Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Amazon Puppies, Wild Rovers, and Paleotech.

Was reading comments on Charles Stross' blog in re the basic failure of the Puppies (Sad and Rabid) to achieve any more at the Hugos other than general obstructionism. The point was raised that the puppies might have a valid complaint if, indeed, story-telling was being sacrificed on the altar of proselytizing on a feminist/socialist/egalitarian/whatever agenda.

I'm going to avoid the easy snark that the only books I've had to put down for heavy-handed messages getting in the way of the story have been libertarian. And yet, there is at least one libertarian, climate change denier, and general crazy who still tells a heck of a story while beating on those drums (Hogan) and I still enjoy his books.

Instead, the direction I want to explore is why I am not driven away by, why in fact I (an educated, straight, white male) am more attracted to books that go beyond the standard model of heroic white male military man/engineer/two-fisted scientist having rousing adventures and a little between-the-chapter-breaks hetero sex.

It isn't because those can't be good reads. It is that I've already read it. I've done the standard model. And this is why I mention Amazon above; I can see the benefit of being able to find something exactly like that which I already know I enjoy. But I don't require that it all be like that. I don't even require that the majority be like that.

This is where I so easily part company with the fears of the Gamer Gaters and Puppies alone. Medal of Honor games are still being put out every year. Baen Books is still publishing standard-model military sci-fi. These show no signs of going away, and there's enough to slake the thirst of anyone who isn't retired and helpless to find anything else to do with the endless hours of their day.

When I go to a deli, I like to order the named sandwiches. I already know what a sandwich made "my" way tastes like. I've made it before. I want to see what someone else can dream up. And if I like it, then even if I am hungry and in a hurry and just want something I trust to eat, the list of foods I already know and trust will be a little longer.

So I like reading a story with different aims. Different kinds of characters. And even if it appears to be the standard model, when you open the field up to people who have proven capable of writing about other experiences, they are also going to discover new insights and new angles in the standard model.

So, no, I don't think you lose the "Just a plain adventure story with rocketships and dinosaurs and white male heroes with rayguns clenched in their tan burly fists" if you allow other stuff to get written and read and, yes, win some Hugo awards. You get new tools and tricks that filter across the field, so even the most reactionary of the old guard (assuming there is one!) can write the kind of story the puppies were asking for...and make it even better at the things they want it to do!

Meanwhile I've got a new job. Back on full time for the first time since...well, it's a couple decades back. Too early to say if I'll be working full time long enough to make changes in how I do things. If I do less props, give up my TechShop membership, or whatever. Waaay too early to say any of this, because I have yet to complete a full week. The most consecutive days I've worked so far is...two.

Today was more stripping old carpet off dollies and putting fresh carpet on them. Plus getting into a long-range modification of the dollies they've been putting off for months due to lack of labor/time to do it. Which meant a big chunk of the day was in the very cool little "wood shop." Which has the basic tools for wood working, but is really more of a machine shop. Including mill and lathe, pretty much the same series as the ones I've been using at TechShop.

All is not high tech in my life, though. I ran out of ground coffee one morning and did a cup of slip-joint; used a pair of pliers to crush coffee beans one by one. It was laborious, but I got my morning cup out of it. The most paleo-tech exercise was folding boxes for recycling; I guess I've been reading enough about neolithic culture and technology I finally realized that the gravel in the recycling area has pieces with enough of a flaked edge to be used to slash tape. And the last low-tech improvisation was matching the old elastic of a pair of vintage goggles by tea-dying (actually, I brewed up black coffee, threw in an equal amount of roibos tea, and simmered the material in that for an hour to reach a half-decent reddish tan).

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