Author Topic: EP409: Mantis Wives  (Read 18658 times)

adrianh

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Reply #25 on: August 25, 2013, 01:16:39 PM
Quote
I really am tempted to think that people voted for this to try and impress other people.

Or maybe, just maybe, different folk have different tastes. It's allowed y'know ;-) Throwing in your  Hugo's vote is not really a fantastic tool for impressing folk!

I personally find Hugo nominations interesting - because there are no rules on what qualifies. It's based purely on what Worldcon folk like. It marches to a different beat to other awards - and that's always fun. I know it's brought a bunch of stuff to my attention that I would otherwise have missed. Some of it I even liked!

Me - I liked this story. Of the Hugo nominations I've read this year this is probably my fave so far.

I also like golden age SF. I also like a bunch of the new-wave stuff from the 70's. I also like things like Greg Egan's more recent novels which are closer to spec-physics than spec-fiction. I also (god forbid!) like a lot of non-specfic.

Casting aspersions on the motivations of folk just because they like something you don't seems a tad mean spirited to me…



Gamercow

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Reply #26 on: August 26, 2013, 08:39:32 PM
After some thought, I feel towards this story the same way I feel towards the growing trend of deconstructed cuisine.  I think people like them both because they are different, stark, and make you look at something in a different manner.  Those people are completely entitled to their opinion, I'm not saying anyone is wrong.

That said, I'm entitled to my opinion as well, and like most deconstructed cuisine, I found this deconstructed sci-fi story to be sorely lacking. 

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zoanon

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Reply #27 on: August 27, 2013, 03:41:54 PM
I loved this



Leslianne

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Reply #28 on: August 31, 2013, 11:31:23 PM
I haven't listened to this one yet, but I read the story when it first came out and loved it. I'm a little surprised by how many people seem to feel like they didn't get it. I feel like maybe people are looking for something more complicated than they need to. This one sentence pretty much sums it up for me:

"...but the women learned to turn elsewhere for nutrients after draining their husbands’ members, and yet the men lingered. And so their ladies continued to kill them, but slowly, in the fashioning of difficult arts. What else could there be between them?"

Because they never questioned the fundamental nature of the relationship between mantis man and mantis woman, everything they built afterwards was an extrapolation of unnecessary cruelty. Obviously they were creative, but they could never get outside their paradigm enough to make anything better than the original, unexamined premise. (And then: implied knowing look at humans)

Or that's my take on it, anyway.



Dem

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Reply #29 on: September 01, 2013, 08:34:04 AM
I haven't listened to this one yet, but I read the story when it first came out and loved it. I'm a little surprised by how many people seem to feel like they didn't get it. I feel like maybe people are looking for something more complicated than they need to. This one sentence pretty much sums it up for me:

"...but the women learned to turn elsewhere for nutrients after draining their husbands’ members, and yet the men lingered. And so their ladies continued to kill them, but slowly, in the fashioning of difficult arts. What else could there be between them?"

Because they never questioned the fundamental nature of the relationship between mantis man and mantis woman, everything they built afterwards was an extrapolation of unnecessary cruelty. Obviously they were creative, but they could never get outside their paradigm enough to make anything better than the original, unexamined premise. (And then: implied knowing look at humans)

Or that's my take on it, anyway.

Looks like a pretty good take, to me :)

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Joshua A.C. Newman

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Reply #30 on: September 03, 2013, 05:02:35 PM
Yeah, it sure looks like youunderstand the story. I don't see what's not to get.

I haven't listened to this one yet, but I read the story when it first came out and loved it. I'm a little surprised by how many people seem to feel like they didn't get it. I feel like maybe people are looking for something more complicated than they need to. This one sentence pretty much sums it up for me:

"...but the women learned to turn elsewhere for nutrients after draining their husbands’ members, and yet the men lingered. And so their ladies continued to kill them, but slowly, in the fashioning of difficult arts. What else could there be between them?"

