More Hugos, Selkie romances, Star Wars, the sexual doublestandard and some bad news

It’s another of those awfully hot and humid days, so here is a linkdump for your pleasure:

At File 770, there is a detailed breakdown of the Hugo voting stats. Dan Wells also does some detailed analysis.

James Scott Bell has a great post on dialogue as a weapon at Writer Unboxed.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books point out this detailed analysis of the subsubgenre of paranormal romance known as Selkie romances at Bitch Magazine. This article immediately went into the PhD bibliography.

Joe Konrath, thriller author and indie publishing guru, has gotten some flak for the fact that some of his books contain sex scenes and now wonders why more people have issues with sex scenes than with explicit violence.

At Tor.com, Ryan Britt explains what is good about the prequels and bad about the original Star Wars films. Some interesting points there.

I agree that Obi Wan is a much better character in the prequels, particularly since I never liked him much in the originals. And it’s always been pretty obvious that the Jedi Council is as much responsible for Anakin turning to the Dark Side as Palpatine, since pretty much every member of the Jedi Council except Obi Wan proves himself (and they are all men) to be completely emotionally tone-deaf. The entire Star Wars series, both prequels and originals, makes much more sense if you accept that the Jedi are not the solution but part of the problem.

I disagree about the love triangle in the original trilogy, though. For starters, that love triangle exists only in the heads of Luke and Han who spend a lot of time vying for the attentions of Leia. There never is any love triangle as far as Leia is concerned, because she has only eyes for Han from the moment she meets him. She likes Luke a lot, but there’s never any sexual or romantic interest from her side. The quick kiss in A New Hope is really just for luck, while the kiss at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back is clearly intended to make Han jealous, which is obvious to everyone except Luke and Han. Chewie even makes a snarky remark in that scene. This also explains Leia’s “Yes, I know. I’ve always known somehow.” reaction to Luke telling her that they are brother and sister. She’s not so much shocked, but relieved to finally have an explanation for the fact that she never felt sexually attracted to Luke.

As for why neither Yoda nor Obi Wan feel the need to tell Luke he has a sister and prevent possible incest, Obi Wan dies too early and Yoda does not much care about incest. Jedi celibacy and inadequate sex education in the Star Wars universe aside, Yoda knows very well where little Jedi come from and what happens when you get the right people with the right midichlorians together. After all, it’s Yoda who assigns Anakin to protect Padme (even though Anakin has had a crush on her since early childhood and putting the two together without supervision is a recipe for disaster), because Yoda knows what might happen and he doesn’t mind.

Urban fantasy writer Rob Thurman is in hospital in critical condition following a car crash. I’m a big fan of Ms. Thurman’s novels. Rob Thurman is the best SFF writer you’re not reading and her Leandros Brothers series is my favourite among the books I may never have discovered if not for the PhD. Since then I’ve been recommending her to everyone who might be remotely interested. Just two days ago, I persuaded my Mom to read Nightlife, the first Leandros Brothers novel, and she’s already hooked.

So leave well wishes at her blog and read Nightlife, if you’re not familiar with her work.

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10 Responses to More Hugos, Selkie romances, Star Wars, the sexual doublestandard and some bad news

  1. Mutie says:

    relieved to finally have an explanation for the fact that she never felt sexually attracted to Luke…so people need a good reason to not want Hamill…??

  2. As it happens, one of my first major essays was a discussion of how primitive and regressive Lucas’ worldview is: We Must Love One Another or Die.

    • Pressed “send” accidentally! Also, the tolerance of US culture for violence while it gets instant vapors for any type/length of sex is well-entrenched. Keeps entire swathes of art at 12-year-old boy level (which includes Star Wars).

      • Cora says:

        Never mind about the accidental “send”, your comment came through clear.

        And as someone who actually teaches 12-year-old boys (and girls), I agree that the entire SFF community often seems to have the attitudes of 12-year-old boys towards sexuality.

    • Cora says:

      That’s a very good essay.

      When I came into contact with the larger SFF community on the internet, I was amazed how many people swallowed the whole Jedi philosophy or what passes for it hook, line and sinker, because it has always been very obvious to me that the Jedi are just as misguided and wrong as the Sith. I have no idea how anybody can not see them that way, considering they keep lying to Luke, tell him it’s wrong to be angry and afraid, when Luke has every reason to feel angry and afraid, and tell him to sacrifice his friends for some abstract ideal.

