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Members' Chat > It Doesn't Work Like That - Books That Get it Wrong

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message 1: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Maybe you're a professional who keeps seeing their profession misrepresented in literature, or are from a culture that people love to stereotype badly. Or maybe you've just spoken to an entire woman or LGBTQIA+ person or person of color and have had the (sarcasm) shocking realization that they too are people with people-like goals.

This thread is for discussing books that hilariously or maddeningly get it wrong, and our reactions as readers.


message 2: by Beth (last edited Jul 27, 2018 08:09AM) (new)

Beth (rosewoodpip) | 1686 comments The "breasting boobily" thing mentioned in the other thread is the big one (drumroll?) for me. Boobs aren't like makeup, subject to one's own constant scrutiny. They just kind of hang around almost all the time, no more stimulating to possess than a hand or an elbow. Depending, they can even be a nuisance. Here is a really good article on the subject from a number of years ago, by fantasy author Kate Elliott.


message 3: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Oo, good post, Beth!


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments Beth wrote: "The "breasting boobily" thing mentioned in the other thread is the big one (drumroll?) for me. Boobs aren't like makeup, subject to one's own constant scrutiny. They just kind of hang around almost..."


That was a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing. :)

***

There was on book that I was very turned off by what I interpreted as the male gaze. It was a mystery sort of novel, and the main protagonist - a woman - has amnesia and is on the run and in fear of her life.

But this doesn't stop her from taking time to examine her body, judge her breasts and her nose size, find some hair dye in the closet an lament about the possibility that she's going grey already.

I was so irritated by this scene, and was already kinda meh about it, that I dropped the book entirely.


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments On a slightly different vein... there was a little thing which jumped out at me in a book I read recently, because it had a woman, in the early 1930s, being really freaked out about not having shaved her legs.

And the reason is jumped out is because I had done some reading regarding the history of shaving not too long ago, and I was pretty sure that women shaving their legs didn't become really en vogue until the 1940s & 1950s, and which some women did prior to that, it wouldn't have been as big of a deal as it later became.

I know it was such a little thing, but I kind of felt like if you're going to write a historical piece, you should do a little research into the time period before throwing in a line like that.


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments Unrelated to women's bodies at all...

Something I never noticed until someone else pointed it out to me is that horses rarely work the way they do in fantasy novels.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments ANY Romance book that features a "virgin" who is involved in finger penetration but is still sporting a hymen.

Any Romance book that has the hymen at any location past 1 inch or less from the vaginal opening.


message 8: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote: "Unrelated to women's bodies at all...

Something I never noticed until someone else pointed it out to me is that horses rarely work the way they do in fantasy novels."


Yeah, they usually need to drink blood and can only come out at night.

Sorry, I knew what you meant and I agree, books never horse right. But your phrasing made me chuckle :)


message 9: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
MrsJoseph wrote: "ANY Romance book that features a "virgin" who is involved in finger penetration but is still sporting a hymen.

Any Romance book that has the hymen at any location past 1 inch or less from the vag..."


Kinda impressed to learn books go into that detail about hymens!


message 10: by Beth (new)

Beth (rosewoodpip) | 1686 comments colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote: "Something I never noticed until someone else pointed it out to me is that horses rarely work the way they do in fantasy novels. "

More links! Judith Tarr's series of articles on Horses in SFF and elsewhere has been consistently informative and fascinating to read.


message 11: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited Jul 27, 2018 09:05AM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
For me, I'm almost always disappointed when either a lawyer or a Quebecois person shows up. I honestly stay up at night wondering how many people are in jail because of bad advice pop culture has given them about how the legal system/police & civilian interactions work.

Like in Hounded where his lawyer suggests they meet up at a restaurant to discuss his possible crimes. That is a total breach of confidentiality and would remove any shot at atty-client privilege. They don't even like us to talk on the phone to people, in case the client isn't in a secure location or idiotically decides to use speaker phone.

And then it's only been an issue in maybe two books lol but the Quebecois aren't French! It's a wholly separate language and they have waaaay better curses than "merde" or "zut alors!" or "sacre bleu!" all of which (except merde) are basically the French equivalent of "gadzooks!" in English. It's not said and I really need authors to just Google because the swears in joual are absolutely priceless.

Some favorites:

-tabarnak (obviously) This literally means tabernacle, but in Quebecois is like their f-bomb. You can just sprinkle it throughout. There's a really hilarious scene in Bon Cop Bad Cop about its use. Highly recommend.

hostie de [la vierge]: you can use hostie/osti de just about anything and it's like adding "fuggin' to the beginning of any phrase. It literally means "host of...[angels/the Virgin] but it blends so beautifully, you can make really exquisite strings of epithets with osti.

calisse: which is the respelling of calice which means chalice but means something closer to "oh shit." This one's probably my favorite, if usage is how we measure favoritism.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Allison wrote: "MrsJoseph wrote: "ANY Romance book that features a "virgin" who is involved in finger penetration but is still sporting a hymen.

