April 21st, 2008

good mris pic

Meme, gym class, synopses (numbered for your convenience)

1. I never tag people to do chain memes, but I've been tagged myself: page 123 of the nearest book to me, fifth, sixth, and seventh sentences, are:

But of course Frank couldn't call him. Even his cell phone might be bugged; and Edgardo's too. Suddenly he recalled that workman in his new office, installing a power strip.

That's from Kim Stanley Robinson's Fifty Degrees Below, which I am not reading yet. A friend's manuscript is actually closer than that, but I don't really want to post bits of other people's unpublished work without their permission; it seems like not the thing.

2. Robin has, with impeccable five-year-old logic, decided that what I am doing once a week in the clinic is gym class. When they teach his body to do different things, that's gym class. So it must be with mine as well. And he wanted to know what they were doing in my gym class. I told him they were having me move my head different ways to teach my body not to fall down, and he started demonstrating moving his head in different ways in case any of those might prove helpful to me. He is the best godson ever.

3. I hate writing synopses, but timprov has an insight about them that makes me much more cheerful. "The novel is how you tell the story," he said. "The synopsis is how your Norwegian great-uncle* tells the story." This is very useful indeed.

The Aesir noir novel: Sorkvir Sturlasson gets his fanny in a sling working for the gods. Well, like you do. Uses fancy detective skills to stop Ragnarok, which was his own fool fault anyway. Also there's this girl, doncha know.

What We Did to Save the Kingdom: Ordinal Yaritte gets her fanny in a sling because she can't leave well enough alone. Well, like you do. The king is a young idiot, doesn't that go figure, and folks get worked up about it. And Yaritte can only get them partway calmed down. Isn't that a thing.

And like that. I suspect that having all synopses start with somebody's fanny in a sling might get boring to editors -- American editors; I hear tell that it would provoke quite a different reaction from British editors, as I hear that word is a different euphemism over there -- but I suspect other standard synopsis forms get pretty boring too.

Now I'm wondering which of my other relatives are useful for synopsis purposes. I think it would be hard to mark up a synopsis to indicate where my uncle Bill waves his hands in the air like giant enthusiastic parentheses. Possibly this will only work for generic rather than specific forms of relatives.

*I have more than one. Of course I do. He means the Platonic form of the critter.
Oh *hell* no!

Memo to fellow SF writers:

Okay, fellow SF writers: Asian-Americans have been a part of America's rich tapestry since before their contributions to the railroads in the mid-1800s. They are us. They are totally normal Americans. Get used to it.

What does "get used to it" mean? It means that you be extremely careful in describing Asian-American female characters using the following words and/or references: exotic; inscrutable; dragon lady; or any martial arts metaphors. When you hit all four in less than ten pages, I will put the book down and gape like a fish. Why? Because the technical term for this is racist bullshit.* And if it's because of a character's viewpoint rather than the authorial viewpoint, you need to show us that fast, lest everybody run screaming from the racist bullshit.

When I pick up a Kim Stanley Robinson novel -- published in this decade, for heaven's sake -- I am totally not prepared for that sort of thing. It caught me completely off-guard. "We need to fix climate change!" -- that I expected. "This inscrutable dragon lady would be a great person to work on that problem!" -- uh, no. Nononono. Seriously, just -- no.

I'm going to give this book a chance to get past this, but it's a worse mismatch than "think of these characters as if they were movie stars!" for me to have such a relentless message that I am to think of this character as foreign and other -- even though she's clearly "good other" rather than "bad other." There is a lot of getting past to be done here. Uff da.

Seriously, "exotic"? No American in ordinary American clothes is exotic, whether her ancestors were from Yokohama or York or Yola. Just -- not.


*You do not get bonus points for avoiding geisha and porcelain doll references; that avoidance is elementary civilized behavior.