July 5th, 2006

bear by san

just a nuisance. ashamed that she's used to it.

Wikipedia is also where every crackpot on the Internet got tired.

I wonder if, at some point, it will work like that experiment tar_pith once told me about, where they got a bunch of amateurs to stick a pin in a map where they thought a crippled Russian sub might have sunk, and took the average of the guesses. (IIRC, it came up more accurate than a couple of expert opinions, but memory is fallible.)

(Why, yes, I do keep clicking through to the Talk pages on Wikipedia entries to watch people argue. It's edifying.)

Two things that occurred to me as points of discussion/things to remember over the long weekend.

(1) When writing characters, remember that everybody is crazy.

By which I mean that we all have our quirks and traumas and triggers and socially unacceptable behaviors.

(2) It's the details that make things spring to life, but it doesn't have to be all the details. I personally find it kind of reassuring when a character empties a chamber pot or mucks out a stall occasionally; it makes me feel like I'm dealing with a real world. A lot of pulp fiction doesn't consider these things (How does Kimball Kinnison fry those steaks in space? Are we managing open flame on a space ship? Who pays to boost that side of beef out of a gravity well? That's some pretty expensive ribeye.) and that's fine--such books are meant to be read within the conventions of the genre they're written in, and it's often extremely edifying in a deconstructive sort of way to apply different reading protocols to them--but in the end a bit disingenuous to hold them to a different standard. (I personally think it would be kind of silly to read Temeraire as a rigorous alternate history, for example; it's not in any wise an attempt at same, and it's kind of like judging an Old English Sheepdog by the Great Dane standard. Okay, they're both dogs....)

Which isn't to say that deconstruction and subversion are useless. Heck, it's all I do. Just that, if we are judging one breed by another breed's metric, we should be aware we're doing it.

Also, these little details can serve as grounding and worldbuilding and character business. Handy stuff, that. This is the kind of world in which people spin, you see, and this is a character who would so such spinning....

I used to think that joy was the break between sorrows
like peace was the break between wars
bear by san

the giddy illusion of competence

oracne and truepenny are talking about female and male POV characters.

Which got me wondering. I've been aware for a while that I'm shy a few lesbians as characters (I have straight women and straight, gay, and bisexual men in droves, as well as more esoterically queer persons; but my gay women are few and far between (oh noes!), and I'm actually considering turning a male character in The Sea thy Mistress into a female character to redress this. The person he has to sleep with to drive the plot is female, but nothing says he has to be male. Although that kills some of the subtext in a lovely uncomfortable father-son scene I adore... though, yanno, it could be a lovely uncomfortable father-daughter scene just as easily. The baggage is different, though.

Why am I shy lesbians and/or bi women? Damned if I know. It's not like I'm skeered of 'em. Maybe they're not alien enough, frankly; I spend a lot of time trying to write people as different from me as possible.

Anyway, truepenny's comment made me want to make a list, and see where my characters--and my POV characters--actually fall.

We'll, ah, just do the novels now. Yes. Because otherwise things get ugly. (Hey, I'll do POV, too, why not?)

So, in order of writing:

All the Windwracked Stars: original draft was a single first-person narrator, female, heterosexual, with a third-person epilogue. New draft is going to be multiple third person limited omniscient, two females (both straight), three males (one of them bisexual, one presumably heterosexual (he's a stallion and the last of his species, so it's hard to get practical confirmation), the last a trysexual), epiloque from the POV of a different male.

The Sea thy Mistress: original draft had five each male and female POV characters, some major, some minor. If I do turn Cathmar into a girl, swap that to four and six. The men were, two of them, bisexual and three straight; the women, one asexual and four het.

By the Mountain Bound: three point five first person narrators, one female, two point five male. I suspect the revision will lose the point five. One of the male narrators, the primary protag, gets twice as much screen time as either of the others. (POV alternates a,b,a,c,a,b,a,c etc) straight female, it'd be a spoiler to talk about the boys. *g*

Hammered: female first person primary narrator, about nine other POV characters, more or less evenly divided between male and female though (I think) tending female. Jenny's painfully straight; so is Gabe. Of the rest, one bisexual male, one woman who at least cheerfully goes to second base with other girls, two straight males, one straight teenaged girl, and a couple about whom the issue never arises.

