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Author Topic: EP200: All You Zombies  (Read 26970 times)
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #80 on: April 16, 2010, 12:29:53 PM »

It's great to see Heinlein here!  I've never read anything by him, so this was my first exposure.  I've been meaning to remedy that, so I have a copy of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" on my shelf but haven't gotten to it yet.

Interesting story, though time paradoxes tend to get under my skin.  At least in this case it was entirely intentional and had lanterns hung all over it, which is much better than just an accidental.

I expect this was very controversial in its day with the transgender character, which is cool in and of itself.  Is it possible for one person to be fertile with both her male and female sex organs?  I guess I don't know enough about hermaphrodites to know for sure, but it seemed unlikely.

What got under my skin more than the time paradox was the genetics.  Mating through inbreeding is more likely to cause birth defects, yes?  So the moment he had a baby, every version of him would meet infinite potential for birth defects in the human genome, due to his infinite unbranching family tree.  And what of the genetic mutations that over many generations lead to evolution?  Why does he end up being the same person with each iteration?

Interesting that what appears to be a fairly well-rounded cast of 4 is all just a cast of one with the same guy in different guises.  That alone makes the story worth a listen.

I don't really like the title, though, just based on digressive philosophy that has nothing to do with the rest of the story.  I like a title that foreshadows the actual story.

For those who mentioned disliking the Whore Corps, and I agree with you, that was a pretty common trope back in the 50s.  At a library liquidation sale last year I bought a "Best of F&SF" book which anthologized a bunch of stories that ran in F&SF in its early years.  Most of them were just downright terrible, whether because of their datedness or just bad writing, these days.  One was particularly good called Gorilla Suit that I'd highly recommend as humor reading for anyone who can find it.  Anyway, there was a story in there, by, I think, C.S. Lewis which was centered around a similar Whore Corps.  The assumption seemed to be that it made sense for only men to be astronauts and women would only be worthy for space travel as sexual entertainment.  Which goes to show how views of gender have changed over the years, yes?  Anyway, as if the basic premise of the Lewis story weren't offensive enough to current views, the women who end up being sent up there were all "undesirable" by the astronauts, one being very old and thin as a rail and the other being overweight.  And that was really the whole point and plot of the story, how annoying these women were.  All You Zombies at least did not make that the entire point, it used it as part of the setting.

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« Reply #81 on: April 16, 2010, 12:42:13 PM »

For those who mentioned disliking the Whore Corps, and I agree with you, that was a pretty common trope back in the 50s.  At a library liquidation sale last year I bought a "Best of F&SF" book which anthologized a bunch of stories that ran in F&SF in its early years.  Most of them were just downright terrible, whether because of their datedness or just bad writing, these days.  One was particularly good called Gorilla Suit that I'd highly recommend as humor reading for anyone who can find it.  Anyway, there was a story in there, by, I think, C.S. Lewis which was centered around a similar Whore Corps.  The assumption seemed to be that it made sense for only men to be astronauts and women would only be worthy for space travel as sexual entertainment. 

How very Christian in outlook.  Roll Eyes  Of course, Narnia had a similarly misogynist aspect, dialed back a bit for the kiddies, natch.
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« Reply #82 on: April 16, 2010, 04:29:37 PM »

A) As far as I know, C.S. Lewis didn't do many short stories, and a "Whore Brigade" seems like a violently unlikely topic for a Lewis story.

B) The closest you get to misogyny in "Narnia" is the semi-infamous "Problem of Susan," which in my opinion is as much a problem of interpretation as a textual issue.  Given that his point was not "Women suck" but "Becoming too focused on the world and worldly things leads one away from the spiritual life," I don't think an accusation of misogyny has much of a leg to stand on.  Feel free to criticize his theological arguments for present the occasional false dilemma or overreach of logic, but let's keep unwarranted personal attacks on dead people to a minimum, hm?
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eytanz
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« Reply #83 on: April 16, 2010, 04:41:53 PM »

A) As far as I know, C.S. Lewis didn't do many short stories, and a "Whore Brigade" seems like a violently unlikely topic for a Lewis story.

B) The closest you get to misogyny in "Narnia" is the semi-infamous "Problem of Susan," which in my opinion is as much a problem of interpretation as a textual issue.  Given that his point was not "Women suck" but "Becoming too focused on the world and worldly things leads one away from the spiritual life," I don't think an accusation of misogyny has much of a leg to stand on.  Feel free to criticize his theological arguments for present the occasional false dilemma or overreach of logic, but let's keep unwarranted personal attacks on dead people to a minimum, hm?

