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Janne Kirjasniemi on The Fionavar Travesty
at 22:37 on 01-05-2016 - link
One of the overarching themes of the Tapestry is "fuck destiny", really. There's all these prophecies and Chosen Ones and shit that's supposed to happen, and at every turn the characters -- not even just the protagonists, but minor characters! -- make choices that subvert the Way Things Are Supposed to Go.
I agree with this very much. And I agree that the following books are better. It seems that the way the story is supposed to go and the thing with true destinies is that thay all are a game rigged by the big bad source of all evil and fighting against it and departing from the narrative is possible, but always entails a large personal price, often ending in death or worse. All the evil master plans are foiled by an altruistic choice. And by the last book, that results in some very epic and touching moments. The biggest problem is the way it is all set up at the start, that is the first book which was under discussion. If it fails to create sympathy for the protagonists and the world, it can make the reader apathetic and annoyed at what is supposed to be great moments of self-sacrifice and altruism from a three-dimensional character who might succumb to bickering and selfishness. Take Diarmuid, for example. If the creepiness factor gets too great at the beginning, and I think he is supposed to be a very selfish, but likable rogue sort of person, it kinda undercuts what happens after that to him and his relationship with Sharra.
On Jennifer, it is interesting, that she very much is not a passive character, but rather starts taking advantage of and actively manipulate the story she is abducted by to protect the things she finds important as Jennifer and not as Guinevere.
I find both the idealistic, Pollyannaish view of "human nature" and the cynical, Hobbesian view comparably simplistic and insufferable when presented in their extreme forms (as they often are).
Yeah, people are very much capable of both, sometimes at the same time even, depending on context. Very few are actively and only monsters and very few are absolute saints in everything. Rather they function in the environment they are based on how they think the world is in their experience. That's how many social ills and injustices are perpetuated, often without people even questioning whether a thing is just or not, even by their own standards. And all the nice cognitive processes that we have to protect our views of the world from cognitive dissonance and such like stuff hardly helps. Everybody wants to feel they are in the right and good people in general (except if one has depression, but that is a whole other thing) and it can be tricky to verify this, when there is really no absolute, discernable moral laws to compare against, even if a person is of the contemplative sort which most people are not. Like this MRA crowd and Sad Puppies and Gamers Gate people, who will go to great lengths and do awful things just to shelter their image of the ideal world, whatever that may be (my glib guess is some sort of ideal childhood, when all the stories and games were really cool) just to avoid admitting that there might actually be significant problems with how things are, and the people pointing out those problems are not it.
Arthur B on The Fionavar Travesty
at 13:47 on 01-05-2016 - link
So they're known in all the worlds (there's definitely an implication that travel between worlds used to be a lot easier, too) -- but the REAL story, the first story, that caused all the trouble, actually happened in our world.
Which is exactly why this whole "first of all the worlds" thing is such bullshit - if Fionavar is this primal ur-world from which the pattern of the tapestry propagates throughout the multiverse surely the stories which cosmically resonate throughout the multiverse should hail from there?
I can't blame you for not reading the other two books, but I have to at least say that i think you probably should if you can stand it
/looks at pile of stuff yet to read that I'm more enthused about than this trash.
Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno I shouldn't. :P
Adrienne on The Fionavar Travesty
at 03:02 on 01-05-2016 - link
One of the interesting things about the way the Arthur subplot plays out is that there's some implication that his story -- "saddest tale of all the long tales told" -- actually warps the world around it. That Jennifer was, in fact, just Jennifer; she wasn't Guenevere until Arthur showed up. She didn't recover some sort of lost memory or whatever; the story took her.And even once that happens, she maintains her selfhood, her agency, and she actively works against "destiny" at more than one point, albeit quietly.
(One of the overarching themes of the Tapestry is "fuck destiny", really. There's all these prophecies and Chosen Ones and shit that's supposed to happen, and at every turn the characters -- not even just the protagonists, but minor characters! -- make choices that subvert the Way Things Are Supposed to Go. And the text doesn't handwave it as "oh, these things were actually Supposed To Go this way from the start"; it's made clear that there is real freedom even for characters who have Destined Paths, and that people's decisions can create better outcomes, for themselves and the whole world, than just following along with the Intended Plotline would've.)
Adrienne on The Fionavar Travesty
at 02:42 on 01-05-2016 - link
Well, the thing is, there IS no ur-Arthur. The story of Arthur is presented as ... something that only happened once, and for part of which the punishment is that the characters get ... reborn or re-created (it's not entirely clear). So they're known in all the worlds (there's definitely an implication that travel between worlds used to be a lot easier, too) -- but the REAL story, the first story, that caused all the trouble, actually happened in our world.
I'm not saying it's not done clumsily in several ways -- as i said, i love the books despite the fact that most of your criticisms are entirely valid!
(I can't blame you for not reading the other two books, but I have to at least say that i think you probably should if you can stand it -- it's Tolkien homage in many ways, and one of those ways is that it's really NOT three books, it's one book, in parts.)
- Arthur B on Fear and Loathing In the Cybertron War at 16:48 on 30-04-2016 - link Yeah, but on the other hand if the Egyptian and Jordanian military suddenly become incredibly active in the general area of the Sinai peninsula and nobody explains to the Israelis what is going on, there's a fairly obvious conclusion that they'd end up jumping to.
- Bill on Fear and Loathing In the Cybertron War at 13:56 on 30-04-2016 - link Actually, the Israeli military has never been directly involved in America's various jolly adventures in the Middle East, so that part might be considered realistic.
- Arthur B on Fear and Loathing In the Cybertron War at 12:14 on 30-04-2016 - link They were compiled, along with the follow-on posts covering Dark of the Moon and providing some conclusions, into a single PDF which I've been able to find here.
Arthur B on The Fionavar Travesty
at 11:53 on 30-04-2016 - link
Interesting to know that the Arthuriana tie-in was intended from the beginning; I think it's still a stumbling block for me because it really, really isn't telegraphed at all well that it's going to happen, and it's not telegraphed even slightly well that it's going to happen in the form the actual Arthur and Lancelot showing up.
I went in knowing that there were Arthurian aspects to the story, but since Fionavar is explicitly presented as being the first of all worlds I thought it'd turn out that some of the existing characters in Fionavar would turn out to be the archetypal ur-Arthur and ur-Mordred and so on. That this doesn't happen seems to be one of several ways in which the whole "first of all worlds" thing seems to be nothing more than a PR boast.