Dresden Files Storm Front Ch6

Last time, a pub and misogyny.

Mister was nowhere to be seen when I got home, but I left the food in his dish anyway. He would eventually forgive me for getting home late.

I’m pretty sure we haven’t been told who “Mister” is yet. It’s his cat, who he apparently feeds people food. Aside from this being absurdly expensive, it’s not even healthy for the cat. They need to eat more than just steak, you know. Another point for Harry’s money problems being entirely his own fault.

Harry is just ducking in to grab some fairy bait:

fresh-baked bread with no preservatives, honey, milk, a fresh apple, a sharp silver penknife, and a tiny dinner set of a plate, bowl, and cup that I had carved myself from a block of teakwood.

He then tells us the blue beetle he drives is not blue because he’s had to have the doors and hood replaced, all in different colors since 1940s parts are rare, and also apparently he doesn’t understand that one can paint cars twice. Harry then gushes about how great it is his mechanic never asks questions, despite the fact I assume anyone dealing with Harry quickly learns it’s not worth it to try.

He drives toward the lake house, informing us of how exclusive and pricey the community is and how this guy must’ve been making a ton of money, because the fact they have a second house on lakefront property didn’t tip him off.

The house was not a large one, by the standards of the rest of the Lake Providence community. Built on two levels, it was a very modern dwelling-a lot of glass and wood that was made to look like something more synthetic than wood by the way it had been smoothed and cut and polished.

But…the whole point of making your house actual wood is to advertise you can afford actual wood. I mean, for outdoor stuff, synthetic is actually more expensive than the usual softwoods, but it’s still looked down upon, and pine also is, so you might as well use regular modern materials. If they’re trying that hard to fake it, it’d suggest their finances aren’t nearly as good as they’d like (and may in fact be in debt from spending money to look like they have it).

Also, I’m really struggling to picture a situation where wood, a thing traditionally cut into shapes, sanded, and polished, would look synthetic as a result of what we’ve been doing to wood for thousands of years.

First impressions are important, and I wanted to listen to what my instincts said about the house. I stopped for a long moment and just stared up at it.
My instincts must have been holding out for another bottle of Mac’s ale. They had little to say, other than that the place looked like a pricey little dwelling that had hosted a family through many a vacation weekend.

Later, he’s going to use his wizard sight on the exact same place and get smacked in the face with evil. Why doesn’t he do that now? Possibly because the author hadn’t even realized that would be a thing, it really does come out of nowhere when he finally turns it on and doesn’t have any impact on the plot.

On the grass beneath the deck something red gleamed, and I went beneath the deck to retrieve it. It was a plastic film canister, red with a grey cap, the kind you keep a roll of film in when you send it in to the processors.

You see, children, back in 2000, people used to use a primitive picture-taking apparatus that worked by exposing a segment of chemical-covered piece of plastic to light for a second, causing it to change color. These pieces of plastic would then be taken to a “darkroom” and treated in another chemical bath to “fix” the colors and prevent them from changing when they were next exposed to light. They were referred to as “negatives”, due to the fact their colors were reversed, and used to create copies of the actual correctly colored image by reversing the colors again. In previous eras people would have their own darkrooms, but by the year 2000, the ancients had developed a high degree of sophistication and would have commercial enterprises specializing in this process. The “plastic film canister” was commonly used to deliver a “roll of film” without exposure.

Nowadays, of course, the photographer would simply have used a digital camera and left behind no evidence.

Film canisters were good for holding various ingredients I used, sometimes.

Although the days of “film” are long past, you may have seen “film canisters” in your daily life. Once upon a time, they were extremely common due to their necessity in photography and the fact they were rarely recycled, leading to many people repurposing them for other projects. Some of these uses remained even after the extinction of the primitive chemical photography that first created “film canisters”, and even today you can cheaply buy “film canisters” for various uses.

(This is way more complicated than you need, just making the film canister explode over and over is fine.)

The place didn’t look much like a family dwelling, really. It looked like a rich man’s love nest

He’s repeatedly mentioned there’s a basketball court area, which is the most family-thing I can think of.

