Meta: New Indexes

I've been reading Will Wildman's analyses of Orson Scott Card's work again this week and I link to those a lot on here, so I'd like to do a "blog roll" type thing on my Index page that links to other deconstructions. Sort of a "if you like this, you might like these" type of things.

I know we have a lot of deconstructions in our community and I am probably not going to be able to gather them all up myself, but if you would like to compile and send one to me, I will add it! Here is the format I'm using in HTML, if you want to send me one to post. 

» <a href="URL">CHAPTER 1</a>, POST TITLE
» <a href="URL">CHAPTER 2</a>, POST TITLE
» <a href="URL">CHAPTER 3</a>, POST TITLE

Index: Dresden Files

Dresden Files

Source: Something Short and Snappy
Label: Dresden Files

» Storm Front, chapters 1 and 2, in which Our Hero is one of the "nice" misogynists
» Storm Front, chapters three and four, in which Dresden hopefully suffers for his misogyny
» Storm Front, chapters five, six, and seven, in which Will tries to ban the author from writing women
» Storm Front, chapters eight and nine, in which Will endures for you, precious reader
» Storm Front, chapters ten and eleven, in which the worst and best of the book are on display
» Storm Front, chapters twelve and thirteen, in which Dresden must endure women throwing themselves at him
» Storm Front, chapters 14 and 15, in which having lots of women in your book is no protection against rampant misogyny
» Storm Front, chapters 16 and 17, in which true rules of power and exchange are demonstrated
» Storm Front, chapters 18 and 19, in which repetition masquerades as exposition
» Storm Front, chapters 20 and 21, in which Our Hero just can't be blamed for being terrible and useless
» Storm Front, chapters 22 and 23, in which Harry Dresden is just the best ever
» Storm Front, chapters 24 and 25, in which the race against time pauses for exposition
» Storm Front, chapters 26 and 27, in which Dresden repudiates his author

Note: Last updated 03/26/2017.

Index: Speaker For The Dead

Speaker For The Dead

Source: Something Short and Snappy
Label: Speaker for the Dead

» Speaker for the Dead, chapter one, part one, in which nothing ever changes
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter one, part two, in which species is decided by vote
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter one, part three, in which Pipo makes a lot of bad decisions
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter two, in which the galaxy revolves around Ender
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter three, in which Novinha ruins science over her boyfriend
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter four, in which Ender only has secret friends
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter five, in which loving siblings trying to destroy each other
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter six, part one, in which I no longer know what is going on
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter six, part two, in which subtitles are misused
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter seven, in which Ender is a magical social worker
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter eight, in which we genre shift to thriller-horror
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter nine, in which I wonder if this is actually a first draft
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter ten, part one, in which that which is not forbidden is mandatory
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter ten, part two, in which Ender is all of his own exceptions
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter eleven, in which Jane does all right
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter twelve, in which there are okay bits
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter thirteen, in which science washes its hands of sci fi
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter fourteen, part one, in which Ender is Right at people
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter fourteen, part two, in which magic is handled badly
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter fifteen, upon which everything depends
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter fifteen, part two, in which Ender is accidentally honest
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter sixteen, part one, in which everyone breaks character
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter sixteen, part two, in which science is useless before the might of the fence
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter seventeen, part one, in which Ender is more equal than everyone
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter seventeen, part two, in which Mighty Whitey saves the day
» Speaker for the Dead, chapter eighteen, in which Card hurriedly scrawls To Be Continued across the page
» Speaker for the Dead, introduction, in which we solve a mystery by studying its genetics

Note: Last updated 03/26/2017.

