July 1st, 2010



It's probably a good thing that I'm now preparing for my Nalo Hopkinson panel at Readercon, because I was frustrated with the last couple of historical romances I read.

I wanted more conflict. I wanted more oomph. I think I was in the wrong mood for these books, and if I'd been in a different mood and seeking something calm and reassuring, they might have been perfect.

The first was Mary Jo Putney's latest, Never Less Than a Lady. The heroine had a traumatic past. The hero had been a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. They had a marriage of convenience! Yay! However, every problem they had, including the heroine being kidnapped and dragged towards a possibly dire fate of torture and death, was resolved lickity-split. I barely had time to enjoy the angst before it was over. It all felt way too fast, and I didn't get a chance to really feel for the characters except in bits and snatches. I'll try this one again when I feel like a comforting read.

The second was Suzanne Enoch's A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior. This one had a wounded soldier hero with PTSD, the result of a Thuggee attack in India; I did appreciate that the historical bias was made clear, as in, "I was only counting English deaths" from an oppositional character representing the colonialist viewpoint. That said, the only Indian characters are, well, pretty characterless and in the hero's past, seen only briefly in flashback, and it all becomes, as you might guess, secondary to the hero and heroine's relationship. Anyway, none of those issues keep him and the heroine apart for very long - even their conflicts felt brief to me. The opposing characters never felt really dangerous to the couple. Again, it all felt way too easy.

I am disgruntled. How can I become gruntled?

I'm a guest today over on the Savvy Authors blog, talking incoherently about where I get my ideas.

Fanfic Classics

What do you consider to be fanfiction classics?

I ask in reference to the panel below, which I'm moderating. Note the last sentence. I have my own mental list, but would appreciate additions to it.

Fanfic as Criticism (Only More Fun)

Fanfiction is being produced online at a rate of millions of words per month. Fanfiction can expand on a shorter work, change a work's themes, or even attempt to "fix" things the author is felt to have done "wrong" (e.g., provide a backstory to explain otherwise undermotivated behavior). These dynamics are not unheard of outside of Internet fandom communities — Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway attempts to "fix" James Joyce's Ulysses (which itself retells Homer's Odyssey). In what ways can fanfiction be a valuable part of the criticism of a text? Can it appeal as criticism to readers outside the fanfiction community? If so, how can they find the most interesting works?