On the other hand, there is "That Hideous Strength", where the female lead discovers that, because she of her presumption in becoming a female academic rather than a housewife, she had literally driven her husband to a deal with the devil. This is not a sub-text, it is explained quite explicitly in the text.

Note that I agree with you that the word "misogyny" is incorrectly applied here - Lewis does exhibit a non-trivial amount of sexism, but his views about women were not founded on hate, but rather on a belief that men and women have different roles to play in society. It is important to differentiate hate and other types of prejudice, if only because the most effective ways of ending one may not work for all.
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mbrennan
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« Reply #84 on: April 17, 2010, 04:36:44 PM »

"Misogyny" is probably the wrong word, yeah, but there's more to the problem of women in Narnia than just "the problem of Susan."  Girls could be okay, but adult women don't tend to come off very well.
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« Reply #85 on: April 18, 2010, 12:33:59 AM »

"C.S. Lewis had old-fashioned and, by our standards, sexist views on women," is not a statement I would take any offense at.  Calling him a misogynist annoys me, especially in a sort of breezy "well naturally" sort of way. 

EDIT upon reading the linked LJ entry.

- I don't see much there that isn't partially due to the reading given the books by the reader in question.  Lucy always struck me as quite a strong character; she's almost the protagonist of the Narnia series, in a way that bland Peter never managed.  However, that LJ post dismisses Lucy as just being "worshiped' because of C.S. Lewis' supposed Madonna/whore subtext.  *shrug*  If you're looking to interpret it that way, then sure, that sort of thing is in there; as I said, I wouldn't argue that Lewis has quite archaic viewpoints on the whole man/woman thing.  I just think it's better to absorb that sort of thing in context; as that essay points out, the female characters in the Narnia books are hardly two-dimensional (or not more so than the rest of the characters), and the Jill Pole/Eustace Scrubb dynamic is downright modern in their supportive friendship of one another.  I don't think he depersonalizes women particularly, and you have to dig a bit to find stuff to object to (though there is indeed some merit to those criticisms).  It's not like, say, Lovecraft's pretty blatant race-hatred or Frank Miller's issues with prostitutes or Dave Sims' frankly scary approach to the whole concept of gender.  Dismissing Lewis' female characters takes some willful blindness, to my mind.

(And we should probably either go start our own thread or end the derail at this point, honestly.  :-P)
« Last Edit: April 18, 2010, 12:46:12 AM by Scattercat » Logged

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« Reply #86 on: April 18, 2010, 03:07:13 PM »

You're right that we should probably end the tangent, so I'll just say this in closing:

- I don't see much there that isn't partially due to the reading given the books by the reader in question.

Which is true of *every* reading, to a lesser or greater extent.  But when you have a cluster of people looking at the books and agreeing that they don't think adult women come off very well (girls do better), then I think the reading gains force.
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« Reply #87 on: April 20, 2010, 08:48:25 AM »

A) As far as I know, C.S. Lewis didn't do many short stories, and a "Whore Brigade" seems like a violently unlikely topic for a Lewis story.

I still have the collection on my bookshelf.  It's possible that I mixed up the authors.  I know C.S. Lewis was in it, and I thought that was his story but I'm not 100% certain until I go look.
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« Reply #88 on: April 20, 2010, 08:58:25 AM »

It was indeed C.S. Lewis who wrote the Whore Corps story I'm thinking of.  I was rather surprised by it at the time, so I wrote up the following post on the Writers of the Future forum to talk about it:

Quote
Not to mention the totally different view of the sexes. The first story, by C.S. Lewis called "Ministering Angels" is about a crew of astronauts (all men) on Mars, and the new "Aphrodisio-therapy" approved by the government is to send women there to have sex with them as a form of stress relief. It turns out the only two women that are willing to go are an overweight prostitute who's lost all her customers, and a female professor (about 70 years old) who is one of the main advocates of the new aphrodisio-therapy, who can't stop talking in a blustery academic way for even two seconds. Half the crew ends up having a mutiny and fleeing the station, leaving the rest to live with the two women indefinitely (which the ones left behind clearly view as a terrible fate).