Any Romance book that has the hymen at any location past 1 inch or..."


That's the problem: They forgot their HS biology and I didn't. The hymen is located at the entry of the vaginal channel/passage. It is easily torn and cannot withstand digital penetration.

Sadly, a lot of authors are under the belief that the hymen is located about 1/2 way down the channel so there's all sorts of shenanigans happening that is impossible.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Beth wrote: "colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote: "Something I never noticed until someone else pointed it out to me is that horses rarely work the way they do in fantasy novels. "

More links! Judith Tarr's..."


I'm going to check that out!


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Allison wrote: "For me, I'm almost always disappointed when either a lawyer or a Quebecois person shows up. I honestly stay up at night wondering how many people are in jail because of bad advice pop culture has g..."

I know a lot of lawyers who cannot read books with lawyers in them. Do you read Romance? If yes, have you read the FBI/US Attorney series by Julie James? All the MC's are either FBI agents or US Attorneys (dating each other).


message 15: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin | 685 comments Allison wrote: "For me, I'm almost always disappointed when either a lawyer or a Quebecois person shows up. I honestly stay up at night wondering how many people are in jail because of bad advice pop culture has g..."

You forgot 'cyboire!', which combines well with the others (example: Hostie de cyboire de Christ de tabarnak! Meaning that a Québecois is really getting pissed). And yes, BON COP BAD COP was hilarious.

You know what else the French really do badly? Translation of English language movies. They don't translate some of the words and simply pronounce them like a French word, which makes for an ear-scorching sound. I find that Québec translation companies actually do a better job than Paris-based companies.


message 16: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited Jul 27, 2018 11:24AM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Michel wrote: "Allison wrote: "For me, I'm almost always disappointed when either a lawyer or a Quebecois person shows up. I honestly stay up at night wondering how many people are in jail because of bad advice p..."

Yes! Cyboire is also delightful, but if I had to pick three...haha! LOL @ ear-scorching. I think the same with anglos using "French" accents (or God forbid they try to use a French accent as a Québecois accent *shudder*)

Do you have movie recos translated out of Québec? I'm not sure I've paid attention, but I'd be very curious to hear the difference.

(Also, I watched Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 on a plane, forgetting that the version would have subtitles for both languages the entire time, and also not knowing that half the movie was in a strip club. The kids behind me got one hell of an introduction to the culture...)


message 17: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin | 685 comments I don't know if you watched the animated series THE FLINSTONES when you were young, but they did a French translation of it, made by a Québec studio. It was perfect! Then, the French complained that they didn't understand what was said in the Québec version and had it translated again, but in France. The result sounded like a bunch of constipated snobs talking between themselves.


message 18: by Shanna_redwind (new)

Shanna_redwind | 38 comments I read a book where they decided to stop a tsunami by creating an equal wave coming from the other direction to cancel out the tsunami.

My memory of grade 12 physics and a rope in a long hallway tells me that all they have done is create a wave that's going to hit the other side of the ocean. It may cancel out when they cross (or it may cause a large peak or trough in the exact place they meet), but then both waves will continue merrily on their ways to create devastation on their respective coastlines.


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments Shanna_redwind wrote: "I read a book where they decided to stop a tsunami by creating an equal wave coming from the other direction to cancel out the tsunami.."


I think The Flash may have used that same science.


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments Oh, back to women's bodies...

Is it funny how women on quests never seem to get their periods?

(I have read 2 books that actually addressed this, and one did it in the worst kind of way possible, and had the woman (view spoiler).)


message 21: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited Jul 27, 2018 12:27PM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Flintstones! Never would have guessed.

haha @ double tsunamis. That's pretty basic to get it so wrong!

Oh, no, Colleen. That's um. Sigh. That's one of the reasons I like the Tamora Pierce books, though. They all deal with monthly cycles in a normal way.


message 22: by Jen (new)

Jen (jenlb) | 174 comments colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote:
Is it funny how women on quests never seem to get their periods?


Dan Simmons did it well in The Rise of Endymion :-) The "hero" notices that the heroine is a bit off and figures that she's afraid or heartbroken- he asks her about it and she's just "I've got my period so I'm crampy and have a headache", and they continue on.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote: "Oh, back to women's bodies...

Is it funny how women on quests never seem to get their periods?

(I have read 2 books that actually addressed this, and one did it in the worst kind of way possible,..."


UGH!!!