Index: Ender's Shadow

Ender's Shadow

Source: Something Short and Snappy
Label: Ender's Shadow

» Ender's Shadow, chapter one, in which Bean is not as smart as he thinks he is
» Ender's Shadow, chapter two, in which Bean is a singing muppet
» Ender's Shadow, chapter three, in which Bean is first an apostle
» Ender's Shadow, chapters four, five, and six, in which Bean just barely doesn't sprint into the fourth wall
» Ender's Shadow, chapters seven and eight, in which Bean confirms that the author is right about everything
» Ender's Shadow, chapters nine, ten, and eleven, in which Bean is a god and Ender is a messiah
» Ender's Shadow, chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, in which Bean is distressed that no one understands how awesome he is
» Ender's Shadow, chapters fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen, in which Bean is a street preacher
» Ender's Shadow, chapters eighteen, nineteen, and twenty, in which Bean doesn't murder anyone
» Ender's Shadow, chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, in which Bean is not the smartest person
» Ender's Shadow, chapters twenty-three and twenty-four, in which Bean steps aside

Note: Last updated 03/26/2017.

Index: Ender's Game

Ender's Game

Source: Something Short and Snappy
Label: Ender's Game

» Chapter one, part one, in which Will inexplicably follows in the style of the terrible decisions that have gone before
» Chapter one, part two, in which we immediately give up on all reasoned morality
» Chapter two, in which the villainous Peter Wiggin fails to be as horrifying as our hero
» Chapter three, which is much less terrible than previous chapters, or maybe I'm just getting inured to it all
» Chapter four, in which Ender Wiggin becomes the blatant reader-fantasy-insert
» Chapter five, in which Ender SHOWS THEM ALL and Will says 'whatever' a lot
» Chapter six, in which ZERO GRAVITY RACISM saves the day
» Chapter seven, part one, in which we just don't understand Ender's FEELINGS
» Chapter seven, part two, in which everyone gets naked
» Chapter seven, part three, in which middle schoolers are just too old to keep up with the young folks
» Chapter eight, part one, in which Jjjjeeeewwwwwws
» Chapter eight, part two, in which things are very briefly not awful
» Chapter nine, part one, in which blogs are taken seriously
» Chapter nine, part two, in which alternative interpretations abound
» Chapter ten, in which Ender rejects redemption and loses his boyfriend
» Chapter eleven, in which we get down to the WINNING
» Chapter twelve, in which Our Hero gets his second kill
» Chapter thirteen, part one, in which Ender tells the truth
» Chapter thirteen, part two, in which Graff ruins everything again
» Chapter fourteen, part one, in which Mazer Rackham doesn't replace Graff soon enough
» Chapter fourteen, part two, in which the plan works perfectly
» Chapter fifteen, in which the victims blame themselves
» Introduction, in which we contemplate empathy

Note: Last updated 03/26/2017.

Open Thread: Wall Art

Art on a random wall.  Kind of blurry.

I . . . haven't been out much, and my usual camera is misplaced, and I left the back up of my now-replaced hard drive in another state.  So I give you a shot taken by emergency back up camera the one time I was both out and able to take a picture.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Repost: Lion-Witch-Wardrobe, BBC-Style

[Ana's Note: By popular demand, this is a re-post of an old deconstruction, partly to have content while I struggle with my ongoing disability challenges and partly so that newcomers can comment on old conversations.

The original post is here. I have not edited the content.

Narnia Recap: We'll be doing a couple of film adaptations before moving on to Prince Caspian.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, BBC Adaptation

A very great pet peeve of mine is when people complain that libraries -- bastions of free thought, higher education, and information readily disseminated to the masses regardless of wealth or privilege -- contain movies, as though the very idea is wasteful and expensive and entitled. I'm not going to convey my contempt for this complaint beyond a link to my post on ableism and hostility, but I mention that to mention this: my childhood library had the full BBC Chronicles of Narnia and it's been fascinating to go back and see just how much those movies colored my experience with the books. To the librarian who choose in my childhood to stock my library with this film adaptation: Thank you.

The BBC adaptation of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" was created in 1988, and like all adaptations it's an interesting mixture of source text and adaptation needs. There's the obvious stuff based on technological limitations: the Beavers are two adults in awkward beaver suits, Maugrim shape-shifts into a human whenever he needs to talk or interact with the other characters, and Aslan looks remarkably realistic for the time but is heavily limited in terms of movement. And this last change is absolutely for the better, but we'll talk about that later. 

