Site-Wide Activity

  • Today’s author is of Smogon U, a SYOC story where pokemon go to college. Pokemon are all segregated into dorms by type, and I was rewarded with some amazing stuff when I pointed out how silly that was.

    Does […]

    • Brb just gotta write a story where the pre-med dorms are built next to the chem dorms, because chem majors gotta chem and pre-med students know how to heal people if anything goes wrong, right?

      “To be a pokemon is to walk with death.”

      I mean, as long as it brings you closer to Akasha, the risk is acceptable.

    • … is it just me, or does it seem like this person just really wanted to use “Smogon University” as the title of a story, and doesn’t care about anything else? (I’m not sure how familiar you are with Smogon the site but they do call themselves that)

      Then again, they’re putting a lot of effort into their excuses as to why they don’t need to put in effort, so I’ve no idea what’s going on in this person’s head.

      • … is it just me, or does it seem like this person just really wanted to use “Smogon University” as the title of a story, and doesn’t care about anything else?

        Probably, but just the name doesn’t require all these logic pretzels! I am amazed how much effort he put into this without once stopping to think if it was at all a good idea in the first place.

    • That would also make a lot more sense with the justification that it’s to protect more vulnerable pokes.

      • Hmm, yeah, that’s an interesting idea too. Although the Smogon classifications are too obviously a game balance tiering thing, I think it’d be pretty tricky to turn them into an in-universe thing (though I guess I’ve read fics that just had Smogon-style ‘competitive battling’ be a thing in-universe so they could just do that).

        I guess the other arbitrary distinction that could work here is something to do with egg groups, since (at least in theory) that seems intended to correspond to similarities in habitat and body type. Moreso than type-chart-types anyway, at least. Except of course then you’re putting individuals that are capable of mating together, and that’s kind of the opposite of what they usually intend when segregating dormitories…

    • There’s this Youtube South Park Pokemon thing which might have been might have been the inspiration for this idea. It had a whole drama thing about a school’s very arbitrary rule that could have never been applied in any other situation.

    • That might actually be an interesting basis for a Pokemon School setting; there’s built-in expectations and pathos for pokemon in each tier in terms of living up to their potential, potentially never exceeding the boundaries of the class, and shadowy administration acting to make sure that no one transgresses those boundaries.

  • Right, so there will be a delay returning to Moon and so instead there will be an end to the delay of Grave Peril.

    Last time, Harry’s bullshit “reasoning” led him to figuring out the nightmare wanted revenge […]

    • The paragraph after the readmore isn’t italicized and you’ve got tons of typos.

    • Yay! Dresden Files is back! I’ve been waiting for this!


      I… agree a lot that your idea of how the demon should leave is easily the creepier and better idea. Rather then just “Ghosts and demons work in whatever way is most convenient to the plot.”

      • I wouldn’t mind seeing ghosts operate on a kind of Agent Smith level. They can possess any human body, then morph that body however they like, but once you exorcise them, it turns back into the victim. You’d get these murders that seemed like hobos or whatever going on random killings until it’s revealed that all of the victims are connected and their murders all follow some pattern.

    • Pretty sure a very similar but slightly better comparison was already used here – IIRC Harry first described this building as like a faithful old bulldog trying to police unruly children or something. Which was just… fantastically bad.So many questions. Like, does he seriously use sand? Is this because Mister-the-totally-a-real-cat has mystical odor-free urine as if it’s not being actually a waste product produced by a biological organism? It would actually make for a super good horror story if some malignant creatures went around killing and replacing people’s pets, and you could only catch on because the disguise wasn’t quite perfect, biologically. Though what the endgame of such a creature would be if the victim is not!Harry is beyond me. Mister’s clearly just a corrupting agent. Why run the changeling scam on a normal house?Also, you need to cut “being” out of that paragraph.More seriously…I wonder whether modern salt works.I love this line of thought. Technological progress and cultural progress are an amazing reflection of each other at times like this. We don’t use salt to ward off demons anymore, but that’s because we don’t believe in demons, not because salt production has become more advanced. The properties that originally granted salt that power may no longer exist, but the belief in that power remains like a kind of echo nevertheless. Maybe that’s enough?But Chicago’s finest apparently just sit and stare.They’re well-trained side characters. Good on them, staying out of that main character’s way.Unfortunately Murphy is also out of commission due to bluescreening from whatever Ghosty did.Oh I cannot wait to see how Butcher writes Murphy’s recovery from this.And…I do think there’s something for my theory he’s fucking himself up emotionally.Still love that theory to death. Also, you know, it would kind of explain why Harry is always so lackadaisical in the first half or so of each book. What if he’s now physically incapable of feeling urgency until the very last minute? He gets on the phone because he knows Murphy desperately needs information, but he wastes time chatting and being confused because his brain just isn’t used to working in straight lines anymore.In noir and other detective fiction, it’s really typical that there are a few victims before the heroes really make any progress in cracking the case. There wouldn’t be a story if the case were easy to solve and further crime prevention basically effortless.In Harry’s case, what if he really is mentally ineffectual until the bodies start piling up as kindling for this rage he needs to function?  