He checks the doors to find them locked, and explains that It’s bad juju to go tromping into people’s houses uninvited. One of the reasons vampires, as a rule, don’t do it-they have enough trouble just holding themselves together, outside of the Nevernever. It isn’t harmful to a human wizard, like me, but it can really impair anything you try to do with magic.

This is a really good magic rule, although I’m pretty sure it doesn’t come to anything.

Harry then does some legit detectiving, noting that the trash cans are empty and they’re by the house, suggesting someone put them out to be collected and then retrieved them, since otherwise they’d be left out. The problem with this reasoning is I can’t see why this couldn’t have happened last month or whenever – seeing recent drag marks seems like it’d be much more relevant.

Anyway, he now decides to catch a fairy.

I swept an area of dirt not far from the lakeshore clear of leaves and sticks, and took the silver knife from the backpack. Using the handle, I drew a circle in the earth, then covered it up with leaves and sticks again, marking the location of the circle’s perimeter in my head. I was careful to focus in concentration on the circle, without actually letting any power slip into it and spoil the trap. Then, working carefully, I prepared the bait by setting out the little cup and bowl. I poured a thimbleful of milk into the cup and daubed the bowl full of honey from the little plastic bear in my backpack.
Then I tore a piece of bread from the loaf I had brought with me and pricked my thumb with the knife.
In the silver light of the moon, a bit of dark blood welled up against the skin, and I touched it daintily to the underside of the coarse bread, letting it absorb the blood. Then I set the bread, bloody side down, on the tiny plate.

:D magic

There’s far too little ritual magic in fantasy stories.

Harry then goes on to talk about the power of names again, and how the specific issue of letting a wizard know your name is that it gives similar power as having a part of their body to strengthen the spell. (Which in turn suggests letting a wizard know your name isn’t a big deal given how easy it is to get hair these days, but let’s just assume the name is a supercharged version of that.) Then he explains that magic involves lots of circles.

Drawing a circle sets a local limit on what a wizard is trying to do. It helps him refine his magic, focus and direct it more clearly. It does this by creating a sort of screen, defined by the perimeter of the circle, that keeps random magical energy from going past it, containing it within the circle so that it can be used. To make a circle, you draw it out on the ground, or close hands with a bunch of people, or walk about spreading incense, or any of a number of other methods, while focusing on your purpose in drawing it. Then, you invest it with a little spark of energy to close the circuit, and it’s ready.
One other thing such a circle does: It keeps magical creatures, like faeries, or even demons, from getting past it. Neat, huh? Usually, this is used to keep them out. It’s a bit trickier to set up a circle to keep them in. That’s where the blood comes into play. With blood comes power. If you take in some of someone else’s blood, there is a metaphysical significance to it, a sort of energy. It’s minuscule if you aren’t really trying to get energy that way (the way vampires do), but it’s enough to close a circle.

This is reasonable but…well, just lackluster, and fails to tie into the bit about not going uninvited into homes.

The power of circles is the power of thresholds and boundaries and divisions. You can see this all across humanity – the idea of vampires not being allowed to enter is the same as the Jewish beliefs about temple boundaries is the same as Shinto shrines having torii that function as entrances even though they’re erected in the middle of an open area. Why do fairies live under hills? Because caves are a powerful division – from air to earth, light to dark, up to down, and where is that more obvious than to go under a hill rather than over it? (This may even be tied into an underlying glitch in how we think – if you’ve ever walked out of a room and forgotten why, it’s because our brains do a quick reset whenever we enter a new area, like a videogame loading. Modern life is full of travel between various tiny areas, so we’ve become relatively used to it, but for most of our existence, areas were enormous and the divisions were more along the lines of “inside hut” and “flat plain under the sky”.)

The magician’s circle is the creation and imposition of your own boundaries rather than being bound by existing ones, and what could be more magic than that?

So, to construct a modern magic out of an instinctive sense boundaries are a meaningful and downright mystical concept, I’d say that the circle is about ownership. You can define an area as yours and, as it’s much smaller than an area like a house and far more distinctly marked, you can exert significantly more control. Tie it into runes and say that also you can write rules of how things work into the circle itself to channel the energy in a particular direction.

