Cynthia Joyce Cynthia's Comments (member since Dec 13, 2011)

Cynthia's comments from the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club group.

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Jun 18, 2014 03:38PM

1865 I've read Howl, loved it, but have not seen the movie. Checked on Netflix for it, but only saw an Anime movie listed under that title. Is it an Anime movie?
1865 The diversity "issue" has to do with locked doors and glass ceilings of the large book publishing corporations. When I began writing sf, women were not welcome in what was considered a male market. Further, for a long time, only women who wrote in the style of men were welcome--that is, stories by women about women characters who were single professionals uninterested in romance or children. For most of my life, that was not the way most American women lived. These were great stories to read and showed women did have choices, but why couldn't a woman character be like my sister-in-law, a scientist leading the work of the lab (though her male boss took all the credit) with a baby at home whose baby-sitter had a time limit and yes, a husband in the picture too.

The romance novel world was worse. You were supposed to write in this very strict formula and use baby words.

So I set up a website, a long time ago to sell my books. Nothing was selling, but a friend in the computer industry told me about a new venture Peanut Press. I wrote to Peanut Press and they took my books. For many years there was incredible resistance to e-books. The scorn was immense. This scorn went on and on and on, until it stopped when vast amounts of e-books started to sell and pretty much saved the publishing industry as brick and morter stores closed down. Miami, basically a city 70 miles long, has only three major bookstores, all of the Barnes & Noble.

Publishers seemed to then go through this phase of only publishing books by people already famous. This phase might be over, I hope so. Now when I look for marketing help, suddenly there is real help. There are lots of reviewers who will review e-books and readers are happy with ebooks for all the reasons we who started decades ago said they were good.

Now I am trying again to sell my books and am launching a new one, a fantasy book, the first in a series. Years ago I redid my publishing site. I publish my dad's book, a famous book on the theater. I publish my father's-in-law book. It's in Spanish. He was a leader in the coop movement and wrote Venezulia's coop laws. His novel is a coop utopia thriller, or so I'm told. I don't know Spanish. And I've got a book on literary and drama theory, highly recommended by Ben Bova. These are superior books, but two of the three of them crash against closed doors and glass ceilings because my father-in-law and I are not white males like my dad was.

I hope that the new publishing venture discussed here goes well. I spent a year trying to find an agent for my new book. I spent a year trying to find a publisher for my drama theory book and met with "good book but we aren't going to publish it because marketing says no." I'm an impatient sort and waiting for a year for an acceptance of good books is really difficult. Closed doors and glass ceilings suck.
1865 Oy, I just read through sections of the article that caused this thread to be started. His definition of PC is completely bogus and since his premise, the stupid definition of pc is bogus, then his conclusion is bogus. Basic syllogism when the premise is neither valid nor true the conclusion is unlikely to be valid or true.
1865 Alexa wrote: " Would you review my novel, Zollocco: A Novel of Another Universe. It features a female protagonist. I do not give my heroine a name or describe what she looks like because I want every woman to be able to see herself in her.

Regarding this discussion. It is surely interesting. Evaluating literature is distinct from evaluating the character of the author. Knowing about the character of the author is useful in terms of better understanding the works and for understanding the time period. But we can't just cross off the literature list authors whose personal ideas we find objectionable. We'd be reading pretty much nothing then. Shakespeare was a sexist pig. (Taming of the Shrew.) The guy who wrote the Oz books hated Indians and believed there should be a genocide committed against them. (Scary!) Lewis Carol was a pervert. (Took nude pics of little girls and liked no female over the age of 8). Dione Fortune thought being gay was either silliness or mental illness. Lots of this has to do with people being a product of their time. But some of it really is pretty horrible. (The Oz guy!) And yes there is a lot of silly snootiness over genre. Funny books are another sort that tend to get ignored in favor of serious books with symbolism. This is why some of us claim Atwood for sf and Shakespeare for fantasy. They are writing those genres! I was once told I shouldnot like The Tale of Genji because Genji is such a sexist pig. The Tale of Genji is the first novel ever written. It was written by a woman. And its a wonderful romance novel full of ghosts and demons. Genji is a bit of pig (not a total pig) and that that is wrong is part of the point of the novel.

