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As days off go, yesterday was a day I truly would have been better spent working.

Comments would be very helpful today.

There was snow this morning, but nothing stuck, and it's changed over to rain. That was my gift from the Ides of March, I suppose. I've never before told Mars to go fuck "himself," but I'm getting there.

---

Last night, we finished Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. And I'll keep this brief, because there's no need to do otherwise. As a trilogy, these books are a failure. However, The Hunger Games is quite good, and I recommend it. It has something to say, and it says it. It's grim and true. Sure, it's not very original, but original isn't actually very important (it's one of the lies of fiction, originality). That said, Mockingjay has it's moments, and the ending...the last seventy-five pages or so...are close to truly brilliant. Though, the epilogue stunk of one of those things that publishers coerce writers into tacking on so that books won't end on such "down notes." Oh, yes, kittens, this happens all the time. It has happened to me. No, I won't tell you which book.* So, if you want to read the "trilogy," read The Hunger Games, skip Catching Fire, read Mockingjay...BUT....stop at the end of Chapter 27, which is really THE END, and tear out the silly ass, venomous epilogue before you accidentally read it, as it risks making a lie of the truths told in the preceding chapters. The epilogue subverts the truths, exactly the way the propaganda machines of the novel subvert the truth.

The truth is simple and Orwellian. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I applaud the author for having the nerve to be true to Katniss, but I lament whatever caused her to think a trilogy with a saggy middle was necessary.

I will add that Collins could have done better with her world-building. Specifically, okay...we know America has become Panem following war, climate change, disease, and social upheaval. We know that the population of Panem is small enough that the leaders worry about the size of the human gene pool and try not to inflict too many fatalities for fear of extinction. But. What about the rest of the world? Did all other nations perish absolutely? All of them? It seems very unlikely. And the people of Panem have sophisticated radio (never mind television). Even if Panem isn't actively looking for other nations, those nations would be able to detect Panem's presence.

If nothing else, Panem has boats. The Phoenicians and Vikings did quite a lot of exploration, even without steam, electric, and nuclear-powered ships (Panem at least has the potential to possess all three). I suspect we're not given this information because then questions have to be answered that would threaten the integrity of the story. Example: Why doesn't tyrannical Panem seek much needed resources (including breeding stock) by waging war on other nations? This isn't really a quibble. These questions could have been addressed in such a way that didn't harm the story. They just weren't. That is, not answered by better world-building, which is odd, because most of Collins' world is very, very authentic.

---

Other books are entering and exiting my life. Yesterday, we began reading Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, which I suspect will be brilliant. Also began Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, which promises to be more brilliant still.

However, I also began what is surely the lousiest attempt at sf I've tried to read in many, many years. I only made it three chapters. Now, I will not tell you the name of the author, the book's title, or the publisher. I will tell you that this is a first-time YA author who got a whopping seven-figure deal for this piece of trash. I will tell you that, because you need to know these things happen. Every damn day. Not to put too fine a point on it, this book is absolutely, irredeemably fucking awful. On every level. Had I discovered it among the scrawlings of a fourth grader, I might have been impressed and thought that someday this person might be able to write. But this was written by an adult. And you need to know, this is how publishing works. Last night, reading it, I'm not sure if all my laughing was because the book's so bloody awful, or if I was laughing the way someone laughs when she peers into the abyss and it peers back into her.

You merely open this book, and all across the universe, brilliant fantasy and sf authors who labor in crushing obscurity and poverty, writing gems for pittances, bow their heads and shuffle on, knowing the score. Business as usual. Seven-figure advances....

If you can avoid it, do not open this book. I can't help you more than I have. My copy (fortunately it was free), goes to the paper shredder. It'll make good packing material.

---

I teeter on a needle tip, wondering if I can write YA without abandoning one of the few things that makes me a decent writer: my voice. I believe that I can, but I see so many examples to the contrary. It's hard to find good YA that also has a distinctive voice. Stories that give away their authors with every sentence. Contemporary YA is almost devoid of stylists, and I am, for better or worse, a stylist.

---

Yesterday was a success, if only because I didn't commit suicide. May the world still be here tomorrow.