What strikes me about this adaptation -- particularly since I watched it after watching the American movie version, which we will discuss next week -- is how much the creators tried to adhere to the original text. Conversations are lifted almost verbatim from the books (though, amusingly, the subtitlers didn't realize that: when Edmund calls out "Pax!" to Lucy, the subtitlers perplexedly offer up "Hex!"), which makes it all the more interesting to look at the things they do change. How about I just throw down a numbered list, yeah?

  1. Edmund is less insufferable. 
  2. Susan is markedly more important.
  3. Aslan is more gentle, tender, and vulnerable.

This last one, I think, cannot be underestimated in terms of importance. But let's dig in the adaptation and see what I wrote down.

Tropes: Writing with Chronic Pain

[This post was previously posted on my Patreon blog.]

There was uproar in the writing community this week about an interview by an NYT bestselling author about her latest book, in which chronic pain is described as a magical gift. I made a lot of tweets about that, as did a bunch of other really smart people, and noted how frustrated I was with the topic itself because this isn’t 101 entry-level stuff and a lot of people were going to be confused and frightened off the topic of writing characters with chronic pain. And, sure enough, tentative questions came in from very nice people, all asking the same thing:

Should I not write a chronic pain character? 

I want to emphasize from the start of this that I am not The Speaker for the Spoonies. So when I say ohmigosh-please-write-all-the-chronic-pain-characters-I-need-them, understand that someone else may feel differently from me on this. I also want to note that there are a lot of different ways to approach chronic pain, and some people are going to hate whichever approach you take. The answer here (in my mind) is not to not-try-at-all, but rather to do your best and warn your readers what they’re signing up for when they read. But let’s go over some guidelines.

Why is your character in chronic pain? 

Too many writers have been trained to use a “default” character model—white, heterosexual, cisgender, and able-bodied—and think that any deviation from that model requires some kind of story explanation. So we get plots where the main character doesn’t just have chronic pain, oh no, it’s been “gifted” to her by magic or god or vampires or an ancient curse levied on her family by a coven of riled tax accountants.

I’m not saying never do this, because I can imagine an author with chronic pain—i.e., an “own voices” author speaking to their own experience and being clear about that upfront—finding some cathartic escapism from that. I, too, get sad feelings sometimes about losing the genetic lottery in terms of spinal configurations and I can see how “no, how about I have this because I am awesome” could be fun to write.

But! There’s a big difference—and it’s a difference that will come through on the page—between a CP author writing unapologetic author insert awesomeness to explain their chronic pain vs. an able-bodied author grappling for an story-explanation of why their “normal” character mold was “tainted” with chronic pain. That’s gross and stigmatizing, like we’re “less than” the able-bodied characters.

Consider instead: your magic-wielding protagonist could just... have chronic pain? without a plot reason? just because some people do? We’re not such a rare segment of the population that our inclusion warrants an explanation, and such explanations can shy really close to unwanted “justifications” of why there’s a CP character in your epic fantasy. Believe me: we don’t require a justification to be here. Just let us be here. We should have been here all along, but authors have been pretending we don’t exist.

While we’re on the subject, avoid “explanations” of pain that are front-loaded with guilt or shame or stigma. Pain shouldn’t be leveled on your character as a punishment or because they have mental illness or an abusive family or a guilt complex such that they “wished” pain onto themselves or caused their disability in some way. This contributes to a body of work which says that chronic pain is something guilty and shameful that we’ve brought on ourselves or had inflicted on us as victims. Again, consider us just having chronic pain because lots of people have that.

Is your character cure-seeking? 

This is complicated and you’re not going to please everyone here. Know that from the start, be sensitive, and label your book appropriately so readers can decide whether or not they want to read your work.

Here is the thing: A lot of chronic pain people are cure-seeking in real life. Both of my spinal fusions were an attempt to fix my back, and a lot of effort and planning went into making those work. Seeking a cure can be a big part of a spoonie’s life. Plus, if you’re writing magic-users or advanced-technology, some people are going to be interested in an escapist tale where the pain was fixed. Some #ownvoices authors are going to want to write an escapist tale wherein pain was fixed.

