Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whoops.


Sarah and I have shorts in this book...
It appears we have a shortage of posters today. It's probably because chaos reigns or a very large meteor has hit the US. Not NY because I have it on good authority that the bankers there would have caught it and tossed it back.


So therefore - once more into the breech, supermonkey. (clank. sound of breech closing, and sudden explosion.) With a sickening splat a small simian proves that 1) he is not supermonkey. 2)'human cannonball' is one of those jobs where specie-ist job-reservation is a good thing.


So let's go back to characters. And we dealt principally with heroes - by the way thing worked out. But what about Heroines? (or depending on preference or alieness - other).

Who do we love, and who do we hate? And why?

Come one-come all. Offer up your dream goddesses (that's you I'm pointing this thunderbolt at John) and role models and "if there were two people left on earth I'd pray it wasn't her."


Me, I have always had this soft spot for women who take on hell with a firebucket (the soft spot is in my skull, where I got hit by the firebucket, and are practical - Tiffany Aching, erhm and a few of mine. And for dislike Cathy Earnshaw the wet-lettuce (or that kitty character). Someone must like them.... why?
Dave

33 comments:

Dave Freer said...

What? no comments? Post something or else I will start on snippets of my poetry. You'll be SORRY!!!

WangZheng259 said...

I just got to this website now, and I take a while to write things out. I like Tiffany Aching. I'm afraid that the only other female novel protagonists I can think right now are Robin McKinley's from the Blue Sword and her other book whose name I can't remember. Really, the strongest favorite of the moment is Nanoha Takamichi. She is from a Japanese media property, and seems to have been cheerful compassionate determination and hard work personified from an early age. Now that my brain is working better, I can think of others, but I am going to have to go with Nanoha, because she is an excellent example of oddness of personality being successful, to the point of making me question my assumptions about military age.

Dave Freer said...

Well done, YZ259! You saved... if not the universe, at least several minds from leaving home and going back to mummy. (my poetry is immortal, or at least sadly very hard to kill. Even with small thermonuclear devices...)

Now that 'least favorite heroine' - the sort of requires brain-floss type?

Amanda Green said...

Dave, I don't believe you about your poetry. It can't be that bad. Of course, if you have O'Mike singing it, that's another matter altogether [VBG].

As for my least favorite heroine, I go back to my comment the other day. I have thrown more books across the room -- much to the displeasure of my cat -- when the female lead is the kick-ass, more intelligent, hippest character in the book who, when the bad boy hero looks at her melts and turns into the breathless sex goddess. This especially irks me when she is either a virgin or hasn't had sex since the last century.

Then, of course, there are the Mary Sues who manage to sail through all the pitfalls and perils of the book without breaking a nail or a sweat.

WangZheng259 said...

Well, going off the top of my head, I do not care for MisaMisa from DeathNote, but that is more due to dislike for the one she works for. She isn't exactly the leading heroine, either, though the one she minons for is the 'Hero'. (My major problem with the 'hero' is that I think he is really an idiot that the author cheats for to try to pass off as a genius. Of course, part of it is that I am analysing the story in a context it wasn't meant to hold up in.) This isn't a good answer.

Part of the problem is that I am not in a good position to remember things I'd rather not at the moment. One thing I think I would tend to dislike in a story is actual serious madness of the sort that means one can't take care of oneself. When the madness isn't compensated for, or useful, I find that it is too close to real life, and what I am exposed to at times.

Finally, I have a partial answer. Charles Stross wrote a series with a female American doctor lead who could travel between worlds. Some essential background on me. I hate recreational drug use to a degree that full disclosure might be a violation of the Bar's rules about various things. I am also an American nationalist to a pretty good degree. She found out that she got her abilities from her genetic family, who used them to traffic drugs and offend against the United States. It was pretty obvious to me that her only sane or moral choice in the situation was to kill off her biological family, and that killing off a few cities would not be too high a price, considering the threat they posed. This is something that would have been in her power to do. It was also fairly obvious that she and Mr. Stross did not share my opinions, and I never got around to reading the rest of the books. It was a combination of shoving the differences of opinion in my face with a scenario that escalated things, from my perspective, while trying to run the story at a lower level of importance. However, this was merely irritating rather then a situation of requiring brain bleach.

