Tag: Seanan McGuire
Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye series, Discount Armageddon, and Newsflesh series (under the name Mira Grant) wrote a rather thoughtful discussion on the role of female heroines and secondary characters in urban fantasy novels.
If you’re interested in the portrayal of women in fiction or just writing in general, I suggest reading it all. Here are some choice excerpts:
It wasn’t until I read the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter that I noticed the creepiest thing about the Disney princesses: they never look at each other. Get six of them in a group, and they will all strike independent poses, they will all gaze at independent points off in the distance. They never make eye contact. They never acknowledge each other in any way. Why?
Because if you’re going to be the fairest in the land, you can’t ever admit that anyone of comparable fairness even exists. To be the prettiest princess, you must also be the only princess. So all you other princesses can just step off; this is my spotlight.
Urban fantasy heroines have a lot in common with Disney princesses.
The standards for “fairest of them all” are different when your kingdom is a city and your ballgown is a pair of leather pants. You need to be the best ass-kicker, the best snarker, the best crime-solver or magic-user, or whatever. But they’re still high standards to live up to, and it’s easier to do when there’s no one else in your sandbox. If no one else is kicking ass in leather pants, you don’t have to try as hard to be the best. Consequentially, we keep seeing urban fantasy heroines with no peers. No other women who kick ass. They might have sidekicks, or even other strong female characters in supporting roles, but it feels like a lot of them…well. Like a lot of them just don’t have any friends.
It can be easy, as an author, to smooth and sand the story until all the unnecessary characters are gone, and I can see where that might mean you have to lose a few of the members of the Breakfast Club. At the same time, if that process leaves six male characters and one female, and only one of those male characters is Prince Charming, why are the other five all dudes? Can’t we balance things a little? For me, female characters are more believable when they have friends. When there are other women around to talk to, trade tips on wearing leather pants without chafing with, and generally enjoy.
I’m not sure if her claim about the Disney Princess brand is true but thinking through what I have seen, it certainly seems true. Urban fantasy heroines in a lot of novels I’ve read also seem to suffer from this problem as well. Buffy is one of the few exceptions that I can think of off the top of my head.
It may have been okay back in the day to simply have a strong female heroine as a main character and call it progress from the perspective of gender equality but these days we should consider if it is more meaningful for our heroines to have peers and rivals to compare and contrast against, be they men or women.
There have been times when I’ve wanted to discuss social issues with people, not to convince them of the point, but to try to help evolve my own understanding by getting their opinions and beliefs. And instead of having the discussion, the person decided they didn’t want to discuss it. This has happened to me multiple times with different people, from close friends to friendly strangers.
But there are some social issues that need to be discussed. Over on my Tumblr I posted a video that explains the fight for women’s suffrage to the music of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Do you think at the time discussing whether women had the right to own property or vote in political elections was a polite topic at the dinner table? A good majority of men and women felt different than a smaller group of women regarding the issue. It required people like Alice Paul to bring the issue to people’s attention and get them talking about it, realizing the idea and implications. As more people thought about it, rather than simply forming their beliefs based upon the status-quo, the movement garnered support until women were considered equal citizens to men, at least in word if not always in practice.
One social issue that also needs to be discussed is sexuality. I could explain why but a recent post by Seanan McGuire, author of over a dozen stories, I think sums it up a little better. Show, don’t tell: why they need to be there by Seanan McGuire.
I was recently talking to a friend* of mine who is also a writer about inclusion and inclusiveness in fiction. He was frustrated. Why did people keep asking him to include a non-heterosexual character in a starring role in his work? After all, he’d said that non-hetero characters existed, and were actually the norm. It was right there, in black and white. So why wasn’t that enough?
I explained how, when I was a kid, the only smart blondes I could find were Marilyn Munster and Susan Storm. How I wound up identifying with the Midwich Cuckoos, rather than the humans who they were threatening, because the Cuckoos looked like me and were isolated like me and no one understood them. How, as I got older and realized that what I wanted wasn’t necessarily the kind of marriage my mother had, every gay character became a magical revelation—even the ones I would look at now and think of as stereotyped and cardboard. It was enough for me that they were there.
