Karen Memory: Ripping Yarn or Message Fiction?

(originally written as a comment posted to Mike Glyer's File 770):

I’m curious if any of the Puppies [Sad Puppies, the group who claimed to have gamed this year's Hugo Awards nominations process because they just want to see good old fashioned entertainment winning awards instead of that artsy-fartsy literary and/or Commie/Marxist/Liberal/Degenerate stuff]  have read or commented on Elizabeth Bear’s KAREN MEMORY.
I bring that up because if you want a “ripping yarn”, Bear delivers in spades. Daring rescues, gunfights, airships, escapes from burning buildings, everything you could want in an adventure story. When I finished the book, my first thought was “Damn, that was a fun read!”
It was only my second thought that “Oh, and most of the cast of characters is GLBT.”
I’d suggest KAREN MEMORY as a litmus test for the people who say they just want entertaining stories. If that’s the case, Bear’s novel should make them happy.
But if you say you want entertaining stories, but your first and primary reaction to KAREN MEMORY is “Gay characters! This is message fiction!“, then I’d like to politely suggest that maybe the problem isn’t with what the author wrote, maybe the problem isn’t with what the publisher published, maybe the problem isn’t with the actual story. Maybe the problem is with you.
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Jim Henley posted a later comment on File 770 I thought drew some insightful distinctions between message and non-message story-telling, with a compare-and-contrast between Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man" and John Chu's "Water That Falls On You From Nowhere".

(The comment threads on File 770 can sometimes get harsh or unpleasant when they get into the politics and personalities of people involved in this year's Hugo controversy. Less so than a few months ago; I think Outrage Fatigue is settling in, plus many of the most unpleasant commenters there have flounced off over time. There's been a lot more interesting discussion and commentary about books and reading.)

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Hey, Mister or Miss Anonymous, if you want to resubmit your comment with a name attached, I'll consider letting it past moderation.