Monday, July 28, 2008

Stop Using Wikipedia

I'm sick of people siting Wikipedia--for anything. Wikipedia is not an authoritative site; the information is not peer reviewed, meaning that what you're reading could be inaccurate. In fact, there are people who make a hobby out of changing random articles in Wikipedia, changing dates and "facts." Most professors I've come across wouldn't accept Wikipedia as a reliable source, because IT ISN'T.

So look elsewhere for credible information, especially when you need to reinforce a point you've made.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Finished The Dreamers

Okay, so I just finished The Dreamers and thought I would post a mini-review of it (well, mini-ish). Basically, I couldn't wait to finish it, but since I had already started it I figured I would just finish it, and when I did my reaction was exclaiming "Finally" as I chucked it across the room. How is this a best-seller?? I mean, it's exactly like the previous books David (and Leigh) Eddings has written. And by the time I got to the end, it was a deus ex machina, basically a big "Fuck you, none of this happened after all, haha," to the readers because the gods went back in time and prevented all of the events ever happening. So I ask, WHY EVEN WRITE THE BOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE? If you're going to spend the time to write a story only to take it back by the end, why even bother? Oh wait, you want your money. So now, David Eddings, you have become the Dean Koontz of fantasy. I once would have worshiped you, but now you've pissed me off.

I encourage people to stay away from The Dreamers, since if you have already read The Belgariad or The Redemption of Althalus you've essentially already read The Dreamers. I can't believe I made it through: the prose was uninventive, the characters were the same old reused ones we've seen before, and the story line was the same: start at point A, achieve point B--but then wait!--never mind, I take it all back. I want to know who loved this series, and why. Seriously, if you loved this series, you tell me how it was amazing and best-seller worthy--how was it different from what David Eddings has already given us?

Meanwhile, I'm going to find something else to read, and hopefully it won't infuriate me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Sexism of David Eddings

Okay, so I am a huge fan of David (and Leigh) Eddings, but I’ve recently discovered some things about their work that has me outraged (and my personality loves it when I’m outraged, so here we go).

I’ve read almost everything by the Eddings’s (The Belgariad and Mallorean consisting of five books each, plus Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress, The Redemption of Althalus, and more recently the four books of The Dreamers, so you can safely say that I’m a devout follower of their work).

Being a feminist ultimately means that I cannot avoid tearing apart popular culture—which means I annoy my boyfriend pretty much every time we see a movie or watch a t.v. show because I like to point out sexist and racist rhetoric. So I will now vent in a blog. Hooray.

Anyway, as much as I love David Eddings, I have been reading The Dreamers and have noticed a pattern with the Eddings’ work. His female characters are pretty much the same. Polgara, Ara, Dweia—they’re all the same, just different names and hair color. Oh, way to go on making characters unique. But it gets worse. Much worse. These women are the most powerful characters in the stories, but the stories are never about them because even though they’re powerful, they’re somehow limited so that they still need a man to fulfill some prophecy, win some war, or whatever. These women are just there to protect and raise the men (basically mother figures), but when it comes to the real fight or work, the men step in. But wait, there’s more. These women are all described as stunning—they’re beauty is so great that men are willing to do the hard work for them, but their beauty is always partnered with their cooking skills. They are goddesses, mothers of the universe, and powerful sorceresses, but nothing can match their power over food! Any time one of the male characters notes the woman’s beauty, it is almost always followed by another male character complimenting her cooking. And I would say these comments appear quite often—just about every time the female in question makes an appearance to alert the men that dinner is ready.

The women characters also seem to follow structured gender roles (or assumptions) in the way they speak or act. I love the stories, but I have to roll my eyes every time one male character whines about how the women get together and talk about clothes and hair. Really?? There’s major shit happening in the world: bad people are threatening the West, the world could be destroyed, and invasions of bug-people must be stopped. WHY WOULD THE WOMEN CHAT ABOUT HAIR AND CLOTHES????? I think what makes it worse is that David Eddings’s wife, Leigh Eddings, co-writes some of these books, and consults on all of them. I wonder if she just ignores these things, or if she’s the one that says, “Hmmm, the men are hungry dear. Better have that powerful and fearsome sorceress whip up some dinner. Can’t save the world without a hot meal, now can we?”

I just got to a part of the fourth book in The Dreamers series, where the army was moving too slow, so the most powerful woman (creator of the gods and goddesses and planets, and the whole freakin’ universe) went ahead of the army and lured them up the mountains with smells of her food. Why not conjure up a lightning storm and zap some motivation into their slow asses? I mean, in the previous book she sent a flaming tornado through a gorge to torch the entire opposing army of bad people!

So, I ask, is David Eddings sexist, or is he of that older generation that grew up with set ways that cannot be changed, and is his wife in the same boat?

I cannot deny that the Eddings’s have been very influential to me, since I’ve been reading their books for years, but I’ve reached a point where I read one of their books now and stop and think how I could make it better, stronger, less sexist, more empowering, and overall a story that carries more depth. As much as I love the stories, I feel that each one has the same characters (even the men follow the same patterns of tough leaders—and they all have the same voice and sense of humor—it gets really tedious after awhile. It’s similar to reading a Piers Anthony novel of Xanth; I mean, we all love the puns, but there are so many that we can’t help rolling our eyes after awhile). I’m certainly not trying to discourage anyone from reading these books, but please tell me I’m not the only person annoyed by this.

I just find it all irritating. Thank god for China MiĆ©ville, right? If there is sexism, I can’t tell. All his characters are individuals, and just when you think there might be a pattern, MiĆ©ville changes it up until you can’t predict anything. Now that’s a writer.

I have yet to read The Elenium, and I’m hoping it will redeem their credibility. I just wish they could break the mold, but so far they all follow the same formula.

If the writers most famous in the fantasy genre are ones with these sorts of gender roles, how am I going to survive? Piers Anthony is another one: in Zombie Lover the men are continually mesmerized by the power of boobs, usually to the point where they can’t speak until the boobs are concealed. Give me a fucking break.

Questions and comments are appreciated and encouraged. I’m stuck here and am dying to have an intellectual conversation with someone.