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The main African American character in the novel is referred to as a "beast-man."
August 22, 2012 1:29 AM   Subscribe

It's about a year since the storied Weird Tales magazine (previously) got a new editor and sacked its staff (previously), so WT elected to celebrate that milestone by publishing some text from actress, film director, sometime blogger and new author Victoria Foyt's debut Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls. Some people have a problem with its content and its video.

"This is how you destroy something beautiful" is how one writer described it, and others have suggested they will boycott the magazine that gave HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith their starts.

They claim that the tale of an apocalyptic world ruled by black people ("coals") who oppress the few remaining whites ("pearls") is a little problematic and concerning. Writers like Jeff VanderMeer (husband of former editor Ann) weighed in.

Others have attempted to Save The Pearls, with Foyt claiming she is being unfairly treated.

Weird Tales has decided not to publish after all, after initially defending it as not racist.

But will Weird Tales lose a market share it can ill afford to lose to competition?
posted by Mezentian (92 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Presumably this story is a clumsy attempt to say something about racism?
posted by Decani at 1:43 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really liked the requires hate review. But then, when I'm not worrying about her throwing acid into the face of the white patriarchy I pretty much love every angry thing she throws out. Including her hilarious takedown of The Windup Girl.

I haven't read the book, but by all accounts it's a huge misstep by Foyt. She probably didn't want to write a stupidly racist novel where "pearls" have been enslaved by "coals" but she did. She probably wanted to say something positive and uplifting about equality and racism but she clumsily slammed the "Let us see how unfair racism is by visiting a world where whites are the minority" trope into the badlands of her own cultural biases.

I don't know where things can go for her now. She probably spent years writing that book, and it's starting to look like she's wrecked any chance of it being successful and she may have wrecked her career. I feel really sorry for her, and I can see why she's feeling upset and set upon.

As for Weird Tales. If you want to read backwards non-progressive shit, try hunting out September's issue of Analog. And then read the first story in it.
posted by zoo at 1:51 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"And there is reason to support my belief when you consider that the novel has won five literary awards, including the Eric Hoffer Best Young Adult Novel 2012". Ah, that'll be the Eric Hoffer Award that kindly allows you to nominate your own book, for just $50 a pop.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 2:01 AM on August 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


It tells you something about the furor going on about the book that yesterday when I was reading the various discussions I ended up reading about Nazi propaganda films. Somebody somewhere said that the book is like "Mandingo meets Twilight meets Leni Riefenstahl".
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:17 AM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you're doing blackface in your promotional materials, you're doing it wrong.
posted by bardic at 2:25 AM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


[Comment deleted. "fix injustice in your society before you can comment on X subject" isn't helpful. ]
posted by taz at 2:48 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Weird Tales is just staying true to the roots of H. P. Lovecraft. Ba-dum-tsh.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:48 AM on August 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I enjoy Requires Hate when she's going after something like The Windup Girl, which won the Hugo award and is by any measure a success. I often disagree with her, or at least don't care about whatever she's objecting to, but her vitriol often amuses.

I enjoy it less when she goes after someone's self published project that would, without her, have an audience of maybe 50. Then she just comes off as a bullying jerk. Her schtick only really appeals when she's going after the powerful, when she's going after the weak it's just abuse.

I think that might be why I'm enjoying Requires Hate less recently, as she gets a bigger and bigger audience and her criticisms are broadcast all over the place she seems more like an abusive bully than a voice screaming angrily in the wilderness about the moral and technical flaws in the literature she reads. I liked the angry screaming, but not so much the bullying.
posted by pseudonick at 2:49 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Lemme try this...

Metafilter: a voice screaming angrily in the wilderness

There! That's my first one. How did I do?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:05 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


::sigh::

Once agin I'm just going to put the Ill Doctrne youtube video on 'How to tell someone they said something racist" and hope that someone new, somewhere *gets* it, beacuse RaceFails in sci/fantasy are now becomming just too regular an ooccurance.

Video -- > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc It is only three minutes long, and well done.

I can understand someone attempting to write a novel about a controversial subject, then (by most accounts) doing it in a ham-fisted way - but when those directly affected by [controversial subject] stand up an say "Hey this is problematic, let's discuss why" And the authors only response is "laaaa laaa I can't hear you you're a bully and you are perpetuating [controversial subject]" Well then I'm inclined to think that author is either wilfully ignorant or naive or an unfortunate combination of the two.

Also if you're going to tackle a subject like racism in wider society, and little historical perspective might not hurt. The promo videos where the author is in Blackface are .. confused at best.

Unless The author wanted to focus the literary 'nets gaze on her, with the discussion being mostly on how she's an idiot and/or wrote an intentionally racist book and/or both then she seems to have failed at every turn.

The kind of notoriety she is gaining as an author now is not in any way a good thing.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:06 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, weird. Victoria Hoyt is married to Henry Jaglom. She was the lead in Déja Vu. Hunh.

