I’m behind on my email — that’s a surprise, I know — so this is kind of a blanket reply to those asking if I’ve seen Amazing Stories, and what I’m going to “do” about it.
The answer to Part One is, Yep, saw it, was annoyed, then baffled, now tired. (For those who haven’t seen it, have a blast. Fair warning: Comments have been closed.)
The answer to Part Two is…Well, what on earth should I “do” about it? Lots of other people on the internet are being outraged on behalf of Lee and Miller, and Bujold, and Wolfe.
. . .though not so much for Cherie Priest, so I hereby state that I am outraged on behalf of Cherie Priest, whose cover was kind of used as a stand-in for everything that the author of the piece doesn’t like about steampunk. The off-handedness of it was typical of the whole piece of work, but I’m sorry Cherie was brought into it at all.
And I’m sorry that we were brought into it. As I said elsewhere, in the author’s view, Lee and Miller have been sinning against the science fiction genre for twenty-five years. It’s not like our transgressions are new, even if we have just now come to the author’s attention. He doesn’t like our stuff. Fine.
And, really, I mean that. Lots of people don’t like what Steve and I are doing in the Liaden Universe®; that’s life. I like to think that the people who don’t like what we’re doing have actually read one or two of the books and have thus based their opinions on solid ground, but, really, who am I kidding?
Here’s the thing though: We all have stupid opinions (no, really, we do); but there are ways to express the stupidest of opinions without starting an internet slap-fight.
I, for instance, hold a stupid opinion with regard to Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. I’ll even bore you with it.
The Lymond Chronicles, as I’m told by its fans, are incredible works of fiction that stand the test of time, and many, many re-readings. Indeed, the Liaden books have often been compared, favorably, to the Lymond novels. It was assumed by many folks who adore the Chronicles that I must have fixated upon them at an early age, as many readers of Liad had done.
Sadly, this was not — and is not — true. Nor did I fixate on the Patrick O’Brien books, another common assumption of my reading tastes based upon what I write.
I suppose I ought to confess right now to being a sorry scamp, with no taste for real literature. During my formative reading years, I ingested every Perry Mason book Earle Stanley Gardner had ever penned, manymany Agatha Christie mysteries, the works of Frances and Richard Lockridge, Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, possibly the entire output of Dorothy Eden, Mary Stewart, Elswyth Thane, and Gwen Bristow (I probably read Jubilee Trail fifteen times, I kid you not. I adored Florinda, the dancer with the facility for re-inventing herself, and her crazy Russian admirer, and every time I read the book I kept hoping more of their story had somehow snuck in). I read Zane Grey; I read Rex Stout; I read Dorothy Sayers. . .but I didn’t read Dorothy Dunnett.
However, back in the day, a reader was so admiring of the Lymond books, and so insistent that they were “just like Liad,” that I thought, Well, why not?
And took myself to the town library.
Now, the town library did not have the Lymond Chronicles on its shelves. But they did have the complete set of another of Dunnett’s series, the House of Niccolo.
So, I thought, Why not?
And I took out the first couple novels in the series.
Not to put too fine a point on it, and fully realizing that this is not an opinion held by many — I hated them.
I mean, the world-building was fascinating and complete and wow — 1460 Flanders just leapt off the page; I could smell the dye — and the street — Dunnett was that good.
But her characters? Them, I loathed. I spent the last half of the first book hoping Claes would die so I could stop reading about him. Not an auspicious beginning to an eight-book relationship. The second book. . .I didn’t finish the second book; the gorgeous worldbuilding wasn’t enough to carry the distasteful characters and the convoluted, self-serving intrigues spun by the hero.
Based on my experience with those two books in the Niccolo series, I predict that I will not like the Lymond Chronicles and I have not sought them out. I realize that, yes, they are two different series, but I have lost my trust in the author; I do not believe that she will serve me characters that I can relate to, and for me, in terms of reading fiction, that’s a deal-breaker.
So, there’s my stupid opinion: I will not enjoy reading the Lymond Chronicles.
Now, since this post is about being able to have opinions without offending the earth, I’d like to ask, seriously — does the opinion expressed above offend you? Note that being of a different opinion is not the same as being offended.
If the above opinion did offend you, can you pinpoint what, precisely, caused that reaction? Was it the choice of words? Was it the tone of post? Both? Or something else?
Thanks for playing along.