I think I need to place a moratorium on myself when it comes to using the word “problematic.” It’s so damn useful, but really, it’s gotta stop.* I can get by without this linguistic crutch! It’s simply a tic. Now, the Ginger Waif will go and do something soothing. Let’s see. Given the recent loss of the groundbreaking author and my mood to enjoy some dragons, I think I’ll delve into Pern. Relive high school a little. Carry on a tradition, too, since I inherited all the older books from my dad’s extensive sci-fi collection.

Dragons, flying on dragons, time travel, hey, a bard. And… and sexuality is a smell and rape is love and no woman who isn’t demure and childish/sexy (…what?) ever makes good and… Now, now, Ginger Waif, it was a different time. Why, considering the 60’s, she was perfectly progressive! By certain lax standards, anyway. She did improve later in life, and there are fun stories buried in the… Endless waves of impossibly messed-up gender-based tripe. I love my old-school pulp, but it’s so–

Maybe try another comfort read. Let’s go for some early Tanya Huff! An author who was ahead of her time; so much so that you don’t actually need to qualify her early books with the dates! And sure there’s a little squick, but I’ve already been over that in previous reviews and I think it probably does come down to character perspective, in the end. So I’ll just enjoy some nice, familiar Vicky Nelson. And wondering how on earth a writer ever came to be so hostile to journalism. Does the media ever do anything other than harass victims, cause panics, and interfere in active investigations? Sure, the popular media can be kind of awful about airing whatever’s most sensational, but is there a sympathetic journalist anywhere in this universe? And on a similar note, do all the police officers and military personnel need to be deified? In all the thousands of pages given over to the Canadian constabulary and the space marines, I think there are, what, two bad cops? And they… actually, completely fail to get their comeuppance. They just disappear. Did the system work? Or are they still out there somewhere in imaginary-90’s Toronto, planting evidence and brutalizing suspects? Is this actually an incredibly subtle commentary? Am I being hypercritical and assuming that just because a wrong isn’t addressed specifically, it’s tacitly approved? Maybe. Probably. But still, I find the slight authoritarian bent a little– Damn.

Do you really need to spend all that time on the rape, George R. R. Martin? Lesbianism doesn’t work that way, Christopher Moore. Dear entire genres of horror and comedy, agh! Terry Goodkind, I hate you and everything you love.

…No. I’m not giving up my word. There’ll never be anything worth reading that won’t contain some premise or idea that I can quibble with on some level. There’ll never be an author I agree with wholly. Hell, I can reread my own stuff going back a year or two and wonder what I was thinking. Some stories are too laden down with execrable ideas to enjoy, but even the best stories have their baggage, their questionable aspects, their betrayals of an author’s foibles. I’m sure my writing contains its own challenges and mistakes. And hell, while I consider my idea of right to be pretty well-considered, there are certainly other opinions out there. I never want to be blinded to new or even disturbing ideas in my fiction, and I seldom want to tar a whole story with the brush of WRONG. (Unless it’s that thing where Orson Scott Card made Hamlet’s dad a child predator because gay is caused by Satan. Fuck that book and fuck Card for writing it. And Ender’s Game isn’t even that good. Yeah, I said it.) I can’t think of a better word to address concerns appropriately without bogging down reflections of the literary merits. Problematic. It’s here to stay.

*Except when my food is problematic. That is an opinion I will always and forever voice. Or until someone figures out how to eat a gyro without a chest-high table, rolled-up sleeves, and a lot of luck.


2 responses to “Problematic

  1. When did Orson Scott Card write about Hamlet? I’m surprised I missed that one, unless it came out after my middle-school Card phase. (Would it be a Scott Card phase? Is Scott his middle name or his last?)

  2. If you wrap the gyro in tinfoil and do it well enough that the bottom doesn’t leak, then unwrap the top carefully as you eat (perhaps ripping the tinfoil to shreds in the process), you can usually get down to the bottom two inches relatively unscathed, and if you’re lucky, down to everything but chasing loose bits of pita bread out of crumply tinfoil with your tongue/entire face.

    If you don’t believe me, I’ll point out that gyros were a fairly standard lunch for mom and I to get when I would visit her at the downtown office she no longer works at. (Okay, often they were actually falafel sandwiches. But it’s much the same.)

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