The circle Harry makes, then, would be a circular area that functions under slightly different rules than the world outside. As a mushroom fairy ring is “basically our world, but a weak point into the fairy dimension”, so a fairy-catching circle would get defined as “basically our world, but a fairy can’t exit”. In this particular situation it’s actually trapped to only trigger after the fairy enters, so his appears to be “basically our world, but a fairy can’t cross the boundary”. That seems fitting for a trap that doesn’t seem to require much energy – circles that just rely on defining entrance/exit take no real energy, while circles that want to change major laws of physics (“basically our world, but I can move up and down by thinking about it”) would take a lot of energy and need to be very precisely constructed).

Harry then calls a fairy’s name to lure him in, saying he’s only using a bit of power something that would be subtle enough to make him wander this way of his own accord. I think the idea is that he’s not abusing his power because it’s just a nudge, but what’s actually written is he’s being delicate to better manipulate the fairy.

Toot loved bread and milk and honey-a common vice of the lesser fae. They aren’t usually willing to take on a nest of bees to get to the honey, and there’s been a real dearth of milk in the Nevernever since hi-tech dairy farms took over most of the industry. Needless to say, they don’t grow their own wheat, harvest it, thresh it, and then mill it into flour to make bread, either.

I tried googling, but I can’t find any research on the reasoning for fairy foods, so we’ll just have go to go on what obvious associations I’ve worked out. Fairy food factors seem to be along the lines of what food disappears (a bowl of milk “disappears overnight” an awful lot when you have barn cats) and what seems like an obvious treat to us (humans have been getting stung for honey since about when we figured out there was honey in there). Bread, I think, is mostly to be a substrate for the two liquids, plus it’s a common food and often tied to kinship or hospitality.

But! If real fairies, why would they like these three things? Well, it’s interesting that all three of them are marks of civilization. While we tend to think of honey as a wild food, it’s really not – if you’re a hunter/gatherer, your access to honey is about on par on your access to milk. Bees are farmed too, and that’s why we have honey to spare. Plus, an integral part of bee farming is calming them with smoke, and the ability to create, control and manipulate fire is second only in importance to walking upright in human history.

We’ll find out shortly that fairies are also super into pizza, which doesn’t exactly contradict this reasoning but is presented as a huge shock, as if pizza dough and bread dough have any meaningful differences, or cheese and milk. Fairies should like caramels more than honey, too, and they probably would appreciate tiny plastic bowls over wood ones.

He catches the fairy, who’s really unhappy, and Harry keeps trying to get the fairy to hurry through the rant and threats because he’s in a rush.

“Time, time,” Toot complained. “Is that all you mortals can ever think about? Everyone’s complaining about time! The whole city rushes left and right screaming about being late and honking horns! You people used to have it right, you know.”
I bore the lecture with good nature. Toot could never keep his mind on the same subject long enough to be really trying, in any case.
“Why, I remember the folk who lived here before you pale, wheezy guys came in. And they never complained about ulcers or-” Toot’s eyes wandered to the bread and milk and honey again, and glinted.

I would suspect the “people who lived here before” complained an awful lot during the transition, what with the smallpox and the starvation and the rape. I also think they probably complained a lot in the years before about ordinary things like stomach pain (including from ulcers), because that’s a thing humans do.

One of the things it’s really important to do with your nonhumans is research what the actual situation is, not what “everyone knows” it is. If this was a modern human, their flippant assumption that back in the day Native Americans obviously had no ulcers which are all caused by our modern stressful lifestyle would still be bullshit, but you could argue that it’s also exactly what a character in their position would say. (I would then argue back that this is still contributing to the “everyone knows” problem.) Here, an immortal fairy is confirming that yes, white writer man, your assumptions are 100% right. This has the same root cause as Harry’s lovable scamp sexism – if you’re an author, you have to do more than take your first guess as absolute fact, or it produces a closed-in echo chamber of a universe that only reflects a single narrow viewpoint.

Having accepted he can’t get loose, our historically ignorant fairy finishes up the food.