Blood & Iron: primary third-person limited omni female narrator, two secondary third-person limited omni male narrators. Narrative games about a third of the way through the book. All of these characters are straight by preference, although the exigencies of fate may intervene on occasion. Matthew is abjectly heterosexual, though.

Scardown: as Hammered, above--more even gender split on the secondaries, though. An additional gay male character, who does not get POV, IIRC.

The Stratford Man: two primary narrators (male, one of them queer as a proverbial three-dollar bill and the other, well, he's pretty adamant that he's straight. *g*), two secondary (as in, one scene apiece) male narrators, one equally secondary female narrator, all third-person limited omniscient.

The Cobbler's Boy (with Sarah): one first-person male narrator, still trying to figure out his sexuality, thank you.

The Journeyman Devil two primary 3pl narrators, one secondary (all male.)

One-Eyed Jack: five male narrators, two first person, three third person. One profoundly gay (and butch), four straight. (Though there's a small cottage industry devoted to "proving" that Elvis liked boys, so the jury is out....)

Worldwired: As Hammered, with more of a skew toward male POVs, one of them bi and one a flaming queen.

A Companion to Wolves: One third person limited omni POV, male, heterosexual, and wouldn't he be much much happier if he wasn't. (Heterosexual, I mean.)

Carnival: four POVs, all third person limited omni, one gay male, one bisexual male who prefers men, one heterosexual female, one genderless.

Whiskey & Water: Ahh, this book is the killer. It's in true omni. It does however feature a lesbian couple who have the distinction of having the best relationship of any committed couple in anything I've ever written. They're so cute.

This is also the one with the intersexed character. Further deponent sayeth not.

Undertow: everybody in this book is straight, much to my agent's amusement. four male POV, one female POV, one hermaphrodite. All 3pl

Dust: POVs so far seem to be three female, two male. I suspect this book may go omni on me.

Patience & Fortitude: one female, two male 3pl (bi? maybe? inventive, anyway; straight; polymorphously perverse, in that order), but it might go omni, too.

What conclusions do I draw?

Dang, I need more lesbians.


Pictures to prove it. I've got the proof.

There is so much pimpage today, we can't even get it in the "mail" section!

First and foremost, Blood & Iron is one of AustGate's two Books of the Month. (The other one is Charles Stross's Glasshouse.) AustGate is offering a money-back offer on both of these books.

That is correct. If you hate the book, you can send it back, and they will refund your hard-earned dollars. From the AustGate blog:

If you buy the books from us, we'll take them back if you don't enjoy them and refund your return postage. (Though they *must* be in very good condition, no cracked spines or anything. Any book that comes in less than that will only have part of the money refunded.) No questions asked. If you don't like it, feel free to post a comment or mail me through the site. This is a bit of learning curve for me as well.

Risk free!

(In news from this continent, Clarkesworld Books ranks Glasshouse and Blood & Iron it's #2 and #3 best-sellers for last week, by the way, with the Move Underground trade paperback in number four.) 

And now, on to the shameless narcissism.

Review roundup:

Because I got absolutely the most fangirl omg-you-like-me squee out of it, Gavin! Grant! reviews Blood & Iron for Bookpage, and rather likes it. (At least, I think that's Gavin. It says so at the bottom of the page.)

There's also a review up of a new Fay Weldon novel. Covet. Covet.

And the Barnes & Noble website review is a positive rave. And they spelled Matthew's name right.

Scifi.uk.com reviews Interzone 201, including "Wax."

From the blogosphere, Once Upon An Albatross liked Worldwired. (spoilers for Scardown, but really, how do you not? The book cover spoilers Scardown...)

Infinitas Bookshop's reviewer didn't think much of Hammered, but thinks I may have learned something in the process of writing it.

Also from the blogosphere, Elizabeth of "Elizabeth's Book Log" liked Hammered enough to buy the next one, maybe.

Best summary of the book ever. EVER! Listen to this:

Jenny Casey’s a fifty-year-old veteran hiding from the Canadian army in a particularly nasty part of the ghettoized United States. Her antiquated artificial robot arm thingy is falling apart, and she needs treatment from the folks from whom she’s hiding. Hilarity ensues, along with some entertaining fight scenes and international/interplanetary corporate conspiracy stuff.

I want her to write my back cover copy from now on.

And that's the news from Lake Wobegon West Hartford.