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June 28, 2007

Oblique Fannishness About Laurie Marks, Whose Third Elementals Book Continues to Annoy and Astound, in Equal Measure

Why must I feel vaguely masculine for not wanting to center my fiction in the domestic sphere? Why do third wave feminist artists and writers fetishize Home and the Domestic, and not question women's relegation thereto in art and literature?

We can write about warriors and philosophers and travelers and border crossers and farmers and soldiers and witches. We can write about violent impulses, nonpretty lusts, hunger, scars, frostbite, the plague. We can forget to write about menstruation, for once, since in real life it's mostly a minor annoyance for most people, except when you forget to bring a tampon.

We can not always be the ones tied inextricably to the earth and fecundity. We can stop imagining the Venus of Willendorf and Mae West are the only female icons to retreat to when we've shuffled off this Paris Hilton roil. We can write prose in praise of muscles, and be talking about women.

We can write into a genre exactly as far as we need to and stop there and revolutionize the rest. We can take some tropes and leave others. We can weave our rebellion and newness so thoroughly into the narrative that nobody sees it, everybody feels it. We can, really, write whatever the fuck we want to.

So why is nobody doing it except Laurie fuckin' Marks?

Please tell me who else is doing it.

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Comments

I so agree! Oooo, now I want to blog about domesticity and its curse.

Oh - and you would probably like the Steerswoman books as they are NOT domestic and no one perkily cooks or is One with the earth. Very refreshing!

Oh, and how about Mary Gentle?

Well...I think Ursula LeGuin always has done it. She just does it somewhat differently.

Laurie Marks writes about impossible situations that are utterly unlike our world, and yet (for some of us) just the same in the "no way out, no fix possible" emotion they inspire. And then she shows us a fix, and while there's an element of magic-wand-waving, the main part of the fix is made possible by people who see a third way and act on it. So, for me, perhaps the main reason I like the worls of Laurie Marks is that she portrays ugly situations, warts and all, and then shows a way out. So, besides being damn good writing and enjoyable reading, it also provides me with a good shot of hope.

So why is nobody doing it except Laurie fuckin' Marks?

The hell? Did you just start reading SF yesterday?

Or are you just not aware of Lois McMaster Bujold, CJ Cherryh, Kate Elliott, Kristen Britain, Naomi Novik, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Trudi Canavan, Elizabeth Kerner, and those are just the (mostly-award-winning) authors I can think of off the top of my head, who are (and have been) writing adventure fic with female protagonists or secondary characters who aren't all about the home and hearth - and have been for *years* now, most of them.

Hint, kid - go to the bookstore once in a blue moon. Look at the new books - and the older ones, too. Marks didn't invent Strong Female Characters, even if you just discovered the concept...

bellatrys,

i've read some of them, but not most, it's true. but YOU, on the other hand, didn't really read my post--or the previous ones, perhaps, since this was jumping off all the things i've said about marks' books.

firstly i've read TONS of books with strong female adventurer characters and i'm aware that there are tons more. but NONE of them completely divorce women from the domestic sphere. there's always some fetishization of the domestic--usually through one of the female characters--as if an anchor were needed.

the protagonists always have to protest way too much about how they don't want to be stuck in the kitchen. marks is the first author i've read who has not felt the need to demonstrate--through dialogue, action, narrative commentary--how radical her female characters are by NOT being in the kitchen. she just lets them be what they are, away from or near the hearth, without needing to compare and contrast them to the women of our world.

what i was asking was why isn't there more of this?

To be annointed Laurie fucking Marks because I'm doing something right is an honor I can only strive to be worthy of.
LJM

fuckin A!

Coming late to the party: Elizabeth A. Lynn, who is way more forgotten than she should be, given that she has a couple of recent books.

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