“Very well,” he said, his tone lofty. “I have deigned to grant you a single request of some small nature, for the generous gift of your cuisine.”
I worked to keep a straight face. “That’s very kind of you.”
Toot sniffed and somehow managed to look down his little pug nose at me. “It is my nature to be both benevolent and wise.”
I nodded, as though this were a very great wisdom. “Uh-huh. Look, Toot. I need to know if you were around this place for the past few nights, or know someone who was. I’m looking for someone, and maybe he came here.”
“And if I tell you,” Toot said, “I take it you will disassemble this circle which has, by some odd coincidence no doubt, made its way around me?”
“It would be only reasonable,” I said, all seriousness.
Toot seemed to consider it, as though he might be inclined not to cooperate, then nodded. “Very well. You will have the information you wish. Release me.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Are you sure? Do you promise?”

I think the author thinks that the fairy’s “agreement” here means this isn’t coerced and Harry’s paid for the info fairly, despite the fact it’s obviously the fairy trying to save face rather than actually feeling this way, and the rest of the conversation follows in that pattern. Harry then hangs out and waits, saying that falling asleep would be a bad idea because nothing in the agreement said not to fuck Harry up after whispering the info in the general vicinity of his unconscious body.

And why doesn’t Harry just offer the milk and honey, things that are apparently of high value to fairies? Why not make a circle to keep fairies out, and say he’ll dispel it in return for info?

Because power. Offering someone something in return for doing your request isn’t good enough. Instead, Harry shows off how he’s smarter and strong than a fairy by forcing it to do what he wants.

The fairy returns to say that one of his fairy friends hanging out in a pizza truck saw it bring food to a collection of busily fucking mortals at the house yesterday.

I was beginning to think that Monica Sells was in denial.

Harry is just endlessly condescending. She gave good reasons to be anxious: a husband who’s lost his job, gotten into magic, and disappeared without a word. If it turned out her husband was actually just busy with a mistress, this would be a surprise – it’s certainly surprised Harry. But he insists on characterizing it as denial on her part.

Her husband wasn’t wandering around learning to be a sorcerer, spooky scorpion talismans notwithstanding. He was lurking about his love nest with a girlfriend, like any other husband bored with a timid and domestic wife might do under pressure. It wasn’t admirable, but I guess I could understand the motivations that could cause it.

Incidentally, to all the male writers out there: stop writing this sentence.

A) It’s not universal, it’s that you’re both jackasses and that’s why it seems so understandable to you, why does no one ever #notallmen about this shit?
B) Your readers can fill in that your character will “understand” just fine on their own. We’re read this enough before.

The only problem was going to be telling Monica. I had a feeling that she wasn’t going to want to listen to what I had found out.

Hm. Why, perhaps you should head there with a camera. You know, that thing actual private detectives actually use because they know wives would prefer proof they caught the husband cheating over “Uh, yeah, I totally followed him for three days straight and he’s cheating on you, now pay me two thousand dollars, okay?”

The man with the naked sword in his hands appeared out of the darkness without a warning rustle of sound or whiff of magic to announce his presence. He was tall, like me, but broad and heavy-chested, and he carried his weight with a ponderous sort of dignity.
Perhaps fifty years old, his listless brown hair going grey in uneven patches, he wore a long, black coat, a lot like mine but without the mantle, and his jacket and pants, too, were done in dark colors – charcoal and a deep blue. His shirt was crisp, pure white, the color that you usually only see with tuxedos. His eyes were grey, touched with crow’s-feet at the corners, and dangerous. Moonlight glinted off those eyes in the same shade it did from the brighter silver of the sword’s blade. He began to walk deliberately toward me, speaking in a quiet voice as he did.

Now that was a much better description than Johnny-boy’s. Why don’t I hear about how they’re fucking? Is it because he’s too old to be a big contender in the slash wars? Because come on, Harry is a ninety-year-old man.

“Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Irresponsible use of true names for summoning and binding others to your will violates the Fourth Law of Magic,” the man intoned. “I remind you that you are under the Doom of Damocles. No further violations of the Laws will be tolerated. The sentence for further violation is death, by the sword, to be carried out at once.”

Look, they’ve even got better foe-yay going on than Mr. Empty Refrigerator Tiger. On the other hand, this guy is apparently anti-coercion and clearly has a decent grasp of what consent actually means, while I assume Marcone’s all for dubconning everyone he can, which in many worlds would be a further point in the pairing’s favor but I suspect is a point against.


