At Least One
14 November 2001
I want to thank Heather for writing to find out where we actually disagree and where we were just misunderstanding each other. I wish I saw more of that. Sometimes I wish I did more of that.
Often, when I get most argumentative, people don't realize that I'm trying to get them to admit to At Least One. I'd like people to admit that there is At Least One cosmopolitan city in the Midwest, for example. I don't need for anybody to claim that living in Decorah, Iowa, is culturally rich (although I'm not ruling out some cool stuff happening there with some interesting people). I just want them to admit that the Midwest does not consist entirely of cows and screechy people. I'd like for people to admit that there is At Least One Christian who doesn't think that "You're going to burn in hell!" is a good way to convince people of anything, or a good attitude to take. That there is At Least One only child who doesn't pitch hissy fits when thwarted. (Actually, I'm aiming at At Least a dozen on those last two. But you see the point.)
When I'm faced with a statement that involves a really broad generalization -- especially one about me, but not always -- I don't always need to prove the statement entirely false. Mostly I want people to realize that they're making a generalization that's way too sweeping. I don't need to argue with the data that caused their generalization. If they spent their freshman year of college living with an only child who was a harridan, I'm not trying to say she was a sweetheart. Etc. I'm just trying to point out that the larger conclusion was premature.
Ah well. Last evening, Mark wasn't home yet and Timprov had already gone to bed. So I was eating dinner by myself and started reading Lois Tilton's Written in Venom, which I downloaded for free from Fictionwise. I'm going to finish it off, but...well, I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it. (I would have paid more than "free." But not a lot more.) It's not that it's unreadably bad. It's about the type of book that I'd get from the library and never check out again.
The thing is, it's trying to tell the Norse myths from Loki's perspective. Which is a really cool idea. Except that Tilton has made Loki into Not The Trickster. He is the Innocent Victim. Sometimes he's the Stupidly Innocent Victim. Whenever she has to make a choice between Loki behaving stupidly but morally and Loki doing something [gulp] bad, she chooses the former. Okay, so her premise is that the myths got him all wrong. But heroes can do bad things sometimes. It makes them...three-dimensional. And I'd much rather read about a clever, interesting person who sometimes does bad things -- and if the writer wants to make him the hero, she can justify the bad things in various ways, either to us or in his head -- than an idiot who's always put upon by the evil Aesir. Who aren't even very bright themselves -- Tyr the Lawgiver is portrayed as an idiot, too, when he was the cool-headed one, the one that normal warriors followed (as opposed to berserkers). That inversion seems totally unnecessary.
I don't know why authors who want to "invert" a story feel like they have to invert all of it. Gregory Maguire did this with Wicked. Essentially, he and Tilton have made derivative new worlds, rather than showing how perspective could make the old ones look radically different. In a different genre completely, Sharon Kay Penman managed to take the same facts of Richard III's reign and make a totally different character of him, in The Sunne in Splendour -- but she kept the plotting cleverness that made him interesting in Shakespeare's version. It can be done. It just hasn't been done in Written in Venom.
But, heck, it was free.
Scifiction's original story this week is called "Days of Red and Green." I'm sure it won't have much, if anything, to do with the Red-Green Show. Which probably makes the author a hoser. Entirely likely.
(Oh, please tell me you know what the Red-Green Show is. Not you, Mike, I know you know. But the rest of you. Please?)
Do you know what I wore yesterday? I wore my real clothes. The temperature had dropped, the air was crisp, and out they came. I wore them in Minnesota when we visited, too. I feel like my fall clothes are my real clothes, and everything else -- deep winter clothes, my summer dresses and shorts -- is some kind of costuming. Jeans and clogs, and a big chunky-knit sweater or a little fitted-knit sweater or a snuggly flannel shirt, or else a short skirt and tights and clogs and a sweater...that's what I really wear. I like playing dress-up the rest of the year, but these are my real clothes, always have been.
So. I'm up early, for no reason this time. Nothing planned for today, just work and reading, the Tilton and Greg Bear's short stories in Tangents. Have a good one -- it's my "uncle" Bill's birthday.
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