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review 2014-07-04 14:56
DarkShip Thieves - Sarah A. Hoyt

This is the second science fiction book I've had to DNF in less than a week due to stomach-turning ableism. 


I mean, not that that's the only problem. There's some misogyny vaguely disguised as pseudo-feminism, fucktons of gender essentialism, some mind-boggling Libertarian-esque politics that make no sense at all (a society that has survived 250 years with no laws, just contracts? How are those contracts even reinforced?), an anti-polyamory attitude (loving more than one person? how weird!), and a heroine with a supposed--and inexplicable--knack for making trouble and having people hate her wherever she goes (no in text evidence of this is ever really presented) and an even more inexplicable name of Athena Hera Sinistra. 


Early on in the book, however, I found myself flinching as the main character thought, basically, why be born with a disability if you don't have to. This is an atrociously ableist attitude, especially since most things that are disabilities are disabling due more than anything else to societies inflexibility. It's basically saying entire groups of people should cease to exist so that "normal" people can continue to always be catered to. I winced and tried to move on.


Then this happens:


The parking attendant made me flinch, because she was obviously mentally deficient. I'd seen mentally deficient people on Earth before, of course, but none with six arms [...]

(The arms, for clarification, are part of a freaking suit that assists her with her work, not part of her body. Athena is just ignorant of this.) Okay, first of all, fuck you. Second of all, FUCK YOU. Mentally deficient? Mentally deficient!? Just how fucking gross can you be? Athena literally flinches because OMG a person with a different brain than hers! Noes! You wouldn't think it could get more disgusting, but it does:


As we walked out of the garage I was silent, filled with horror at what had been done to this poor woman. Given the ability to bioengineer your children in the bio-womb, why have a deficient one at all? And if you chose to have one, why have her so grotesquely...dehumanized?


I reiterate: FUCK YOU. Excuse me? Her having extra arms (which again, she in fact does not) is "grotesquely dehumanized" but calling her mentally deficient and questioning her right to exist isn't? Just...just...



Nothing is more dehumanizing than this attitude. It's horrible. And then it turns out that the reason this woman is "mentally deficient" is because she wasn't bioengineered, which is spoken of much in the same way sensible people would criticize parents who won't vaccinate their children or refuse to get them medical care due to religious reasons. Like it's irresponsible to allow neuroatypical people to exist in the world. Like it's worse to let people be themselves than to completely eradicate entire swathes of neurotypes.


Of course, the suit with all the arms is there to assist the disabled woman in her job, which "allows the poor thing to earn a living." Because let's devalue her further by insisting her life is utterly worthless if she can't make money.


Joy, a society that eradicates disabled people and treats them like shit when they do exist. Fun fun. Did I mention there are no people of color in this society, because all the bioed people who escaped Earth 250 years ago were apparently white? 


Excuse me, I have to figure out whether I want to puke or cry. 

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review 2014-05-14 18:18
Mirror Sight - Kristen Britain

At around page 464 of this 700+ page monstrosity, I finally had to admit that I just don't have any fucks to give anymore. The series started going downhill with book 3 and now it's hit rock bottom.


The story, at book five, has already reached Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin levels of dragged out and plotless. The characters have all become unlikeable and irritating.The prose has grown juvenile, like a YA book written by someone who thinks all teenagers are stupid. All the villains are bunny boilers; evil is represented wholly in black by rapists, pedophiles, slavers and animal abusers--every last one. Characters' moral opinions are shoved heavy-handedly into the text, told rather than shown, over and over and over. Romances are all insta-love with absolutely no chemistry to speak of between any of the characters involved. And Karigan, once a great heroine, now acts more like Bella Swan. 


After all the plot threads left dangling in book four, you'd think at least one or two would be resolved here, but instead Karigan is tossed 200 years in the future and nothing, not a single thing these books were originally about, is solved. It is one hundred percent unnecessary to actually finishing the story, and I have to draw the line. I've given this series more chances than I normally do, but I am done, done, done. Not to mention the author writes at a pace that would make a snail snicker, so it's not like I'd remember what happened in this book by the time the next one comes around, anyway.


To all authors who take what was supposed to be a trilogy and drag it out over multiple long, plotless, 600+ page books, you are just taking advantage of your readers and to that I can only say: FUCK YOU.

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review 2014-01-15 16:00
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

I swore I'd finish this book. It was meant to be research, as I've gotten into my head to write cyberpunk, a genre I have no experience with (I do this often) and want to get a good feel for the genre. This is one of the classic works of cyberpunk, and a great reminder of why the word "classic" sends me running for the hills. 


I stuck it out to page 295, despite still not being certain the plot had actually shown up. I was determined but you, Neal Stephenson, you defeated even me with your:


- sexism: It's all well and good to point out that there's sexism in the IT industry, but then turning around and labeling every woman who doesn't meet your standard for smart a "bimbo" is gross. Calling a family minivan a "bimbo box" is even grosser.


- creepiness: You are an older white dude. I do not, repeat, not need you writing about any kind of sex things from the POV of a 15-year-old girl. Y.T. is a pretty cool character in a book otherwise almost devoid of female representation, but you writing her thinking about things like hooking up with Hiro (who is twice her damned age!) is fucking scuzzy as hell, dude. 


- prose: You write like a jacked up hipster who thinks his every written word is God's gift to literature, and you infodump too much. Stop drinking your own Koolaid, man. What you do isn't that cool.


- racism: Maybe you were trying to satirize how people view people of color. I'm not sure, since some of your main characters espoused these ideas. But white guys don't get to satirize that shit. Because when you have roughly Middle Eastern people being called "jeeks", driving taxis, and all gathering together to smoke from giant hookahs--when your one Latina character is described as the typical Fiery Latina stereotype--when your descriptions of your black/Korean character come off creepily fetishized--you're just being creepy and racist. Note to sci fi authors everywhere: Writing a POC main character doesn't make you magically not racist.


- ideas on mythology: I can't even here. I will explode if I try to describe what you did with mythology. Suffice it to say, the nonsense in this book put me in mind of fringe conspiracy theorists who believe aliens called the Annunaki taught the Egyptians how to build pyramids and use symbols in Egyptian art that they don't understand as "proof," and let me tell you, dude, that is not a good place to be. 


- impossible to follow story: What the fuck was even going on? There was so much infodumping that had nothing to do with the plot and I was constantly lost trying to wade through it. If your reader doesn't know what's going on when they're more than two-thirds through your book, you are not a genius, you are a hack.


I concede this one to you, Neal Stephenson. You outlasted even my tenacity. Mazel tov?



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