      • Why run the changeling scam on a normal house?

        Threshold parasitism. A cat or dog standing before a door and crying would cause the owner to tell them to come in sooner or later or even carry them inside, thus granting entry. Perhaps posing as a pet in such a manner would make the entry permanent or they could mark their territory to that effect.

        That gives them a safe haven to hide from other spiritual entities.

        Such beings may not even be malevolent towards their hosts and may even protect them from lesser threats that managed to get inside.

        • Hm. If they are malevolent, then maybe there are ways for them to weaken the threshold from the inside, paving the way for a larger threat. I could even see a wizard’s familiar pulling stunts like that.
          Still, I would think there’d be some kind of threshold protection there. Pets aren’t so much kept for their usefulness anymore, but dogs were there for guarding and cats were for pest control. I think even in the Dresdenverse, smaller fae are desperately afraid of cats (though I may be misremembering, since they did clean Harry’s cat in Storm Front). It seems weird that they’d be straight-up liabilities like that.

          • I actually like the idea that such beings normally aren’t malevolent and are more symbiotic by nature. That way, it’s more of a weird magical ecosystem than outright horror scenario with things you love wanting to kill you.

            As for pet protections, perhaps the trick of threshold acceptance requires the creatures to imitate pets successfully in behavior as well as appearance, so they can’t simply murderize everyone inside and maybe they have to obey the rules of hospitality to some degree (hence Mister drinking Cola).

            Of course, some creatures manage to subvert the system and subtly influence their hosts into being their obedient servants, like that zombie fungus, so humans would only think about fulfilling their needs while they do nothing for them, hence modern domestic cats.

            • I actually like the idea that such beings normally aren’t malevolent and are more symbiotic by nature. That way, it’s more of a weird magical ecosystem than outright horror scenario with things you love wanting to kill you.
              Okay but like the premise was that they kill and replace your pet. Even if they don’t do further harm, that’s still amazingly fucked up. Like, it’s not all peaches and cream just because they make a good faith effort to be a pet after that.
              I could see more benign supernatural creatures mimicking stray cats, perhaps. People will pick those up off the street and take them into their homes, I know.

              • Well, yes. Natural symbiots are also often extremely fucked up, especially when it comes to insects and plants. Even when they do some good to their hosts, they still feel like something that crawled straight out of bowels of hell just to give you nightmares.

                Beings that kill your pet and probably wear its skin to disguise themselves are obviously not nice. They’re just more animals adapted to specific niche rather than outright malevolent spirits of doom.

                Strays also work, though it’s probably less reliable.

              • Yeah, that is true. Maybe they eventually go full-on changeling and eat your kid, too. Hell, maybe that’s how wizards are actually born. You get spirits going straight Roa-style, looking for prominent families expecting an heir soon. Eat the family dog to get into position, and then bam.

  • “Also it IS perfectly acceptable to create a line of dialogue in the way as I have in here. It’s something I’m exceptionally picky about. I would know since I’ve honestly attained a bachelor’s degree in the […]


    This was an excellent book and I definitely recommend it. It improved on literally everything I didn’t like about Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as well as the things I did like.

    I was curious to see a […]

    • There are approximately 4,568 typos in this.

      • Yep.

        ” she was a better writing”


        ” I’m actually very curious now about the improve of the books”


        “was it only the first book that feel victim to this”


        “supernatural fantasy based on Epyptian mythology”


        “she even purposely made her names pseudo-Epgyptian”


    • Oh, wow. That was very enthusiastic. I was kinda thinking on reading a new fantasy series anyway, so I guess I will check it out.

    • Alright, cool to hear it, haha. I should pick this up. Read something.

      the broody powerful guy with a heart of gold (Archer also falls into this category, as does Corvo from Dishonored and, to a lesser degree, Geralt… I have a type).

      Yeah, I fall for this, too. Very easy to go wrong with it, though (see 80% of Batman’s incarnations).

    • Keleri replied 1 week ago

      Nice, I might give this one a chance.