So, anyway, was this whole fiasco an attempt to start off the "new" Weird Tales with something fresh and controversial? Like everything else I've heard about the "new" Weird Tales, it doesn't bode well for the future of the brand.

...

Also, from Foyt's HuffPo blog:

Would you speak up against prejudice, any kind? Or fight for a more diverse student body, perhaps with a higher scholarship rate, at your kids' school? Or go out of your way to befriend that minority kid on scholarship?

It's a turkey shoot to go through everything this person says, hunting for signs of privilege. However, I would like to point out just how telling it is that she flat-out assumes that the reader of her blog is sending their children to private school.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:15 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really hope this won't affect sales of my forthcoming series "Save the Studs" (winner of the Kyrademon Award for best new series!) which examines, in a totally non-misogynistic way, a dystopian world in which the last few remaining men ("Studs") are oppressed by the majority population of hysterical shrill strident harridans who need to get laid ("Bitches").

Did Victoria Foyt really have NO ONE around to say to her, "This is a bad idea"?

On the other hand, Marvin Kaye and John Harlacher were apparently told exactly that, and went ahead with it anyway ...
posted by kyrademon at 3:15 AM on August 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


kyrademon: "Did Victoria Foyt really have NO ONE around to say to her, "This is a bad idea"? "

It's an independently published book. So no matter how many people might have warned her, she went ahead an published it aynway.

Make of that what you will.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:22 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Rapidly wraps cottonwool around Ursula K LeGuin*
*Add super redundant lifesupport systems on standby*
posted by infini at 3:22 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hoo boy! All of the promotional videos are .. well most of them feature Blackface and they are all appalling.

http://www.savethepearls.com./watch/

These are the official promo videos.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:28 AM on August 22, 2012


Metafilter: hysterical shrill strident harridans who need to get laid.
*ahem*
Forgive me.

I suspect this Foyt probably started from a good place, and there might be legitimate uses for blackface in the promotional material (Soul Man, anyone?) since it makes context in the sense of the book (but the recent B-Girl-in-Japan post here shows me the US is hyper-sensitive), and this is largely the Internet Outrage Machine on full speed ahead ... and I was initially "what's up with the fuss? The very premise seems very Twilight Zone.... " and then I started digging and it seems to be a dance of mis-steps smack bang into the clusterfuck that is New Weird Tales hate, and half-baked with ill considered responses.

It seems like she knew what she was getting into but didn't get advice on how to sensitively treat race in 21C America.

I guess there aren't many who can help shed light onto the struggles of race in America in the Hamptons. And one doesn't talk to the help.
posted by Mezentian at 3:31 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Soul Man, anyone?

(cut to a dump truck unloading thousands of discarded Soul Man DVDs into a crevasse)
(overlaid text: "NO.")
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:37 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was semi-willing to give the new editors the benefit of the doubt, though I wasn't thrilled about them pushing out Ann VanderMeer, or their intention to focus on publishing what sounded like mostly Lovecraft pastiche. But even with the ultimate decision not too publish, this was too much.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:38 AM on August 22, 2012


Okay, I'm going to park these two GEMS of quotes from Foyt hereself here, then I think i shall step away from this thread. Too much of the surrounding material (not the original links here I might add), make me too too angry to type correctly:

From Huffington Post blog by Foyt - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victoria-foyt/white-and-in-the-minority_b_1632207.html . The FIRST LINE of blog states:

"I'm white, and except for our housekeeper, everyone I knew in my hometown in the Southeast was white. It was a white world with white actors on TV and white models and white teachers and a white president. There were a few Cuban kids in my private high school, but just a few."

From Huffington Post blog by Foyt - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victoria-foyt/interracial-relationships_b_1312303.html

Conceivably, if the book had not reached the African-American community of readers, if such a category still exists, perhaps there might be some backlash. The first young African American reader who responded to me loved the book. But then, she's the kind of free spirit who would eschew limiting herself to a single category.

I read this as her saying that 'Black people don't exist as reader of YA sc-fi fiction', and 'It didn't offend my one Black friend, so therefore none of the text can be seen as Racist'

I. Just. ::facepalm::

If the only non-white person she interacts with in real life is her housekeeper, then that explains a lot of her clue-less-ness. Doesn't excuse, it but it sure does explain it.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:57 AM on August 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


kyrademon: "Did Victoria Foyt really have NO ONE around to say to her, "This is a bad idea"? "

It's an independently published book. So no matter how many people might have warned her, she went ahead an published it aynway.


And she's been published by a proper publishing house previously, so self-publishing this means that they probably rejected it by throwing the manuscript out of a window, on fire.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:21 AM on August 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


The premise reminds me of Farnham's Freehold. Is the book at all derivative of it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:36 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Based on everything I've read, it's probably nothing like Heinlein.
Although there might be some skeevy sexual content and Heinleinesque bad romance writing.
posted by Mezentian at 4:38 AM on August 22, 2012


Hrm. Apparently the same editor was responsible for Hamlet’s Father by Orson Scott Card.

