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review 2015-12-09 15:18
On the Speshal Snowflake
Written in Red - Anne Bishop

I'm here today, friends, to talk about the Speshal Snowflake. She's one of those creatures both more ubiquitous and more soul-wearying than vampires, starring in melodramas in multiple subgenres, both fantastic and literary. Like the Mary Sue, who can be either close cousin or indistinguishable doppelganger, the Snowflake can scythe down impediments through sheer narrative invincibility, the hand of the author cradling her against the slings and arrows. She's the only person that matters; everyone will love her; all will look on her and despair, etc. The Speshal Snowflake is special precisely because we have been told she is so, and anything she does (or does not do, often tellingly) is special on the dint of this telling, both regardless and irrespective of actual, measurable, ethical worth. 

 

And like the Mary Sue, reactions to the Speshal Snowflake are decidedly gendered. Very rarely, and only in the most egregious of cases, is a male character understood to be either a Mary Sue or a Snowflake. I can't think of an instance where anyone seriously called Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead a Speshal Snowflake, but it's all there: complete lack of narrative danger (for Rick), others dying to prove Rick right slash lend gravitas to Rick's ethical struggles, an almost preternatural ability to fall upwards into leadership roles. I barked out a laugh when Rick was questioned by some nameless Alexandrian in a recent episode, who then got eaten by walkers just moments later. Rick is right because he is right, and the narrative will bend itself around his rightness. Nevermind if it would be well more interesting to see a world where his ethical choices weren't immediately upheld by the narrative. If the walking dead are like weather, an implacable force that carries no inherent moral force, they they should be ultimately uncaring of any choices anyone makes, and no man should be exempt from winds that blow.

 

But we're more inclined to call Katniss Everdeen a Snowflake than Rick, even though I feel like their situations and ethical struggles are roughly commensurate in terms of silliness of premise and direness of consequence.The walking dead violate the very laws of physics, and it makes no sense that a teenage girl would be the center of a struggle for empire. Which is I think my point: the walking dead are not weather, they are a narrative device, just as surely as Panem's ludicrous and impossible political system is a device. Those things aren't important because story, narrative, is not reality, it is something heightened and purified and concentrated. Let me tell you a tale of people in extremis, and the choices they made. Let us wind up this automaton and let it go. 

 

These nerds once made relationship maps for things like the Icelandic Sagas and Beowulf, charting how often various characters are in relationship with one another. Beowulf looks like spikes radiating from Beowulf himself, while the Sagas were a complex web of relationship, with no one person in the middle. The Sagas, of course, are based largely in fact, and there is not one particular protagonist of this here world. That a story is about anyone at all, in particular, makes them special.

 

We are, all of us, the leading role in the story of our lives, and when we slip into the narrative skin of these our avatars, we bring our native self-importance into the mix. We bend to the "I", because we are the protagonist in our stories unfolding. Which is to say, there isn't especially anything wrong with the Speshal Snowflake. Every protagonist is going to have more or less Snowflakiness in their crusts because that is how fiction works: this person or persons is more important than all the rest, which is why you're bothering reading at all. It's like asking why no one shows people going to the bathroom in movies: because that's dumb, and it's not in service to the story. 

 

Which is not to say that the Speshal Snowflake can't get irritating. I found Bella Swan cringingly, horrifyingly accurate to my adolescent sense of self-importance and self-involvement -- the way she treats her friends is shabby indeed, just as a start -- even though the narrative rewarded her constantly for this awful behavior (insofar as anything in Twilight can be understood as a reward). I just fucking squirmed through most of her interactions with her peers, how every single uncharitable instinct of hers was credited, how everyone else's interior life was that much more legible compared to how complex and inscrutable she is. 

 

Edward cottons to her precisely because he can't read her mind, even though we can, and we know. I found this reason for his ardor just hilarious, btw, because literally every boy on earth cannot read my mind, and I certainly didn't have anyone tripping over themselves to stalk me (more's the better). There's something clever about how Meyer sets this up: putting us right in the mind of a boring B+ student of no particular talent, and then making her desirable for something we can all relate to. You know, no one can read my mind either?! And I just got a B+ in English?? We know what she thinks because on some level we thought it as Speshal Snowflakes ourselves, before the world intruded with its elegant and inevitable smackdowns that come in like a thunderstorm as the years tick on. The Speshal Snowflake is someone who has never been confronted with weather, the rain lashing the windows and the electrical wire down on the ground, hissing. 