  1. GeniusLemur says:
    “Needless to say, they don’t grow their own wheat, harvest it, thresh it, and then mill it into flour to make bread, either.”
    This is one of the lines that really annoyed me. Harry/Jim: Just say they don’t make their own bread. We’re not impressed you can waste our time listing ever step in the whole damn process.
    1. Roarke says:
      Well, that’s not quite every step. There’s a bit more to it, as a matter of fact. He forgot about the water and salt, and also the oven (wood-burning, natch). I guess without yeast they’d have to make flatbread, too.
    2. Farla says:
      Some of this book reads a bit like a NaNo thing.
  2. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    So Dresden is also faintly uneasy about the Chicago Bauhaus movement.

    Keck & Keck buildings of the 1950s (.pdf) make me happy, as random fact-gathering in lieu of productive activity so often does: http://webfiles.architecture.org/lunchtalks/130306_Kunkel.pdf

    1. Farla says:
      Personally, I think he’s just sour-grapes about it. Nothing he’s said so far has made me believe he has any aesthetic sense – he doesn’t even know he can repaint his car! – but wizards who try to live in artificial-looking places probably have their houses explode every thirteen months or something.
      1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
        Now you have me thinking it’d be much more challenging if the sliding scale of tolerable technology were applied in a city with less past… say, Phoenix!

        The wizard community would have ended up in the barrio for much of the late 20th century, due to a lack of old-enough, habitable, affordable buildings anywhere else in the city. (We view the past with suspicion and tear it down as quickly as possible.) Now there would be a lifestyle to be noir about.

        1. Farla says:
          I’ve seen that done in passing with magical creatures (though never focused on much) and that could be really good for a low-magic urban setting. It means wherever humans move, magicians have to come by much later and try to wiggle into an established society, and that you can more or less keep magic out if you make sure to bulldoze anything over X years.

          Maybe having “historic buildings” is looked upon by the Phoenix crowd as like being proud you’re still shitting in your drinking water.

          1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
            The complexity you pick up in doing it with actual characters is that a well-written character would face ethical choices involved in living among the socio-economically struggling. You’re a consultant to the police… who hassle the neighbors you need to get along with if you want your car fixed and your bread baked.

            If you get out of the barrio by getting a deal on a bungalow in a gentrifying neighborhood, your neighbors hate you because you won’t modernize your house. But you may have access to the hipster bakery.

            1. Farla says:
              That sounds like both a great setting for a story and a balanced RPG.
  3. GeniusLemur says:
    So is there anything Harry learned with all the rigamarole with the Fairy and tiny utensils and magic ritual that he couldn’t have learned by talking to the neighbors a few minutes?
    1. Farla says:
      He learned fairies like pizza.
  4. EdH says:
    So Dresden isn’t just an insult to gender equality, he’s also a failure as a fictional detective. I mean, there’s only 2 rules, one being assume no coincidences, and the other no ruling things out. The fact he failed just makes him less tolerable.

    And I have mixed opinions on Morgan. Man’s a bit grating, but considering who he has to deal with, I can sympathize.

    1. Farla says:
      Examining the situation, while Morgan’s presented terribly I think he’s actually totally in the right. It’s just hard to see over Harry’s wailing about oppression.
  5. Anon says:
    “They aren’t usually willing to take on a nest of bees to get to the honey, and there’s been a real dearth of milk in the Nevernever since hi-tech dairy farms took over most of the industry. Needless to say, they don’t grow their own wheat, harvest it, thresh it, and then mill it into flour to make bread, either.”

    Uh, I’m genuinely curious: Why don’t fairies do any of that stuff? The faerie lands have queens and noble courts and everything, wouldn’t that suggest there are faerie peasants growing food as well? Or else where does all that special faerie food (that you’re absolutely not supposed to eat or you’ll be enslaved) come from?

    I suppose they could get it from the human world, but then I don’t know why they couldn’t just walk into a grocery store and pick up a jug of milk and a loaf of bread. And the answer that it’s “just magic” is incredibly unsatisfying.

    1. Farla says:
      Fairies don’t because either they’re inherently too “other” to quite grasp our civilization, or because they’re super lazy. A lot of fairy food is fruits, which hunter/gatherers can handle, and possibly the more powerful fairies are smart and bright enough to enslave human workers to make them all the bread they want.