An analogy that might work for a more normal set of values, as well as my own, is this: The story states a few times that women are worthless and stupid, and other such infuriating things. The scenario is the kingdom is being invaded. However, this is ignored because the author really wants to tell the story of a bout of fisticuffs for the hand of the princess.

Also, it is Wang (King) Zheng, after the guy born in 259 BC who founded the Qin dynasty.

Going off of Amanda's response, I suspect that part of things is that I haven't been reading enough published things that are not from Baen, or have otherwise been too discriminate.

Ed Bear said...

I'm enjoying my way through Witch Way to the Mall right now. I rather enjoyed The Incident of the Inferno Grill (Sarah's) and Soot (yours) was rather neat, including a horrible pun. I consider myself fortunate that you, Eric Flint, John Ringo and Tom Kratman have made me paranoid about stopping to sip and swallow before continuing to read.

Thank you.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Speaking of heroines we fall in love with ... Has anybody seen the movie 'Tank Girl'????

Based on a comic, Lori Petty plays the tongue in cheek kick-ass heroine, with a young Naomi Watts as her innocent sidekick. Plus a band of half-human kangaroo warriors.

My boys saw this and I think they fell in love with her sassy can-do attitude.

Yay, for men who love strong women!

Anton Gully said...

(Tank Girl was not a great movie but it was fun. Unless your boys are older teens, I wouldn't be recommending the comics to them.)

I struggled to think of a single heroine I like. Not so much because I've anything against the idea, though I probably do at some level, but because I just haven't been reading THAT much modern fiction.

I'm currently reading ERB's "The Moon Maid" and it's pretty scary stuff, but I can forgive it because of its age, like racist grandmas everywhere.

The "Moon Maid" of the title is your typical helpless female, by comparison to the hero anyway. I mean she's feisty. Obviously she's going to be feisty. Goes without saying. But forever falling off things, tripping over things and generally behaving like a peril-seeking missile.

If I had to pick a heroine it would have to be the White Rose/Darling from the Black Company books, but she's primarily a leader rather than a warrior. And historically that's pretty much how it was, at best.

Amanda Green said...

Not exactly what you asked, Dave, but the other thing that bothers me is when a main character in a series doesn't grow or evolve. I don't mean where, in each successive book, they learn a new spell or gain a new power or -- gag -- new and ever more impossible sexual positions. (Let's face it, no matter how much they try, the human body can only move in certain ways without joints tearing and bones breaking. Too many authors forget that.)

What I'm talking about is when the characters don't grow either emotionally, intellectually, spiritually -- something. Unfortunately, it seems to happen all too often with women authors writing the strong, kick-ass female leads. The result is a character that started off being interesting turning into nothing more than a one dimensional yawn.

Sorry, it is a pet peeve of mine. I'll climb down from the soapbox before I really get going.

Ori Pomerantz said...

Dave, I want to read your poetry.

I don't think what I want in a heroine is any different from what I want in a hero. Competence, goodness, while being interesting. Tiffany Aching is a good one. So is Miles' mother or Granny Weatherwax.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

In a heroine? Same as I want in a hero, but more so -- because women do labor under smaller body/lower body strength, etc. Other than that, I want a decent human being.

Only I don't tend to fall in love with female characters. Not wired that way.

If I had to name my favorite sf heroine... Podkayne (of Mars, natch.) Fantasy -- Granny Weatherwax. Romance, Venetia.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Sarah, I am a fan of Podkayne of Mars. Wasn't Heinlein wonderful in those days?

Anton, you are so right. Books date. The attitudes of the characters become almost a parody.

Amanda, you mentioned characters that don't grow, especially kick-ass female ones. Would you be talking about Anita Blake? I think the best of that series was number 4, (I think) where Hamilton introduces the assistant, and Anita appears to be growing emotionally as she's training him.

kesalemma said...

