Friday, March 28, 2008

Sex Change

The fact that the two primary folks who put Nyx back together again are men really bothers me.

So one of them will be getting a sex change. I mean, not within the book (though that certainly would be something interesting to explore in this weird body-swapping world... hm...), but an authorial one.

Sometimes I think what the difference is between feminist science fiction and everything else is just being aware of what you're doing. I've got a lot of heavy cultural biases. I work hard at being aware of them when I'm building worlds, and seeing where they drive me off track. Not every world is like this one. I love reading about places where things are really different. Not just the gadgets, but *everything.* There's so much we just automatically assume, stuff that doesn't fit into the worlds we build. It's the Martian husband reading the paper and the Martian wife serving him tea.

Come on. Really?

Stupid things, like the assumption of a nuclear family (yes, I defaulted to a couple of these, too), the assumption of a supporting cast and background characters that are 95% male (it was a struggle to reverse this for GW, but writing anything else would have been portraying a totally different world than the one I built), het love as the penultimate in intimacy (reeeeeeaally trying to break out of this one, but it's hard), boys who move and shake the world while the girls hold their hands, one-way racism, and governments in total control (we like to think ours knows what it's doing; most governments, though, are pretty incompetent).

Things are a lot more messy (and a lot more interesting) than all that in the worlds I'm building (and, in fact, in real world; the world as assumed is much duller than the real thing). And yes, it's a pain in the ass to go back and fix it when you screw something up.

But the world is better for it.

6 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

emily said...

And this is why I can't wait for my copy of God's War. Yay!

mothwentbad said...

Yeah, the main reason I stopped writing is that I sort of caught a glimpse of the complexity and structure of it all. And the noises and deceptions and invisibilities and blindnesses.

After that, I couldn't even get started writing because no matter what I did, anything I wrote felt like silly little know-nothing lies, at least in the sense that there was a failure of truthiness. Someday I may get into it again, but it's too soon now.

Kameron Hurley said...

You're never going to catch everything. One of my critiquers pointed out that I'd done the tired old "We'll show the bad guy's bad because he once raped the protagonist!"

Um. Puleeeez. Not only that, but in a matriarchy like this, the punishment for rape and rape as a weapon of war would run a lot differently than in does here. So not only was it a cliche, it was something that just didn't fit in the world.

So out it went.

And you can bet that when GW comes out, it's going to piss a lot of people off. There's a lot I missed, and some I kept in on purpose because I felt it was world-justified.

But I know there are going to be some pissed off folks.

In any case, it could be better. The sequel could be loads better... which is why it's great that it's not due until next May!

Plenty of time to fix all the lame.

mothwentbad said...

Yeah, but you have to catch *something*. And all I could catch was buckets of LIES AND IGNORANCE. NOOOO! It's just that writing is so... positively formulated. I can "this isn't really right because..." all day, but actually sitting down and describing reality is sort of hard. And sometimes it just rings super false, and luckily I don't depend on fiction writing for any kind of livelihood anyway.

That's probably all excuses, but the desire kinda drained entirely around the same time, anyway.

And pissing off people is something I feel somewhat neutral about. If it doesn't piss me off, then chances are I approve of it, even if it pisses off someone else. We'll have to see. Not that pissing anyone off is an end in itself or anything.

Anonymous said...

I hate to comment for the first time just to harp on a pet peeve, but "penultimate" = "next to last", not "extra-plus ultimate". Unless you meant to imply that hetero intimacy is generally portrayed as the second-best kind, I think you meant just plain ultimate.

Kameron Hurley said...

Prob'ly so!! :)