  • Mopping up the last few stragglers. Mostly boring, though one author got hilariously affronted at the concept of someone criticizing porn.

    Also, “I’m respecting you by not blocking you.”

    re: Your review to […]

    • [this is literary pornography]

      Did they mean literally pornography? Because I’m not quite sure what literary porn would entail. Porn with literary devices and decent grammar?

      • Semicolons are kinky.

      • Alternately, maybe they meant “literary porn” in the same way people mean “food porn” or “scenery porn”: gratuitous ~literary~ writing and flourishes with no real purpose or meaning behind it all except to appeal to people who enjoy those things. …Which, honestly, I would find much more tolerable than when done unintentionally.

        • I think they were actually trying to say “it’s just written porn” because literary just means writing, don’t you know? That’s the only way I can square the phrase with the dismissiveness they want to go along with it.

    • Neither here nor there, but: I always like seeing the back-and-forth you have with authors; I think it’s interesting.

  • “This is something I do for me! I’m not looking for anyone’s approval, especially not yours!”
    re: Your review to No Refunds

    Jan 27remorsful fanfic writerA response to your review at […]

  • Latashia Hindmarsh became a registered member 1 week, 5 days ago

  • In which someone responds to my review in German. From what I can tell, they are apparently using a translation program to write their stories. Why do people do this.

    A porn author also gets really weird when I […]

    • I’m from California and I’ve never had any teacher tell me to center align my writing on anything other than poetry and titles.

    • I’m amazed that that last one managed to carry off such an egotistical rant while simultaneously pointing out that you helped them improve. “Heed my words of warning, or else you might again do exactly what you are trying to do and actually teach somebody something valuable!”


    • I’m somewhat sympathetic to this reasoning, but at the same time, yeah, if you admit you’re just doing it for more exposure you really don’t have an excuse for not doing it properly.

  • “When I played Black 2, I beat Cheren with a Riolu, and I beat Iris with the same Lucario. Would you rather I used my plan B, which was a Zorua? Does that seem more rare to you? I thought so.”

    While working […]

    • [least four of which do not seem to get the joke.]

      This is the exact reason I did not make a specific fic.

    • Two responses in a row about worldbuilding in some sort of fashion. A small amount of it is required to make a good story in literary form. I was think about writing on the forum about worldbuilding, but it’s such a large subject.

  • In which I track down multiple PDFs of published books to supplement a painstaking explanation of how dialogue is written only to get told that while they agree I’m totally right, their reviewers don’t care so […]

    • In which I track down multiple PDFs of published books to supplement a painstaking explanation of how dialogue is written only to get told that while they agree I’m totally right, their reviewers don’t care so they’re not going to bother changing it.I’d actually be interested in getting a hold of this for my own betterment.

    • Many a paragraph is white.


      • Agggghhhh. I thought I fixed them earlier but touching the post must have collapsed the line breaks again and wrecked the code. There has to be a better way to do this.

        • I would think there would be a 100% method of fixing it using a stylesheet, but HTML and CSS  is my worst coding subject

          • What’s going on is the text has no set color. FFN’s no-set-color is black in its stylesheet, like most of the internet. The no-set-color here is white. The fix is to highlight the text and set the color to something dark, but WordPress has a weird little quirk where paragraph breaks sometimes also reset formatting, which means it defaults back to white.

    • It’d be extra work — this is how it copies from FFN.

      • Ah, well, actually, this was true on Blogger, but not anymore. I did this by pasting in Blogger, then copying the source code over. For some reason WordPress will replicate everything except the line breaks. (Pasting it directly into WordPress looks even worse, though.)

    • If you’re familiar with it, copy/pasting FFN’s formatting means not having to do much formatting yourself.

      If you’re not familiar with it, the fact it’s a mess of code that really wasn’t supposed to be copied can result in some problems.

  • “I believe I don’t need a bata reader.”
    Grammar and Spelling

    Jan 16Liningcorn9A response to your review at

    Kind of why I said to try and bear with it at the top. It […]

    • [a story where pokemon, as soon as they become human(ish) decide ‘woohoo, now we can have servants too!’ might be interesting.]

      I had a (male) moemon admit to a pacifist human that he would if he could. They were both about eight year olds and the reason the moemon gave was “I just like the idea of having two dragon ladies destroying all that would oppose me.” Unfortionately, neither were the protagonist and things go very badly for them.

      • It’s not that it’s impossible – we know being a slave doesn’t stop people from going on to keep slaves. It’s that if you’re not making a point about them having a different perspective as a result of their background, then why even bother giving them that background? Plus unlike the human versions of this, the pokemon world’s version is with things that appear to be animals and can’t communicate with us, so they don’t have the pile of rationalizations we had to construct to explain why people who could talk just like us were less intelligent than dogs.

