Author Topic: PC139: To Follow the Waves  (Read 44187 times)

Devoted135

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Reply #75 on: February 10, 2011, 06:00:21 PM
I think it comes across as serendipitous because of pure statistics. Using current stats, there was what, a 10% or so chance that Nahla would prefer females? Compared to if the Hessa had fixated on a man, then there would have been a ~90% chance that he would prefer females. The odds just seem relatively small.



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Reply #76 on: February 10, 2011, 06:06:58 PM
I think it comes across as serendipitous because of pure statistics. Using current stats, there was what, a 10% or so chance that Nahla would prefer females? Compared to if the Hessa had fixated on a man, then there would have been a ~90% chance that he would prefer females. The odds just seem relatively small.

And how likely is it that a bunch of moisture farmers' droid would break down, just in time for young Luke to be sent to buy new ones on the exact day that two droids formerly belonging to a certain princess were for sale? By that logic, nobody who prefers their own gender would ever manage to get laid, let alone committed/married. All stories - and real life, for that matter - are full of coincidences and contrivances.

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Devoted135

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Reply #77 on: February 10, 2011, 06:59:03 PM
I think it comes across as serendipitous because of pure statistics. Using current stats, there was what, a 10% or so chance that Nahla would prefer females? Compared to if the Hessa had fixated on a man, then there would have been a ~90% chance that he would prefer females. The odds just seem relatively small.

And how likely is it that a bunch of moisture farmers' droid would break down, just in time for young Luke to be sent to buy new ones on the exact day that two droids formerly belonging to a certain princess were for sale? By that logic, nobody who prefers their own gender would ever manage to get laid, let alone committed/married. All stories - and real life, for that matter - are full of coincidences and contrivances.


Yes, that's definitely true, but that doesn't make it any less serendipitous. I'm actually fine with the author's choice to allow for this particular unlikely chance and think that it makes for a much more interesting story than if Hessa had fixated on a hunky guy rather than a mysterious woman. At the same time, as a reader it does cross my mind that she got quite lucky.


Also, specifically in relation to this:
Quote
By that logic, nobody who prefers their own gender would ever manage to get laid, let alone committed/married.

If I'm interpreting you correctly (or rather, slightly exaggerating you correctly), this is only true if we get one shot at choosing a partner, and that shot is defined as picking someone out from a crowd based purely on gut instinct. Luckily, we don't live in a society that operates like that, though it might make for an interesting story idea. :)



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Reply #78 on: February 10, 2011, 09:08:01 PM
Maybe Hessa has really good 'gaydar'.  She fixated on a woman that likes women because something - intuition, whatever - told her when she saw Nahla in person that she was probably a lesbian.

Also, never forget Narrative Causality.  The story was published in a collection of lesbian steampunk stories, so it had to turn out that way!  :D


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Reply #79 on: February 11, 2011, 01:46:44 AM
Serendipitous.

I just wanted to say that word.

Serendipitous.


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Reply #80 on: February 11, 2011, 01:53:17 AM
Serendipitous.

I just wanted to say that word.

Serendipitous.

I would like a recording of you saying that word, possibly on a loop :)

ETA: Added the quote, so people know what I'm talking about!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 05:09:54 PM by DKT »



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Reply #81 on: February 11, 2011, 01:49:40 PM

Yes, that's definitely true, but that doesn't make it any less serendipitous. I'm actually fine with the author's choice to allow for this particular unlikely chance and think that it makes for a much more interesting story than if Hessa had fixated on a hunky guy rather than a mysterious woman. At the same time, as a reader it does cross my mind that she got quite lucky.

Regardless of orientation, anyone gets lucky any time the person they're attracted to is also attracted to them.  We're so used to the heterosexual romance plot that it seems obvious--of course they're going to be attracted to each other and end up together!  But in fact, it isn't really that likely. It's serendipitous if you look at it from a real-life perspective.  It only looks obviously naturally non-coincidental and so much more likely because it's a common narrative device.  Pure statistics doesn't actually account for it.  As Electric Paladin points out, it's certainly statistically common enough for most people to have romantic prospects, sometimes plenty of them.

And there are cultural issues.  Some research has indicated that most people would be willing to swing both ways, at least on occasion, but don't because of societal pressures and assumptions.  Different culture, different assortment of potential romantic partners.