This argument, of course, hinges on your personal beliefs regarding if certain types of sexuality are morally wrong or right. It appeals to that time when you finally found someone, be it a fictional character or real life hero, who you felt was going through similar problems and conflicts as you, and how you drew strength from the fact that they survived. Maybe not everybody had this experience but I believe that to be unlikely.
Discussing social issues is hard but challenging what we know to be right and understanding that it may be wrong or at the very least, partially incorrect, is a part of what makes us human and what helps us to continue to improve ourselves.
Seanan McGuire, author of several excellent books, especially the Newsflesh Series (under the name Mira Grant) wrote an excellent post about some of the behavior that goes on among toy collectors at San Diego Comic Con. Let me share it with you.
I remember being a little kid and being desperate for a particular toy. I remember my mother driving hours on end to various toy shops in the hopes of finding me one, which I honestly think is one of the most endearing ways a parent can show how much they care about their kid’s happiness since you have to know the kid will eventually not really care about said toy as they grow up.
But I digress. This is mostly a “shame on you” post to the various other toy collectors who attended SDC and behaved in such a way as to actually hurt, physically and emotionally, this little girl who wanted to stand in line for her toy. Western civilization developed the idea of standing in line in order to avoid these kind of situations and your dedication to your obsession should be bound by the rules set forth to you in elementary school. Get to the heat of the list first/early or get a friend to save you a spot so you can cut. You don’t go pushing your classmates/strangers/stranger’s little kids out of the way!
And you shouldn’t need to be reminded of that.
Double feature today. I was going through my Book Watch posts and realized I hadn’t posted my review of FEED by Mira Grant. Considering how much I raved about this book to my offline friends, I feel I’ve done a disservice not at least mention it here. The reviews below are non-spoiler reviews covering both FEED and the newest book in the Newsflesh series, DEADLINE. I highly recommend both.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Easily one of the most entertaining books I have ever read.
The tag line is fun and confusing at the exact same time: A book about blogging, politics, and zombies. Of course it is much more than that. Mira Grant gives us a glimpse into a future where blogging has become a legitimate journalistic endeavor and threat of a biological plague which reduces people to mindless zombies keeps everybody well cloistered behind bio-hazard sealed doors and finger pricking locks. Yet in this future, America still lives, and it still needs a President, so campaigning must continue.
I waited to read this book because the premise sounded so far-fetched until a friend loaned me a copy. It is a stark reminder that any premise, no matter how odd or ridiculous sounding, can be made into a good story.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Date Started: June 1s, 2011
Date Ended: June 4th, 2011
DEADLINE is the sequel to FEED, the book about Politics, Blogging, and Zombies. DEADLINE is not about Politics, Blogging, and Zombies. It is about Conspiracies, Zombies, and Blogging. The second novel in a trilogy, DEADLINE once again introduces us to a post-apocalyptic future where humanity survives, in fear, of a zombie plague. Where FEED introduced us to the world and it’s politics, giving us a glimpse into conspiracies that run a zombie infested America, DEADLINE jumps right into the conspiracy and hauls the reading along for the ride.
Where DEADLINE suffers, its suffers in being both the sequel to FEED and the second novel in a trilogy. The novelty of the world has worn off and we’re left with the characters and plot to drive the story. The plot is somewhat ham-stringed by the book’s status and the fact that the slow reveals of parts of the conspiracy were not as compelling as the further questions they raised. However, the characters, their insight, dialog, and interaction, manage to keep DEADLINE sailing smoothly in the compelling read sea.
Interested in the books but not quiet sure if it is for you? Mira Grant, otherwise known as Seanan McGuire, keeps a live journal. During the month leading up to the release of DEADLINE, she posted a series of flash/short fiction set in the Newsflesh world. It is intended to be read after FEED but there are no actual spoilers. You can follow this tag to find them all but you have to scroll down to the first post, titled T-minus 29 Days to DEADLINE.