Other people are not going to want to read that at all. They can come away from a cure-seeking narrative feeling discouraged because magical cures don’t exist in real life. They can come away feeling gut-punched if the narrative acted like life without a cure isn’t worth living (don’t do that in your story, please). They can come away frustrated that yet another chronic pain character couldn’t just be without their pain becoming part of the plot. These are valid feelings, which is why I say to label your work with care.

But here are things you can do:

(1) Give your character more plot than just cure-seeking. Remember I said I spent two spinal fusions trying to fix my back? I was also doing other stuff at the time! I was going to school, writing books, watching movies, falling in love, and making friends. The surgeries were important parts of my life, but they weren’t my entire life. I had millions of other driving motivations than just my pain.

(2) Don’t glamorize cures as the only thing that makes life living. How fucked up is that? Please don’t do that! Major life events shouldn’t hinge on the cure—people with chronic pain can still find love, beat the big bad, kick ass, and be awesome without needing a cure to accomplish that. If there is going to be a cure offered in the story, my feelings are that it should be like ordering a cherry on a sundae: a nice sweet little addition, but the sundae would be fine without it.

(3) Consider adding characters who choose not to be cured, for whatever reason. There are a lot of reasons not to pursue cures for chronic pain. Sometimes cures can carry risks of their own (for example, I nearly died in my first spinal fusion surgery) and sometimes cures can offer only temporary relief and then worsen over time (see also: my second spinal fusion, which I regret now). Some people with chronic pain are perfectly happy with their current pain management process and don’t want to mess with a good thing. Some people just don’t want to! (See: My mother, who has scoliosis but hates doctors and the thought of surgery.) That’s okay! The point here is that your chronic pain character shouldn’t read as a stand-in for all chronic pain people.

Does your character medicate through the help of a friend / lover? 

This one is complicated and can bring up a lot of power dynamics that you need to be aware of.
For one: a character really should not fall in love with their pain management person. This is not unlike falling in love with your doctor or therapist; yes, it is a thing humans do (see: transference), but it’s very fraught for a reason and it would be super unethical for the doctor/therapist to reciprocate those feelings. A good character can't become romantically involved with a patient and remain morally good, in my strong opinion.

Now, I’m not saying characters shouldn’t be able to help each other, just that you need to tread carefully. In my book Survival Rout, Aniyah and Miyuki are already romantically inclined before Miyuki thinks to use xer magic powers to help Aniyah with her chronic pain. For me, this was akin to my own spouse using his talents to help me through my pain flareups, but that effort came after we were already romantically involved, not before. There was no risk that I felt drawn into a relationship with him because of what he was doing / could do to manage my chronic pain.

For two: Be aware that a loved one who helps with chronic pain could represent a situation the CP character might be unable to safely leave. That’s a power imbalance, not unlike an impoverished character marrying a fabulously wealthy bachelor with an unfair / lopsided pre-nuptial agreement. Are some people willing to read books like that? Sure. Are some readers going to be very uncomfortable if the text doesn’t acknowledge the built-in power imbalance? Yes.

As a very general rule, unless you’re an #ownvoices author I would strongly advise against making the love interest someone with a talent that can help the CP character manage their pain. That doesn’t mean the love interest can’t help in normal, mundane ways but they should ideally be ways that other people could do just as well or better so that the CP character doesn’t feel “trapped” in a relationship with them.

How does your character feel about their pain? 

Please imagine you’re in pain right now. Not fun, right? Now imagine you’re in pain all the time. How does that feel? Okay, at first you might feel kind of hopeless. That’s a thing, yes. But “hopeless” isn’t our only setting. We have sorrow, we have anger, we have frustration, we have gallows-humor. We have “I can’t mentally deal with this right now, so I’m not going to think about it”. We have emotions about other stuff! Sometimes we don’t think about our pain at all because while it’s always there, it can become a background thing we don’t constantly dwell on. It’s still there, but we deal.