Because they never questioned the fundamental nature of the relationship between mantis man and mantis woman, everything they built afterwards was an extrapolation of unnecessary cruelty. Obviously they were creative, but they could never get outside their paradigm enough to make anything better than the original, unexamined premise. (And then: implied knowing look at humans)

Or that's my take on it, anyway.



Leslianne

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Reply #31 on: September 04, 2013, 09:45:34 AM
I don't mean to come off as "oh, it's so easy and if you don't get it you're a dope", and I'm very sorry if I have. It's just been my experience that a lot of people have internalized this idea that if you can't write a five page essay about a story or a poem, then you don't understand it- even if you have a pretty good one or two sentence idea what it's about.



matweller

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Reply #32 on: September 04, 2013, 01:34:03 PM
I don't think anybody doesn't understand what this piece is in a macro sense. I think some of us just don't think there's a more detailed message in there for us without some point of reference. Sometimes "I don't get it" is a synonym for "this is just not for me, but I don't dislike it to the point where I want to be rude, so I'll assume the responsibility for not enjoying it."

For me, it was like the way a lot of people feel about Wes Anderson movies -- it's there; parts of it are beautiful; but I'm not sure why it's there; and I'm not going to spend hours trying to decipher it on the chance that I may find out it's literary performance art and therefore my effort was in vain.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #33 on: September 04, 2013, 02:18:11 PM
For me, it was like the way a lot of people feel about Wes Anderson movies -- it's there; parts of it are beautiful; but I'm not sure why it's there; and I'm not going to spend hours trying to decipher it on the chance that I may find out it's literary performance art and therefore my effort was in vain.

(You and me both, pal...)

I understood all that was being said. What I didn't understand was what the story was. There were a lot of interesting and beautiful vignettes that in the end just didn't amount to much.



Cheshire_Snark

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Reply #34 on: September 04, 2013, 02:52:52 PM
This was interesting because it reminded me I'd heard a debunk of female mantises automatically eating their mates -- so I liked that the story took a "sometimes they do, sometimes they don't" approach, right down to the males still offering themselves as food - rather like the situation (as far as it is understood at the moment) in real life (e.g. http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/mantis1.asp)

I get a bit twitchy when I see the "female of the species is deadlier than the male" trope trotted out in stories that can be interpreted as metaphors for relationships; this one handled it differently than I had expected.

I agree with a lot of the other commenters on the lack of plot in the story. It reminds me a lot of setups in some of the golden age sci fi novels, where the description of the fantastical world is almost the story in itself (unfortunately the only example I can think of off the top of my head is the in-world creation of the fantasy world by the author character in Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin). Stories without individual actors can work; I think this one did as it showed the development of the system over time. I can't say I would re-listen, but it was an interesting accompaniment to my chores for the day.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 09:26:33 AM by Cheshire_Snark »



FireTurtle

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Reply #35 on: September 04, 2013, 09:19:00 PM
I both loved and hated it, sometimes simultaneously. I thought I was getting a trip on a regular path and instead I was on a piece of flotsam on a swift river and just had to hang on for the ride. It was an interesting ride, and beautiful in its own weird way. In evaluating its value as a piece of narrative science fiction, the best I can say is that it was interesting and it definitely made me look a narratives with fresh eyes. I will not take plot for granted, I will not take plot for granted, I will not take plot for granted.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


TheArchivist

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Reply #36 on: September 06, 2013, 03:13:21 PM
No, this nominee didn't do anything for me either! What was it? Some incoherent mix of biologist's field notes and random concept jottings, munged together by a pathological anthropomorphist, as far as I could see.
Why was it nominated? Probably just purely for being too darned unconventional to work.