A flash story about girls and love. I’m not sure the context but the words felt meaningful enough to share.
Man, do we have some great nominations this year. The Hugo Award is the leading award for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. The Hugos are awarded each year by the World Science Fiction Society, at the World Science Fiction Convention. Let me go over some of the ones I am excited about.
This actually came as light surprise to me. I am not used to having already read one of the year’s Hugo Award nominees for Best Novel. I’ve written about how the book is awesome. FEED is by Mira Grant, the alter ego of Seanan McGuire and it has a sequel coming out, DEADLINE, on May 31st, a book I am anticipating as much as Ghost Stories by Jim Butcher. So congratulations Ms. McGuire!
Best Short Story
I have not read any of the short stories nominated, however I will be looking forward to Escape Pod in the coming weeks, as they typically make a point of releasing all five Hugo Nominated short stories on as podcasts.
Best Related Work
Speaking of podcasts, Writing Excuses: Season 4, has been nominated for Best Related Work. Created and staring , Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, the podcast focuses on various topics related to writing and becoming an author while keeping any particular topic under fifteen minuets because, as they say: “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” Obviously you’re smart enough to get nominated for a Hugo. Congrats guys!
So she wrote a humorous list of things that, while I can’t say with first hand experience yet, I don’t doubt are true.
12. Asking an author who has just released a book (or is in pre-release for a book) “When’s the next one?” is like asking a woman who’s nine months pregnant “When’s the next one?”, only the author is probably not nine months pregnant, and is thus more likely to hit you. I am aware that this metaphor makes me out to be one of those faintly frightening women with twelve children, planning for twelve more. It’s still true.
2. Everything eventually shows up in a book. Everything. Yes, even that. No, we’re not trying to be mean. It’s just how our brains work.
I just finished this book titled Feed by Mira Grant.
I listened to the audio book version and it kept me up past midnight last night.
Actually I listen to a lot of audio books ever since I discovered podcasting and authors who podcast their novels. I listen to them on my drive to work and when I exercise, generally. I wish I could listen to them at work but more often than not, I actually want to hear what the story is saying which requires more focus than I can give.
I mentioned the above because I wanted you to understand my habits when listening to an audio book. And when I say that the book kept me up past midnight, that meant that I was actually listening to the book outside of my car or exercise routine. I was actively deciding to sit and listen to the book. Actually even prior to that, I was taking slightly longer routes to work in order to have more time to listen to this book.
It is a really good book.
So now you know my opinion. What about the book might make you you like it?
Well to offer an interesting tagline the book is about Zombies, Politics, and Bloggers.
Did that catch your attention? If not, there’s plenty more. The book is set in a post-zombie world where blogging was one of the few news outlets to actually report on the zombie outbreak as it happened, saving millions of lives and earning itself a place as a credible news and media source. Set in the not too far future, the story followed two journalist bloggers as they report on the presidential campaign race and follow one candidate campaigning across a zombie and stumble upon conspiracies and politics that could get them killer ratings. Emphasis on killer.
The book provides a new and interesting look at a possible zombie future. Great science fiction. Compelling characters, and an amazing story. I’ll likely be gifting this book to at least one or two of my friends this holiday season. I haven’t read a zombie book this good since World War Z.
If you want more information, the book has two websites. A semi-viral advertising site (http://www.thefeedbook.com/) which also has the first chapter available for free to read or listen. I highly suggest listening. The site also has links to where you can purchase the book, and lots of interesting tidbits which will be fun to read once you’ve read the book, although I can’t vouch for how interesting they are before. The author also has a website that has information on the book which can be found here (http://miragrant.com/index.php).
Even if you aren’t a fan of zombies or horror, consider reading the excerpt to this book. For those of you who love grounded science fiction and zombies, this book is completely for you.