Regarding the students who refused to read Mobi Dick. they missed a great book. The teacher should have found out why they didn't want to read it. Too long? Words too big? If the skill level is to high for their level, yep they will hate it and the teacher does them a disservice to force works on them to high above the ability. There is absolutely no reason why teachers can't ask students what sorts of stories they like and then give them the great works that are of those types. There is no reason public school curricula can not include the types of works the kids like. The kids are there in school available for comment! So ask them!
1865 ± Colleen of the Crawling Chaos ± wrote: "Michelle wrote: "clearly, we all need to listen to Colleen more. "

Yes! YES!! Come to me, my minions!



I didn't like much either. You might want to read my review of it. I did love the bad mouthed messenger birds, though.
Jan 27, 2012 09:33PM

1865 Jeremy A. wrote: "For that matter it took five years between Storm of Swords and and A Feast for Crows. On top of it, Martin claimed in a note at the end of AFfC that the next book (which was originally just half of..."

LOL, well I am surely wrong about the time span. I never bothered to read the notes. I read all the books one right after the other a few months ago, so the books struck me as having the problems of being rushed, a faulty assumption of mine. I suspect that whoever said that once Martin became famous the editors stopped editing him must be correct. It happens with famous actors that those who should be correcting their performances are afraid to do so and say nothing to the performers about their performance flaws. It's not hard to imagine that happening here.
Jan 27, 2012 09:29PM

1865 Evilynn wrote: "Toulouse-Lautrec except for the alcoholism..." Lautrec was a lord who frequented brothels and was adored by the prostitutes because he was kind to them. Most of his paintings are of the prostitutes. He had the deformity of very short legs. The Martin character is a lord, frequents brothels, is adored by the prostitutes because he is kind to them and has very short legs.
Jan 25, 2012 10:35PM

1865 There is "good literature", some/most of which is unreadable (does ANYONE actually enjoy Atlas Shrugged?), and there is a "good read", some/most of which is poorly written!

I don't recall seeing anyone suggesting Song of Fire and Ice was good literature, just a good read :)

Atlas Shrugged is unreadable garbage, not good literature at all, and yes, SofFandIce has literary merit. It is uneven and has problems, but nevertheless is much more deservign of the literary label than Atlas Shrugs.
Jan 25, 2012 10:27PM

1865 Rowena wrote: "I think if I approached every book I read as an intellectual exercise I'd not read, it would cease to be enjoyable.

I found Martin's plot unpredictable in places and his characters dynamic and most importantly evolving. What they first appear to be is not necessarily what they end up being, they change in reaction to what happens to them..."

Unless I have a bad cold or flu and need a book for brainless mind salve, I do read all books as an intellectual exercise. That's part of the enjoyment for me.

The evolving nature of Martin's characters is an aspect that sets his books more on the side of literature than of brainless mind salve. He explores his characters deeply in way that is pretty new and more in accord with how people today view personality. As others have mentioned, his treatment of female characters is wholly like most male fantasistists, that is they tend to be believable, not stock caricatures. He also uses different writing devices to create different moods, atmoshpheres; this too makes his work more literary than not.

Literary quality is not determined by "I like this and not there and I've read all the stuff my teachers said to read so ha on you." Literary quality is determined by a vast array of qualities. I had the pleasure of being part of reading group that had many readers educated in literature. We would all find the same faults and strengths in the books we read, but we each had vastly different reactions to them. Some members would hate a givin book, love a given book, or feel it was soso. Our liking was based on how much we could overlook the problems and how much we appreciated the strengths. If the problems were types a person hated, then they hated the book despite the good points and vice versa. By and large we always agreed on the quality of the book, but disagreed about whether we liked it or not.

And yes I love lots of trashy books, there's nothing like a trashy book when you feel awful or just need to vegitate. After awhile of trash reading, I halt in my reading, thinking "this is truly stupendously bad," and want a book I can sink my intellectual teeth into. Then the cycle swings around again--if I read one more ponderously artful word I'll go mad. Give me trash!
Jan 25, 2012 09:56PM

1865 Trike wrote: "I missed some stuff, apparently. I skimmed and took this away:

Ayn Rand's head was found in Gor along with Kafka, King and Gaiman who were off to see the wizard in the Highlander with Lair-uh and ..."