My common-sense is tingling.
posted by Mezentian at 4:40 AM on August 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


From some of the reviews I've read, it looks like it has Heinlein's patented "Aren't WE precious, pity everyone else is so inferior!"
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:41 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Presumably this story is a clumsy attempt to say something about racism?

"That you can make art with a chainsaw is not a good reason to give every would be artist a chain saw."
- Something I read once on a page about web design once, but well, holy fuck!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:16 AM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now this is one very cloistered woman. For crying out loud I live in a predominantly white, redneck, shithole town in the midwest and I know way better than to pull a stunt like this. This is about as tone-deaf as you can possibly be. I don't even know how to respond to this. And if Weird Tales was trying to relaunch, why pick up something so indicative of how it once was oh, I dunno, about 80-100 years ago?
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 5:27 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if Weird Tales was trying to relaunch, why pick up something so indicative of how it once was oh, I dunno, about 80-100 years ago?

I don't know about you, but I had no idea Weird Tales was still being published. Or stopped. Or was about to be re-relaunched.

There is no bad publicity? Apparently that's not true any more.
posted by Mezentian at 5:29 AM on August 22, 2012


A commenter on ONTD posted a book summary and that shit is just. Woooooooooow.



martinigrl

"Read it yesterday b/c of the drama, it makes no sense, the main love interest becomes a furry fantasy (he gets injected with ~panther dna~) and at the end, predictably, whitey becomes a black half panther/half human hybrid.

---

oh and this is more of what happens what happens--you've been warned hahaha

Ok so it doesn't make any logical sense (like the rest of this book) but the main guy who is a super rich black dude aka. her secret love interest owns this lab where she and her dad work and her dad is working on this experiment to make white people have more melanin via panther dna (there's an anaconda and eagle dna in this too) so they were going to shoot up two white test subjects to see how it rolls.

Then a bunch of "coal terrorists" who want to eliminate all the "pearls" (one of whom the main girl thinks is gonna make her his wifey thus saving herself from being thrown into the nuclear wasteland) attack b/c this dumb bitch tells the terrorist what's up. So the tests subjects die and the lab explodes and rich boss guy is like SHOOT ME UP.

So they do.

And he becomes some weird half man half panther and move to the amazon where all the locals somehow speak spanish (because you know it's not like brazilians speak portuguese or their actual native tribal language IRL or anything) and then she falls for him with a lot of creepy exotic language and some girl that looks EXACTLY LIKE HER was his former wife and they had an albino ("cotton" for those keeping track of the creepy weird terminology) baby that is caged and wrapped all in black fabric that is gonna become a panther hybrid and THEN she decides at the end she wants to be a half panther too.
"


Thanks for taking the bullet for Team Humanity, martinigrl.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:30 AM on August 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


So perhaps the initial idea was to write a "racism sucks see" book for white people, so they could see and learn. But the book didn't work out that way, because it uses all and only negative stereotypes (from what I have read in excerpts).

And, as many people point out, coal is -- well, are we living in a world where coal is very very rare, and very needed, but everyone keeps their own pet oysters? Because otherwise it makes no sense.

And here's a review where the problem is noted that it should be a Latin@ overclass, because they are outbreeding everyone else.

It's nice when racists stand up for each other, I guess?
posted by jeather at 5:34 AM on August 22, 2012


On that last one, native Americans might take some offense too.
posted by Mezentian at 5:35 AM on August 22, 2012


move to the amazon where all the locals somehow speak spanish (because you know it's not like brazilians speak portuguese or their actual native tribal language IRL or anything)

At the risk of even somewhat appearing to defend any part of this, it should be pointed out that the Amazon extends beyond Brazil into Spanish-speaking South America. Indeed, looking at Mezentian's link, it would appear that the Amazon portion of the book features/exploits the Huaorani, who live in Ecuador.

I'm not necessarily defending the idea that her Huaorani speak Spanish, as I don't know enough about them to say either way, but it's not the case that they ought to be speaking Portuguese.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:44 AM on August 22, 2012


Ursula K. Le Guin wrote some very good novellas/short stories about slavery and racism where the skin colours were reversed (dark-skinned slave owners, light-skinned slaves).

It sounds like Foyt lacks Le Guin's delicacy, insight and basic levels of intelligence.

But it reminds me that I should reread the Le Guin book.