      Of course, I have always been suspicious of the wise old mentor archetype. Growing up in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s made you automatically suspicious of old people, because you could never know what they had done between 1933 and 1945. So Obi Wan or Gandalf for that matter or most incarnations of Merlin automatically triggered my “Don’t trust them, they’re probably lying” switch. However, the Star Wars hexalogy actually confirms my prejudices, because old men in Star Wars are really not trustworthy. Yoda is Palpatine’s opposite in every way and the fact that he is the sort of cute critter you just want to cuddle makes him even more devious. Never mind that he is an awful teacher (speaking as one myself) who is completely unable to notice when his students are in emotional distress.

      And of course, the Jedi constantly violate their own rules. Mace Windu attacks a seemingly unarmed Palpatine and tries to kill him, while Anakin stands by and cries “But you cannot do that. It’s against the rules you’re constantly going on about.” Most Jedi don’t really care about the celibacy rule either. Yoda definitely knows where the little human Jedi come from and makes sure that there will be more, even at the price of incest. Qui Gon is clearly aiming to have his own little illicit Jedi family with Anakin and his mother, which would probably have prevented a lot of problems later on, if Anakin had been allowed to grow up in a stable family with his mother. Obi Wan is most likely a gay man so deeply closeted he truly believes that his lack of desire for women is due to the Jedi celibacy oath (though hardcore Star Wars fans generally blow up at the mere suggestion). I never bought the virgin birth by midichlorians either – far more likely that Anakin was the product of a traveling Jedi having a fling with a local woman and then wiping her mind in the morning (another suggestion that drives hardcore Star Wars fans up the wall).

      I also hear you on the women of Star Wars. What initially drew me to the original films was that Leia was feminine and at the same time totally awesome. She was definitely a lot more impressive than Luke, which also made it deeply unfair that neither Obi Wan nor Yoda show any interest in her at all. In fact, the biggest surprise for me about the prequels was that there were female Jedi, because based on the original trilogy I had expected that girls were not allowed to be Jedi for some stupid and contrived reason that probably had to do with menstruation, the ability to bear children and that the Jedi couldn’t be bothered to install women’s bathrooms.

      In fact, I have never been sure whether George Lucas is on the side of the Jedi or not (and the fact that he changes his opinions as often as he recuts his films doesn’t help either) and whether he recognizes what an inhuman society the Jedi have wrought along with Palpatine. There is clearly a lot of political anger simmering under the surface of both Star Wars trilogies, anger about the Vietnam/Watergate era US in the original and anger at the war of terror/Bush era US in the prequels, though it’s never quite clear whether it’s deliberate or wholly subconscious.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more, on all counts. Yoda and the Jedi were disasters in every dimension, no matter how you thought of them. And the dislike for regular humanity was palpable.

        I think Lucas changed as he got older — at the start he obviously identified with Luke (just the name alone says it all) but shifted with respect to the Jedi as he got older. In both stages, he still deeply dislikes women and men who like them.

        • Cora says:

          I used to think that Lucas had to like women on some level to create a character as awesome as Leia. And Padme was pretty awesome, too, pre Revenge of the Sith. But now I suspect that Leia’s awesomeness was purely accidental.

          • Except, as both you and I point out, Leia never gets trained to use her potential and Padmé literally and metaphorically disintegrates. You must also have noticed that none of the “female” Jedi are human. Plus this is a man who could not find a woman good enough to raise his kids.

            • Cora says:

              Leia was probably better off than Luke for not being trained. I strongly suspect that she got to have a better life with Han than Luke as virginal Jedi leader. Though it is disturbing that Obi Wan and Yoda never seemed to see any other purpose for her than as future Jedi incubator. Neither do the tie-in novels, which focus mainly on her kids (or did the last time I looked at them) and the male kids at that.

              Good point that none of the adult female Jedi are human, though I seem to recall spotting a few human girl Padawan. And of course, Leia’s and Han’s daughter in the tie-in novels doesn’t get to be a Jedi either.

              I don’t really want to make any assumptions about Lucas’ personal life (besides he used to be married to the editor of the original trilogy), but it is telling that he ended up living the Jedi family model as a single Dad with two adopted kids. It would be even more interesting whether the kids were adopted as babies or when older, because Jedi are not interested in changing diapers, considering that they only take children that are potty-trained and explicitly don’t keep orphaned baby Luke and Leia. After all, Obi Wan and Yoda could just as easily have taken a baby each.

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