        • The point of that background is to explain why they are not just going around capturing slaves and winning badges.

          Also, most slave owning cultures were not interested in antislavery agruments so there are no need for rationalizations.

    • It’s even weirder than that. All of the main character’s friends and family mysteriously disappeared over time because they’ve been turning human, but only when they somehow knew he’d turned human did they go get him. Then their next stop is to get a pokemon from the professor for personal gain, at which point they just hand him a baby version of his own species that he’s to use as a meat shield when traveling.

  • As Farla said, I covered romance fic in January. It’s romance fic, so like 99% of my reviews were just standard grammar paragraphs and I won’t bother posting them. Despite this, I managed to get quite a variety of […]

  • Homer Sievwright became a registered member 2 weeks, 3 days ago

  • So while, as usual, I got sick of doing the romance side of things pretty quick, this year I pawned it off on somebody else! And because now somebody else was going to see them, and because I knew that genre […]

  • Tatiana became a registered member 2 weeks, 5 days ago

  • In which I somehow manage to finish all of this on time.

    You wouldn’t capitalize animal or mouse or dragon, so you shouldn’t capitalize words like pokemon or pikachu or charizard. The only time you should cap […]

    • The biggest difference this time feels like it’s that there was just generally less of everything. I fell behind largely because I was really busy this month but there actually wasn’t that much fic.

      There’s been a shift from OCs to CC-as-OC (who’s more badass and gets a harem) and it looks like the exact tropes are starting to level out but it’s left a wake of “oh people hate OCs right???” that’s really sad to see when this is one of the few fandoms that was OC dominated. I’m thinking maybe it’s tied to the fact the fandom seems to have more boys now, maybe because fanfic is getting more mainstream. A lot of the new annoying tropes are ones I associate with boy fandom while there’s comparatively little of the old annoying tropes (the girl with multicolored eyes and perfect singing voice) of girl fandom these days.

      People have been getting more chill every year, probably in proportion with the review decrease each year.

      • I suspect that a lot of potential OC fics are getting stolen by the Nuzlocke genre as well– I was linked to an entire forum that’s just pages and pages of Nuzlocke fics and comics. (But, looking at the review timestamps, a similar problem with people not giving feedback except to virtuoso fully inked/colored longform comics.)

        • …oh. Also, damn. Nuzlocke stuff has its own set of flaws built in, so it’s not like those work as decent OT fic either, and the focus on repeating the player’s game means they stick to a very narrow pattern. At least when regular OT fic follows the wakeup/professor template, it’s because the person didn’t think and not necessarily because they’re actually opposed to doing it a different way


            I found this one on AO3 and the author uses the ability to embed images to neat effect, turning the story epistolary and skipping a lot of boring bits, but yeah following the crosspost to the Nuzlocke forums was just like “…oh, this is where everyone is”

            • oh god

              I clicked on one randomly and it’s up to a middle gym. Protagonist and gym leader are smiling at each other and the battle goes down without a single tense moment, presumably because it’s actually not that hard for an actual nuzlocke game to go by without losing if you grind enough beforehand, but somehow they thought novelizing it would still be worth the time because A POKEMON COULD DIE MAYBE!!!

      • The biggest difference this time feels like it’s that there was just generally less of everything. I fell behind largely because I was really busy this month but there actually wasn’t that much fic.

        Fic was actually up about 26% over last year (695 stories English-language fics published January 2017 versus 548 January 2016). It might’ve felt like less because you nixed romance really early on in the month and skipped a fair number of stories due to spoilers, heh. I’d be pretty worried about the fandom if publication went down despite Go and Gen VII happening.

        I would say OC Ash is the worst trend, but I think Ash harem specifically is actually the wooooooorst. Might also just be me, but I feel like there’s been an uptick in human x pokemon stuff, too.

        • My count was every link I posted, so it’d include the spoiler fic. Is there a way higher amount of romance around this time?

          …well, counting back a month from right now, 591 are romance, 977 not. That does seem high, doesn’t it?

    • The Charmander blinked. *Um.. How about Chara? But you’re a human, you wouldn’t be able to understand me.*

      I know it’s just an allusion to the pokespeech, but now I imagine the charmander plotting to burn humanity to ash and just playing along for now.

      If you didn’t already guess, I turned into a baby.

      Ugh, self insert by way of reincarnation, the worst way. You know, self inserts are plagued by various problems in general, but at least normally they don’t start years before the actual plot, telling us about the fascinating life of toddlers.

