Spent the morning thus far snuggling with Steve and updating various pages on this website (not at the same time). You should see new content on the Welcome page, the Upcoming in 2013 page and the Publications page.
Which brings me around, not too subtly, to a conversation I had recently with an earnest young thing who wished to express to me a number of the things that the Liaden Universe® has gotten wrong over the years. (No, no, I don’t know why (some) people feel compelled to do this. Perhaps so I can do better in future? Certainly, I can’t do better retroactively; the books that were written in the late 1980’s remain having been written in the late 1980’s.)
In any case, this earnest young person chiefly wished to express that it was Very Wrong of the Liaden Universe® to constantly perpetuate the outdated and harmful notion that women must leave their lives in order to follow their male partners*.
Now, this is an interesting observation, but I’m not sure how or why it’s a constant Wrong in terms of the structure of the Liaden Universe®. I understand that my auditor believes that the continuing cultural insistence in the US that women put aside their lives, interests and careers in order to serve man and raise children is potentially harmful, to the woman and to society at large. I even agree with her. But, in terms of the Liadenverse, this is what I see:
Past this line there are potential spoilers for Liaden Universe® novels. If you haven’t read the novels, you might consider stopping here.
Miri Robertson left her life as a hunted woman in order to follow Val Con yos’Phelium and become even more hunted. When we meet her, Miri’s one biggest concern is staying alive. She’s cashed out of the mercs; her legit job went badly sour and she doesn’t really seem to have any plans or aspirations aside from living to eat breakfast tomorrow morning.
Priscilla Mendoza had been cast out from her religion, her family, and her ship by the time she met Shan yos’Galan. Her decision to relocate on Liad has much to do with the feeling that one must live somewhere, and that she wanted to be near her new, and true, friends. At the end of Conflict of Honors, it’s not at all decided that they will prosper in a partnership, though later it appears, yes, as if things have worked out for them.
When first we meet Aelliana Caylon — indeed, within the first two dozen pages of Scout’s Progress — she has independently made the determination that, if she wishes to survive to pursue her art, she must leave her clan. The rest of Progress and all of Mouse and Dragon is the story of how she does that, and the compromises she makes — and forces Daav yos’Phelium to make — in order to arrive at a life that is acceptable to her.
I will allow that Anne Davis could easily have returned to University and taken up her former life. Without her child, certainly. And I do blame Daav for manipulating her in order to keep his brother and his brother’s heir on Liad. But I do also recall that Er Thom had booked passage on a spaceliner for all three of them and had steeled himself to follow her.
I don’t believe that Natesa the Assassin has left her employ as a Juntavas Judge, despite having cast her lot in with Pat Rin yos’Phelium. Her initial decision to accompany him was, in my mind, professionally motivated.
Cantra yos’Phelium‘s life was falling apart when she met Jela, but far from following him, she spends the first book trying to ditch him; then realizes that maybe he has an idea or two, after all, and if she wants to survive, which she does. . .
Anthora yos’Galan, of course, simply acquires Ren Zel, poor man, for which we may — and do — blame the Tree.
Kamele Waitley does leave the Wall in order to live in her onagrata’s establishment, something she apparently takes herself to task for during the course of their relationship, so it doesn’t sit easy with her. She then mounts a rescue mission, meaning to bring the father of her daughter out of what she thinks is a wrongful imprisonment so that he can continue his life.
Theo. . .to the best of my knowledge, Theo isn’t following anybody anywhere. . .
So, what I’m saying is that, as one of the fond authors, I’m not seeing in the Liadenverse the mindless casting aside of a woman’s whole life “for love.” I’m seeing women who have real problems, and their problems are in part mitigated by association with a man of Korval, whereupon they are empowered to be themselves more fully.
Perhaps that was the young person’s problem? That the women are in trouble and the men fix it? I suppose we could have been even more forward-thinking, there in 1984, and made certain that the “current” mature members of Korval were more female than male, and then had the folks in trouble be male.
But, yanno? We didn’t. And what is written is written; and everything that is based on what has been written must build on that past logically and consistently. Also, we don’t believe in ret-conning**. That means — we (us and you) are stuck with it.
So — that’s my rant on the topic. Who has thoughts?
*Before anyone’s head explodes, this was actually a relief. The last earnest reader who wanted to engage me in this vein wished to open my eyes to the way in which our stories put real women into real danger by perpetuating the dangerous, mind-controlling myth of True Love. I was, as I understood it, to consider myself a murderer.
**ret-con = retroactive continuity changes (as often seen in comics and occasionally in movies)