Anyway.  My main point was, that the chances of any given attraction being mutual are rare enough that it should also affect the standard M/F romance aspect of stories, and yet no one thinks of it that way. Change the gender and suddenly it seems surprising and "serendipitous" and a co-incidence, but it isn't, not any more than any other mutual attraction, it just looks that way because our culture sets up heterosexual couplings as the norm and anything else as unusual.

And of course, why write a story about the dozens of times someone walks down the street and thinks "wow she's hot!" and then forgets about it?  Or the times she goes up to someone really attractive and says "buy you a drink?" and the answer is "No thanks, I'm waiting for my girlfriend."  Not much story there.  So of course we're going to hear about the occasion it turns out to be mutual.  Just like the heterosexual ones.  It's not a question of statistics or coincidence.

Just my take.



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Reply #82 on: February 11, 2011, 02:20:11 PM
And of course, why write a story about the dozens of times someone walks down the street and thinks "wow she's hot!" and then forgets about it?  Or the times she goes up to someone really attractive and says "buy you a drink?" and the answer is "No thanks, I'm waiting for my girlfriend."  Not much story there.  So of course we're going to hear about the occasion it turns out to be mutual.  Just like the heterosexual ones.  It's not a question of statistics or coincidence.

The problem with this logic is that this is the one time she accidentally got so obsessed with someone she transplanted her into her work. The fact that the one person she did that to also happened to be a person who is sexually attracted to her is a coincidence.

However, as you point out, this is true of nearly every romance story, homo- or hetero-sexual. It only seems like a more extreme coincidence in our world, where it is true that openly homosexual women are a relatively small minority (compared to the sum of all women who are either not attracted to other women or refuse to act on such an attraction). But we don't know if the same holds in her world; not only we don't know anything about the demographics of her city, we also don't know anything of her society's attitude to lesbian relationships. If there is no stigma attached to being gay or bisexual, then presumably a much larger percentage of the society will feel free to engage in such relationships.



Devoted135

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Reply #83 on: February 11, 2011, 03:31:23 PM

Yes, that's definitely true, but that doesn't make it any less serendipitous. I'm actually fine with the author's choice to allow for this particular unlikely chance and think that it makes for a much more interesting story than if Hessa had fixated on a hunky guy rather than a mysterious woman. At the same time, as a reader it does cross my mind that she got quite lucky.

Regardless of orientation, anyone gets lucky any time the person they're attracted to is also attracted to them.  We're so used to the heterosexual romance plot that it seems obvious--of course they're going to be attracted to each other and end up together!  But in fact, it isn't really that likely. It's serendipitous if you look at it from a real-life perspective.  It only looks obviously naturally non-coincidental and so much more likely because it's a common narrative device.  Pure statistics doesn't actually account for it.  As Electric Paladin points out, it's certainly statistically common enough for most people to have romantic prospects, sometimes plenty of them.

And there are cultural issues.  Some research has indicated that most people would be willing to swing both ways, at least on occasion, but don't because of societal pressures and assumptions.  Different culture, different assortment of potential romantic partners.

Anyway.  My main point was, that the chances of any given attraction being mutual are rare enough that it should also affect the standard M/F romance aspect of stories, and yet no one thinks of it that way. Change the gender and suddenly it seems surprising and "serendipitous" and a co-incidence, but it isn't, not any more than any other mutual attraction, it just looks that way because our culture sets up heterosexual couplings as the norm and anything else as unusual.

And of course, why write a story about the dozens of times someone walks down the street and thinks "wow she's hot!" and then forgets about it?  Or the times she goes up to someone really attractive and says "buy you a drink?" and the answer is "No thanks, I'm waiting for my girlfriend."  Not much story there.  So of course we're going to hear about the occasion it turns out to be mutual.  Just like the heterosexual ones.  It's not a question of statistics or coincidence.

Just my take.

I agree with the majority of the above, but I'm just having a hard time with applying it to this particular story. IMO it's not serendipitous per se when two people are attracted to each other in real life because presumably both people have been testing the waters with numerous others and have now found "the one" only after lots of finding "not-the-one" if you will. So of course this is the part of our lives that usually gets written about, because as you say that makes for a better story, with the unstated assumption that the characters have also had previous relationships.

