Yesterday, I talked about Shannon Hale’s apparent attempt to make a mainstream success of a novel staring a character who was not “white, male, able-bodied, straight, not too young . . . and not too old“—you know, what we all expect a protagonist to be here in these United States. We discussed the basics of the plot and posed this question:
Does Dangerous succeed at making us identify with Maisie Danger Brown, its home-schooled, geeky, one-armed, half-Paraguayan female protagonist?
Sure. Of course it does. Humans are humans, whatever, no problem. Maisie is fine and we, excepting Klansmen, like her as much as we would a white male two-armed protagonist.
But what’s interesting is how much the novel hedges its bets on our openmindedness—it seems to be a little lacking in confidence that the audience will accept her. Continue reading “Just how dangerous is Shannon Hale? (part two)”
NOTE: This is a work of cultural and literary criticism, and not a review. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.
From Shannon Hale’s website,
When I was in the rewrite stage of Dangerous several years ago, a Smart Person read the first 50 pages and immediately let me know her concerns. She said, “Your main character is unrelatable. You made her a home schooled, science geeky, one-armed, half-Paraguayan.” Until this person said all that I had never thought it. I mean, of course I knew knew those things about her, but I’d never strung together all those adjectives in my mind, maybe because the decisions about her character came about piece-by-piece while writing the story, not all at once. . . Continue reading “Just how dangerous is Shannon Hale?”
Lately, I have realized something.
I should never review middle-grade fiction, because I am not a middle-grader.
Continue reading “Getting on my Middle School: a Review of Braden Bell’s Middle School Magic trilogy”
My review of Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy is now available as a free download at the BYU Studies website. If you are not a subscriber, but would either like a print copy of the entire journal or a PDF download, check out the table of contents for the issue (52.4).
And here are the AMV posts that helped inform my approach to the review:
Correlation, Top Tens and Ally Condie’s Matched
A nod to Mormon history in Ally Condie’s Reached
The Matched Trilogy: Teenagers and correlated media
The liner notes for William’s story Dark Watch, which appears in the fall 2013 issue of Dialogue.
The fall 2013 issue of Dialogue went live yesterday to electronic subscribers. Print editions are in the mail (or will soon be). I’m delighted and a bit awed that this issue devotes more than 20 pages to my story Dark Watch–it’s my longest published story to date. The way I usually describe it is: post-apocalyptic Mormon fiction told in alternating second person.
Dark Watch began as 8 or 9 lines of verse hastily scribbled at least a decade ago, perhaps longer. It continued to percolate. I think I added a second stanza. At some point it turned into the beginnings of a story. Sadly, I can’t find the original source material nor the notes that transitioned it into a science fiction story. I can picture the scraps of paper in the faded manila envelope I had collected them in, but I can’t find that envelope. I can say this the initial image–one member of a couple watching a storm flow across a broken plateau, her spouse startling himself awake–is where it all began and made it all the way through to the final product. Continue reading “Liner Notes: Dark Watch”
Today’s readings are:
“The Class That Wouldn’t Die” by Joe Vasicek
“Three Different Mormon Futures” by Eric James Stone
“Avek, Who is Distributed” Steven L. Peck
“Release” by Wm Morris
“Waiting” by Katherine Cowley
and, if we have time, “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (free audio)
Please feel free to have your own seminar in the comments to this post.
Other posts in series:
Allred, Lee. Assembled Allred: 7 Tales by the Master Sergeant of Alternate History. Lincoln City, OR: Rookhouse Books, 2012. 171 pages. $14.99 in trade paperback, $8.99 Kindle. Reviewed by Jonathan Langford.
Much of science fiction is written in the spirit of What if? What if humans could fly? What if there were aliens among us? What if you could go back in time and marry your own grandmother? (Thanks for that one, Heinlein!)
The best of these questions are never just about science or technology. They invite us, instead, to consider what is real and constant — and what changes — in human hearts and minds and spirits, and societies. They prod us to reflect on our values and challenge our own easy answers about what is right and wrong. For all the conflict many readers and writers see between science fiction and religion, there’s a surprisingly large shared space (in my opinion, and that of many Mormon sf&f readers) between the kind of imagination needed to explore the stars, if only mentally, and a cosmology that sees the bounds of current mortality as merely a proscenium on eternity. Or maybe it’s mortality that’s the strictly bounded stage, and religion — and imaginative fiction — a mental transition space between where we are and the boundless limits of possibility?
Allred’s stories explore that space. They ask not only what if history had been a little bit different, what if the Mormons had repeating rifles during the Utah War, but also what if (for example) a magical implement could remove the signs of cowardice, at the price of blood? Or T. H. Huxley wound up after death in a Hell he didn’t believe in during life? The answers tickle the imagination; at their best, they engage the heart as well.
Continue reading “A Rambling Review of Assembled Allred”