In Utter Fucking Bafflement,
Aunt Beast

They heard me singing and they told me to stop
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
Can we ever get away from the sprawl?
Living in the sprawl, the dead shopping malls rise
Like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight

I need the darkness. Someone, please cut the ligths...


(Arcade Fire)

It's snowing again. And sticking. Fuck me. Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.

Postscript (6:19 p.m.): Okay, I will. It was Threshold. And also the novel I ghost wrote.

Comments

( 81 comments — Have your say! )
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joshrupp
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
So ... what was the book?
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)

So ... what was the book?

"Now, I will not tell you the name of the author, the book's title, or the publisher."
robyn_ma
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
[redacted by commenter]

Thanks for the hint. Will avoid.

Edited at 2011-03-21 06:31 pm (UTC)
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the hint. Will avoid.

You're welcome.
joshrupp
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but that's like saying, "Somewhere in the world there is something just awful. It's kind of like a centipede robot bomb. Good luck with that."
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)

"Somewhere in the world there is something just awful. It's kind of like a centipede robot bomb. Good luck with that."

Exactly. But not really. Read robyn_ma 's comment. I've done all I can do.
(no subject) - strange_selkie - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
shantih
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
The way I see it, if The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation could be published as YA — as indeed it was (and I loved it) — then your distinctive voice can't possibly be too thorny, or too difficult, or too stylized for YA to embrace.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)

then your distinctive voice can't possibly be too thorny, or too difficult, or too stylized for YA to embrace.

We shall see.
(no subject) - sovay - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sovay - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
nykolus
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)
FYI: newsletter from SubPress this morning is sporting "...the nearly completed dust jacket illustration" for TWaIB. i likes what i sees so far!!!
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC)

FYI: newsletter from SubPress this morning is sporting "...the nearly completed dust jacket illustration" for TWaIB. i likes what i sees so far!!!

No one tells me anything.
(no subject) - nykolus - Mar. 21st, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
mlb194
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
I was recently in Madagascar for a year and to avoid boredom in down time read anything in English I could get my hands on. I was constantly angered by the atrocious writing that gets some people published and stunned that people chose to read such things.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)

I was constantly angered by the atrocious writing that gets some people published and stunned that people chose to read such things.

Shit floats.
anghara
Mar. 21st, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
HAH. I may not have read THAT book,the one with the seven figure advance, but I've read books that come from the same damn family - first cousins, mayhap - and I've had much the same response to them. There are times that I try like hell to understand publishing and I fail utterly - books I've read in MS are rejected because "this book won't sell a minimum of 25 000 copies" (like, how would they know?) and books I've read as heavily promoted shiny volumes with embossed covers hold my attention for the first ten pages if that and then I can probably dictate the rest of the plot to you without EVER having read the rest of the book (and these WILL sell 25 000 copies? WHY?)

(I would LOVE to hear your take on my own YA series...)
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)

times that I try like hell to understand publishing and I fail utterly - books I've read in MS are rejected because "this book won't sell a minimum of 25 000 copies" (like, how would they know?)

Because they think they know the market.

(and these WILL sell 25 000 copies? WHY?)

Because shit floats.

(I would LOVE to hear your take on my own YA series...)

I might get to it, but I can't make any promises.
(no subject) - anghara - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
sovay
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
My copy (fortunately it was free), goes to the paper shredder. It'll make good packing material.

Yeah, if you put it in the cat box, it'd probably give Hubero an allergy.

I teeter on a needle tip, wondering if I can write YA without abandoning one of the few things that makes me a decent writer: my voice.

Yes. Kathe Koja. Tanith Lee. Ysabeau Wilce. Alan Garner. Elizabeth E. Wein. That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure I'm forgetting even more striking examples. But there are any number of YA authors who are also distinctive stylists: I wouldn't let that be an impediment to the evolution of Blue Canary.

Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.

That sounds like it could have been awesome . . .
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)

Yes. Kathe Koja. Tanith Lee. Ysabeau Wilce. Alan Garner. Elizabeth E. Wein. That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure I'm forgetting even more striking examples.