Funny! Funny!
Jan 25, 2012 09:48PM

1865 Yefim wrote:"Take the example of Ned Stark, who, as you said, is the perfect hero, yet his honorable actions cause untold suffering for the entire realm. He has failed in his every goal- to protect the king, to protect the realm, and even to protect his own family, all because he wouldn't compromise his heroic ways. "

Martin did a lot of work writing for TV, so there is great deal of theatrical conventions and drama theory in the Game of Thrones series. What you mention here is an elementary drama theory--"the tragic flaw." Brutus of Julius Caesar is usually held up as the example, so honorable his honor destroys him, just like Ned Stark. TV series are written such that individual shows are refered to by the character the show centers on that week. Martin does that, focuses each chapter on a certain character and names the chapter for the character. He also writes the language of the chapter in the language of the character. For instance, the chapters about Stark's eldest daughter (tired forgetting characters' names) tends to emphasisze descriptions of fine clothing and castle luxeries, and dialog is more refined. Ari's chapters describe suffering, poverty, and violence. I really hate where he took her character. John Snow's chapters are written differently again, all in accord with his character.

I'm forgetting the name of the important "dwarf" character (though he's one of my favorites!) I'm finding him very interesting in that he really sounds to me like he's based on Toulouse Lautrec. I do wish Martin would do a little more research for his characters. For instance, the kind of deformity this character is described as having, is not a natal birth defect, to the best of my knowledge. It is caused by spinal injury caused in childhood. Until the feeling and use of the legs returns, the growth of the legs stops. The rest of the body which does not suffer from the atrophy from the injury, grows normally. This is exactly what happened to Lautrec. He suffered an injury as a child that put his legs out of commission for awhile and so they did not grow propery. There is the same accuracy problem, I think with the elderest Stark daughter. Sort of an after thought, Martin is giving her a sweet singing voice as a quality. In a noble family she would recieve singing lessons, and he makes no mention of them. Basically people do not learn to sing well unless they have formal training or unless they are in a culture where everyone sings all the time. There has to be some sort of model to learn from, sweet singing does not just happen. I also don't like that Martin desposes of character for shock value. I also get the sense that he is rushed, writing under publishing date pressure and problems creep up as a result.

So there are some very fine, interesting things going on with Martins writing, and some problems, problems that I think are a result of the demands of the commercial requirments of Big Boy Publishing (rush to meet deadline, quality be damned).
Jan 25, 2012 09:13PM

1865 Martin's books described as hinging "on 'there will be backstabbing'" is truly delicious in its truth.
Jan 25, 2012 09:09PM

1865 mark wrote: "real non-American literature. Non-English too, I reckon

if it is english blockbuster, then it is stupid!! except Shakespeare! and Jules Verne, who is a master of characterization!"

Jules Verne was French. Jane Austin's books are also blockbusters. Her books are not stupid. Jayne Eyer is also an English blockbuster. It is not stupid. Bronte and Austin make Verne look stupid.
1865 Funny, funny book. It pokes fun at everybody, a very good satire. I posted a short review of it that does not have spoilers.
1865 I'm going to move in a month or two and have already packed up my books so I don't know what translation my copy is. I was invited to Russia to talk at conference. I was discussing literature and had changed all the literary examples to Russian ones. I used the Master and Margarita as one of my examples. I'll post when we get past the no spoiler phase a little of what I talked about regarding this great book.
Dec 19, 2011 08:23PM

1865 I just finished Connie Willis's "All About Emily," a delightful Xmas sf short story. It's very funny. Willis is so good at taking spoofing genre clichees and turning them around so they turn into something with a point. It helps to know old movies to enjoy this story.
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Dec 13, 2011 01:32PM

1865 Hi, I am 21+ and live in Florida. Bridge of Birds, Mr. Norrel and Dr. Strange (title not quite right, but you know which one I mean) are two of my favorite fantasies. There is a book I want to find and read, but I forgot the name of the author and the title! You see I often read books in my local mega bookstore while I enjoy a fancy coffee. I didn't expect this book to get pulled so fast becaue it was really good. It started off about this prince who is heading home ahead of his soldiers. He rounds a bend and comes upon a Winter Witch. He gets home and tells his parents about it. His father is displeased with him because he is insisting on marrying a woman his father does not want him to marry. Anybody recognize this? Thanks for any ideas of what it can be.

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