      The setup could probably make for a decent horror story about a person being stuck in a body of a baby, completely helpless and incapable of doing even the most basic things, stripped of dignity and growing steadily more insane with the passing of years, but nobody’s writing that story.

      • It wouldn’t be hard to wait out such a experience IMO, especailly in the pokemon world. Yes, one would emerge a bit less sane, but at lot better at art and other things.

        • If that’s the case, there is no point writing about it. In general, SI has a major problem of avoiding or handwaving anything remotely resembling complications that could arise from the premise in favor of simply writing an OC with “justified” massive advantages. And that’s just boring.

        • But you wouldn’t really be the same person at the end of it. The baby setup seems to be intended as a way to drop a person from our world into their world, but someone shouldn’t be exactly the same for ten straight years even if their life is boring, so someone who wakes up in another universe and then spends years learning to talk and wondering if they’re just crazy and surrounded by a brand-new culture the whole time…writing them as a SI at that point would be godawful writing.

          • I don’t think that’s true for how it’s depicted in fanfiction. I remember a fully aware reincarnation Ash baby. It might have be the Ur-example in the fandom for all I know.

            • Even then you’d still have ten years worth of new experiences and character development. Compare your current self to the one ten years before, you’re probably two very different people.

              At that point, effectively writing an OC is what you should logically do.

      • I know it’s just an allusion to the pokespeech, but now I imagine the charmander plotting to burn humanity to ash and just playing along for now.

        Oh no, it’s yet another intentional Undertale “reference” that begins and ends at the knowledge someone in the game is called Chara.

  • The author of this 2010 book, N K Jemisin, won the 2016 Hugo Award for her latest series. Jemisin is a black woman, and this went over with the scifi/fantasy community about as well as “black” and “woman” […]

    • Hahaha! Nope, just me being a shitty self-proofreader.

    • Yeesh. It sounds like the author needed a few dozen cold showers.

      It is nice to see a nonwhite fantasy protagonist, though. There’s really no reason not to have one when you’re writing fantasy! Is everyone nonwhite, or just the place she’s from?

      • Is everyone nonwhite, or just the place she’s from?

        I don’t know! The capital city is pale people with curly hair, and her homeland is brown people with straight hair, but beyond that the only other society we really get a window into is one ginger dude. It would make sense if everyone from her region, not just her particular country, were similar in skin tone, but it never gets directly addressed.

    • I was hugely disappointed by this one for most of the same reasons as you– this is one of the books that made me look at Tumblr Recs with a very critical eye– so I’m hoping that maybe The Fifth Season is different/better.

      • Tumblr’s book MO seems to be “Can I project my view of important issues onto this book? If yes, rec!” without much thought as to any other elements. Unfortunately it’s not even a great way of finding books about marginalized groups because people just latch onto the scenes and ideas they like and discard the ones they don’t; it’s how you end up with essays about how Katniss is the best thing to ever happen to female representation because she’s an archer, ignoring the absurd misogyny of the series as a whole.

        • essays about how Katniss is the best thing to ever happen to female representation because she’s an archer

          Wait, is it an actual thing? Because, well, I mean, girls being archers was a thing at least since Narnia, and we all know how well that went. Though I suppose her archery was shown to be generally more effective and plot-relevant than Susan’s, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness (going with a super-bow into an actual war).

          • But illhousen she’s a huntress who uses a bow without male supervision!!!! That she’s repeatedly browbeaten for being such a failure as a woman because of her male-coded competence isn’t important if she gets an action scene for fanart purposes every now and then.

        • I wonder if part of it is also that an author that’s written twenty books has probably done or said something in public that’s angered the starving wolves, so I’d bet their lists end up skewing toward first books or at least first forays into the subject matter.

          Tamora Pierce: writes dozens of SJy series with powerful female characters all over, “okay so I’m not 100% sold on how this particular subplot played out in this particular book, fuck her and the horse she rode in on”

          Suzanne Collins: writes one trilogy with a female character, “omg wow I just heard that there’s this new book about a girl being fierce!!!!”

          • Is there a Tamora Pierce series you’d rec above the others? I’ve heard nothing but great things and always been curious but she’s so prolific idek where to go.

            I found a lot of really amazing stuff when I sat down and decided to try to read works by only female mangaka for a few months, and I realized I should try the same thing with fantasy.

            • I’ll also recommend Wild Magic/Immortals. That was the first one of hers I read and, while I enjoyed the Alanna ones, they were definitely weaker even from my perspective as a kid.