But, in this case Hessa has not been pulling lots of people (male or female) into her dreams and has now finally found someone who would like to share them. This was a one-time shot. Would I have been just as surprised if the exact same story had been written with a guy in Nahla's place? Honestly, my personal biases probably mean it would have stuck out to me less, but objectively, it would have been only very slightly less serendipitous.

So, I guess I'm amending my previous statement to say that IMO because this was the first time that this situation occurred, the attraction itself was serendipitous, made even more so by Nahla's gender.



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Reply #84 on: February 11, 2011, 03:58:20 PM
Anyway.  My main point was, that the chances of any given attraction being mutual are rare enough that it should also affect the standard M/F romance aspect of stories, and yet no one thinks of it that way. Change the gender and suddenly it seems surprising and "serendipitous" and a co-incidence, but it isn't, not any more than any other mutual attraction, it just looks that way because our culture sets up heterosexual couplings as the norm and anything else as unusual.

For had Nahla been a man, it would have been serindipidious that "he" was attracted to Hessa.  But, since Nahla was a woman it was serindipidious that (a) Nahla was willing to enter into a homosexual relationship and (b) that Nahla was attracted to Hessa.  I realize that society has a trend toward "heteronormity" but the truth of the matter is that heterosexual relationships are actually more common.  Hence, it is a double coincidence that Nahla was willing to enter into a relationship with Hessa.  That was my point.

I think we're all also assuming that attraction between the two actually exists.  I felt Nahla was just in it for revenge really, not for a relationship or because she was attracted the Hessa.  I guess that puts a whole different spin on it, though.

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Reply #85 on: February 11, 2011, 09:21:31 PM
Regardless of orientation, anyone gets lucky any time the person they're attracted to is also attracted to them.  We're so used to the heterosexual romance plot that it seems obvious--of course they're going to be attracted to each other and end up together!  But in fact, it isn't really that likely. It's serendipitous if you look at it from a real-life perspective.  It only looks obviously naturally non-coincidental and so much more likely because it's a common narrative device.  Pure statistics doesn't actually account for it.  As Electric Paladin points out, it's certainly statistically common enough for most people to have romantic prospects, sometimes plenty of them.

And there are cultural issues.  Some research has indicated that most people would be willing to swing both ways, at least on occasion, but don't because of societal pressures and assumptions.  Different culture, different assortment of potential romantic partners.

Anyway.  My main point was, that the chances of any given attraction being mutual are rare enough that it should also affect the standard M/F romance aspect of stories, and yet no one thinks of it that way. Change the gender and suddenly it seems surprising and "serendipitous" and a co-incidence, but it isn't, not any more than any other mutual attraction, it just looks that way because our culture sets up heterosexual couplings as the norm and anything else as unusual.

And of course, why write a story about the dozens of times someone walks down the street and thinks "wow she's hot!" and then forgets about it?  Or the times she goes up to someone really attractive and says "buy you a drink?" and the answer is "No thanks, I'm waiting for my girlfriend."  Not much story there.  So of course we're going to hear about the occasion it turns out to be mutual.  Just like the heterosexual ones.  It's not a question of statistics or coincidence.

Just my take.

The reason I thought it a coincidence was just because of the statistics.  To respond to your point, I'm not sure there's actually an indication that Nahlia IS sexually attracted to our protagonist.  I assumed she's a lesbian because otherwise that revenge seems like the revenge would be unpleasant for herself as well.  (well, that and the fact that it was in a lesbian steampunk book)

And it's not that I felt that the coincidence was wrong, or unbelievable, or anything.  It's just that it was one factor into considering other interpretations of the final scene.  Several improbabilities added up in the most obvious interpretation, and so I considered alternate interpretations and found one that seemed more likely to me.

For what it's worth, I am often skeptical of the odds of heterosexual attraction in stories as well.  The lead female tends to end up with the lead male simply because they are the leads.  For a relationship story I tend to shrug it off because of all the threads of possibility, THIS is the one that makes a relationship story.  However, since this only really became a mutual relationship at the very end, I'm not sure I'd quite call this a relationship story, so I may have had different assumptions because of that.




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Reply #86 on: February 12, 2011, 11:40:07 PM
Serendipitous.

I just wanted to say that word.

Serendipitous.

I would like a recording of you saying that word, possibly on a loop :)

ETA: Added the quote, so people know what I'm talking about!

http://dunlop.id.au/readings/serendipitous.mp3


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Reply #87 on: February 13, 2011, 05:58:37 AM
Serendipitous.