 

So. The reason I bring up the Speshal Snowflake is that 100% the protagonist of Written in Red is one. She rolls into town with naught but the clothes on her back, on the run from dangerous figures who are unaccountable to the usual societal systems, and in short order finds herself a job, a place to live, and the protection of otherworldly forces. She heals a boy who was irreparably damaged by the loss of his mother, makes friends with implacable and deadly forces, and almost accidentally works a political system to her favor. She is, in short, everything I should hate in urban fantasy. But I don't. 

 

I fairly love her, and her world. The world of Written in Red is something like the one in Charles DeLint's Newford books, where crows and coyotes and and bears shed skins to walk with us humans, and Robin McKinley's Sunshine, with its profound alt-history of magic and death. We are on another Earth, where humans exist at the largess of creatures terrible in their needs and powers, and as we humans tend to be, we have to be reminded of that fact over and over. I found the perspective of the non-human characters, who think of us a meat, just terrifying, the kind of thing that slipped into my dreams and conjured up nightmares of being hunted and torn. 

 

Meg Corbyn is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet, who has been raised as an asset, as a useful source of prophesy for men rich enough to pay for such a thing, and either enrich themselves or feed their predilections. She escapes somehow -- no doubt a tale for later books -- and ends up in a mid-sized town in the north. Maybe Buffalo, maybe Milwaukee, maybe Minneapolis; big enough to feel more important than farming communities, but too small to really matter (though its residents would never admit it). Another newcomer (and point of view character) is the police officer Monty, who reads like an old school constable, his work more politics and subtle maneuvering than gun handling and force. 

 

Meg follows a prophesy she had to the inner-city citadel of the Others, where human law does not apply. She's hoping she can dodge the people who have very real incentive to control her prophesies by hiding behind inhuman monsters. It's not really much of a plan, admittedly, but she's been very sheltered. She gets a job as the liaison between the Others and the humans of the city, and most of the plot bops around watching her steps and missteps as she navigates her new life. And it's here where her Snowflake powers really activate, almost effortless making friends and allies among the Others.

 

But here's the thing: I resent Snowflakes that are only so because I have been told they are, characters who are demonstrably terrible people who win only because the author deems it so. (Jamie McGuire writes a ton of these heroines, boy howdy.) I have some reservations about late-period Harry Potter, for example, who gets told over and over that he is good, when a lot of the stuff he does, like the shit with Gringotts and Griphook, is completely indefensible. Completely indefensible, and I will not entertain arguments that say that because Harry is good, nothing he can do is bad.

 

That is the problem with the Speshal Snowflake: when authors lose sight of moral agency. I would have accepted the sequence with Griphook if there had been any narrative stank on it, an acknowledgement that that was a shite thing to do, but maybe the ethical landscape is more complex than good or bad, that growing up might mean getting dirty. That a lot of evil in the world is done by people acting on what they believe to be the right reasons. That's not what happens. We are sung a chorus of Harry's goodness. We will not linger on the sizable number of deaths perpetrated on a poorly understood and sometimes persecuted minority who look a lot like a Jewish stereotype, if you get right down to it. Their lives and deaths do not matter

 

Phew, I apologize for the freak out; I've been saving that one up. That's not what's going on here: Meg has very real reasons for why she's so innocent, why she doesn't react like normal people to scary, dangerous predators. As a blood prophet, she was kept secluded and helpless. Everything she knows about the real world was through disconnected images and sounds she was taught. If she doesn't know what a car is, then she can't describe her visions to the people who control her. At the same token, she can know what a microwave is, but she should not be taught to use one.

 

Denying her self-sufficiency was a form of social control. That she takes very real delight in learning the simplest of things, like listening to pop music, is charming, and reminds us readers of the wonder of our everyday lives. I exclaim this quite regularly, but did you know I carry around in my pocket a tiny computer capable of getting me just about any book, movie, or musical recording; it can connect me to others across the globe and on another floor of the house; it can furnish me with information about just about anything. Good god, you guys, it's like a goddamn science fiction novel. That Meg is fresh and delighted by all the wondrous things we take for granted is no strike against her. 