Quote: If I had to pick a heroine it would have to be the White Rose/Darling from the Black Company books, but she's primarily a leader rather than a warrior. And historically that's pretty much how it was, at best.Have you read The Books of the South (Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, The Silver Spike) that come after the first Black Company trilogy? I'm currently about halfway into book 2, and I think I much prefer Lady to Darling - despite what she was before. But then, she does play more of a part in this trilogy, and in fact, much of book 2 is from her viewpoint.

My favourite heroine is Honor Harrington. Strong, but with real human frailties. I share too many of the frailties (and for similar reasons), but not the strength - and I don't mean physically. Even if I don't always agree with her politically. And I think that's part of what I like about her - she is so well written that I can see and understand her point of view, even though I don't necessarily share it.

Dave Freer said...

(searches for large bar of carbolic soap) Need to wash Ori's mouth out. What a thing to say. My Poetry suffers from... (shudder) being meaningful. Unclean unclean!

Dave Freer said...

Amanda wrote: "when the female lead is the kick-ass, more intelligent, hippest character in the book who, when the bad boy hero looks at her melts and turns into the breathless sex goddess. This especially irks me when she is either a virgin or hasn't had sex since the last century."

erhm. That's tricky. You see, there are a lot of very intelligent people of both sexes who exibit this sort of insanity in real life. We're blunt folk around here and we call this condition being... um. This is a PG13 site so I'll settle for c...-struck. I've seen it in both males and females, where the entire brain is dissolved into the groin and logic becomes illusionary. Now it's bloody annoying in real life. But it's very real, especially among teenagers with rioting hormones. Should we not write about it? Or how should we handle it?

Dave Freer said...

With my spelling Wang Zheng is tempting fate to some horrible translation possibilities. So a strong morla disagreement - which would have applied regardless of the character's sex, right? It's interesting because so few of the posts have picked on the sexual characteristics as something to dislike. It raises the question - are we writers fooling ourselves - does sex not sell after all?

Dave Freer said...

Ed. Are you suggesting I would prostitute my art to the pun? That goes against my grain. I would never be so ill-bread, as everyone knows buns are the lowest form of wheat. (sniff)

Dave Freer said...

Rowena - strong women - on total tangent - I'm able to sort of understand men and indeed women who want a wishy washy partner for short term sexual interest. It's kind of like not buying an inflatable doll that gives you a swift backhand for touching. But I am at a loss to see why any sane man who wants a long term relationship and kids should not try and pick the brightest and strongest possible partner. Anyone who does not have that much of a grasp of basic genetics deserves what they get. Besides wishy washy washy women are something I personally find irritating and boring. But maybe this is genetics and role modelling again. My mum - who is tiny, volunteered for the Naval Artillary in WW2 and used to drive a 10 ton truck - before syncromesh and power steering. She likes snakes and spiders...

Anton Gully said...

Have you read The Books of the South (Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, The Silver Spike) that come after the first Black Company trilogy? I'm currently about halfway into book 2, and I think I much prefer Lady to Darling - despite what she was before. But then, she does play more of a part in this trilogy, and in fact, much of book 2 is from her viewpoint.I managed to read the Silver Spike, out of sequence and have only finished the books of the North. Now that you remind me, the Croaker/Lady relationship in the final book of the North was absolutely superb.

I'm holding off on starting the books of the South - I want to spread the series out a bit so I can appreciate it more.

When I was a teen I discovered Ray Bradbury and after getting a couple of his books out of the library I stopped reading him, and to this day there is a lot of his work I haven't looked at. I'm saving it for when I need it.

Dave Freer said...

Amanda - on character evolution - which I think is maybe another topic - what do you do when you have a series that just won't be allowed to die. Everybody likes Benito. I do too. But the last 2 books have been about him growing.

Dave Freer said...

Kesalemma - the issue of frailies and strength is I think key to really powerful writing - no one wants to see superman (who we can't easily id with) shoot fish in a barrel yet again. (this - pardon my pointing this out, my American friends - seems an american male mil-sf wannabe writer trait. I suppose it is wish fulfilment in a way, but I'd rather have my wish fulfilment a la Mouse Padway - anyone recognise that book?). For me strength of character - ethical/moral/mental strength tend to be more attractive than physical strength. But I speak for my own values

Dave Freer said...