I just wanted to say that word.

Serendipitous.

I would like a recording of you saying that word, possibly on a loop :)

ETA: Added the quote, so people know what I'm talking about!

http://dunlop.id.au/readings/serendipitous.mp3

*swoons*  :D


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Reply #88 on: February 26, 2011, 11:38:53 PM
I am coming very late to the party (my usual habit of building up a lot of eps and then listening to them in a bunch), but better late than never, right?

I very much enjoyed the story; Amal's writing is beautifully lyrical without tipping over my personal boundary into self-indulgent or obfuscatory, and I adore the richness of the worldbuilding.  This particular story also pinged a button in my head, about how little sympathy I have for "I saw this person and totally fell in love with them and made up this whole imaginary relationship without ever speaking to them" plots; I may very well revisit this story to think it through some more.

On the "steampunk or not" front, I haven't yet read Amal's links (and those may change my thinking), but I admit my gut reaction put me on the "not steampunk" side of things -- but not for the lack of Victoriana, because I'd lovelovelove to read more non-Victorian steampunk.  For me, what was lacking was a feeling of industrialization: I identify the subgenre as one that plays with the tensions of a newly mechanized world, and all the social, economic, cultural, religious, political, and other consequences of that.  Not all of those consequences will fit into a short story, of course, and I don't expect them to; but the aspects of this story that stayed with me weren't industrial at all, and could have been transplanted a few centuries earlier without much disrupting the shape.  Whether it's clockwork, actual steam, or a fantastic technology that evokes the same industrial vibe, that's what I personally look for in a steampunk story, regardless of its cultural milieu.



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Reply #89 on: March 09, 2011, 05:09:40 PM
Another late player to the game. I loveeeeeed this story. Had me hooked on the first word. The ending was...interesting. I liked this whole idea of a dream person not living up to the actual reality of that person.

I'm pretty clueless when it comes to steampunk (though I've been reading a lot of it lately), but I found this story more engrossing than Balfour and Merriweather, with its obvious steampunk traits.

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Reply #90 on: April 11, 2011, 09:17:52 PM
Big thumbs up to Amal.

The discussion skirted around it, but never arrived at one of the things niggling at me. Would this be as well received if Hessa was a man? If a male character was inserting his fantasy female into erotically charged dreams for non-consensual sex, how would that change the story? Or would that convert it more strongly over to a Dominance and submission tale?
« Last Edit: April 11, 2011, 09:19:36 PM by Fenrix »

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Reply #91 on: April 11, 2011, 09:40:50 PM
Big thumbs up to Amal.

The discussion skirted around it, but never arrived at one of the things niggling at me. Would this be as well received if Hessa was a man? If a male character was inserting his fantasy female into erotically charged dreams for non-consensual sex, how would that change the story? Or would that convert it more strongly over to a Dominance and submission tale?

I always find those questions very interesting. It think nothing would have been "wrong" with such a story, but I believe that it probably not have been as well received. I don't think it would have added a greater D/s tone, but I don't think most people saw the D/s tone as strongly as I did, anyway.

Finally, I think the lesbianism added a lot to the story. Hessa's lostness and her fascination with Nala both come from her own unexpressed sexuality. A male character lusting after a woman in a heteronormative society would not have experienced the alienation and desperation to the same degree.

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Reply #92 on: April 11, 2011, 11:13:36 PM
Big thumbs up to Amal.

The discussion skirted around it, but never arrived at one of the things niggling at me. Would this be as well received if Hessa was a man? If a male character was inserting his fantasy female into erotically charged dreams for non-consensual sex, how would that change the story? Or would that convert it more strongly over to a Dominance and submission tale?

Finally, I think the lesbianism added a lot to the story. Hessa's lostness and her fascination with Nala both come from her own unexpressed sexuality. A male character lusting after a woman in a heteronormative society would not have experienced the alienation and desperation to the same degree.


That and the author was writing this for an anthology subtitled "Lesbian Steampunk Stories"

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Reply #93 on: April 11, 2011, 11:45:49 PM
Big thumbs up to Amal.