 

Her existence as a blood prophet is also very subtly done. She's been told a lot of things about what that means and how she is, and she only slowly starts to question that received wisdom. It's not even lingered on, but that Meg very deliberately chooses to live in a place where she has seen a prophesy of her own death, that she doesn't run from the prophesy, is a very cool detail. This is how a prophet would behave, trusting her own visions, letting them play in the hopes that she could turn the knife, instead of avoiding it altogether,

 

That the prophesy is accessed through cutting, and that all of the blood prophets are girls, is another fraught detail. The other point of view characters condescend to feel bad for her, assign her the blame for the scars tracing her body, but it's not as simple as they made me do it or she's pathological. Especially when we begin to understand the true violence perpetrated on her in the home for girls, when her skin was sold out for the scars it could bear. The potential violence of the Others, which is still often terrifying, has got nothing on the violence she's already endured. She's a Speshal Snowflake precisely because she understands weather, and the things worse than weather. 

 

I'll admit there were moments when I was like, aw jeez, that's a little too much. A young woman who plays as clumsy antagonist, working for the people who would get Meg back for her prophetic skin, has baldly stupid motivations that are lingered on far too long. Meg herself mentions another girl in the place she came from, an openly defiant girl, and I wanted to hear way more about her. Reminded me, in a way, of Moira from The Handmaid's Tale, this bright, angry, dynamic personality who lays in harsh contrast with the almost passive protagonists, the special ones.

 

(I don't really have this thunk completely out, but there's something about those minor characters, the throwaways and half-remembered, who have so much life in them compared to the drear details of the average protagonist, special or not. I have a number of fictions I love precisely because of the minor characters, and though this isn't exactly that, it's interesting to me that people can often write the incidental more strongly than the important. Maybe their lack of importance makes them easier to write true.)

 

Anyway, Written in Red was just delightful to me, the kind of thing gulped down in all the space I could make for it, running to its prophetic conclusion. I thought it dealt beautifully with the trope of the Speshal Snowflake, grounded her right in the background she needed to exist, in the parameters she was given. No, of course, magic doesn't work, but if it did, this is what it would look like. It would look like the storm on the horizon, the one we can never exactly escape, right up until we batten down, and do. 

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review 2014-10-01 18:40
Demons, Dolls & Milkshakes by Nelson Pyles
Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes - Nelson W. Pyles,Nelson Pyles

Hey, I finally finished a book and a brand new review and it's not monster-porn!

 

Who wouldn’t want a sarcastic little demon of their very own?  Especially one who is at your beck and call, subservient to your every whim, small enough to stick in your pocket and who has the ability to inflict great pain and suffering upon those who have done you oh-so-wrong.  

 


I know you want one!


Martin is in possession of a book called “Raising Demons” and he and his two dim-witted acquaintances decide that raising a demon and forcing him inside a tiny, poorly constructed totem is a brilliant idea. Martin plans to use this demon for nefarious purposes such as ridding himself of his high school tormentors and such. Surprisingly Martin succeeds but now he’s gone and opened up a world of hurt and finds himself at the center of a demon feud.  He’s still a miserable young fool but now he’s stuck with an annoying as hell demon too. 


Sometimes life just isn’t fair.


My advice to angry, hurting teens everywhere? If you stumble across a book titled “Raising Demons” leave it be and call in the pros.

 

 


Bad things occur. Oh, such terrible, revolting things (cannibalism, mutilation, necrophilia and more!).  These are demons, after all. Fortunately, the writing doesn’t linger long enough on those horrible things to disturb one too deeply. It’s all written a little tongue in cheek, splashed with a good amount of gore and a whole lotta “you get what you wished for, sucker!” and I liked it quite a bit. The characters are lively and most of them are very sarcastic and that’s always a win in my book. 


I’m a hard sell when it comes to funny though. I may snicker at silliness and human follies but laughing at words on a page doesn’t happen often for me. Most of the story was amusing when it wasn’t busy being horrifying but it didn’t make me spit out my coffee or laugh like a loon. But there’s this one scene where the little demon decides to be a nosy mofo and goes through a female characters text messages just because he’s a jerk. He soon realizes that he messed with the wrong girl and it was Hilarious. Totally made the entire book for me.