Am I imagining things or was it once called Four for Freedom? Or is that another book?
posted by jb at 5:45 AM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Surely I'm not the only one who hears the echoes of Paul Kinsey's lost masterpiece, The Negron Complex?
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:47 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I swear I read in the past few years a book where Africa was the dominant group of superpowers, and it was about some poor blonde girl trying to cope with racism. Stupid, but at least I think it was better done than this. I am entirely unable to find the title, though.
posted by jeather at 5:49 AM on August 22, 2012


And of course as soon as I posted that comment, I found the title. It's called Blonde Roots, by Bernadine Evaristo.
posted by jeather at 5:53 AM on August 22, 2012


There's a Norman Spinrad short story like that. Can't recall a blonde girl specifically, but it was a topsy-turvy race story of some nature.
It was better than this, lack of Jaguar Men aside.
posted by Mezentian at 5:54 AM on August 22, 2012


I mean, coal and pearls? COAL AND PEARLS? How transparent can an author be about what is meant to be seen as valuable, right off the bat?

Quick brainstorm: Obsidian and chalk. Onyx and borax. Hematite and dandruff.

Or maybe I'm just missing the point and COAL is USEFUL whereas PEARLS are USELESS so it's just an inverse value statement, amirite?

Unlikely.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow I thought maybe it was tone-deaf "Racism is bad mmkay, no matter who does it" concept but this is a whole new level of clueless. Once you see the black face promo materials any possible defense along the lines of entrenched power structures engaging in discriminatory othering behavior pretty much gets lost.

The fact that her defense of the project simply drips with privilege underlines the reality of the situation is that she's clearly completely lacking in self or situational awareness.

Of course the furor surrounding this will probably lead to it getting optioned by Hollywood although the idea of young teen starlet going blackface to blend in with the coals seems like something they might want to tone down...
posted by vuron at 6:19 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. This sounds like a heck of a book. Good to know it won't have to spend any time at all on my when-I-get-around-to-it pile. The promos were quite enough.

I've recently been re-reading Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, which is an alternate history in which most of Europe was wiped out by the plague. He spends basically no time at all talking about white people. Of course, he's also not trying to make the point that Everyone Can Be Racist, Man!, which is what it sounds like Foyt is trying to do.
posted by rtha at 6:24 AM on August 22, 2012


Hollywood is so clueless they'd flip the story, and white-up a young black actress and think no one would have a problem with it.

It makes more sense for the coals to struggle against the pearls anyway.
posted by Mezentian at 6:24 AM on August 22, 2012


Samuel Delany actually wrote a fantastic and somewhat under-read series of, yes, sword and sorcery books (Neveryona, Escape from Neveryona, Return to Neveryona, one other one) in which the dominant people who run the fancy slave-holding, conflict-rife, cultured and interesting empire are brown people and the barbaric slaves are white. That's not the main point of the books, but I'd say that they are much more realistic about how and why racism (and in this instance slavery) happens...whereas this "pearl" book seems to be all "oh, racism happens because people just have silly ideas about beauty and capacity and are simultaneously hateful and jealous!" Which is pretty toxic.

I'd argue, in fact, that you only get this panther-DNA/"cotton" baby foolery if you are starting from an assumption that racism is not structural and rooted in economic and power relations but rather is this slight, frothy surface phenomenon that happens mostly because people have lightly-held and incorrect ideas - that racism is the equivalent of a fashion or a subculture: some people are goths, some people are punks, some people are racists. If you didn't basically believe that racism is a trivial, surface problem, you wouldn't address it in such a light manner.
posted by Frowner at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


That would be too close to a Wayan brothers comedy vehicle though Mezentian.

What would be really awesome is if they could get a really light skinned person of color to portray herself as a pearl masquerading as a coal. Now that would be a twist.
posted by vuron at 6:28 AM on August 22, 2012


Or maybe I'm just missing the point and COAL is USEFUL whereas PEARLS are USELESS so it's just an inverse value statement, amirite?

“Shen,” Bramford called his bodyguard, a mixed Asian, or Amber, as the racist term went.
[...] Only true Coals were allowed to hold security positions. Of course, Bramford could use his clout to bypass such rules. Still, why not pick a Tiger’s Eye, or Latino? They ranked higher in the race wars than Ambers, who stood above Pearls. Was it the touch of Coal in Shen that gave him an edge?

Why is there a “race war”? Why does everyone but black people have a “racist term” attached to them that’s a semi-precious stone?

posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:30 AM on August 22, 2012


I, for one, have always felt that the only thing separating the John Travolta/Harry Belafonte film White Man's Burden from true masterpiece status was the lack of white teenagers and panther DNA.
posted by Shepherd at 6:32 AM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd say that they are much more realistic about how and why racism (and in this instance slavery) happens...

Perhaps because Delany had a great deal of experience with racism and thought deeply about it before he tackled the complex currents surrounding the topic. If only Victoria Foyt had done the same.

I suspect what is going on is a mix of ill-directed good intentions, obscuring privilege, and personal fetish getting national airing, but, not being Ms. Foyt, I couldn't possibly say.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:38 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Foyt? Oh, I think Foyt is just clueless. She thinks she's writing something that decries racism, and now probably sees herself as a misunderstood martyr. Welcome to the buzzsaw, Victoria. Thanks for playing.

