Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 23:30 on 10-05-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi

I'm way ahead of you, there, Arthur. I'm already 400
pages into my new pony play trilogy, 50 Shades of Neigh.

I hope you're at least considering makin it an epistolary novel.

"Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned that friendship can take any form, some of them more confusing and harder to understand. But if you give your friends love and understanding, everypony is happier and more appreciative of each other in the end."
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at 23:22 on 10-05-2012, Sunnyskywalker
Artistic bad faith makes more sense, I guess. (So the books are the literary equivalent of Nice Guys, who go on and on about how nice they are, but they're insecure, and no one will sleep with them because they're too nice and insecure, those bitches, never realizing that in fact they aren't nice at all?) I was with Robinson in thinking the article was trying to talk about jerkishness, and not seeing why one kind would be especially preferable to the other. Some kind of artistic integrity at least sounds better than half-assedly disguising what you're really trying to write. I'd definitely be interested in reading more of what you have to say about Houellebecq, too.

Also, Arthur, now I am never going to be able to hear that song without thinking about jerkish French novelists.

Jumping back a bit... Bitterblue! Finally! *is excited*
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at 23:19 on 10-05-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
He's a fatalistic misanthrope, and he's enjoyably savage in his writing in the
way only the French can be, but he also has his moments of true sadness and
beauty.

That sounds very interesting, and I will second a review. French misanthropes are usually worth getting finding out, even if the experience might be painful and exhausting. I'm adding him to my list.
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at 22:32 on 10-05-2012, Arthur B
It's got fearsome jaws (which none have survived). So possibly, but afterwards you might have to mend your genitalia with 50 Shades of Glue.
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at 22:22 on 10-05-2012, James D
Is the grue good at it?
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at 22:17 on 10-05-2012, Wardog
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten out by a grue.
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at 22:07 on 10-05-2012, Arthur B
50 Shades of Grue, in which characters have steamy, kinky sex if you read it before an arbitrary time t but otherwise write papers on the problem of induction.

And the action only happens when it's pitch dark. And usually underground.
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at 22:00 on 10-05-2012, Robinson L
I think the key argument of the piece is the sentence "The American authors, they want to be liked."

Thanks for clarifying Alasdair, for a while I was wracking my brains trying to figure out what the author was trying to say there. I guess I was expecting the core article's argument to focus on jerkishness rather than honesty about jerkishness. (By the way, I'm pretty sure the article author is a woman.)

I for one would be interested in a review of Houellebecq's work, even if he's the antithesis of everything I stand for; if it's a Ferretbrain contributor doing the review, it should at least be pretty interesting.
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at 21:58 on 10-05-2012, James D
"Low-hanging fruit" would make a pretty good sexual innuendo too.
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at 21:55 on 10-05-2012, Shim
50 Shades of Grue, in which characters have steamy, kinky sex if you read it before an arbitrary time t but otherwise write papers on the problem of induction.
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at 21:43 on 10-05-2012, Arthur B
I feel no shame at grabbing at the low-hanging fruit.

50 Shades of Grapes.
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at 21:30 on 10-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Hohohohohoho

I feel no shame at grabbing at the low-hanging fruit.
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at 21:22 on 10-05-2012, James D
with whom he will have a sexy adventure at the climax of the story.

Hohohohohoho
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at 21:08 on 10-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
How about a story where she is a vanilla rabbit and he is a big scary bondage wolf? 50 Shades of Prey.
I was going to use that title for a story I'm writing about a Native American man who gets sucked about an alien spaceship and has a whole lot of sexy adventures aboard/with it while looking for his girlfriend, with whom he will have a sexy adventure at the climax of the story.
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at 20:53 on 10-05-2012, Arthur B
The golem-themed one: 50 Shades of Clay.

The donkey one: 50 Shades of Bray.

The sequel to the donkey one where the entire farmyard gets in on the action in a sort of gangbangy retelling of Animal Farm: 50 Shades of Hay.

The dog training one: 50 Shades of Stay.

The one where the couple in the intense BDSM relationship also make cheese in their spare time: 50 Shades of Whey.

How about a story where she is a vanilla rabbit and he is a big scary bondage wolf? 50 Shades of Prey.

Here's a story where the central couple are constantly interrupted by a peeping tom who makes enthusiastic and inappropriate comments just as they are getting to the good parts: 50 Shades of Wa-hey!

And of course the flash fiction about a guy sadistically squeezing as many puns out of the poor, innocent title as he possibly can: 50 Shades of Wordplay.
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at 20:39 on 10-05-2012, James D
I think The Etched City has more in common with Tanith Lee than with Mieville, really.

Hm, maybe. I've only read the first few "Tales from the Flat Earth" books, and I don't see too many resemblances there, but she's written quite a lot. Any books in particular you'd compare it to?

