Tag Archives: Sarah Hoyt

More on the Politics in Writing Brouhaha

Here is a rant by Sarah Hoyt about more of the culling and potential for discrimination that is taking place in the Science Fiction Writer’s Community. I’ve said here (and I’ll say many more times) that it is possible and nearly always preferable to separate a writer’s politics from his or her writing. Within reason, of course, and I’m not looking to split hairs but to have an actual discussion. I might not like the way Isaac Asimov behaved at conventions around women and specifically about how his hands would occasionally orbit their asses (or even collide), but I enjoy his non-fiction and his shorter fiction and consider them primary influences. (The Foundation trilogy is a collection of novellas and stories. It’s also slathered in awesomesauce.) I think some of the things Orson Scott Card said about homosexuals are absolutely reprehensible, but Speaker for the Dead is one of my two favourite books about xenophobia and dealing with alien species. (The Fuzzy Papers is tied with it, though Speaker does hit me in the gut a little more.) And outside of science fiction, there are a few contemporary authors who have said a few things I find a little ignorant regarding communism and socialism, and I might not ever accept a dinner invitation from them unless they’re willing to debate at length, but they’ve also written some awesome books, books I am not ashamed to recommend.

Here’s the thing:  If Mr Card wrote a book about a gay man who was half a person and couldn’t succeed at his quest or mission simply because he was in love with another man, I would have no problem not reading the book. But to the best of my knowledge, his books aren’t about that. They’re about finding one’s way, or living with guilt, or understanding something utterly alien. Ditto Asimov. His stories were about living in the future and dealing with science, not about occasional gropes and insensitive comments. Of course, such things are reprehensible, but they didn’t figure into his writing.

Since reaching adulthood (and especially after I joined the Navy) I’ve learned to look at complex things in a complex manner, and I used to think that all adults either did so or at least tried to. It’s part of rational thinking, I believe. I might totally disagree with a friend’s politics (and he with mine) but if we read the same books, like the same music, do the same kinds of things on our off-time, we can be friends. I look at writers the same way. I don’t pick up a book thinking “Here’s someone who agrees with me writing things that are agreeable and that furthermore, all right-thinking people agree with.” If the author does work in something that I disagree with, well, hopefully he or she explains why this is done. Then I will either change my opinion or add to it, and give it a little more depth. It’s a challenge to one’s thinking apparatus. An exercise. I suppose if you have no desire to ever grow as a person and never improve your thinking muscles, you might like to read pap that has been pre-approved and pre-screened to have all the right political points and opinions, written by someone who feels the same way. But then again, you probably shouldn’t be reading a traditionally challenging art form like science fiction, a genre that challenges you to think what if this happens. Or what if things were different. Not what if everything were perfectly created in my own image of perfection. If for no other reason, this will make a crappy story, but I hope everyone reading this can see that that will also make for a reader who doesn’t like to think, ever, and that’s rarely a good thing.

Enough of my own ranting. Here’s Sarah Hoyt’s article. Have an awesome night.

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Book Review: Witchfinder

I’ve linked to some of Sarah Hoyt’s posts before, both from According to Hoyt and the Mad Genius Club  blog. I’ve liked her writing since discovering it via Instapundit, but until now, I’d only read her essays (some of her blog posts, to me, seem involved and rich enough to call them that) and short stories. This is the first novel of hers I’ve read, and I have to say that I’d been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks, ever since I saw the teaser on her site.

The book might best be called “Historical Fantasy” though the version of Regency England that most of the story takes place in is a world or two removed from our own. Among other things, King Arthur was real, magic works, and it is illegal to travel between worlds, which of course means that the plot focuses on a few who do just that. The story takes a couple of chapters to get going. This is not a bad thing at all, of course… I am the person who went through 400 pages of Infinite Jest to figure out what the actual story was. But it does factor with the few things I didn’t like about this book.

Let me get them out of the way. Some of the dialogue, especially when we first meet a new character, is stuffed with unrealistic detail, detail a character living in the world wouldn’t use but included for a reader’s benefit. These go away after the early part of the book, though. There were some typos, especially involving the name of a character when we first hear about him, that threatened to pull me out of the book when I’d barely begun. I also found a few grammatical typos (including one sentence than stood out because it’s a kind of error… a labyrinthine sentence that doesn’t quite close itself at the end… that I always have to edit out of my own MSs) that bothered me. I’m not bothered to the degree that I was with the typos and eggcorns in Twilight because I expect a company like Scholastic to have layers of editors and fact-checkers and proofreaders, or at least, that was how the big publishing companies justified their price points and superiority over indies. But, I will say to Ms Hoyt that she should go over the book one more time or have an independent editor do so, and I’ll say to the readers after me that you should ignore them and plunge on with the story, because it is a hell of a story.