Anton - your comments about overkilling on an author are interesting indeed. I remember so enjoying a book I promptly started at the beginning again. A mistake. I find particularly with intense thoughtful authors, you need a break. It's one ofthe reasons I believe huge books may be bad for fast readers - besides the irate 'you kept me awake all night' letters. But seriously - what is an author to do? His publisher wants more of a series - he writes fast (and needs the income)... I've tried splitting into differnt book times and personas for them. Interested in your thoughts.

Ori Pomerantz said...

Dave: I've seen it in both males and females, where the entire brain is dissolved into the groin and logic becomes illusionary. Now it's bloody annoying in real life. But it's very real, especially among teenagers with rioting hormones. Should we not write about it? Or how should we handle it?Ori: We can afford to have our brain dissolve into our groin. We aren't usually in a life and death situation (except while driving).

But heroes in books are often in cases where illogic could kill them. Would they still experience the same phenomena?

Amanda Green said...

Rowena,you asked if I minded talking about the Anita Blake series. I don't, of course, since that is one of the series I was talking about. I loved the first four books or so of the series because the pacing was good and there was development of Anita as a character. I won't even pick up one of the books now. No, don't throw anything at me. I simply think Anita has become a parady -- is she the kick ass bounty hunter/detective? Is she going to shift into a cat, or some other animal, at the next full moon? Is she necromancer? Is she going to become a mindless vampire servant? Is she ever going to get out of bed?

This is one of those series Dave asked about that just won't die. Unfortunately, imo, it should die because now it is more an excuse for LKH to write sex scenes than for her to write the kind of stories that made the series so popular in the first place.

Amanda Green said...

Dave, you asked if we shouldn't write, or if we do how would we write, scenes where the competent female suddenly turns into the breathless sex goddess when the hunky hero enters the scene. Like you, I know it happens in real life and have seen it happen. Unfortunately, I didn't describe my objection well -- it happens when I try to do anything without enough caffeine in my system.

What I was getting at are those stories where the female goes so completely off-character and either lets herself be dragged to bed with the hero and then doesn't have a moment of regret or introspection or even thought about what happened afterwards. It is all, "Oooh, he was so wonderful. I've never felt like this before...will he come tomorrow? He must come tomorrow...." and no, "What in the world was I
thinking? Have I lost my mind?"

I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that I have problems with situations when our MC does something so out of character that you know there ought to be that moment of "WTF?" from his or her POV but it never comes. I don't know if that makes sense. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to caffeinate this morning, so the brain isn't quite operating on four cylinders, much less eight.

Amanda Green said...

Dave, you asked about the series that won't die. I happen to love a series where the character grows. It might only be a little, but he/she learns from the situations they are thrown into and that is incorporated into their character in the next book.

Still, it can be a problem as well. Take, for example, JD Robb's Eve Dallas. She started out as a flawed, but very kick ass, dedicated cop with no private life. She lived and breathed the job and then, just like I talked about earlier, found herself in bed with the chief suspect in a murder. There are several books where she struggles with the relationship, the fact there is a relationship because they are so different, etc. But those emotional struggles help her grow up emotionally.

The last several books in the series have come under attack from some of the series fans because they see Eve as getting soft. Their reason for this, she now thinks about how her actions might impact her husband, her friends. She isn't as uncomfortable showing her husband affection in public. In short, she has grown in a "natural" way.

Now, these aren't the most well written books. They are, I'll admit, a guilty pleasure. But one of the reasons in do enjoy them is the fact Eve has grown from book to book based on the situations she finds herself in.

The growth doesn't have to be major, just steady and consistent within the experiences of the character.

Falling off of soapbox now and crawling off in search of more coffee.

John Lambshead said...

Dear Dave

You asked for my dream goddesses - what are you suggesting, sirrah, by the way.