    • So, is there just no way for a first person protagonist to be in a vastly different world than we live in?

      Well, anything can be done, but for this particular fish-out-of-water-style fantasy story, you generally want the protagonist to map relatively cleanly onto the reader. Otherwise you get what happens in this book, which is no sense of how things compare — really often you’d have one of the Sky City people go “This is how we do things!” and then Yeine would go “But this is how we do things!” but neither of those things resembled how IRL does things, so it got tough to figure out a) what exactly the book was trying to say and b) how extreme Yeine’s reaction was supposed to be because it wasn’t grounded in anything.

      Also, is there only one matriarchal society?

      It seems that way. We only really see two of the apparently thousand kingdoms.

    • This doesn’t sound very good, but I do feel like that coming of age ceremony is plausible, even if the society is ruled by women. Many patriarchal societies had and have terrifying and painful coming of age ceremonies for boys, including ones that involve forced sex or genital trauma, and many of the terrible coming of age rituals that exist in the real world for girls (like FGM) are largely pushed by adult women within the society.

      • That’s part of the muddling of the message, though! Like, women raised in societies that do misogynistic things will totally willingly perpetuate them. The thing was that the worldbuilding oscillated wildly between “healthy matriarchy” “matriarchy except women are subject to maculinity” and “dystopian matriarchy,” and it left the whole thing super weird and dissonant with itself because it couldn’t really decide which one it wanted to do or why and ultimately was just confusing.
        I’d also argue that fiction doesn’t need more societies where women get ritualistically raped, but that’s a separate point, because it was hard to tell what the book’s stance on it actually was — maybe she saw it as a satirical point? idk

      • Many patriarchal societies had and have terrifying and painful coming of age ceremonies for boys, including ones that involve forced sex or genital trauma

        But how many of them have it done by the women? Most fucked up gendered coming of age stuff is done by the same gender, and none of them are designed to reward the lesser gender for surpassing their betters.

        A matriarchy could easily have a rapey coming of age thing where girls must jam X into their vagina, but X is really unlikely to be a man’s dick and really really unlikely to be a man’s dick after the man bested them at something.

        • I didn’t know about the element of besting (I haven’t read the book, and I read the “beaten” part as that they were just physically beaten up by people who may have been women or men, and getting beaten up by your own gender is common in fucked up coming of age rituals.) That does sound off.

          I know that sometimes men have set women on unwilling boys as informal coming of age rituals – in many parts of the world, it’s a tradition for men to drag boys (usually teenage, sometimes younger) to see prostitutes, and a lot of the boys don’t really want to do it but feel like they can’t say no. I don’t know if that’s ever been a part of a formal coming of age ritual, and I don’t know if the scenario depicted in the book is anything similar.

          I’m sorry if this is a creepy thing to focus in on! It’s just that I’m personally very familiar with woman-on-woman abuse, and I have a knee-jerk reaction to any “but women wouldn’t do that” sentiments.

          • I have not read it, but google took me to TvTropes which, if it can be believed, says, The Darre tribe is a matriarchal society where a woman must beat a male fighter in a wrestling match to come of age. Usually the family picks out kind of a wimpy guy, but heirs like Yeine have to beat a genuine warrior. If the woman wins, she kills him. If the man wins, he rapes her in front of the entire village.

            It’s like the author got as far as “women can be shitty to other women” and then stopped. From the same google search, apparently it’s for the good reason of being really upset at rape culture, but I really don’t think it was a good choice to say the matriarchy’s own rape culture is still about finding ways for women to get raped and blamed for it.

            • Do they make sure it’s always some smelly and ugly man incase the woman is sort of okay with him and therefore is not rape?

              Also, a huge problem with incoporting rape into a culture is pregnacy. In this particular case, you’ll have a bunch of adult aged “girls” bearing many of the children. They’ll run out of sufficenctly wimpy men very quickly.

              This is fully into grimderp. Even the most strange tribes figure out how to survive more than one generation.

              • Do they make sure it’s always some smelly and ugly man incase the woman is sort of okay with him and therefore is not rape?

                They meticulously observe the girl throughout her teen years to determine her tastes, then pick the best counter to them. Maybe they also marinade the guy in a vat of grease, garlic, and hard labor for a few days prior to the ceremony? Just make him utterly pungent. Not for women who are into that, though.

            • apparently it’s for the good reason of being really upset at rape culture

              I suspected this would be the author’s explanation, but it makes zero sense. First of all, no one in the book is horrified by it; Yeine and the people she talks to accept it sans comment and it never comes up again.

              Secondly, recreation isn’t criticism.

