Thursday, November 19, 2009

If I Could Stab A Book And Make It Bleed

I mentioned in a comment how Eon: Dragon Eye (also called The Two Pearls Of Wisdom - and where I am now currently paused at pg 295) was reading as:

[Mr. Movie Guy Voice: : In a land where women have no power, one courageous girl will find the strength to bear the hopes of a nation on her shoulders. Hidden as a boy she will reach for power and reclaim the hidden mysteries lost for ages, once dedicated to the Moon. Powers meant to balance, the drive of the Sun, and meant to be wielded by a female; DRAGONEYE!]

Insertion of trailer images along with voice over:

(In a land )
Women with eyes downcast as they walk in a market.

(where women have no power )
Women with eyes downcast in a harem, as a prince (whose face we cannot see) walks among them while they're bowed down before him.

(one courageous girl )
The naked back of a young woman with white bindings going around to hide her breasts

(will find the strength)
Image of the same slender young woman (recognizable by hair style), now with swords in a martial arts pose on a sand arena.

(to bear the hopes)
Image of shuffling bruised and beaten looking men with symbolic resistance totem.

(of a failing)
Image of s cruel looking man being suave with the handsome Prince (whose face we now see)

(nation )
Image of previous cruel, rich looking man on a horse whipping at the previous bruised men

(Hidden as a boy)
Transwoman in generic asian courtesan clothing putting on make-up (an established cliche of 'putting on the feminine') with the hidden-girl boy watching, possibly with envy

(she will reach for power)
SFX: Girl bracing against wind as a red dragon manifests somehow around her

(and reclaim the hidden mysteries)
Another harem scene, where hiddengirl-boy, as boy, is obviously being mentored somehow by the same transwoman and other harem ladies, with a flash of calligraphy on paper. Non hero women are obviously gossiping as hiddengirl-boy looks a little out of her depth.

(lost for ages)
Image of a majestic 'Asian' building consumed by fire as people scramble to put it out, fading into centuries old ruins

(Once dedicated to the Moon)
Image of a half moon, then moonlit stark garden with a form going through some slow form of martial arts with smoke like silver energy trails following the figure's hands

(Powers meant to balance)
A council chamber with handsome prince and hidden-girl boy in rich clothing, each sharing not quite definable looks of alliance with each other against gesticulation and arguing by others.

(the drive of the Sun)
Return of the cruel look man, interacting with the most enraged looking cruel man from the council chamber scene, both looking down on some kind of war map

(and meant to be wielded)
More martial arts forms in slow movement, hiddengirl-boy training with a master and another student (in similar clothing) but with hidden-boy girl having more SFX of energy manipulation powers

(by a female; DRAGONEYE!)
Semi longing look of hiddengirl-boy at the back of handsome prince while hiddengirl-boy is going through a set of doors. Counter shot of the other side of another set of doors with hiddengirl-boy in a private large baths style setting with hair down and wet, eyes very feminine, arms across chest in a sort of martial arts pose, but really all about hiding nipplage. Looking furious, and more SFX with water whirling and a red dragon coiled around or behind her preparing to kick the ass of the invasive, likely military bath crashers.

Title Screen. 'Asianic' Music Creshendo


If you've read all the way down to here you might be able to tell that I'm about to 'get myself in trouble' or perhaps we could call it just being me by criticizing a book I have not finished.

Having not been impressed by the plot or the formula, I went to the author's website to look up the research she refers to in that author's note in the backpages. She looked at books on martial arts, took a tai chi class, looked at books on feng shui and chinese astrology, horoscopes, and concepts of good luck, looked at a book on eunuchs and then, listed under 'Sensory Research' went to several museumsin Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore and was recommended two books on Chinese culture. Oh yes and ate food.

I'm hard. It's known I'm hard. So I'm going to say straight up, that there is nothing in the book that could not be transplanted to Europe. Moon cycles with 13 months in the year, ley lines, druids as the 'Mystic Lords' helping to ensure fertility of the land, even the way people treat the mentally and physically disabled.

So to me, making it an asian fantasy land, is all about props; chopsticks and hairpins and silk and harems. I mean she's got a little Americas First Nations 'Two Spirits' in there, for Trans identification, so why focus on asian accouterments? So it would look less like Mists of Avalon? Seriously it is very much reminding me of The Nightingale Floor. Though I suppose I did not give that book due acknowledgment for utilizing hidden Not!Christian villages and researching temples of Japanese fortresses so well. I was just too upset that the replacement Samurai could easily have been Templars and Lord types.

I'm likely not explaining myself well, I get very upset when I see another culture poured like dressing on salad. And given that there are no physical descriptions that explicitly say Chinese or general Asian in 'Dragoneye' it is too easy to imagine many readers visualizing white heroes in an asian world.

I got a stomach cramp the moment I saw the book was up for some school lit award in Texas.

I picked the book up. I borrowed even knowing the author was white and that there was no bibliography on the back pages. I could have borrowed more Detective Chen, where shifting the characters to a white western setting would change darn near everything. It would be a different tale with different philosophies and relationships.

Is it really that difficult for a white writer who wants to set a tale in a fantasy minority culture to think about locking the story into the setting and making it unable to exist if the places and people aren't meshed? This story could not happen anywhere else but, and could not have any other hero than one who grew up here and experienced this kind of life. Is that really so difficult?

You know what? What am I saying. I'm acting like people want to be challenged rather than use the 'exotic' to get paid.

The upset is mine. The disappointment is mine. The lesson learned - mine. Heck the fact I kept reading even after mentions of braids, concubines and tea is my fault.

I really need to stop having any sort of hope what so ever of finding new fantasy authors, who're white, who won't make me want to burn things.

ETA: I just realized a large part of my anger and upset is because the page on research doesn't just have surface skims of Chinese culture. But there's nothing there on physical disability, cognitive disability, or trans issues and historical acceptance within certain cultures.

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