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Marissa Lingen

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Books read, early September [Sep. 17th, 2016|06:04 am]
Marissa Lingen

Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha, eds., Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. I was a little confused at first about why these stories tended to be heavy on exposition. Then I realized that when you’re trying to do things that are not very well aligned with what has gone before–when you’re trying to break new ground, examine new territory–sometimes that ends up heavily weighted towards having to tell people what you’re doing. Go figure.

Ben Hatke, Mighty Jack. Discussed elsewhere.

Christopher Hibbert, Garibaldi: Hero of Italian Unification. Nineteenth century Italy is deeply, truly weird. I mean, totally bizarre. This is an older book–from the 1960s–so you’ll still find people referred to with racial terminology that, while not deliberately offensive, is not what we would use in my lifetime. Also, there is not a great deal on Garibaldi’s early life. With those caveats, it’s a fascinating book about a strange, strange place/time.

Luis Martin, Daughters of the Conquistadores: Women of the Viceroyalty of Peru. This author had very firm ideas about what convents are Supposed To Be Doing and how nuns are Supposed To Act. If you can get past him telling colonial Peruvian nuns, rather frantically, that they were Doin It Rong, this is a fascinating study about women of many walks of life. The other caveat is that the author was focused on Spanish-descended women and plaintively called for someone else to write a study of the roles of native and African-descended women. Amen, brother. I am with you on that. But Peruvian women had some really interesting cultural quirks that you would not guess from first principles, and this was very much worth my time.

Nisi Shawl, Everfair. Discussed elsewhere.

Gerald Vizenor, Chair of Tears. This is the third of Vizenor’s short novels I’ve read, and it occupies a conceptual place between the other two as well as a temporal one. The satire explores both university culture and Native families, it draws on the trickster stories so clearly dear to Vizenor’s heart, and it divides the book into stylistically and tonally different sections. It’s interesting to watch Vizenor change and stay the same with time, and I will probably read more of his stuff.

Drew Weing, The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo. Discussed elsewhere.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: whswhs
2016-09-17 03:07 pm (UTC)
It seems curious to me to associate Butler with either social justice movements or being "heavy on exposition."

I discovered Butler by picking up Wild Seed, which led me on to the other Patternist books, and they seemed focused on envisioning wonders and marvels—in this case, on showing how psionic abilities might work. Insofar as they had a moral viewpoint, it seemed to be almost a Nietzschean "will to power" one, in which people who had the ability to read thoughts or control minds also had the desire and even the need to do it; and I admired Mind of My Mind tremendously for the consistency with which Butler dramatized all that, disturbing though the conclusions were to my political sensibilities.

I don't enjoy the Xenogenesis series nearly as much, but it seems to be no less about will to power: The Oankali make a big point of their species not being hierarchical, but the relationship they set up with humans is one where power is totally one-sided, with humans being given help at the price of having no control over their own lives, very much in the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson's satiric title for an imagined rock album, "Give, Sympathize, Control"; in my terms this is a totally hierarchical relationship, or perhaps a relationship of domination without even the protections of hierarchy.

Brown and Imarisha seem to be inspired by a Butler I totally fail to see. Which doesn't necessarily mean that they're wrong, of course.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-09-17 03:12 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think that you're looking at things through one lens that may itself obscure other lenses for you. That often happens with picking one angle or another on a body of work.

I would not have said that Butler was heavy on exposition, though, just the stories in this particular volume. Not everybody who is doing something new ends up exposition-heavy--I just think that it's probably weighted that way on average, in general.
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