              Thirdly, all it does is weirdly tranfer responsibility from men IRL to women — the reason rape culture exists is not because women, left to their own devices, are totes into raping each other. Women do perpetuate patriarhcy, but they’re trained to do so by patriarchy. I honestly don’t know if there’s any way to have a story about a matriarchy imposing rape that actually critiques real life, because it’s the complete opposite of real life.

              Finally, and this is tenagential but super interesting, what we know from bonobos, which are as closely related to us an chimps, is that in nature great-ape matriarchal societies are sexually permissive but crack down on male-on-female violence, including rape; bonobos fuck everyone and enjoy it, but if a male tried to force a female to have sex the clan would turn against him. In bonono soceiety, the dominant female is in charge because she has the most social ties and thus the most other bonobos willing to support her, not because she beats the shit out of everyone else (as in chimp society). You actually see a very similar social structure play out with feral dogs — the doggo in charjo is the one with the most friends, not the most violent one.

              • First off, I agree with everything Farla had to say in response to my comment – I didn’t know that they had to fight the men, and I agree that any society that did that sort of thing would handle it much more like Sparta did. I also agree that this book seems to be very bad and seems to handle this particular subject matter in a very stupid way, and I in no way mean to defend it.

                However… Act, while it’s impossible to say whether women would commit rape in a world without patriarchy, women rapists are not a theoretical excercise. Women, left to their own devices, do rape each other. Sometimes women even rape men. (Links contain graphic discussion of rape.)

                Patriarchy probably does influence all rape in some way, because gender inequality is and historically has been a pretty big spreader of the meme that wanting to have sex with someone takes priority over them not wanting to have sex with you. It isn’t the only spreader of that meme, though, and the same meme could’ve hypothetically spread through other vectors. Ultimately, rapists are responsible for rape, whatever influenced them to do it, and while that group has more men in it than women, it isn’t neatly men rather than women, it’s just… rapists. Who are a mix of genders. Saying that men are responsible for even rapes committed by women does a disservice to the victims of those rapes.

                Also, bonobo rape data is not going to be applicable to human rape data, because humans are not bonobos. When human women rape, they generally but not always use coercion rather than physical force. Bonobos are probably not as capable of complex coercion as humans are because they lack language, and even if they were capable of coercion, a human scientist observing them might not be looking for coercion and might not be able to tell which bonobos were being coerced.

              • Well, yes, obviously individual women are capable of rape, murder, abuse, etc. But no, women as a class are not perpetuating these things at a societal level. Even in a magic utopia without patriarchy you’d still have individuals, men and women, committing awful crimes because there’s no way to account for the extremes of human behavior. But the idea that Women, on the whole, are perpetuating these things is a false one.

                Also, bonobo rape data is not going to be applicable to human rape data

                ?! I never said this. But what I do believe is that we can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at our closest relatives, and bonobos are incredibly interesting in this way, yet often ignored in favor of chimps, who reassure us that the hypermasculine, violent way things are now is somehow the Only Way.


            • Perhaps the author intended it as some sort of Spartan-like punishment for the weak? As in, “if you’re weak enough to be defeated by a man, you deserve what’s coming to you”?
              Edit: Damn, replied to the wrong person. Sorry, Farla! This was meant for Act.

              • I was actually talking about this with someone and concluded it was also missing out on another aspect, which is that cultures cheat their asses off to prop up the rulers.

                Did the Spartans expect you to murder to prove your manhood? Yup. Did they make it a fair fight, allowing the possibility of one of the lessers proving themselves the equal of the ruler class? Hell no, they murdered slaves to make sure none of the survivors felt uppity, and despite the existing advantage of slave vs highly trained soldier, didn’t let it be single combat where both parties got a weapon but just murdered whoever looked murderable. (And if, somehow, a slave did win? Well, time to kill you for murdering a citizen!)

              • Quite true, didn’t take that into account.

    • I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on The Fifth Season! That one’s been on my to-read list for aaaages, but it’s also been out from the library for months now, so I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to check it out. I hadn’t really heard all that much about Jemisin’s other work, but I do think I’ll take a pass on this one, at least.

      • This one apparently got a few reader’s choice-type awards, which doesn’t really surprise me given it’s well-written while it’s also a fairly typical sue fantasy and Yeine is bland enough that projecting into her and enjoying being better than everyone is probably rather easy if that’s what you’re into.

        I am always surprised at how into romance tropes people are, though, but my aversion to them is clearly a minority if the romance novel industry is any indication, so I imagine the exact things that felt squicky to me were things lots of people saw as a draw.