But true about the lack of periods. Eddings' female characters never had that kind of bad day. *rolls eyes*


message 24: by CBRetriever (new)

CBRetriever | 4627 comments nor do any women in Romance novels - I think Outlander was one of the few

and most of those books are written by women


message 25: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
The book I'm reading now has a lot of things that are making me laugh.

You can't shove someone's nose shards into their brain. Notably, there aren't nose shards to shove.

Just a curved branch will make an awful bow.

Diving naked into near-freezing water is an excellent way to die.

Similarly, diving into water with an open wound and having a horse fall on you is also a great way to die.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Allison wrote: "The book I'm reading now has a lot of things that are making me laugh.

You can't shove someone's nose shards into their brain. Notably, there aren't nose shards to shove.

Just a curved branch wil..."



Have you read Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series? The Mary Sue there does all sorts of things: domesticate animals, ride horses (domesticate again), create mensuration pads, I want to say she also created soft-soap, discover where babies come from, etc. (I'm missing a lot but its been awhile, lol).


message 27: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
MrsJoseph wrote: "Allison wrote: "The book I'm reading now has a lot of things that are making me laugh.

You can't shove someone's nose shards into their brain. Notably, there aren't nose shards to shove.

Just a c..."


Yes haha I did many years ago! It was pretty impressive how skilled she was ;-)


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments CBRetriever wrote: "nor do any women in Romance novels - I think Outlander was one of the few

and most of those books are written by women"


fantasy fulfillment? I wish I could get rid of mine, lol.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Allison wrote: "MrsJoseph wrote: "Allison wrote: "The book I'm reading now has a lot of things that are making me laugh.

You can't shove someone's nose shards into their brain. Notably, there aren't nose shards t..."




IKR?!


BTW, you can't kill someone by breaking their nose??? Movies and books have been lying to me!!


message 30: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited Jul 27, 2018 02:40PM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod



MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments lolololol


message 32: by Trike (new)

Trike The Writing Excuses podcast (Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells, with regular guests and guest hosts) frequently do episodes called What Writers Get Wrong about various topics.


message 33: by David (new)

David Holmes | 474 comments I'm a computer programmer, and nearly any book that deals with programming, hacking or artificial intelligence is usually pretty dumb, unless it was written by somebody with a computer science background. A few random rants:

The phrase "neural network" it is a technical term in CS/AI that refers to a specific actual thing in the present day. It's not a made-up sci-fi technobabble term to mean whatever you want it to mean. I'm looking at you, John Scalzi (Lock In) and Marko Kloos (several Frontlines novels).

People can write programs at all sorts of skill levels, but it's a profession that you can spend a lifetime mastering. If you're "the best programmer I've ever met", you become so by spending thousands and thousands of hours writing code, not by dabbling in your spare time while also being a full-time starship officer, mechanic, action hero, high school student, and whatever the hell else you are, any more than you become a great writer without actually ever writing anything.

"Hacking" is not computer-magic. Most portrayals of hacking in fiction are so painfully dumb that I don't even know where to begin. Pick a book that has "hacking" and isn't by an actual computer professional and it's probably idiotic.

But mad props to computer-programmer-turned-writer Andy Weir for writing the only reasonable portrayal of hacking something that I've ever seen in sci-fi in The Martian, and to uber-geek-writer Neal Stephenson for lots of good stuff in The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer and Cryptonomicon.


message 34: by Phillip (last edited Jul 27, 2018 08:17PM) (new)

Phillip Murrell | 582 comments I’m an army bomb technician. There are countless military mistakes in all storytelling mediums but the one that really annoys me is standing on a landmine. If you step on a landmine and you hear a click, you don’t need an equal weight. At that point the only thing you need is a fresh pair of underwear because it was a dud.


message 35: by Trike (new)

Trike Phillip wrote: "If you step on a land mine and you hear a click, you don’t need an equal weight. At that point the only thing you need is a fresh pair of underwear because it was a dud."

LOL


message 36: by Raucous (new)

Raucous | 739 comments I worked for decades in research and development. One thing I learned is that turning a new idea into a workable product or even a prototype is really hard. It can take dozens to many hundreds of people years to pull it off. That's if things go well - and they usually don't.

So I'm tired of books where the lead character makes an offhand suggestion that lets one of his (it's always a male in this kind of book) engineers throw together something in an hour or two from spare parts lying around the ship that fundamentally changes their world. "Gosh Mr. god-like protagonist with no understanding of the technology. We would never have thought of that ourselves." I recently read a book where this happened at least four times. There was also one of those "hack a world's computers in minutes" episodes and of course the lead was so irresistibly attractive because of his hypercompetence that women could think of nothing but throwing themselves at his feet when he was around.