OK, here goes, in no particular order:

Emma Peel
The Wicked Lady
She
Selene
Salomi
Cleopatra & Arsene

Oh damn, a pattern is developing. I think i will stop now.

John

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

John,

LOL, you like scary women.

Dave, on people whose brain runs out their ears when they see a hottie -- yeah, it happens, and yeah it happens to smart people. But d*mn it, Jim, we're writers not chroniclers. Reality doesn't have to be plausible or non disgusting. We do.

As I said before, the human brain is a machine for ordering reality -- and so is fiction. We make reality make sense and give people a way to find the "highest road" through life. Oh, not by preaching, but by the unexplained assumptions of our world. So...

Okay. I haven't had coffee either, and I think I'm drowning. Somebody throw me a lifesaver. NOT the candy!

Ori Pomerantz said...

Sarah: We make reality make sense and give people a way to find the "highest road" through life.Ori: Yes, but it's about dealing with life when you're imperfect, and surrounded by imperfect people.

One of those imperfection may be "brain going into groin mode" - and showing how to deal with it, when it happens to you, or to a friend.

Dave Freer said...

Ori said: "But heroes in books are often in cases where illogic could kill them. Would they still experience the same phenomena?"

In a word, yes.

I can personally think of men (me too) and women taking the most silly chances in the midst of vast threat to have sex. And history is full of it all the way from the bloke who swam the Hellaspont. I conclude the desire to procreate outweighs logic. One cannot prove this, but it is, the way that Mount Everest is ;-) The trick is making it convincing in a book when the reader is hopefully still in control of his/her brains.

Dave Freer said...

Amanda said: "I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that I have problems with situations when our MC does something so out of character that you know there ought to be that moment of "WTF?" from his or her POV but it never comes."

I am afraid -as a very lazy man - I like to teach by making others think of the answers - they tend to remember them better that way too. Therein lies the great truth - it's NOT reality we're trying to write. It's a story ie an image of reality which is plausible enough to fool the reader. As the reader hasn't had his brain dissolve into his groin (at least only if he enjoys later Ah needa bloke... er Anita Blake), occasional snippets of logical though must allow us to see his progression into madness.

Dave Freer said...

John, I was suggesting that I've read some re-written Greek legend from you...

WangZheng259 said...

Dave,

I don't really care about how an account name is spelled, I'm just a little bit of a nitpicker. On that note, it isn't entirely a moral disagreement, there are strong visceral and emotional issues as well. If I was not in the habit of keeping my emotions in check, I am sure that they would try to lead me in in violation of my morality on the drug issue. It might have actually been more difficult for a man to pull off the genocide I'd planned while reading the book. Men are more reproductively expendable, and the Clan might have been more willing to liquidate one that wasn't ideologically in line. Still, I'd evaluate my dislike as being fairly gender neutral.

Both genders can be attracted to things I find detestable. I cannot think of any particularly bad example of a female main viewpoint charactor of a novel that disgusted me in such a way. However, I can autocensor much of the sexual content out of what I read, and I tend to avoid Romance. Furthermore, I tend to let myself forget when something really bothers me.

As for other things that correlate with gender, well, I tend to file the 'Women are awesome, men are evil, and functioning human societies can and should operate without males!' books as preaching rather then a bad protagonist. Furthermore, I think the ancient greeks had essentially the same thing, so it isn't really a correlation. Outside of authorial voice, and societal word building, double standards of morality may only be a charactor flaw. I think there is some difference between the genders on the statistical level, but individuals are not statistical populations. Viewpoint charactors of a novel are not representative samples of the population, and only in low population worlds are they going to skew the overall population much.

As far as sex selling, if I were you, I would be very cautious not to oversample me in any analysis of reader populations. I am very atypical.

Also keep in mind that most of the people commenting here are likely fans of one or more of the authors, or the authors themselves. If you, John and Sarah are a representative sample of the authors here, then I would say this bunch tends to write in such a way that would attract commentators that are pretty flexible readers. On top of this possible form of oversampling, it occurs to me to wonder if someone who disliked a charactor because she was a woman, or attracted to males or whatever would feel comfortable posting that here.