The plot, once it gets moving, does not stop for anything. Just when I thought I had a handle on what the characters had to do and what they could possibly do to get out of it, something twisted and sent me along a new path. While at the very beginning, the characters seem like hopeless stereotypes from Regency or Edwardian romance fiction (the dissolute duke, the bastard brother who loves him, the plucky female spy, the mother who knows most and suffers for it, etc) the characters do jump out in new directions. The description of the world(s) and the magic involved were at once charming, dramatic, and realistic. And there are a couple interesting folds that show that Ms Hoyt is definitely having fun with the world, such as when we learn that the denizens of this magical England have the same fairy tales, but they’re interpreted a little differently:

“although mostly what one learned [from Cinderella] was not to perform love-spells involving one’s own father and a nice-seeming neighbor lady, when one was a very young and inexperienced witch. And as for Little Riding Hood, that charming cautionary tale had prevented many a young girl from giving her pet dog characteristics of her human playmates in order to have him better play house.”

All told, this was a worthwhile read, and I’m glad I bought it. It also gives me hope for the independent publishing world that an already-established author like Sarah Hoyt is willing to take the plunge and publish on her own, and that such work obviously wasn’t something her ‘real’ publisher rejected but a quality, well written piece of entertainment. Consider it recommended.

Rating: 4/5 stars. Five, of course, I will only give to books that threaten to rewrite the very fabric of humanity. 2/5 is a competent book… one that I at least felt like finishing. 3/5 is good… say, a C+ or a B- maybe. It’s not one I could imagine rereading, but it’s also not a book that would make me call up the publisher and ask for a refund of my time. 4/5… I’m going to be rereading this. And if there are more books forthcoming, I’ll read those as well, and most likely push them on the blog.

 

According to Hoyt: Bad Language

Today for Feature Friday, I’ll be posting articles about language and linguistics. (The book I raved about earlier definitely relates to this.) Here’s an article by Sarah Hoyt about the Sci-Fi Trope of “Universal Translation.” I have a story somewhere in my stack where there is a Universal Translator that offers real time synthetic speech between all of the Earth people and the aliens they deal with… it works about as well as BabelFish did in the late 90s. She makes better points than I do, though. Definitely check her article out.

Bad Language

Science is Hard. Talking BS about Science is Regrettably Easy

An interesting article about the often-dangerous intersection of Science and Politics, one of my pet causes/ things to complain about, linked from Sarah Hoyt’s According to Hoyt blog:

Here’s a clue. If it gets called a science and the most important parts don’t have any math? It’s not a science no matter what it calls itself. Ditto if there’s no observation or extrapolation and testing against predictions from observations.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Abuse Science

EDIT:  I’ll be putting up my own version of these arguments, thanks to some commentary by a friend of mine.

Sarah Hoyt, Elf Blood: Chapter One

The excellent writer, commentator, and self-publishing motivator Sarah Hoyt is currently serializing her new novel Elf Blood over at the Mad Genius Club. She’s a little ways into it, and I haven’t quite caught up (see my last post on moving hell), but I can speak for the first five chapters that this is an enchanting and well-written fusion of fantasy and mystery fiction. Everyone who’s listened to or read my work at Way Too Fantasy should already know that fusion fiction makes me tingle in places I never talk about in polite company (and only rarely bring up in rude company). I highly recommend you check it out.

Elf Blood, Chapter One

 

Blogs/ Writers to look for

Eventually I’m going to have a blogroll at the side, but for now, I want to take time every Friday to list a few literary and writing sites that I enjoy. These are in no particular order; I don’t necessarily endorse everything they say, and in many cases, the writers probably have no clue who I am. They’re just blogs that I like to look at when I’m breaking from writing… whether in the sense of ‘taking a break’ or ‘becoming broken.’

Terrible Minds:  Chuck Wendig

I confess… I like his fiction, and I’m not trying to disparage it at all. But his blogging and non-fiction will forever occupy a place in my heart. A tiny, blackened, charred, obscene place, but a place nonetheless. His books of writing tips are shocking, funny, and just all-around great pieces of work.

Karavansara:  Davide Mana

Signore Mana and I connected a little while back, I think, because of some Sword-and-Sorcery articles I wrote for Way Too Fantasy. His blog is a wonderful repository of all things pulp fiction related, and has already pointed me to a few writers I may not have discovered. He also has a fun short on Amazon and hopefully more to come.

Reddit:  Writing

Not a personal blog, of course, and also one of the generally best sources of writing information, support, and entertainment. There are other subreddits based on what type of writing you’d like to do, but usually, a few minutes (okay… it’s reddit… a few hours) here give me the strength to keep going on one of my projects.

According to Hoyt:  Sarah Hoyt

I tried to link to one of her articles yesterday, only to realize that it wasn’t her day to post on the Mad Genius Club blog. (Also, I realized the importance of having someone double-check your posts, and triple-check if you’re at home recovering from the first time you took a sick day in four-and-a-half years.) According to Hoyt is the blog that really pushed me over the edge into self-publishing (along with a lot of encouragement from June Stormcrow, also at Way Too Fantasy). She blogs about libertarian and conservative issues a lot as well and always puts things into pointed, sometimes biting language.

I’ll have more later, and if anyone has any recommendations, please drop a line. I’m still trying to feel my way around the new blog and would love to get input from other writers out there.