c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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(I’m not crazy, right? Theo’s totally a lesbian? That whole “friend” she shares an apartment with thing? Boy nickname?)

Theo is, in fact, a lesbian.

Yay! I was hoping this was not just my modern code-reading sensibilities, given the era of the novel.

(And it was your comment about the book that made me grab it, so thank you!)

Then I have done a very good thing, and I may send you something special for having read one of the most important spec fic novels of the 20th century (in my estimation).

*adds this to post-Tiptree jury reading list*

I fail to see why that favorite bit of social history has to be set in stone.

I've had people argue that if there were more female characters/less misogyny in run-of-the-mill pseudo medieval Europe-style fantasy it would ruin suspension of disbelief. For real. Apparently, for some folks, magic and dragons and shit are easier to believe in than interesting female characters. *headdesk*

Which is especially bizarre, since Eleanor of Acquitane and Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe and Empress Theodora and Joan of Fucking Arc are just some of the people who actually lived and wrote books and had power in the actual era, and the Romance of Silence is a 13th century romance about a girl warrior in boy's clothes, and women, in fact, did all kinds of things in that era other than get raped and die.

About Shirley Jackson and HOHH - yes, this. This a million times. Which is why I adore Shirley Jackson, and that book, so much. (If you haven't read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, please do, it's so fantastic and not enough people have.) Her people are so real, her women doubly so, and we care about them. Even in the short stories, but in the novels even more so.

Oh, I've been meaning to read The Haunting of Hill House for ages and yet, somehow, it always gets pushed down the TBR list. Thanks for discussing it here ~ will put it at the top.

Funnily enough, I decided quite literally this week that my education was incomplete without reading The Haunting of Hill House.

I kind of want to have a run on haunted houses where I read that, The Shining, House of Leaves, and Hell House, and The Amityville Horror, all in the same run

If you do that, Shirley Jackson will win hands down, and Richard Matheson will get a nice Miss Congeniality (though I don't remember if Hell House has any women or not). And The Shining is a fine book, despite the magical Negro (and it does have women--or at least a woman--with agency). And then there's The Amityville Horror, which I suppose will have the advantage of making a foursome. In bridge, it would be the dummy.

Ditto to the ton of "Yah Hill House" posts you're gonna probably get. Such a quietly unnerving little book. Back in the undergrad days, I was really interested in psychologically manifested ghosts—narratives like this or Turn of the Screw in which the ghosts may be real but could also very likely be manifestations of a psychotic break in an unstable or unreliable narrator or main character. Hill House was one of my big go-to texts to this end.

The 1962 (?) made-for-TV movie version, The Haunting," is worth a watch, too. It managed to stay pretty true to the novel and retain a lot of its feel.

I think the made for TV version was much later and by PBS, unless there were two versions? It was in the late 70s/early 80s. And far more frightening than the Spielberg version - gave my brother a recurring nightmare for years.

The classic film version is Robert Wise's minimalist one, which I think was in the 1960s, starring Russ Tambyn and Julie Harris as the lead. It's a classic. Called "The Haunting" (I think) and follows the book almost exactly.

I feel you. I get SO tired of the women being sidelined and treated like cardboard cutouts. I just do not want to read it, watch it, whatever.

I can't believe people would honestly think that a book being written in 1984 - not 1884, not 1934, but 1984 - would somehow give it a free pass on gender issues. 1984 was not that long ago! Feminism had been around for at least a decade and a half. Universities had women's studies departments (I was in one, as a matter of fact) and courses on the anthropology of women, women in history, women in literature, etc. It was not the Dark Ages.

And I am really starting to feel old...

I've been reading a lot of Heinlein in the past few months, to get a frame of reference for the sort of Science Fiction my Great-Grand Uncle Shaver wrote. While I love his obvious joy at writing about outer space, Everyone Important is Male. There are women, but they are mothers and wives and are generally useless. It drives me batty.

The references to 1984 confused me. I kept thinking okay she's talking about a book published in 1984 not the novel "1984" (which isn't sexist or misogynistic and published back in the 1960s). (Having a fairly clear memory of 1984 - no it was not a misogynist decade, and quite a few books and tv shows not to mention films had extreemly strong women. This was the year of Hill Street Blues, Cheers, Night Court, the Cosby Show. And misogynist books come out in all years.)

Never was able to make it through Bridge of Birds...not my cup of coco.

1984 was actually published in 1949. Orwell finished it in 1948, and just swapped the two last letters around.

You know, I think the old boy was onto something.

Never read Bridge of Birds; a Chinese friend warned me off of it decades ago because he was so annoyed by the appropriation issues.

Barry Hughart vs. Shirley Jackson? That's a matchup I can sink my teeth into. Next, let's see a cage match between (say) David Feintuch and Virginia Woolf. I wonder who will win that one?