      I suppose they could get it from the human world, but then I don’t know why they couldn’t just walk into a grocery store and pick up a jug of milk and a loaf of bread.

      Well, in a better story, the answer would be they can’t interact with metal, so they can’t get anywhere near most stores.

      Hm. It might be interesting to have a story where one of the signs of the fairy/human barrier weakening is that suddenly “people” are buying up all the milk.

    2. Ermine says:
      I think a lot of the magic faerie food of entrapment is actually just glamoured leaves and such, though, so they only have to know what it looks like.
    3. illhousen says:
      Well, the actual answer is “because fairies were invented to explain where the food disappears.”

      An in-universe answer… There is actually a strong theme in fairy myths about their fascination with human world. Take changelings, for example: fairies adore human babies while at the same time wanting their own babies to live in a human world.

      I like the idea found in some works that fairies are essentially ephemeral. Everything in their world is a lie to some degree, they lack substance and true reality. Eating food from the human world, however, makes them more real, more alive.

    4. WhitleyBirks says:
      …I don’t think I’ve ever seen a story with a fairy peasant in it, and now I really want one. Surely they can’t all be nobles at court, can they? Or are the “lesser Fae” the peasants in this analogy?
      1. illhousen says:
        Well, typically Sidhe are portrayed as nobles while various other fairy creatures are their subjects.

        And fairies sure can all be nobles if you go with them being less than real. Everyone can be king when you literally live an illusory life.

        1. Farla says:
          They could also go the vampire nobles route and use existing human peasants.
      2. Farla says:
        I think that yeah, lesser fae like fairies are the peasantry, although I don’t think fae usually line up quite with peasantry because generally the author writes everything too chaotically to have people with dedicated but boring jobs. The few times there’s fae that do have set jobs they tend to be obsessed with them and so there’s not much more to do.

        Fae peasantry has a lot of untapped potential.

  6. Roarke says:
    “Incidentally, to all the male writers out there: stop writing this sentence.”

    You do not have to tell me. I believe I knew that before I ever wrote a sentence. Like seriously, the goddamn implications… I’m a dude, but even I can tell I’m being belted in the face with blatant hypocritical sexism. Aren’t we dudes supposed to desire timid, domestic women over any other kind? But when you get bored, that’s when you roll around with a tigress. Don’t support her financially or anything though; she’s on her own. Not trustworthy enough, you know?

    1. SpoonyViking says:
      It’s the same Madonna/Magdalene Medieval dichotomy Western society still hasn’t outgrown.
    2. Farla says:
      The Handmaid’s Tale handled this beautifully! “See, it’s arranged marriages and no divorce ever because that’s how humans best function, with a husband and wife who are only devoted to each other. Also, let’s go to this club where men can have sex with lots of prostitutes, because men require variety.”
  7. Joe says:
    Please continue dissecting the supernatural elements. A well constructed magic system is easy to salvage, and supposedly one of this series’ redeeming features is that reconcile many different types of magic into a single setting without tripping over itself.
  8. illhousen says:
    “The magician’s circle is the creation and imposition of your own boundaries rather than being bound by existing ones, and what could be more magic than that?”

    I like how it was handled in Kara no Kyoukai, with a discussion about natural boundaries (like a window from which you can see the outside world which becomes slightly unreal viewed like that, and so you can entertain the thought of stepping out, even knowing rationally that it will lead to your death) and boundaries created by magi (which, at their strongest, could create a world separate from reality, abiding by its own rules).

    1. Roarke says:
      I mean in general Nasu handles magic/supernatural things really goddamn well. Even when he starts straying from how he established things it’s usually awesome enough to compensate.
      1. illhousen says:
        His novels actually tend to be more self-consistent.

        I think it’s writing VNs specifically doesn’t agree with him.

        Trying to think about how the fuck Shirou/Saber pairing is supposed to work probably consumes the energy he would normally devote to world-building.