Where was that "If you had to burn a book..." thread again?


message 37: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 371 comments Allison wrote: "The book I'm reading now has a lot of things that are making me laugh.

You can't shove someone's nose shards into their brain. Notably, there aren't nose shards to shove.

Just a curved branch wil..."


Not to mention the arrows. Making a usable arrow requires loads of skill and materials.


message 38: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 371 comments David wrote: "I'm a computer programmer, and nearly any book that deals with programming, hacking or artificial intelligence is usually pretty dumb, unless it was written by somebody with a computer science back..."


Breaking encryption by madly tapping on the keyboard.


message 39: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Wait, I can't button mash and hack the CIA?


message 40: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 582 comments Allison wrote: "Wait, I can't button mash and hack the CIA?"

What if I do it while spouting off witty one-liners?


message 41: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Phillip wrote: "Allison wrote: "Wait, I can't button mash and hack the CIA?"

What if I do it while spouting off witty one-liners?"


Right, I'm pretty sure that's the key!

:)


message 42: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin | 685 comments One of my pet peeves is about war stories written by authors who obviously know nothing about war, the military and weapons and go on describing some 'epic' battle that would never have happened in reality or one that would be won in an instant because the balance of force and military abilities was an obvious mismatch. For example, I read years ago a 'war novel' about WW2 where Germans had amphibious light tanks with steel armor one meter thick. I threw away the book then! A variant pet peeve is when the author makes the good guys win easily because the enemy is painted as inferior because of their race. Remember all those British generals who poo-pooed the Japanese soldiers in 1940 as being 'sub-humans'?


message 43: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 2287 comments Great topic. I know nothing and am willing to admit it... I need this information from you computer, military, and other experts to be able to judge whether a book 'got it right' or not. Thank you!

Are doctors & medical treatments usually portrayed acceptably close to accurately?

How about archaeologists? Politicians? Journalists?


message 44: by Thaddeus (new)

Thaddeus White | 96 comments When commanders in fantasy or historical stuff order their archers to draw their bows back. And then just hold. And hold. Because the one thing every commander knows is that totally destroying your archers' shoulders right at the onset of battle is eminently sensible.


message 45: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Cheryl wrote: "Great topic. I know nothing and am willing to admit it... I need this information from you computer, military, and other experts to be able to judge whether a book 'got it right' or not. Thank you!..."

I'm with you there. I can't contribute anything, but it is immensely interesting to follow this thread. Thanks to all the contributers.


message 46: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 582 comments Michel wrote: "One of my pet peeves is about war stories written by authors who obviously know nothing about war, the military and weapons and go on describing some 'epic' battle that would never have happened in..."

I could rant for days how often my profession is misrepresented. The Hurt Locker even won a Best Picture Oscar, despite being wrong about nearly everything from an EOD perspective. Artistic license does a lot for stories with soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen.


message 47: by Trike (new)

Trike V.W. wrote: "Not to mention the arrows. Making a usable arrow requires loads of skill and materials. "

That depends on the type of arrow. If you’re talking a stone- or metal-tipped one with fletching, yes. But if you’re talking about a sharpened stick, even one with a fire-hardened tip, they’re fairly easy and quick. (With practice, of course.)

When I was in Australia, one of our Aboriginal guides pulled a branch off a tree and turned it into a deadly projectile in less than a minute. He also made the launching part of the woomera from a bigger branch in slightly more time. It was impressive, to say the least, and he buried it into a tree a hundred feet away.

In less than three minutes using no tools he made a croc-killing weapon.


message 48: by Trike (new)

Trike Cheryl wrote: "Are doctors & medical treatments usually portrayed acceptably close to accurately?

How about archaeologists? Politicians? Journalists?."


No, no, no, no, but also no.


message 49: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Trike wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "Are doctors & medical treatments usually portrayed acceptably close to accurately?

How about archaeologists? Politicians? Journalists?."

No, no, no, no, but also no."


Haha!


message 50: by Trike (new)

Trike Phillip wrote: "I could rant for days how often my profession is misrepresented. The Hurt Locker even won a Best Picture Oscar, despite being wrong about nearly everything from an EOD perspective. Artistic license does a lot for stories with soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen."

Movies are exceptionally bad at portraying how jobs actually work. I mean, they don’t even try to get how to make movies right, and all they have to do is literally look around at what they’re doing.

Sometimes artistic license can be used well, though. For instance, in the Civil War movie Glory there’s a scene where the soldiers are shown chopping at watermelons set on stakes to represent the heads of the enemies. Strictly speaking that scene isn’t true to life. Watermelons weren't that big 150 years ago, and they wouldn’t have been in season anyway. But it’s black soldiers destroying a symbol of racism, so the anachronism is outweighed by the symbolism.


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