And, on a semi-tangent, another story illustrated how much writing styles have changed.  For instance the general advice given that you should avoid using "said" synonyms, and using -ly adverbs.  A 2-page span in a single story included all of the following:
Quote
"whispered inadequately"
"said enthusiastically"
"rolled his eyes lickerishly"
"complained" (instead of said)
"bellowed" (instead of said)
"began" (instead of said)
"chattered" (instead of said)
"protested" (instead of said)
"nodded" (instead of said)
"smiled" (instead of said)
"he said diffidently"
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« Reply #89 on: April 20, 2010, 01:10:01 PM »

And, on a semi-tangent, another story illustrated how much writing styles have changed.  For instance the general advice given that you should avoid using "said" synonyms, and using -ly adverbs.  A 2-page span in a single story included all of the following:

I believe it was Elmore Leonard who once wrote something about how if you need more than said then you need to rewrite. And I find that my writing is stronger for NOT using synonyms or alternate words in dialog tags.
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« Reply #90 on: April 20, 2010, 02:49:20 PM »

I still contend that most of these "rules" are ways that the author codified for themselves the type of writing they liked to to read, or the type of effect they enjoyed reading and would like to create themselves, but are not themselves indicative of bad writing.  Using nothing but "said" is great if you're trying to get that terse, no-time-for-anything-but-business feel of Leonard and (some) noir in particular, and the overuse of adverbs is a tendency of all new writers (or, I've found, prose writers coming out of stage play writing who don't have parenthetical actor directions at their disposal any longer) so it's a great thing to have in the back of your head to watch out for, but I just can't find myself considering generalized breaking of these "rules" as poor writing. I note that a lot of the specific grammatic "rules" seem to come from mass-audience authors who view their work primarily as entertainment product (and so have worked out the best blueprint to create that product), which is fine and indicates an authority derived from high sales figures, but I'd hate to think that new writers took them as canon law or something and limited their experimentations in "effect via language" to what's been proven to sell.
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« Reply #91 on: April 20, 2010, 03:03:04 PM »

Yeah I don't think any such "guidelines" should be taken too literally as rules. 

But I do know editors who have specifically griped about things like that, so it will affect your ability to sell at least at certain markets.  Some variations from said are not a big deal.  "whispered" and "shouted" in particular are a little easier to justify, because they are distinct and important differentiations.

But in the case of that F&SF story it was so extreme that to my current reading sensibilities it really detracted from the story.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #92 on: April 20, 2010, 03:10:06 PM »

Quote
But I do know editors who have specifically griped about things like that, so it will affect your ability to sell at least at certain markets.

'Tis true, and one of the insolvable conundrums of being a new writer - when is the writing "wrong" and when is it just not to the editor's taste?  A conundrum because it takes thick skin to accept all the rejections and believe in your work by continuing to push on, but not so thick that one can't accept the need for occasional correction.  The sheer pressure of it is why anyone seriously attempting to write deserves a round of applause and an objective beta reader.
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« Reply #93 on: April 20, 2010, 03:44:32 PM »

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But I do know editors who have specifically griped about things like that, so it will affect your ability to sell at least at certain markets.

'Tis true, and one of the insolvable conundrums of being a new writer - when is the writing "wrong" and when is it just not to the editor's taste?  A conundrum because it takes thick skin to accept all the rejections and believe in your work by continuing to push on, but not so thick that one can't accept the need for occasional correction.  The sheer pressure of it is why anyone seriously attempting to write deserves a round of applause and an objective beta reader.

Moderation is the key to all things. Editors (heck, all of us) notice things that are excessive, I am partial to noticing gerunds and unnecessary verb modifiers. I use said synonyms more often in Union Dues stories than in others because I am writing for the audio medium and i know that while a reader can tell who says what when by virtue of  the location of quotation marks and tabs, in audio those visual cues aren't, well, visible. Also, the UD stories are first person so I have to find a way to clarify who says what when. I use more physical stuff, "Megaton stuffed a sandwich past his lips. Kindred waved at the cameras." stuck between dialogue snatches.

In the other stuff I write, it's less "Ralph Bakshi Rotoscopes Spasmodic Gandalf" and more conventional.

But, I still do it in things I expect people to read and not hear, and even still, I do it in moderation.
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« Reply #94 on: April 21, 2010, 08:40:21 AM »

Yeah, moderation is key.  I've broken all the "rules" from time to time, but I do so only after careful consider and asking myself "Will this help or hurt the story".  I've even written a single 2nd person story, even though I tend to dislike those myself, because I thought of an idea that I felt would actually be enhanced by 2nd instead of just adding an annoying "Look at me!" factor that 2nd usually accomplishes.
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« Reply #95 on: April 23, 2010, 03:30:06 AM »

Second person topic split to The Writing Forum (seemed the appropriate place).  Carry on Smiley
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