        1. Roarke says:
          “And then they have to have sex in the shack, to give Saber her magical energy… no wait, they’d never do that on their own, fuck, fuck, fuck! Wait, wait, waitwait, Rin is there, she can help them, yessss, I am a genius.”
  9. Tyler Preston says:
    You know I’ve watched many episodes of the TV show Bitten from the Sci-Fi channel (I will not spell it SyFy because it’s stupid), based on the book of same name, also it was written by Kelly Armstrong. Farla, I most thought of asking if you would dissect that book, but after watching the show it would make me a sadist for tourtung you by reading.

    you complain that the Dresden Files has misogsyny, but after watching Bitten and seeing how soo many moments of sexism and rapey moments, it makes the sexism in Dresden almost non-existint.

    1. illhousen says:
      The fact there are worse things out there doesn’t make DF better, though.

      Someone punching me in the face is better than someone killing me, but I still don’t want to be punched in the face.

      It is important to discuss the flaws of works that aren’t black holes sucking goodness out of the world, but still aren’t perfect. In fact, I would say it’s more important to discuss more subtle examples of such issues. Everyone knows and agrees that, say, beating women is bad, but what Harry does here is considered more of a grey area, and it is important to point out that such behaviour is still harmful and disrespectful even if to a lesser degree.

      1. Tyler Preston says:
        it doesn’t make DF better, but it’s kinda like choicing between watching Bio-Dome or the Room. Both are terrible movies, but one has to be better than the other. and the Room is better because it’s one of those “it’s so bad it’s good” entertainment.
        1. illhousen says:
          Or you can watch neither and go look for something actually good. It’s not like sexism is somehow necessary for fiction to exist.
          1. Tyler Preston says:
            you’ll be dead if you don’t choose, but you summed it up pretty nicely.
            1. illhousen says:
              That’s the thing, though: the choice between being punched or being killed is a false dichotomy because there is a third person offering beer and snacks.I would rather hang out with them.

              If you don’t mind being punched, well, what can I say? Your skull must be thicker than mine.

              1. Tyler Preston says:
                I honestly do’ll the same thing as you. I wasn’t being literal, it was game “Would You Rather.”

                And I had my skull cut open once a child for surgey to remove a tumor. So I would rather not have anything involving harming me thank you.

    2. Farla says:
      At this point, I’m pretty sure every Scifi “original” is a pile of racism and misogyny. My father watches a bunch of them and they’re just awful upon awful, and it’s all the same damn awful, like the same people are writing each one.
      1. Tyler Preston says:
        Like you said, there are worst things out there than the Dresden Files, or at least the first book. I just have a habit of choicing the least awful than the others, it’s bad but it is a guilty pleasure to me. Are the other books good, I’ve read like the eighth book of DF and I thought it was really good.

        At least answer me this, are there anything good that you like about Storm Front or the entire series. (ps did you know they’ve made a short-lived Desden Files tv shoe?) If you don’t, then I’ll stop being an idiot and bother you again.

        1. Farla says:
          And I’m glad you can enjoy them. It doesn’t make you a bad person to not notice this stuff or to be able to enjoy them in spite of it. It’s only an issue when people argue their enjoyment of something requires there be misogyny and oppose changing it for that reason.

          I like the writing style of the book quite a lot – the chatty tone is probably the best use of first person I’ve encountered on this blog. It’s also a premise I find appealing. The execution ended up being not so great, as is true with a lot of things, but it’s easy to miss that when it’s the first book and the writing style helps gloss over plot problems.

          All I know of the tv show is that it existed. I’m thinking of checking it out once I’ve read past whatever books were out at the time, so I can avoid spoilers.

          1. Tyler Preston says:
            That’s what I’ve hold up in my mind about theese things. I mean, I’ve watched about every episode of buffy the vampire slayer and I hate the show with a firely passion. Espically the main ditz herself Buffy.

            If others are able to enjoy the show than I can, fine, more power to them. But for me I just can’t get past the problems. I mean not everything in it makes me hate, some of the mythology and characters I found cool Willow, Angel, Oz, Riley, Spike (before season 5), Wesley.

            1. Farla says:
              Personally, I go for anime mostly. Even when there’s bullshit in those, usually it’s alien enough to be more easily ignored.
  10. What is it with all the PIs in the Paranormal/Urban Fantasy genre being such crappy detectives? I mean, Veronica Mars isn’t a character I hold up as a super sleuth but even she understands the concept of the Money Shot. First Dresden goes about touching stuff at the crime scene (with his *hands*) and now he’s not even contemplating a stakeout to catch the cheating husband in the act.

