In Which There Is A Rant Against Pseudo-Vikings and In Favor of Various Canadians

19 June 2003

I finally finished Kushiel's Dart. Uff da mai, fy da mai. You only have to poke that world very very gently, and it falls to pieces. The sealess Vikings, for example: how did they get to be Vikings without the ocean? How did they feed themselves? How did they get away from the spots they raided? How on earth did they manage to win on raids, even, if, as Carey had her heroine comment at the end, they had a hard time with such brilliant innovations as putting their shields over their heads to stop arrows raining down on them? It was just silly.

The thing that confuses me is that this novel got blurbed by people I read and trust not to be silly -- Emma Bull and Delia Sherman, for example. Did they not see how silly those bits were? Or did they just not care? I don't know -- I didn't put it down, which is saying something...but it's not saying much, I don't think. I could probably be entertained by the second and third books, but not enough that I would seek them out, not unless my low blood pressure was acting up again.

I read Scientific American and started the July/August issue of Analog; then I can leave them for Mark to read. F&SF will be next. I haven't been feeling good this morning, so I'm eyeing everything with a bit of wariness, including my book pile.

It's supposed to be 65 today. It was 65 for most of May, most of April, most of has been 65, in fact, on most days since October. Enough already. I'd like some weather now, please.

Ah well. I can wait until I get to Minnesota.

I have the pictures from this last weekend up now, starting here. Some of them are fun. You can see what Mark's doctoral robes look like. They're nifty.

I'm also cranky at Toni, the main character from "Glass Wind" and "MacArthur Station," planned main character from many other short stories. I wanted to work on "Rest Stop" last night (which I did, a little), but she was yammering at me about the bay laurels. On and on she went, bay laurels, bay laurels, so finally I sat down and wrote a couple hundred words to keep her happy. But I could have used that time quite adequately for other things, thank you not at all, stupid character. I fear that her episodic novel will demand writing sooner rather than later; on the other hand, that gives me a bunch of short stories to try to sell, and it seems like that might be an easy way to write a novel? Maybe? I'll find out one way or the other, I suppose, it's just that occasionally I get the crazy notion that people should have to have independent existence to tell me what to do.

People have evidently been telling Karina (whose permalinks still don't work for me...) what to do as a writer. Only it sounds like they're more focused on what not to do. Don't do what you're doing! Do something else! I think we all hear some of this from time to time. "Don't be a teacher, be a journalist!" "Don't pursue your Ph.D., go get a job and earn money right away!" "Don't do physics! God, I hated physics! How can you stand physics?...." It's the specificity of it that kills me with writing. "You know what you should write is a hard-driving adventure tale with an uplifting ending, using Celtic mythology but eventually reflecting a Judeo-Christian ethic, set in Ancient Greece, with lots of locust motifs, and the main character's name should be Shalandriel." Uh, and how many chapters should this masterpiece have? Any further advice, or do you just want to go write the book yourself?

I think part of the problem Karina's experiencing is that she's still in college. When you're out of college, if you say you're a writer, people are surprised and don't know what to say, but they treat it as more of a fait accompli, especially if you're insistent that it is your real job. (Although they will ask if you've published anything.) But they still treat "college kids" like they're ready to have their young minds molded into some youthful ideal. Blech.

I don't mind so much when people tell me they'd like to see more of something in particular. Maybe if I get to my 50s and people are still telling me to write Other Place books and nothing else, that might be frustrating, but right now, you like my work and want more of it? No problem! Or if they say they'd like to see me play with some notion in general, that's okay, too (so I'm not annoyed with you, Matt, over the nuclear physics suggestion). I take statements like, "Hey, have you ever thought about doing anything with oceanography?" as a translation of, "I would like to read more SF with oceanography, and I would like to read more of your SF, so the combination seemed natural." And I like it when people give me titles. I love it when people give me titles.

But I still think Karina should go kick the "children's books are easy and don't require creativity" lady in the shins, though. Because I don't really have the time to do it myself.

And speaking of Canadians....

Now that Canada has legalized gay marriage, I'm reminded that there are people who believe that state legalization of a marriage is forcing them, personally, to accept it, against their religious beliefs. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say: nuh-uh.

Look. The state makes all sorts of things legal that aren't moral and all sorts of things illegal that are perfectly moral. The state is not about moral. That's not the business they're in. If you can't come up with any examples of legal-but-not-moral or moral-but-not-legal under your own moral code, frankly, I think you're not trying very hard.

My religion objects to marriages in which the partners insult and belittle each other constantly. Those marriages are acknowledged by the state. Does that mean that I have to accept them, approve of them, recognize them as morally right, just, and the Way Things Ought To Be? Encourage my children to enter into similar unions? Not hardly. Is my own marriage weakened by the existence of spouses who treat each other in ways that I don't consider right for a married couple? No, it isn't. I don't see how it could be. I don't see what they have to do with us. It's their choice to stay and snipe at each other.

Am I saying that gay people are the moral equivalent of those who insult and belittle each other? Nothing of the sort. I'm just saying that there are already plenty of state-sanctioned marriages that my religion doesn't approve of. Probably there's one on your block. So claiming that state recognition forces people to accept any old thing as valid at all, against their religion, just doesn't really make sense to me. It doesn't. Keep your moral positions any way you want them. It's no skin off my -- well, it may be some skin off my nose, it may be my problem indeed, but that's not really what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the specific "they're forcing us to accept it in violation of our religion" idea.

Some religions don't allow for divorce. The state does. Does that mean that the members of that religion have to accept divorce as a morally correct option? No, it doesn't. No moral viewpoint can be forced upon you merely by being legalized. Stop claiming that it can.

One last try at this: many Catholic priests won't marry people who aren't Catholic, or aren't at least taking classes to become Catholic. So obviously, the existence of non-Catholics getting married legally (to each other or to Catholics) doesn't force them to consider it okay or do it themselves. Right? So? Can we extend this one, please?

Well, maybe not, but it was worth a try. I'm going to go work on the book, because I don't believe, with Columbine, that "mediocre entertainments inevitably drive out the good ones." I have a few good books on my shelves that haven't been driven anywhere, and I'd like to add to the stack.

Oh, and one last thing: Mark has decided to be the "special guest blogger" and do commentary on the pages that were commentary-free from me, since he went to San Gregorio without me. So there's that. Enjoy!

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