Dem

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Reply #37 on: September 06, 2013, 06:08:01 PM
No, this nominee didn't do anything for me either! What was it? Some incoherent mix of biologist's field notes and random concept jottings, munged together by a pathological anthropomorphist, as far as I could see.
Why was it nominated? Probably just purely for being too darned unconventional to work.
Well, nothing judgmental there, then  :D

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Scattercat

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Reply #38 on: September 11, 2013, 04:04:49 AM
Holy zeitgeist, people.  "I don't like this story," I can understand, albeit sadly, because this was absolutely amazing.  But where did all this hostility come from?  "I don't like this, therefore anyone who says they do is lying in order to look smart."  What kind of crazy moon-logic is that?

Lord knows I don't like some stuff and can't understand how people enjoy it.  ("The Human Centipede," I'm looking at you.)  But it doesn't inspire anger in me.  (Okay, "Fight Club" did because I saw immediately that dudebro anarchists would start worshiping Tyler Durden, who is an appalling person to worship or even listen to.  The minds behind it have since claimed satire, which I am willing to grant them gratis but which does not wholly assuage my irritation and resentment that they made me listen to Tyler Durden for two hours.  And "Inglorious Basterds," because Tarantino basically made a giant fuck you to his fans, and assumed that we were all his fans, which we were not, that we all enjoyed violence qua violence, which I do not, and that we wouldn't notice that he called the people who laughed and cheered at the foregoing movie Hitler, which while I was kind of appalled that people were cheering and laughing was, I felt, deeply unfair and inappropriate.  But I digress.  Rather badly, at that.)

I just get weirded out the way literary stuff seems to bring out the pitchforks in genre fans.  (Not just SF fans, though it's probably most virulent here.)  Just because someone is doing something a little weird, a little experimental, and a little pretentious (and I mean that in the best way, Ms. Johnson, if you're reading; I suspect you might understand what I mean by that), that does not mean that you have to insist that it's valueless, that it's not a story, and that all professed enjoyment of it is feigned.

Perhaps I am taking it a bit personally.  This story made me grin wildly when I heard it, and it made me immediately want to share it with others because it was delirious and insightful and subtle and crooked-thinking and acid-sharp.  Then I come here (where reading the entire thread is my job now) and get people telling me that I'm lying if I say I liked it, that I just want to "look smart," that no one in their right minds could possibly extract joy and meaning from this piece.  And I'm just torn between "sucks to your asthma" and crying because no one loves me.



Dem

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Reply #39 on: September 11, 2013, 08:58:12 AM
And here's another thing: consider that liking or not liking something may have nothing to do with its value as a piece of literature (or art or music or any other thing where skill, or lack of it, meets subjectivity and preference.)

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


TheArchivist

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Reply #40 on: September 11, 2013, 09:07:34 AM
I apologize if I have caused insult to anyone here. I wrote only of how this story came across to me, and I would be the first to defend anyone's right to find great literature in what appears to me to be random, incoherent or simply dull. It is, after all, what most of the "mainstream literary" prize committees have been doing for as long as I've been alive :(



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #41 on: September 15, 2013, 01:41:07 PM
Feedback on feedback.
Nathan, I don't have anything against lit majors. I have a few in my family and several as friends. And I love them all.
I'm just a little.... disappointed about this year's Hugo nominees. I had expected better, but the short stories were not to my taste.
I'm sorry if I came off as offensive, abrasive and harsh.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 06:33:26 AM by Max e^{i pi} »

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Darwinist

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Reply #42 on: October 15, 2013, 12:42:42 AM
No, this nominee didn't do anything for me either! What was it? Some incoherent mix of biologist's field notes and random concept jottings, munged together by a pathological anthropomorphist, as far as I could see.
Why was it nominated? Probably just purely for being too darned unconventional to work.

I share your opinion. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


LaShawn

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Reply #43 on: October 24, 2013, 04:27:38 PM
Coming in super late. I had read this one as well as listen because at first I didn't get it either. But there were some images that stuck with me that were beautiful and horrible at the same time. The female drilling the hole in the male's hand and making him do things, for instance. And the last art, where the female and male chooses to die together. Wow. That got me thinking about human nature, which can be just as cruel and just as sad and just as lovely. So I read it again, much slower this time, and I think I get it.