When Bridge of Birds was first published and was the darling of practically everyone ("so original"! "so much fun"! "delightful"), I was working with Dave Nee at The Other Change of Hobbit. I think I read it before he did. I was far less aware of cultural appropriation issues then, and far less sensitized to certain kinds of racism, but the entire book made me insane because the whole premise is about the stupidity/innocense/naivete of the main character, and I just couldn't get away from my sense that he was somehow not just innocent/naive/stupid and Chinese, but that it read that he was i/n/s in a way that was intrinsically related to his being Chinese.

I passed the book to Dave without comment (or he passed it to me without comment if he read it first). He felt exactly the same way.

In the intervening decades, the book continues to be the darling of all kinds of (otherwise?) racism-sensitive people. I have to say I never thought about the gender issues, because I was so caught in the race ones.

As for Shirley Jackson, she walks on water. And her female characters have almost all the agency.

Re: *nods vigorously*

See, and no one mentioned the race issues to me either. I found the Chinese women to be all stereotypes of either the submissive beautiful Asian child-woman or the grotesque ancient Asian crone, and though I like Ox fine, and Master Li is of course also Chinese, I couldn't help but feel that there was a lot of othering going on. And I'm reasonably sure the Ancestress was based on Empress Wu, linked up there, who actually was fascinating.

I would be interested in hearing an Asian perspective on the book.

Re: *nods vigorously*

Also I kept questioning the wisdom of using this Crazy Powerful Healing Root on a bunch of kids just to see if it worked, and then using more of it even though they were pretty sure it wouldn't work, long before they knew it had anything to do with gods.

I guess everyone else is shit out of luck for magical healing? Also the Queen of Ginseng is what, dead? Boiled up? Hacked to bits?

The Queen of Ginseng consented to give her life to save the children. That is very clearly stated. She is both a supernatural being and a very powerful herb.

I did not know what to think about that. The China That Never Was thing seems meant to head the critique off at the pass, and yet. There were moments that made me uncomfortable.

Woolf. She wrote a gender-bending historical/fantasy novel (Orlando) and was funny.

*looking around* Whoa, there ARE two parallel discussions of these books going on...

Anyway, I picked up Bridge of Birds just because Gaiman said he loved it so much, and I've been so disappointed in my stupidity because I could hardly slog through the first ten pages. It's been sitting there making me feel guilty ever since (I'm like the polar opposite of Cool whereas Mr. Gaiman is its polestar, whatever that means, heh) anyway now I will trade it in at the used bookstore without a qualm. Its sounds dreadful, actually. At my age I don't spend any more minutes putting up with that sexist shit.

If you disliked Bridge of Birds, please, please never read any of Stephen Donaldson's books. The misogyny is those books is sooooo nasty. Only in two stories of his can I think of a strong female character Daughter of regals and the main character in The Mirror of her dreams duology. And both of those go through near rape experiences.

Is Stephen Donaldson the one who wrote Thomas Covenant? Ah, yes, a quick DuckDuckGo informs me this is the case.

I tried that, since it's a Pillar Of Fantasy and my parents owned a copy. Struggled through the first few pages of Thomas being Deeply Unpleasant, got to the bit where he goes back in time and decides to rape a girl for no good reason, put the book down & walked away. Eugh. And this unpleasantness was (IIRC) within the first 50–100 pages.

Yep. If you had problems with Thomas don't even touch the Gap cycle. I read the first book and swore off his writing.

I wasn't aware enough to have problems with Thomas, but the Gap cycle - I got a book or 2 in, and realized that it wouldn't get any better, and quit. ick. Just... ick.

Sorry: need to fix the mistake. Mirror of her dreams is the first books, A Man rides through is the second, and the whole series is called Mordant's need.

Good librarians check their facts first. Bad librarian!

Don't touch The Gap series under any circumstances - a full biohazard suit is needed for that one.

If you want good strong female characters in Ancient China, may I recommend Jeanne Larson's three books: Manchu Palaces, Bronze Mirror, and Silk Road?

Also women's poetry from Ancient (and indeed modern) China, quite wonderful. The best anthology I know is The Orchid Boat: women poets of China ISBN 0070737444 (Available second hand). Actually it was Hughart who sent me looking for women poets. He has one in the sequels.

Have you ever watched THE HAUNTING (1963)? It's the movie adapted from The Haunting of Hill House and it's really good.

Ditto this. It will convince you that old black-and-white show-no-gore horror has power. But don't hold hands. And don't see the 1990s remake (or so I'm told).

No, don't. The set design is awesome, but the effects are lame CG and the script is Made of Stupid.

I agree with sargon999. I started it to see how they'd update such a terrific movie, and wow was it terrible (and stupidly gory).

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