But see, one blinkered, self-published author isn't what I think is interesting here, though it's red meat for the bloggers. What I don't get is the editing. WTF? Kaye had credibility problems anyway since VanderMeer got pushed aside. What on earth possessed him to think this was a good idea?
posted by tyllwin at 6:47 AM on August 22, 2012


a quick recap this week in the news...rape is ok...black face is ok....

wow this must be a new era of Enlightenment!

not

and what's with the "dystopia" fetish In YA "lit"...message to authors...it's already been done and better than you could ever do it.
posted by incandissonance at 6:54 AM on August 22, 2012


Heh. I wanted to be the one to bring up White Man's Burden in this thread. What a clusterfuck.

But now I see that Mad Men is starting to refer to Star Trek, and an unavoidable thought occurs: how mindbreakingly meta would it be for an episode of Mad Men to have cameo appearances from Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:59 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


and what's with the "dystopia" fetish In YA "lit"

Oh? You're here for the Suzanne Collins imitator meeting? Yeah, she made a pile, didn't she? Umm, room 102, right after the 50 shades of Gray clones finish with it. It's just between the Harry Potter imitators and the Twilight copiers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta run. The True Blood people and the Anita Blake people are at it again.
posted by tyllwin at 7:02 AM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


YA genre literature (and genre literature in general) is pretty quick to bandwagon anything that seems like a successful formula for mass market success. Twilight selling huge numbers? Crank out the paranormal romance. Hunger games selling well? Crank out the sci-fi dystopias. 50 shades generating massive interest? Fire up the poorly disguised fan fic erotica story mills.

The author clearly seems to think she can tell a bigger more interesting alt-history story than she has the literary chops for doing. I do think it's interesting that WT was willing to promote it rather than just have it languish in self-published hell. Are they that desperate to latch onto the YA market that they'll push a pretty crap book like this?
posted by vuron at 7:03 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Conceivably, if the book had not reached the African-American community of readers, if such a category still exists, perhaps there might be some backlash."

This is just - wow.

Victoria Hoyt proves once and for all that she is not a racist by demonstrating uncertainty over whether or not black people read books.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:06 AM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


she may have wrecked her career

Probably not...this is YA we're talking about, which is supported by a blogosphere that would give "blog love" to Pol Pot if they thought it would get them an ARC and a retweet from an agent. Besides, the genre itself has a really short memory...James Frey became a successful YA "author" about five minutes after getting off Oprah's couch.

I'm sure somewhere a publisher is doing the math about whether this controversy would make the book profitable to publish. "Read the novel everyone's talking about!" it will say on the Barnes & Noble cardboard stand...
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:09 AM on August 22, 2012


>and what's with the "dystopia" fetish In YA "lit"

Oh? You're here for the Suzanne Collins imitator meeting?


UM, dystopian YA has a really long history. I mean, I read John Christopher's The Tripods back in the 70s, and I doubt the idea was new then. A dystopia is a great setting to bring some social issue you want to address up to the front by exaggerating current situations/issues. That it can be done ham-handedly is hardly the fault of the trope.

My new dystopian YA novel will be about a society where they only books, and therefore all the basis of theories of societies, are partial runs of YA dystopian series. I will call it "The Dystbin of History." Catchy, huh?

Why does the spell checker reject "dystopian" in favor of "Dionysian?" On the other hand, I admit that a YA Dionysian novel might be pretty interesting....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:11 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, I admit that a YA Dionysian novel might be pretty interesting....

Lipstick Party?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:14 AM on August 22, 2012


Lipstick Party?

I was hoping for more Weetzie Bat, honestly.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:18 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I bow to your superior YA knowledge.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:20 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait wait, the protagonist is named Eden Newman? EDEN NEWMAN? EDEN NEW-MAN?

*head on desk*

*head rises*

Jungian approach: Considers news. Considers pop culture. Considers Zeitgeist. WHITE PEOPLE ARE FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 7:36 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> "I really liked the requires hate review. But then, when I'm not worrying about her throwing acid into the face of the white patriarchy I pretty much love every angry thing she throws out. Including her hilarious takedown of The Windup Girl."

Really? Hilarious? It's not really criticism. It's a screech. About the first page, misuse of language (on the first page), and what others have said about the book.

