Feb 062013

There’s got to be a band name somewhere between those two concepts. I saw a couple of links this morning that I felt deserved more than a tweet to pass on.

This gentleman went to the Playboy Mansion and “it was kinda depressing”. Yeah, that does seem like a weird, awkward atmosphere, but I don’t find it depressing. The pictures remind me of sex clubs — the not-at-all accidental cushioned locations, the baskets of toiletries, the colorful, tufted birds on the lawn…

If I were running an orgy mansion (and surely it is only a matter of time before I realize this dream), I’d want to go more in the “comfortable home” direction than “super-luxury hotel.” Super-luxury means worrying that some crazy sex move will end in sweeping a leg into a vase worth millions, and having to concern yourself with keeping body fluids off of unwashable fabrics.

Speaking of body fluids, shouldn’t there be baskets of condoms in an orgy mansion? Any sex club I’ve ever been in had them next to any fuck-on-able surface. My orgy mansion (I’m taking suggestions for names!) would be way better equipped than this, and have tasteful, inexpensive knickknacks. Also, books. Books everywhere. First, you can’t just fuck all the time, you need other things to do. Second, reading is sexy. I’d have regular reading salons where everyone would lounge and read to each other, which leads naturally to orgies.

Enough about orgies.

Rocket cats. Actually, rocket-propelled cats and birds in late period manuscripts. How was this a good idea? “I’ll attach a bag of fire to this cat, and it will run into a barn full of straw, thus exploding my enemies!” That’s a Michael-Bay-bad idea. These people have totes never tried to get a cat to do anything.

I was also struck by how the flames shooting out of the devices were conveniently not burning the tails of the cats or birds. Note to artists: cats with tails down like that aren’t stressed (ie, there’s no bag of fire strapped to their backs).

Feb 022013

alternately titled: 2013-02-02 14.17.05Isle of Dead Spacegirls*

So I read Isle of the Dead mostly because I’m dating two Zelazny fans who rightly want me to read more Zelazny, and what is polyamory even FOR if not to gather a wider range of book recs?

The prose is amazing: exploring ideas, playing with language. A grandiose epic of godhood and worldbuilding is framed in an action-driven story of petty personal jealousy and revenge. The main character, Frank Sandow, is this cool, anti-heroic worldbuilder who may or may not be literally inhabited by a god, and who smokes and drinks and deals and survives like a motherfucking rock star. And seriously, the writing is such a joy to read! In the same book, you get moons called Flopsus, Mopsus, and Kattontallus and descriptions like this:

“Dwelling beside a body of water is a tonic for the weary psyche. Sea smells, sea birds, seawrack, sands–alternately cool, warm, moist and dry–a taste of brine and the presence of the rocking, slopping bluegraygreen spit-flecked waters, has the effect of rinsing the emotions, bathing the outlook, bleaching the conscience.”

My favorite writing styles involve sentences that make me grin. This book has them, and is fun. On the other hand, though, I was bothered by it.

When I was about halfway through Isle, and talking with someone about the difficulty of finding video games I can relate to, I realized why I’ve mostly skipped reading the really great older sci-fi. It’s all men. I mean, it isn’t *all* men, obvs, but there’s just so much where women don’t exist as people. Modern bookshelves do a much better job of satisfying my desires as a reader, so that’s where I stay, and I’ve often felt like I’m not doing my duty as a proper fan, but I’m going to feel a lot less guilt about that from now on.

Characters in Isle are interesting, flawed, dynamic…. and all dudes. I wouldn’t so much call the women characters. There’s a space-courtesan at the beginning. Sandow’s spacesecretary gets to marry him** and then she gets to die — twice! — for his character development, and at the very end there’s an ex-lover of his who will die (a second time) unless he has enough positive character development to save her (spoiler: he does).

None of them are characters. They don’t have emotions, dreams, or fears like the men do. There’s nothing for me to relate to. Normally I’d be all over self-inserting with a spacewhore or a spacesecretary, but it would be like relating to a wind-up toy. There’s no hook. This is a story about a future where immortality and godhood are achievable — unless you’re like me, and then you’re there to fuck the people who get to do the cool stuff.

So yes, this is a great book, and no, I don’t particularly recommend it. As much as I like fucking people who do cool stuff, I also like to think I have a little more purpose in life than that.



*alternately-alternately titled: I guess I’m just going to use this blog to write about books I’m reading and post recipes that no one else needs, and you could probably read something about my mental state into that, or you could assume that I like my mental privacy as much as I like blogging.

** I had a tiny fit reading the scene where he recalls the beginning of their relationship, where she’s overeducated as a secretary, so he takes her in hand and manfully fixes/vintagizes her. (Part of me wants to take this not as a condemnation of educating women but as a condemnation of complications arising from modernization, which I can totally get behind, but I have to work to interpret it that way.) He falls in love with her and they get married and a few years later she dies. How did she feel about any of this? The reader has no idea, although Sandow’s recollections of male characters generally include some sketching of their emotional landscapes, so I don’t think this is a way of showing an indifference to people around him.