Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

The Distinction

Today’s guest post is from Ian over at Writing Fantasy who never fails to turn the wheels in my head every time he speaks. Someday I will ask him about what it must be like to live life with a 45lb. brain on your shoulders.

I prefer to write Fantasy, but I enjoy Sci Fi as well. Now Sci Fi is not the same thing as Fantasy. The distinction is small, and in some stories it’s blurred, but it’s there.

The best and most succinct explanation of the difference that I’ve ever heard is this:

“Sci Fi is what could be but isn’t.
Fantasy is what can’t be but is.”

I believe it was Orson Scott Card who said this but I can’t prove it. If anyone knows if it was indeed Mr. Card, or if you know who did say it, please let me know. If I happen to be lucky enough to have made it up without realizing it then I claim it as mine, but I doubt I did.

The difference is Sci Fi uses science to explain its impossibilities and Fantasy uses magic. The two genres have more in common then then not. And yet I’ve heard of infighting amongst the geeks and nerd ranks. Contention rages about the validity of Sci Fi over Fantasy or vice versa. Arguments that one is better than the other abound.

Brothers and sisters (assuming there are any girl geeks out there, I’ve yet to find any) please put this bad blood which runs between our two great genres aside. They are both capable of greatness and culpable of … ungreatness. But there are those who would deride us all of our place in the world. Those who view both genres as dross. The enemy is out there, let us not do their work for them. Besides if Sci Fi and Fantasy really were to clash one with the other I think we all know who would win.

Huh… I didn’t expect that. Although it may look bad now, this knight is totally gonna kick this space ranger’s butt. Trust me, because in Fantasy we got magic.

for more of Ian, be sure to stop by Writing Fantasy.

Kathrine Stockett’s The Help

Thank you so much Sharla of Winter Write for giving me this book! I absolutely loved it!

Stockett weaves this story through the voices of three very different women:

Minny-a pillar-of-strength, no-nonsense woman who’s mastery of the kitchen regularly prevents her from loosing jobs due to her constant need to speak her mind.

Aibileen-surrogate mother to 17+ white children. After decades of waiting on white families she looses her only family, her son, when his white employers fail to see that he receives proper medical care following a farm accident. After this “a bitter seed is planted deep in her heart,” and she struggles to come to terms with the rules of her world.

Miss Skeeter-a young, freethinker who–at 22-years-old–holds a bachelors degree in one hand, but will fail to impress her mother until she has a ring on the other.

Upon returning home from college to find that her own, beloved maid has suddenly disappeared and those who know why are too afraid to answer her questions, Skeeter starts to see some of the injustices of her world and way of life. So after assembling a great deal of courage, Skeeter, Minny, and Aibileen set out to do their part to end the injustice by publishing a book filled with the stories of southern black maids.

It was good to hear, from an inside perspective, about life in the South during the 1960’s. For some time I’ve held on to all kinds of questions about that culture and time. This book answered many of them.

It blows my mind that after 20 or 30 years of work, a black maid can only dream of earning minimum wage. I wonder at the complexity of the love/hate relationship between a black maid and the white woman who is helpless without her, but feels superior to her nonetheless.

I marveled at the Catch22 of a black maid raising up white children—sometimes with more love and care than their own parents—knowing that eventually these white children would become white adults and learn to debase her for her race and profession. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this situation is that the black maid must give so much to the care of a white family that her own family must go neglected. Her own children must forfeit the attention of their mother, because she is bound to someone else’s children.

My favorite part of this book must be contrasted against the prevailing facades, hypocrisy, and dishonesty of the white folk in this book. Aibileen tends a young girl who longs for her mother’s approval but goes largely ignored and brokenhearted, because her mother is too caught up in the foolishness of her society to provide attention for her daughter.

In a most loving and unselfish way, Aibileen finds the quiet moments to whisper in her ear that she is a special girl, a smart girl; a girl who can be confident and do great things. I just love Aibileen (and the real woman who inspired her character) for giving such a valuable gift to someone who could easily make her life miserable later. My hope is that instilling that little girl with confidence will help her make her own choices about race someday and not just parrot her parents’ views.

It’s clear that Stockett knew her characters well. She does a brilliant job of giving each woman her own distinct voice, heart, and feelings. I appreciate the clear view she provided of everyone in this book. I sympathized with all different perspectives: black maid, white southern belle, white trash, and redneck.

Kristin Cashore’s Graceling

**spoiler alert**
gracelingI was sucked in immediately. I always appreciate a strong female character, and Graceling didn’t disappoint on that front. I loved the relationships between her and the other characters. All characters and relationships were different, and all were delightful in their own way.

All the same, it bugged me that she never settled into herself. Like many good protagonists do, she goes on a journey about self-discovery that is beautiful, and complex, and totally fun to follow. Then at the end, when she’s mostly figured herself out, instead of making the sacrifices necessary to be with the one she loves, in order to grow together with him, she decides that she’s going to continue her journey alone and basically kicks his butt back to his house.

To be fair, she announces her intentions to never tie herself to anyone, all through the book. I thought that once she didn’t need to focus on herself so much that she might be able to give to someone else. I guess I was just hoping for a less selfish ending to an otherwise delightful book.