And it sure ain't funny.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 7:55 AM on August 22, 2012


kyrademon: I really hope this won't affect sales of my forthcoming series "Save the Studs" (winner of the Kyrademon Award for best new series!) which examines, in a totally non-misogynistic way, a dystopian world in which the last few remaining men ("Studs") are oppressed by the majority population of hysterical shrill strident harridans who need to get laid ("Bitches").
It's already been written, of course. Several times. (And made into films... see the oeuvre of Russ Meyer et al.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:15 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got so mixed up earlier today I was talking to someone online and typed " It's as bad as '50 Shades of Coal' "

They then suggested I should write that parody novel, but really I just don't have the stomach for it, I just don't.
posted by Faintdreams at 8:31 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dammit. I've really enjoyed Marvin Kaye's previous anthologies, and I was excited about him working on Weird Tales. Then the unpleasantness last year, now this. Ugh it hurts to watch.
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:34 AM on August 22, 2012


I just can't believe that the Richard Branson-inspired character is called Ronson Bramford.

Okay, if you'd asked me last week, I wouldn't have believed any of this nonsense, but that last chunk is the hardest to swallow.
posted by daisyk at 8:40 AM on August 22, 2012


I got so mixed up earlier today I was talking to someone online and typed " It's as bad as '50 Shades of Coal' "

I'd write it, but then I'd have to read the books. THE PRICE IS TOO HIGH.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought about posting about this a couple weeks ago, but it was a case of not wanting to bring this woman more attention. also disgust in my typing fingers.

originally, her youtube channel also featured promo videos from the Comikaze conference in LA -- where a couple dozen regular people were invited to find their "mate rate" and vlog in full or partial blackface. those are all deleted now. but it was pretty damn stunning, not only that nobody said "TERRIBLE TERRIBLE IDEA" at every stage of this project, but also that a bunch of people (mostly white, of course, though other races did as well) happily put on blackface to help promote it.

bonus: bust of the jaguar man love interest
posted by changeling at 9:08 AM on August 22, 2012


Lipstick Party?

almost.
posted by changeling at 9:09 AM on August 22, 2012


almost.

Damn and blast!
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:13 AM on August 22, 2012


Oh my god, I read that Requires Hate thing linked upthread. This book is so much worse than anything I had hitherto read about it suggested. It's just un-fucking-believable. I swear - if you have not read extensive excerpts from this book you will simply not believe it! It's so full of racial resentment! It puts me in sympathy with the future world where the white people are oppressed - I'd be totally down with oppressing the white folks who produce this kind of thing myself!

I mean, the excerpts do not read like something well-intentioned but un-researched and privileged - it reads like the writer has always wanted to say racially offensive things and is using the book to say them, like white people who are always asking "but would it be legitimate to use [racial slur] in this weird unlikely circumstance? No? What about that one then?"

I just got done reading The Swimming Pool Library, a book which is substantially about white gay men who fetishize black men and about the micro, daily aftermath of British colonialism. It's a complex and uncomfortable book, and it is told from the point of view of one of these white dudes...however, the tone, plot structure and technique make it very clear that the author is not endorsing the white dude's viewpoint, even though the author is writing the character as complex. There's no sense in the book that the author is taking pleasure in the opportunity to imagine himself in the white dudes' heads. That book is not like this book. (I would not recommend this book if you're not in the mood for an exploration of "how colonialism warps and damages white people", though - it's a pretty intense read and if you're just done with books that center white perspectives, don't drive yourself into a rage by reading it.)

Also, Requires Hate seems to hate some of the same things that I do but has been able to say that so clearly! I tried that Wind-Up Girl book because everyone was recommending it and found it impossible, and she totally nails why.
posted by Frowner at 9:15 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Umm, room 102, right after the 50 shades of Gray clones finish with it.

I thought Room 101 was where the worst thing in the world was.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why does everyone but black people have a “racist term” attached to them that’s a semi-precious stone?

Current YA Dystopian lit emphasizes essentialist Social Divisions - e.g. the Districts and their delegated industries in the Hunger Games, the Uglies/Pretties/Specials in the Uglies series, the five temperament Factions in the Divergent books. I suspect that the modern trope arises from an unconscious combination of the four houses of Hogwarts with the Bokanovsky castes from Brave New World.

For the YA writer, a speculative caste system means quicker world-building and an easy opportunity for the protagonist to distinguish themselves - they can be the rebel, the one who won't follow the rules for their assigned caste - or who can't even be assigned to a caste, because they're just that special.

For the ideal teen reader, a speculative caste system reflects their growing (albeit still probably simplistic) sense of social hierarchy and helps them to work out their degree of compromise with that system.

For Victoria Foyt, a speculative caste system represents a convenient way to oversimplify racism.
posted by Iridic at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I found this to be a likely analysis of where Foyt's clueless and where she's cunning.

As someone who's written Lovecraftian stories, I wasn't sorry to see another market for them, though I wasn't wild about people buying a magazine and displacing the successful editor who'd turned it around just because they felt like it and had the cash. But now I don't see myself submitting to Weird Tales until such time as there's a regime change.

beacuse RaceFails in sci/fantasy are now becomming just too regular an ooccurance.

I don't think they're happening more often; it's just that they're finally being called out on a regular basis...

The premise reminds me of Farnham's Freehold. Is the book at all derivative of it?