    This was pretty much where I threw up my hands with the novel. I mean, I finished it but I can’t take Dresden seriously as a detective. What’s the point of slogging through the misogyny if there’s not even a good mystery to go with it?

    1. Farla says:
      Perhaps it’s because the two genres don’t play well together? The mystery novel is supposed to have clear rules and a known setting, so readers know what’s going on. Paranormal stories don’t have to run on bullshit, but the lion’s share certainly do. Combine authors making up their magic system as they go with a genre that’s supposed to have all its cards on the table and you get a mess.
      1. I think the potential is there, but writing a fantasy PI requires some really solid world building on the part of the author and tailoring those setting rules around what the original genre calls for. It requires a deeper understanding of themes and genre than most of the authors who write Paranormal seem capable of and the screwed up nature of Noir doesn’t really lend itself well to wish fulfillment.

        I mean, most of the problems in this novel would by solved simply by having a group like the Technocracy running around in the background. An oppressive, totalitarian rival mage order who have gone the other way on the magic scale and infest every level of the government. They’re the shadow glove Harry must constantly dodge around as he builds a working relationship with a corrupt police force and avoid being actively hunted down like a dog for breaking the rules. He doesn’t know where they are, just that they’re out there and they’re watching. Basically, the Big Brother Cyber Lords.

        The other frustrating thing for me is that a detective lends itself well to a mage dealing in small magics to investigate or better no magic at all. A character whose skills and magic are built around solving crimes like in Bendis’ Powers, where cops investigate the murders of superheroes and the lead is an ex-hero who has lost his powers. Introducing more magic into a situation where magic was the cause of the crime should only make it harder to trace the culprit, unless magic itself is distinct to the individual. Common sense and an understanding of psychology, particularly wizard psychology for determining motivation, will serve the detective better than any spellbook. Like, why you no use an understanding of your world, the occult, and your surroundings to solve crimes?

        This is why Constantine (when done right) is so great, because what’s interesting about him isn’t his magic. It’s his ability to con people and manipulate them which doesn’t require any magical talent

        What makes Dresden so useful to the cops isn’t that he knows how magic works, but that he supposedly knows how mages think and can create connections the police lack the knowledge to do. It’s like having a psychiatrist consult, they have specialist knowledge needed to convict. However, unlike a psychiatrist which is an accepted medical profession, if the mage PI exists in a world where magic isn’t accepted or acknowledged then what the mage can provide ultimately means jack all because the cops have no evidence they can bring to the DA to get a conviction in court. This is, of course, working with the understanding that the cops don’t normally work with PIs anyway and Dresden’s clientele should be defense attorneys trying to blow holes in the prosecution’s sure fire cases.

        Essentially, a longer version of everything you said.

  11. Kaze says:
    I know I’m five months behind the times on this post, but I have to ask:

    “if you’ve ever walked out of a room and forgotten why, it’s because our brains do a quick reset whenever we enter a new area, like a videogame loading.”

    Where did you learn about this? That’s interesting as hell, but I can’t make google cough up anything of relevance on the subject.

    On the subject of Dresden Files, since I’m already here commenting, holy shit this is terrible. I don’t want to be too presumptuous because I haven’t actually read any of the books for myself, but I can’t really imagine any context that some of the lines you’ve quoted thus far can possibly fit in and not be blatantly, painfully sexist. Like, can this be for real? I keep hearing awesome things about Dresden Files left and right, only for it to turn out to be a bunch of sueness (which I utterly despise) and mysoginy.

    It feels weird, like it shouldn’t be possible for someone to read this and not understand that something isn’t right. Then I remember my original attitude towards FSN, and the idea that I could have been similar both appalls and disturbs me.

    Also, if people could not go around saying that all men would cheat on boring, timid women and that it is therefore okay, that would be aces. Just aces.

    1. Farla says:
      I think I actually heard it from someone else, but may have been the article they read. You can also try googling “memory reset door” for other articles.

      I keep hearing awesome things about Dresden Files left and right, only for it to turn out to be a bunch of sueness (which I utterly despise) and mysoginy.

      Well, that’s why I first picked them up. A lot of people are willing to overlook things.

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