressed" issue. It's a "We are fucking scary, and you don't want to take chances with us" issue.

And then Julian, Ethan's partner, comes into the room. There's two twins here, Julian and Jordan, and Julian is dating Ethan's brother, Adam.

And he dresses normal. And as of Divine Misdemenors he has yet to be rescued from gayness by a vagina.'s an improvement. But I am not giving LKH Kudos for finally writing a gay character like a human being. It's like giving a dog cookies because it's not piddling on the floor right this minute.

Julian explains to Ethan (and thus to us) that the sidhe are stealing business from Ethan and Julian's agency because the sidhe are just prettier than anything their agency has on staff, and having a pretty fairy on their staff gaurentees the movie stars publicity.

And then Julian hits on all of Merry's men. All of them. Because he has a "special arrangement" with his boyfriend Adam.

Okay, look. I don't know why this annoys me, given that I have no problem with polyamory, but it does. Especially because the one nearly sane gay character I've met in LKH's writing so far is implied to be a tomcat of monumental proportions. I think because it's not polyamory implied here, but rather promiscuity. If you're in a major relationship, especially if it is with more than one person, you don't fool around. You just don't.

I think what bugs me is that, given the massive emphasis on monogamy in this book--technically ALL the guys are monogamous. It's Merry who is into polyandry here--is that it's implying the relationship between Julian and Adam isn't as "valid" as the relationship between Merry and her men. It's "Only" a gay relationship, so Julian can screw around whenever he wants. It doesn't "count".

I hate this book.

And then Doyle sits down so that his back is touching Julian's hand. And just in case you thought maybe the book was inadvertantly playing up the homoeroticism, there's a long screed about how Doyle's rules for touching are the same for boys and girls, because he's been celebate so long he'd rather not be teased. In fact all the guards are implied to have rules about touching, very un-Faerie like rules, which  completely obliterates everything we've learned about Merry and her boys over the previous book.

It's like LKH read a book about fetishes and decided to do all of them. The only thing she hasn't done yet is feet, but I think that got handled in the last book, when Galen took Merry's silk stocking off with his teeth.

It's also a play up for how Merry is a monster just like Anita is a monster and she needs to give up her guns now. FUCK. THIS IS A BOOK. THAT HAS ALREADY DONE THIS ONCE BEFORE. CAN WE MOVE ON WITH THE BOOK? PLEASE?

And then Ethan implies something nasty about Julian and his brother Adam, and Julian says, basically, you're being an infant, grow up, fuck off and go home.

Ethan blows his top and shouts "BUT THEY'RE NOT PEOPLE" at Julian...right about the time that Maeve Reed comes down the stairs.

Nice going dude. You just called your boss, who was worshipped as a goddess for a couple centuries, an animal to her face.

The chapter ends before Maeve can turn the moron into strawberry jam.


  1. I see a couple of problems here. One is the whole 'Scary powerful supernatural/mutant creature as metaphor of a weak minority'. The other is just the fact that prejudice and judgement are not the same thing, but LKH seems to be treating them as such here.

    Mutants, vampires, and other super-powered creatures are lousy stand-ins for persecuted minorities. If trans people could spit acid or roast people with their laser-vision then the metaphor would make sense (It would also be kind of cool, really). But since they can't, the metaphor just doesn't work. Trans people aren't dangerous as a group and it makes no sense to be scared of them, but acid-spitting laser-eyed mutants are dangerous and it would be perfectly sensible to be worried that one day that waitress might get tired of customers hitting on her and use her chainsaw-arms to start killing people.

    (Admit it, you've had dreams about doing that.)

    Your example of various levels of 'prejudice' looks more to me like judgement based on available information. In the first case all we know about the guy is that he's a guy: That's not much to go on. In the second case we know he's a guy, and also a member of a specific dangerous group: There's a good chance this group accepts him because he's proven useful, and is potentially dangerous. In the thrid group we have indisputed proof that this guy has a history of violence, and past behaviour is generally the best predictor of future behaviour: It's a very good idea to be cautious around this guy. More information at each point means you can make an informed judgement.

    Merry is complaining about prejudice - That people are judging her and her men without having any real information about them. But they do have real information: The Unseelie are violent predators (The Seelie don't seem to be any better, either), Merry is heavily armed and has her own history of violence, and her men are likewise known to be armed and dangerous. Treating them as potentially violent people is a matter of informed judgement.

    It's not really as black-and-white as all that. It's possible to make an informed judgement about someone (Rap sheet, known violent temper: Caution is advised) and still be prejudiced about them (Also Black: Extra caution advised). But that doesn't mean they're the same thing, and I don't think LKH gets that.

    1. Ian, here's where you're wrong. Us gays totally have laser fists that we're saving up to use in the 2016 War on Marriage, so saying that the plight of werewolves or vampires is just like discrimination of queers is completely appropriate.
      (P.S. we're kinda keeping the whole 'laser fists' thing a secret, so if you can keep it to yourself, that would be great XOXO)

    2. yup, same thing bothered me about the mutants in the X-men movies, the vamps/werebeasts in the AB books, and insert-superpowered-species-here in series whatever. Drives me NUTS every time.

      And yeah, in the case of the 'violent guy with a rap sheet' scenario, I wouldn't call that prejudice either.

  2. You have no idea how much I want to be able to fly. I would totally go gay if it would give me the power of flight.

    Or for David Tennant.

  3. tried posting this earlier and it didn't take...okay, unlike the AB books, which started out as horror/thriller, the MG series are pretty open from the start about just being porn, right? SO EXACTLY WHAT AUDIENCE IS KITTO SUPPOSED TO APPEAL TO IN A PORN SERIES? There is no answer that isn't terrible.

    1. There is no part of this series that isn't explicitly terrible, so there you go.

  4. I wonder if this "Terrifying Superpowered Minority" thing was part of the AIDS fear back in the '80s?

    AIDS is and was a relatively easy disease to avoid (Use a condom, don't share needles, avoid rolling in human blood) but the fear was huge. People worried about being on public transit with gays or using the same forks in restaurants. It really was like they were afraid gays had suddenly developed the power to make people sick by their mere presence.

    (Geek Moment: This was Infectious Lass's super power. No, really.)

    There really seems to be an urge to make the persecuted minority into a dangerous force (See also: Scary Black Man). I guess it feels better to claim self-defence than to admit you're part of a powerful majority beating the crap out of a weak minority.