It is reminiscent of Farnham's Freehold, and sounds like it shares some of the same flaws, but succeeds in being much worse (I've read FF but only some of the excerpts of Revealing Eden that have accompanied these critiques.) I haven't see any reason to think Foyt knew about Farnham's Freehold.
posted by Zed at 10:28 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


My general policy has been to ignore drama that begins with bad self-published books and that's gone pretty well for me, but I found the regressive statement of the new WT editor stomach-churning. And not all that surprising, really. Honestly, with Ann Vandermeer and Cat Rambo gone, I've pretty much given up on the likelihood of any of my short fiction getting published. They were really the only editors who consistently published anything I like, outside of Strange Horizons (can't submit there, as I'm an editor).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:36 AM on August 22, 2012


Oh, I should say, though, that I actually quite like Shimmer. And Ideomancer. So never mind, I was just being a bit of a grump.

Still miss Ann and Cat's editorial prowess, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:41 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if you want to read recent YA sci-fi that does racial commentary with a different type of stratification than IRL Earth, I thought Karen Sandler's Tankborn was pretty good. Very rich worldbuilding, sophisticated in a way that a lot of 60s and 70s sci-fi is, but with a modern YA sensibility.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:46 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like nobody is picking up Victoria Foyt's mating option after all, and she's going to be cut off from basic resource.
posted by markkraft at 11:02 AM on August 22, 2012


I just got done reading The Swimming Pool Library

I am so delighted by seeing this mentioned, and so confused by it being mentioned in a young adult science fiction thread, that I may have to take the rest of the day off to find my copy.
posted by mittens at 11:09 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The premise reminds me of Farnham's Freehold.

Speaking of Heinlein, his letter to FM Busby (PDF) about racial matters won't fill you with newfound respect for the man.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:09 PM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am so delighted by seeing this mentioned, and so confused by it being mentioned in a young adult science fiction thread, that I may have to take the rest of the day off to find my copy.

Actually, as a young adult (okay, here's a thing - we don't really describe 12-14 year-olds as young adults, but they read YA, right? I think of a young adult as someone old enough to live as an adult on their own, so at least 16 and probably older)...anyway, back when I was at the age to appropriately encounter YA fiction, I did in fact read my parents' copy of the godawful, homophobic Anthony Burgess novel Earthly Powers, which has some passages that are pretty much as explicit yet much campier and more stereotype-ridden and racist (gay men are all attracted to young boys, gay men cannot have truly loving relationships, casual sex will make you miserable because it's casual and ruin you for real love, and of course the gay narrator's one "true love" is a straight man who works for the British Raj...who is murdered by an evil and ignorant person of color, because that person is just too ignorant to realize that the nice white doctor was only trying to help, seriously, it's godawful) than anything in The Swimming Pool Library. (Funnily, there's a bit in TSL where the narrator reflects on how some straight guys assume this weird campy/flirty tone when talking to gay men; the whole of Earthly Powers is Burgess doing that.) How much happier for me if I'd had The Swimming Pool Library instead!
posted by Frowner at 12:55 PM on August 22, 2012


I just can't believe that the Richard Branson-inspired character is called Ronson Bramford.

Please tell me that his business is named Ron-Co.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:36 PM on August 22, 2012


Umm, room 102, right after the 50 shades of Gray clones finish with it.

I thought Room 101 was where the worst thing in the world was.


Quick Re-cap of Meaningful Room Numbers Scale:
Room 101: Worst thing in the world for you personally (the threat of your head in a cage of rats if you hate rats causing you to finally betray your lover emotionally and breaking your spirit)
Room 102: Worst thing in the world for the world generally (50 Shades of Grey becoming a breakout hit, making non-readers equate literature with warmed over Twilight fan-fic with serial numbers filed off)
Room 103: Zoomba
posted by Sparx at 2:54 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


MartinWisse: Oh, gosh. I don't think I should thank you for that link. And this was in 1964?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:52 PM on August 22, 2012


Room 104: Vuvuzela Disco Inferno.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:11 PM on August 22, 2012


Room 105: Julian Assange Sex Debating Club.
posted by Mezentian at 4:12 PM on August 22, 2012


Oh, gosh. I don't think I should thank you for that link. And this was in 1964?

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not acting as apologist. That was some ugly, stupid, heinous stuff.

Heinlein was born in 1907. That's only 42 years from the end of the Civil War, only 5 years more than our distance from the end of the Vietnam War. He grew up against the background of Reconstruction being something that a huge number of Americans lived through, remembered, and were bitter about. The timing isn't at all outlandish that he could have had conversations with white Southerners who had owned slaves. (Someone who was 20 in 1865 would have been 72 when Heinlein was 10.)