The boilerplate heurestic definition I've started using is the one I nicked from Jeff Vandermeer big collection. In short, "New Weird" stories are urban secondary-world fantasies that use realistic, complex real-world models as jumping-off points for settings that may use some combination of sf and f mixed together. The writing is visceral, drawing inspiration from surreal and transgressive horror for tone, effect, and style, as well from the New Wave and their inspirations (Mervyn Peake, the decadents). It also seems to be aware of the modern world, and it has to shove its weirdness out in the open.

Any help?

Not much. I guess it's sort of urban sf/f in an invented world with horror and New Wave elements? It seems a very affected categorization, to me.
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at 20:26 on 10-05-2012, Wardog
Fluttershy: Oh...my. <whimpers>whimpers

PS - this image traumatised me.
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at 20:24 on 10-05-2012, Wardog
God I could do this all day...

BDSM Fairies: 50 Shades of Fey.
The Renaissance dubcon AU: 50 Shades of Nay.
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at 20:22 on 10-05-2012, Wardog
I personally am reacting against the heternormativity of the original with 50 Shades of Gay...

Seriously. It is AWFUL. And not even funny awful. I genuinely don't understand who the book is supposed be for except a a nebulous audience that, I suspect, doesn't exist of "stupid women who are stupid and like that stupid stuff."

The heroine spends literally all her time thinking about her hair. ALL HER TIME. And I am not exaggerating. The book opens with her looking at her hair in the mirror. And it continues to a play major role. In fact, it's probably one of the best developed characters in there.

I probably should review it ... but that would mean I have to keep reading it.

*cries*
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at 20:15 on 10-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I'm not sure The Etched City necessarily qualifies as New Weird, but then again I'm not quite sure what New Weird is exactly, beyond "stuff like Mieville writes." Official definitions seem pretty vague. Like I said, it reminded me a lot more of The Malacia Tapestry, which I loved.

The boilerplate heurestic definition I've started using is the one I nicked from Jeff Vandermeer big collection. In short, "New Weird" stories are urban secondary-world fantasies that use realistic, complex real-world models as jumping-off points for settings that may use some combination of sf and f mixed together. The writing is visceral, drawing inspiration from surreal and transgressive horror for tone, effect, and style, as well from the New Wave and their inspirations (Mervyn Peake, the decadents). It also seems to be aware of the modern world, and it has to shove its weirdness out in the open.

Any help?
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at 20:06 on 10-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I'm way ahead of you, there, Arthur. I'm already 400 pages into my new pony play trilogy, 50 Shades of Neigh.

Fluttershy: Oh...my. <whimpers>
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at 20:00 on 10-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Anyway, thanks for sharing, Alasdair.

Always glad to.

I can't figure out what the author is trying to say about Houellebecq, though. The tone of the piece seems to imply that his approach is superior, but when I parse out the arguments the article author seems to be saying that both he and the writers of the Male Loser archetype are jerks - the difference being that the Loser writers are passive-aggressive jerks whereas Houellebecq is upfront about being a jerk.

I think the key argument of the piece is the sentence "The American authors, they want to be liked." From an artistic standpoint, the Americans are engaging in an act of bad faith: they want to write certain types of stories, but there is always a sense that they are holding back. However, this reserve is not borne out of ideological disagreement with the contents of their stories (which doesn't entirely make sense, really), but out of fear that they will be attacked by readers, the press, their friends, etc. The end result is a product that trades whatever power it might have possessed for the desire to please, a desire that comes across as obvious to a reader and gives the work a mealymouthed feel. By this reasoning, Houellebecq is superior because he simply doesn't give a shit whether people love or hate him. He's gonna write the book he wants to write and the world can take it or leave it.

That's a lot of words just to say that Houllebecq is using a slightly different technique to achieve more or less the same ends, without much analysis of the technique.
I don't think Houellebecq and the Americans have the same ends in mind. With the American stuff there's often a sense that a lot of it was written to show how fine and clever they are, or to provide some sort of half-arsed "perspective" on modern life. Houellebecq is more interested in satire, and while the Americans dabble in it too, it's not of the same order as Houellebecq. At heart, the Americans are accommodating fellows who, despite their personal anxieties, are content with the world. With Houellebecq, you get a sense that he actually hates life on a basic level. There is mockery of the sex and finance obsession of the modern West in his work, but it also goes farther into a articulation of the fear of age and death.

Aaand I've just realized I've made a point that has no bearing to your original argument. Well, it is a point to keep in mind, all the same.

(I've actually been tempted to write about Houellebecq for Ferretbrain, even though he is the complete antithesis of what everyone who writes and reads Ferretbrain stands for. I've honestly grown to like the guy, even in the face of the charges of sexism and racism. He's a fatalistic misanthrope, and he's enjoyably savage in his writing in the way only the French can be, but he also has his moments of true sadness and beauty.)
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at 19:58 on 10-05-2012, Michal
I'm way ahead of you, there, Arthur. I'm already 400 pages into my new pony play trilogy, 50 Shades of Neigh.
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at 19:46 on 10-05-2012, Arthur B
Someone should write 50SoG fanfic, then file off all the 50SoG-specific names and publish it for £££.

And so on and so on until we finally find out what lies at the bottom of this particular downward spiral.
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