But it's still a slice. A small taste. If I had known about it earlier, I wouldn't have nominated it, because there are others out there that are just as devastating that are more fleshed out. But I still loved this one. So ::shrug::.



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Unblinking

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Reply #44 on: October 30, 2013, 03:03:26 PM
I reviewed this as part of my Hugo nominee review run this year, so I'll copy that review over:

Mantis Wives by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
Eventually, the mantis women discovered that killing their husbands was not inseparable from the getting of young… It was believed that mantis men would resist their deaths if permitted to choose the manner of their mating; but the women learned to turn elsewhere for nutrients after draining their husbands’ members, and yet the men lingered. And so their ladies continued to kill them, but slowly, in the fashioning of difficult arts. What else could there be between them?

This excerpt from the first section of the story pretty much sums it up.  The rest of it is the same, but more so.  It’s written like a lovingly-written Kama Sutra style book for Mantis Wives to read to think of new ways to torture their husbands to death. That is all it is.  No characters.  No plot.  Just descriptions of torture written as if they were descriptions of sex.  That’s not a story. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not a story.

This is one of those nominees that really frustrates me because I don’t understand what anyone could see in it it, let alone the minimum 5% of the nominating population picking this as one of their 5 favorite short stories of the year.  I have no idea what people found appealing about this.  If you are reading this and you liked it, perhaps you could leave me a comment and clue me in.


I find that's often my reaction to Kij's stories, that I just don't get what they're trying to do.  Award-nominated stories I tend to pick on even more so than I pick on your average story, so reading it as a Hugo nominee probably didn't help.

I did vote for the Hugos, and in the Short Story category I voted:
1.  Immersion
2.  Mono No Aware
3.  No Award
The "No Award" in place 3 means that I would rather the Hugos gave the award to nobody at all than to give it to "Mantis Wives".

The fact that only 3 stories made it into this category seems both good and bad.  Good because it means that the votes were more spread out, perhaps meaning that more awesome stories were actually available than in recent years.  Bad because I'd like more to choose from--none of the 3 were amazing to me.  Immersion was good.  Mono No Aware was okay.  This one I hated.  I would've liked to see some of my other favorites from the year get nominated, like The Three Feats of Agani.



CryptoMe

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Reply #45 on: January 10, 2014, 06:50:10 AM
Sigh. I just don't get Kij Johnson at all. Again, I feel like this was a story written for Kij's enjoyment, not mine, and that left me feeling side-lined, frustrated, and put off, all at the same time. I have to agree with Gamercow; this was Spar all over again for me too. 



Myrealana

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Reply #46 on: January 16, 2014, 04:02:35 PM
Sigh. I just don't get Kij Johnson at all.
I'm so gald I'm not the only one. With all the awards and nominations, I was beginning to think I was the only person left who just doesn't get her.

I did like "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" which was the first Kij Johnson story I read, but this one, "Spar" - which I completely detested, "Ponies" and others just make me cringe.

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hardware

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Reply #47 on: February 25, 2014, 02:14:30 PM
I loved this. I don't understand the tendency to freak out as soon as a story doesn't adhere to an extremely narrow template of plot, character and setting. Sure, if all stories were like this, I would hate it. But this one is not just brilliantly written, but also fun and wicked. My favorite among this years nominees.



Unblinking

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Reply #48 on: February 27, 2014, 03:07:06 PM
I don't understand the tendency to freak out as soon as a story doesn't adhere to an extremely narrow template of plot, character and setting.

"freak out" might be an overstatement.  :)



eytanz

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Reply #49 on: February 27, 2014, 03:32:55 PM
Ok, let's all keep the discussion to aspects of the episode, and not start a meta-discussion about how people react to episodes on the forums. If someone wants to start that discussion, please go to the metachat board.