Arwen Spicer

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in The United States
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May 2010

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I write far-future social science fiction and sometimes short fantasy. Lately, I am interested exploring psychological struggle, guilt, trauma, and responsibility. I love creating different cultures. Ecology is always a theme (foreground or background), and increasingly climate change metaphors are in there.

My "relationship orientation" is "friendship bonder," and I am a sucker for a good friendship story. I love this almost more than anything. (And I haven't written it enough.)

My predominant sci-fi influence is Ursula Le Guin. I have never read any sci-fi novels I enjoy as much as her Ekumen books. But truthfully, as a reader, my attention has been more on manga and light novels in recent years, maybe because they're culturally different
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Arwen Spicer You know, it's just changed. I have been working on the script for the web series I have in development, Broken Song. But then my life took a turn, an…moreYou know, it's just changed. I have been working on the script for the web series I have in development, Broken Song. But then my life took a turn, and a personal crisis set me to revising my novel, Mercy, with a new focus on lost friendship. This is a recipe for disaster, right? Working out your issues in your writing: that's therapy, not good authorship. Well, we'll see. I actually feel like this is going to work as work of art, but I'm too close to it now to know for sure. Good thing that writing is a novel is a long process, filled with critique and revision. It's nice to feel inspired again though.(less)
Arwen Spicer Naoe and Kagetora from Mizuna Kuwabara’s boys love light novel series Mirage of Blaze, which is about samurai spirits vying for control of modern day …moreNaoe and Kagetora from Mizuna Kuwabara’s boys love light novel series Mirage of Blaze, which is about samurai spirits vying for control of modern day Japan while our plucky group of heroes (also samurai spirits) attempt to thwart them. Uesugi Kagetora, adopted son of Uesugi Kenshin, is the field commander of these defenders of modern Japan (and by extension the world). Naoe is his vassal and bodyguard. (Like most of the characters, both are historical figures.) The two of them have had a love-hate relationship—with both feeling generous doses of the love and the hate—for 400 years.

Why are they my favorite?

Well, Mirage and its main couple just blow everything else out of the water. This is no criticism of any other love story. Mirage is just so huge, weird, and no-holds-barred that it explodes the mind and senses. Naoe and Kagetora have the intense, obsessive, ugly-yet-compelling passion of Wuthering Heights’s Catherine and Heathcliff (who would also be high on my list) but at a length of several hundred more pages with a commensurate depth of psychology, philosophy, and character development. They are an investigation of (and sometime challenge to) Buddhist concepts of attachment and detachment. They are an exploration of trauma and its ramifications throughout life. They are an illustration of the horror of being trapped in destructive patterns and the possibility of growth out of them. They are an intense exercise in self-examination, self-flagellation, a study in how human relationships go wrong (and can be rescued). They are the insanity of intense, prolonged overextension (in this case, the overextension of living for 400 years without proper reincarnation/purification). They do not exist on an isolated story island consisting only of each other but rather widely affect and are affected by other loved ones, family, friends, enemies, strangers, the world. They signify that forgiveness and redemption are always available. They challenge us (and each other) to love brokenness and to find healing.

And they are also a BL/yaoi couple, which means they circumvent, subvert, refract, and otherwise complicate typical gender assumptions: I wrote an essay once arguing that they both represent "woman" (and "man") in various ways.

I don’t love them for the sex appeal, and I think I’m a little atypical as a Mirage fan in not finding the K/N sex much of a turn-on. Mind you, their sexual chemistry is fascinating, weird, disturbing, intense, and engrossing; it’s just a little too disturbing for me to be turned on by it. I don’t read it primarily for titillation value, but I do read with avidly—they have at least a couple of the strangest, most psychologically incisive sex scenes I’ve read.

Runner-Up

Vash and Wolfwood in Trigun—and, no, they are not a "couple." While they have been amply slashed (very occasionally well, I think), they are clearly non-sexual friends in both manga and anime canon. But in spirit—where it matters to me—I will count them as a couple because they become "partners," in so many words, and by any reasonable non-sexual definition, they surely fall in love, in the sense that they meet, spark, become engrossed by each other, transform each other’s lives, send each other through emotional roller coasters, fill a void in each other as no one else could, etc.

In contrast to Naoe and Kagetora, Vash and Wolfwood are an example of healthy love, though they surely have their problems. They do each other great good (and significant hurt). They become profound philosophical interlocutors who challenge each other to expand and reconsider their philosophical and moral assumptions. And they just spark tremendously, fit perfectly, and have a dashed lot of fun together, given that their whole relationship (especially in the manga) takes place on the eve of global apocalypse.

No Women?

No… not way up at the top levels. Alas, misogyny has a way of short-circuiting a story’s ability to generate a really compelling male-female couple. (I have never encountered a lesbian couple that has really gotten under my skin, probably, in part, because I’m attracted to men. But the closest has surely been Xena and Gabrielle.)

Some Runner-Up Male-Female Pairings (no particular order):

Catherine and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)
Mulder and Scully (X-Files)
Schmendrick and Molly (Last Unicorn and other stories)
Zhaan and Stark (Farscape)
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Average rating: 4.47 · 15 ratings · 7 reviews · 4 distinct works
The Hour before Morning

4.40 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2012 — 2 editions
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Perdita

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2001 — 4 editions
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The Hour before Morning

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings2 editions
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Women of the Woods

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it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 5 ratings
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The Last Jedi: Spoiler-Lite Initial Thoughts

Spoiler Free: It's a very good movie. It avoids a lot of cliché while remaining "Star Wars" and having a number of subtler call-backs to previous themes and arcs. All the major characters are developed pretty well, including nice doses of humor. Plotwise, the film reminds me a bit of the second X-Men movie, that is, very good but so complex that it loses a certain clarity and, well, force of narra Read more of this blog post »
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Published on December 19, 2017 21:46 Tags: review, star-wars

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Mirage of Blaze, Vol. 1 by Mizuna Kuwabara
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