This was a fun, nasty little adventure filled romp and If you like such things something might be wrong with you but who am I to judge? Check it out.  

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review 2014-08-05 19:55
Meathouse Man by George R.R. Martin
Meathouse Man - George R.R. Martin,Raya Golden

This is some fucked up shit. Misogynistic and necrophilic fucked up shit. With illustrations. My inner feminist is vibrating with rage and is drawing disturbing comparisons with serial killer Elliot Rodger.

 

The meathouse is a whorehouse whose ‘whores’ are dead women, most of whom are former criminals and debtors although some have been kidnapped and killed precisely to be commodified by transforming them into brainless undead prostitutes. Outside of the meathouses, corpses are used as workers directed by handlers (read: puppeteers), similar to what The People do with vampires in Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. The entertainment industry is dominated by corpse fights like the gladiators of old, their handlers manipulating them like 3-D real world video game characters.

 

Continue reading 

Source: literaryames.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/meathouse-man-by-george-r-r-martin
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review 2014-01-16 18:45
Lust After Death (Love Bots #1) by Daisy Harris
Lust After Death - Daisy Harris

There’s nothing like a bit of necrophiliain the morning.

 

Our RoboZombies  (the zombies are actually referred to as ‘steins’, as in Frankenstein) don’t decompose and still retain all of their bodily functions so there are no ball sacks falling off during fellatio or penises detaching mid-coitus (oh look a new dildo!) so my tea and toast stayed happily in my stomach.

 

Our heroine, Josie, is a newly made RoboZombie sex doll. Her memories have been wiped in favour of rudimentary programming to engineer her to need, and be submissive to, a ‘husband’. Her obviously abusive maker had no other use for her than that. Free will is only for the living. She’s child-like in her curiosity and discovery of new concepts and sensations, but she’s very much able to learn and grow beyond her original programming.

 

The hero, turned Peeping Tom during recon, is also a RoZo of the soldier / assassin variety with PTSD, employed by a pro-free will organisation. Bane’s been working towards earning a memory and programming reset to relieve his mental anguish to become blissfully ignorant of the deeds he’s done while his free will was taken from him.

Bane’s mission is to retrieve the heroine from her maker by any means necessary before an evil RoZo corporation can swoop in and recover the scientist and his research. As the heroine had been designed to require biofeedback via touch and an electronic mental connection from a husband, the hero has to fill that holerole to prevent her programming from degrading to the point of leaving her a lifeless rotting corpse.

 

It’s important to note that Bane doesn’t rape Josie, the very thought disgusts him. Josie’s personality, that of a ‘virtual child’, also unnerves him so he’s very careful about how he handles her, leaving Josie to decide what she wants.

 

I’m riding the line between love and hate, hiding in the no-man’s-land of meh. Predictable paranormal romance that isn’t too cheesy, worldbuilding and character development of the supporting cast is lacking, but it possesses an interesting, and I suppose plausible, possibility of cyborg RoboZombies in the future. I’d still take Langlais’s cyborgs over Harris’s though.

 

Favourite Quote:

But all idealism faded if exposed to enough reality.

Source: literaryames.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/lust-after-death-love-bots-1-by-daisy-harris
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text 2013-09-04 20:33
Petition

 

Q. What do you get when you mix pedophilia, bestiality, and necrophilia?

A. Your average Young Adult Paranormal Romance…

 

Too dirty of a joke?

Well, you should’ve heard the original!

 

All jokes aside….

 

Let’s be serious!

Werewolves are sexy!

And I have no problem with necrophilia as long as the corpse is a vampire

But I do have a problem with is feeling like a pedophile for swooning over some 15 to 16 year old KID!

And here’s where the whole “point” of this post comes in!

I want to start a petition!

 

For Cassie Clare, and all other authors alike to make their future characters of legal age! 18 and older!

We (their fan base) are aging and we don’t want to read about some 16 year old kid accomplishing more in life then we ever will!

       If you believe in this petition… feel free to leave your name below… (I’ll be sure to add it to the list)

I’ll go first 

  1. The Book Obsessed Loser

                                                   2.el-extrano-gato-del-cuento.blogspot.com

                                                   3.consoul.booklikes.com/

                                                   4.

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