Here’s some things to stay away from: Guilt. Shame. Extra super-compassion or understanding or empathy because our chronic pain made us ~magically~ more sympathetic to god’s suffering creatures. Suicidal or self-harming unless you’re an #ownvoices author and you know exactly what you’re doing and how carefully to tread. Basically anything that makes us Saints, Sinners, or the Walking Dead because of our pain. We’re just normal people who happen to be in pain all the time! We react to that like normal people do. We’re not Gods or Demons or Undead.

Be sensitive, get sensitivity readers, and be chill about criticism.

No matter what you do, someone is going to be upset. Embrace that and let it be freeing instead of stifling. When someone is upset with you, thank them for sharing their perspective, take the criticism on board, and move forward doing better. Support authors with chronic pain and elevate their voices. The fact that you care, and that you’re reading this with intent to try and not screw up, is itself a wonderful sign. You’re moving with careful steps instead of barging in pretending you know everything.

Thank you! ♡ ♥ ♡

Open Thread: Raspberries

Fresh Raspberries by Petr Kratochvil

Holy crumbs, Batman, we're at multi-pages of Disqus loading in the current open thread! Here's a new one, and much thanks to Chris for noticing we were at full capacity. (Apparently we all have a lot of feelings about Harry Potter, yay for us!)

Like on all threads, please remember to use the "post new comment" feature in Disqus rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Leaves from time gone by

There is a story about why I'm using a picture from last August here.  It was vitally important that I find an external hard drive because I had backed up incredibly important stuff on it.  Unfortunately it had gotten hopelessly lost in the process of making the house crutch-safe.  I found the hard drive, eventually, but I seem to have managed to lose my camera in the process.

This was taken not far from my home, though closer to where I went to grade school (the middle school I went to and the elementary school I was transferred into when my original school became a synagogue sit right next to each other.)


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Time Quintet: Fond of Children

[Content Note: Child Abuse. Cultural and Religious Appropriation and Stereotypes.]

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 6: The Happy Medium

When we last left Chapter 6, the children were visiting with the Happy Medium and she'd shown them a supernova--the death of a star--to prove that the darkness can be beaten back and there are small victories in this fight against good and evil. Since the supernova meant the death of a star, the children were less than totally enthused by this scene, though we did get to learn that a star's death doesn't mean they don't continue on existing as angels, which are what the three Mrs are.

I've been kind of putting off the rest of Chapter 6 because it's a lot of ugly religious and cultural stereotypes and I'm kind of honestly tired of litigating those every time I post. Like, the Calormen in Narnia have dialogue ripped wholesale out of the Thousand Nights, they have silk turbans and curved swords and curly beards straight out of Aladdin, they're dark-skinned and described in exactly the same way Muslims are always described by white people like C.S. Lewis, they use honorifics almost exactly like the subḥānahu wa ta'āla, but are they really Muslim if he never uses that word? And, like, sure, the Happy Medium has all the trappings of every Romani fortune teller stereotype, but is she really a Roma stereotype if the "g*spy" slur is never used in text? (*sigh*)

Open Thread: Branches Reflected

I believe I have previously pointed out that reflections catch my eye and draw my camera.  This is Portland, Maine yesterday.  It is branches as reflected of what I think is a kitchen window.

I completely forgot what day it was.  I was making post after post about zombies and such in last week's open thread without it even occurring to me that it was time for a new one.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: Running to Cair Paravel

[Narnia Content Note: Slavery, Racism]

Narnia Recap: Shasta has crossed the mountains into Narnia. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 12: Shasta in Narnia

When we last left off, Shasta had crossed the mountains into Narnia and was explaining to the first local inhabitant he stumbled across that there was, like, a war going on. And I must say this puzzles me for reasons because I had thought--and was clearly wrong--that passage through Anvard was kinda mandatory for getting into Narnia.

The fact that there are two routes into Narnia--one through Anvard and another through the mountains--seems relevant here because in very short order Rabadash will be wasting his precious time and element of surprise by besieging Anvard when what he really wants is to ride into Narnia in order to get Susan. Anvard is the carrot he dangled for his father to agree to the mission, but I never got the impression that Rabadash cared about the place at all except as an excuse.

Open Thread: Chickens

Picture taken this morning on my sister's farm.


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!