Thank you. I've read none of Kathe's YA, or any of these other authors, but I will. I should also note that both Lanagan and Zusak has distinctive voices.

Yeah, if you put it in the cat box, it'd probably give Hubero an allergy.

Hells yeah.
(no subject) - sovay - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_selkie - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sovay - Mar. 21st, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_kaz_maho - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_kaz_maho - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_kaz_maho - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_kaz_maho - Mar. 21st, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
niamh_sage
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
Contemporary YA is almost devoid of stylists, and I am, for better or worse, a stylist.

Go for it. YA could use more writers like you :)
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)

Go for it. YA could use more writers like you

Let's hope the Gatekeepers agree.
ericmvan
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
No, no, no, if the unnameable awful book made you laugh out loud it goes not to the shredder but to me for possible inclusion in Kirk Poland. I will not credit you for the discovery.

Oh, and think about renting Winter's Bone a week from tonight; that's when Bob and I will be watching and I certainly hope sovay will join us.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)

No, no, no, if the unnameable awful book made you laugh out loud it goes not to the shredder but to me for possible inclusion in Kirk Poland. I will not credit you for the discovery.

Will do! Actually, there's a line that Spooky suggested last night would be perfect for the Kirk Poland.
(no subject) - chris_walsh - Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:33 am (UTC) - Expand
dipsomaniac
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Not to put too fine a point on it

I've noticed you inserting this line lately and it makes me smile. I've been humming that song for days now.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)

I've noticed you inserting this line lately and it makes me smile.

I think it's on my string of prayer beads.
negothick
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
at ICFA there were quite a few papers on the Hunger Games books, including an entire session: the latter presenters have pitched (and had accepted) a scholarly essay collection for McFarland.
I made your points about the problems with worldbuilding, plus the even more obvious contradiction between the low-level tech of most of the country and the sophisticated nationwide TV broadcasts and surveillance cameras, which would require materials not found in the US and a huge energy infrastructure. The analogy with the Roman empire works well for food, I can see that the Capital could be well fed while everyone else starves, but not with technology.
My other comment was that these books are not read as SF by some YA readers (based on anecdotal evidence from several YA librarians of my acquaintance). In fact, several high-schoolers informed me that they hated science fiction, but these novels are not science fiction. When asked when they thought it was happening, they said "Now" or "A few years from now."
So the inconsistent worldbuilding is not bothering them.
It's parallel with the Harry Potter fans who read no other fantasy.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)

Thanks for these observations.

In fact, several high-schoolers informed me that they hated science fiction, but these novels are not science fiction. When asked when they thought it was happening, they said "Now" or "A few years from now."

Smart fucking kids. I'm impressed.
mrs_ralph
Mar. 21st, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
I really appreciate your book reviews. They keep me from wasting a lot of money since I tend to buy books on recommendation.

Hang in there the snow won't last long this time of year. A few more weeks and we will be complaining about the rain/heat.

And

I don't know whether to be sad or glad that I have no idea what a quantum entanglement sex dream would involve.


greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)


I don't know whether to be sad or glad that I have no idea what a quantum entanglement sex dream would involve.


A couple of extra dimensions.
(no subject) - chris_walsh - Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:37 am (UTC) - Expand
unknownbinaries
Mar. 21st, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
Comments would be very helpful today.

Have something that made my day a bit better. I am hoping that these will end up on shirts.

Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.

Dream-envy is becoming a familiar state. I think mine involved one of my cats escaping in a new town wolven and I moved to. They haven't been that interesting in a long time.

Enjoy your snow. It was eighty the day before Equinox, the trees are fucking already here, and I don't dare take anything for it or I'll just be unconscious.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)


Have something that made my day a bit better. I am hoping that these will end up on shirts.


yes, it made me laugh. Thanks. I especially love the first.

the trees are fucking already here,

I need the trees.
(no subject) - chris_walsh - Mar. 22nd, 2011 02:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chris_walsh - Mar. 22nd, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Mar. 21st, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)

The world will still be here tomorrow

Above all else, never take this for granted.
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( 81 comments — Have your say! )