So while it's still disgusting and beyond disappointing, I suppose it isn't so surprising. (Well, the unswerving libertarian anti-affirmative action stuff wasn't at all surprising -- I expected that much. But that was so much worse.)
posted by Zed at 4:31 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just surprised that the author who wrote Citizen of the Galaxy seems to be using the arguments he put into the mouths of his villains: they deserve it, they prefer it, and it's a free market.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um...does anyone else get the sense from reading those Facebook posts that the author is in a literal sense crazy, which in turn makes this whole situation even more gross and weird and nauseating than it was gonna be regardless?

She could just be really really sheltered and awkward, I guess, but that's actually harder to believe, for some reason.
posted by waxbanks at 5:22 PM on August 22, 2012


"I really hope this won't affect sales of my forthcoming series "Save the Studs" (winner of the Kyrademon Award for best new series!) which examines, in a totally non-misogynistic way, a dystopian world in which the last few remaining men ("Studs") are oppressed by the majority population of hysterical shrill strident harridans who need to get laid ("Bitches")."

Do you know, I've read this, beautifully done, by LeGuin in The Birthday of the World and Other Stories - 'The Matter of Segri'. There's like four or so connected stories of different sorts of gender hierarchies in the anthology. Everone is missing out but the women are resilient. (You have to put 'shrill strident harridans' in inverted commas. The men, and their machismo, are in a dreadful situation.)

Also, LeGuin's novellas where white people are an oppressed minority, is Four Ways to Forgiveness.

This is tangential. I'm not about to read Foyt even for curiosity's sake - American race issues are structurally different from British ones, and why put oneself through the annoyance? But there is a British series which reverses the race power dynamic, which is Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, who is Black British of Caribbean extraction. It has good reviews, tho I confess not to have read it as it seems a bit earnest to me.

And I remember reading a short story by Aminatta Forna (I think) where she's reversed the polarities and a white character who thinks the texture of her hair is ugly and her skin colour is a handicap, seeks the freedom road from slavery. Can't find a link, which is a shame; it's an excellent, complex example of the genre.
posted by glasseyes at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2012


I did in fact read my parents' copy of the godawful, homophobic Anthony Burgess novel Earthly Powers

Funny that you should've brought that one up, because when I was going to comment on Hollinghurst, I wanted to mention how I was always getting TSL and Earthly Powers confused because I read them pretty close to one another. After a few more readings I'm able to tell them apart, but I don't see the homophobia in Earthly Powers. It seems...I don't know, to go beyond any simple categories, because it is so gloriously big, campy, parodic, deadly serious at all the wrong times, just so wrong in general, from the infamous first line, to watching the future Pope towel off his scrotum by the tub, to (and I will probably recall this incorrectly) the evidence of a miracle being stolen from a blind person's shelves, it's just insane and beautiful and silly and gripping. Rather than being homophobic, it seems to actually be blockbuster-phobic, using the gay main character because every other globe-spanning, era-spanning, 7000-page star-studded novel of the day would've featured a straight guy. So he had to be like the furthest thing from that confident womanizing explorer. I mean, he gets the girl in the end, except it's his elderly sister!

But then, when a book is big and alive and contrary (godawful it may be, but it's also a big fat wonderful wallow of a book), there's certainly more room for different readings.

On the other hand, I downloaded the Kindle sample of "Save the Pearls" tonight, and...wow. When a book is small, and dead, and contrary, there isn't much room for even one reading. It has been a while since I've read a book this badly written. She keeps calling the black people them, as though it is a big point of suspense that Black People Rule The World, and she's trying to hold it back as long as possible, leading to a lot of clumsy exposition.

Even the fear is clumsy: "She wasn’t sure which was worse: being murdered by a mob or dealing with the arrogant bastard." I mean, really? I think the first one is probably worse, and presumably so does Eden, so why on earth isn't she trembling in fear, pretty much all the time, instead of calling everyone bitches and bastards? After all, "Coals often killed Pearls who seduced their kind."

Soooo...yeah, I think I would pick Earthly Powers over this!
posted by mittens at 7:15 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Faintdreams: "Hoo boy! All of the promotional videos are .. well most of them feature Blackface and they are all appalling.

http://www.savethepearls.com./watch/

These are the official promo videos.
"


Those are supposed to help? Oh dear.
posted by deborah at 8:33 PM on August 22, 2012


I take it back. Fifty Shades of Grey, you're off my shit list.
posted by zennish at 9:26 PM on August 22, 2012


Thanks for mentioning Shimmer and Ideomancer, PhoBwanKenobi. I just bought a digital copy of the current edition of Shimmer, and look forward to checking it out, along with Ideomancer.
posted by taz at 2:25 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that she's really written a brilliant book that is meant to generate a specific kind of horror: In the future, all books will be written as badly as this one. Its a terrifying cautionary tale, actually. Not the story, I mean, the existence of the book.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:41 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool-i-o -- Ann VanderMeer has landed a new gig as consulting fiction editor for tor.com.
posted by Zed at 10:24 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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