The discussion skirted around it, but never arrived at one of the things niggling at me. Would this be as well received if Hessa was a man? If a male character was inserting his fantasy female into erotically charged dreams for non-consensual sex, how would that change the story? Or would that convert it more strongly over to a Dominance and submission tale?

Finally, I think the lesbianism added a lot to the story. Hessa's lostness and her fascination with Nala both come from her own unexpressed sexuality. A male character lusting after a woman in a heteronormative society would not have experienced the alienation and desperation to the same degree.


That and the author was writing this for an anthology subtitled "Lesbian Steampunk Stories"

Well, yes. There is that.

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Reply #94 on: April 12, 2011, 03:21:57 PM
Big thumbs up to Amal.

The discussion skirted around it, but never arrived at one of the things niggling at me. Would this be as well received if Hessa was a man? If a male character was inserting his fantasy female into erotically charged dreams for non-consensual sex, how would that change the story? Or would that convert it more strongly over to a Dominance and submission tale?

Finally, I think the lesbianism added a lot to the story. Hessa's lostness and her fascination with Nala both come from her own unexpressed sexuality. A male character lusting after a woman in a heteronormative society would not have experienced the alienation and desperation to the same degree.


That and the author was writing this for an anthology subtitled "Lesbian Steampunk Stories"

There was more than just lust going on. And although my non-representative sample of stories wants to say otherwise, PodCastle (where I experienced the story) is not purely a GBLT publication. I think the question is still valid. Would more people have problems with the non-consensual portion if it was a heterosexual pair?

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Reply #95 on: April 12, 2011, 04:23:50 PM
Big thumbs up to Amal.

The discussion skirted around it, but never arrived at one of the things niggling at me. Would this be as well received if Hessa was a man? If a male character was inserting his fantasy female into erotically charged dreams for non-consensual sex, how would that change the story? Or would that convert it more strongly over to a Dominance and submission tale?

Very interesting question.  I think that the story would've been generally less well received.  In a similar manner that a man sitting alone near a playground is more likely to be the subject of suspicion than a woman sitting alone near a playground.




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Reply #96 on: April 12, 2011, 04:42:41 PM
Has anyone hear read Jennifer Pelland's story "Captive Girl"? Warning: Very Dark. (Electric Paladin, you should definitely check it out.)

I mention it because Pelland said in her short story collection that she knew the relationship between the two characters in "Captive Girl" would not have worked for the reader if one of the characters had been a man.

It's obviously a different story than "To Follow the Waves," but I imagine some people might feel the same way about the relationships in this story as Pelland did in her own story.


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Reply #97 on: April 12, 2011, 05:10:24 PM
Has anyone hear read Jennifer Pelland's story "Captive Girl"? Warning: Very Dark. (Electric Paladin, you should definitely check it out.)

Woah. That was awesome. Thanks for the recommendation. The ending wasn't that dark, though. They still have each other, and it's hardly the worst thing in the world for them to have a fetish to share. Now, it would be nice if Marika could grow up enough that they could have a relationship outside of their kinky sex sessions... but maybe she will, eventually. Or maybe not, and it'll work out ok anyway.

I kind of wonder what will happen when Alice meets someone at work, or at the park, or in a coffee shop, really hits it off, and something more fully romantic, more fulfilling begins. Can Marika handle being only one of Alice's partners? Would Marika up her relationship game in order to compete? I don't know.

The best stories leave us with questions.

I mention it because Pelland said in her short story collection that she knew the relationship between the two characters in "Captive Girl" would not have worked for the reader if one of the characters had been a man.

This is absolutely correct, and you have no idea how much it frustrates me. The way I see it, the story would have worked fine. It's the readers who would have broken it.

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Reply #98 on: April 21, 2011, 03:53:03 PM
Speaking of story recommendations, and steampunk...

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Reply #99 on: July 13, 2011, 10:23:59 PM
Very late in the game here because I'm playing catch up on episodes after many months.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this story. I'm not a fan so much of steampunk because of its tropes, colonial-centricism, and restraint of female characters (they can kick butt, but only in a bustle, only if a male saves them later, and only if they get married later). This one threw off the shackles of all that - a reimagined age where women were free to work and love without social restraint.

I'm a little worried about how some commenters here spoke for lesbian/bi experience too. If I was a lesbian/bi woman told that my f/f relationship was "statistically rare" or overly "serendipidous", I'd be miffed at that sort of invisibilization of queer relationships.