        • I find the awards stuff fairly heartening, tbh, because it seems like a fair amount of awful Gary Stu stuff gets accolades, whereas stuff about women gets dismissed if it’s even slightly power fantasy-ish. Mary Sue may not be my choice in literature, personally, but if drek like The Name of the Wind gets held up as the next coming of Tokien, it’s nice to see a female author get at least a little of that hype.

          And yeah, it can be weird to me just how much of a draw romance can be for other people where it’s such a huge turnoff for me. Reading a story now with sudden pasted-on romance, and it’s not even bad, it’s just so wildly unnecessary. Why would you do that?? Oh, well.

          • The Name of the Wind

            God, you just have to mention it. It’s just so bad. The whole thing reads like a convoulted backstory designed to explain why a TRPG character has a particularly ridiculous build, possibly followed by a particularly limp session transcript.

            The worst part is that I can kinda sorta see a better story buried in there somewhere where Kvothe was a more consistently guile hero.

            Like, there is a scene in the book where he needs to take an entry exam to the magic academy, except he’s utterly unprepared for it. So he sneaks into the academy by pretending to be a servant boy here to clean floors, gets to a place near the room where exam is held, listens in and “memorizes hundreds of questions and answers to them” and then flawlessly repeats them on the exam itself, which is pretty suish. The thing is, it didn’t have to be. It would be just so easy to improve the scene. Observe:

            Kvothe arrives to town a few days before the exam and seeks out older students in order to learn what he should expect from the exam and hoping he may talk one of them into tutoring him. If not for this year then for the next. In the process he notices that a lot of questions students of the same age cite as being on the exam are exactly the same, though they do differ for students a year younger or older. That gives him an idea.

            So, on the day of the exam he enacts his plan (pretty much the same as in the book because it’s not halfway bad) and discovers that each teacher only has about five standard questions of varying difficulty they prepared to ask this year’s prospective students. Memorizing the right answers to them is much more plausible, and the whole deal shows off his analytical and problem-solving skills instead of perfect memory.

            Follow that scheme, and you’d get a story about clever boy succeeding by being cunning and quick-thinking rather than a story about someone who was basically destined for greatness achieving greatness.

            Of course, there are other issues with the book aside from blatant suism. The portrayal of female characters is not good, characters in general tend to be flat, the world-building is shallow, the plot is cliche, the sex fae is a sex fae, etc., so actually fixing the book would be a grandiose undertaking. Still, there is wasted potential buried there, which is sad.

          • I read a really interesting article about that RE: The Force Awakens, actually, about how male characters can be superoverpowered and no one cares but the second a female character is given just what the genre requires dudebros lose their shit.

            That the awards for this were specifically readers’ choice is the most important part, I think, because it says that female readers really want power fantasies, too.

            • It’s funny because as soon as you said this was the biggest sue in a published book, I thought “What, like Kvothe?” Kvothe honestly plays like an RPG character using cheat codes to get maxed parameters.
              I enjoyed Rogue One more than Force Awakens. One thing both movies did for me though was reveal to me exactly which of my friends are the types of dudebro to get their balls in a knot over a female protagonist.
              You can go quite a while as friends without ever learning that about a guy.

            • Do you remember where was that article? I would like to read it myself.

              One thing that makes the uproar over Force Awakens particularly frustrating to me is that Rey is not even that over powered. She screwed up plenty and she even had a panic attack. But people acted as if she was the most unrealistic character in a serie that includes Anakin.

              If she was actually hypercompetent, I would at last be able to understand the criticism, even if the backlash was exaggerated. 

              • My main frustration is that yeah, this is clearly like, level 1 Star Wars, where even the villain is a loser who would be a mook to any proper Sith Lord, but people are crying that female lead is overpowered because she was barely better than the villain they complained was weak? 

              • She is not even better than him. He was seriously wounded, emotionally unbalanced and not trying to kill her. Kylo Ren was not on his peak during the fight. And even then, he  still won the actual sword fight. He only lost because he stopped fighting long enough for her to concentrate and use the force.

                Rey is cool and all, but in the end her exploits weren’t that impressive. It is quite comparable to Luke’s in A New Hope. Except she didn’t get to be the main saver of the day, as her greatest victory was on a smaller scale.

              • Oh I meant more the part where she reflected his mind reading. That seemed, to me, the more fair contest of strength, because you’re right, that fight was stacked in her favor.

              • I do think she was overpowered, but not compared to everyone else in the movie. Yes, being able to drive the Millennium Falcon with no prior experience doesn’t seem credible, but it’s way more credible than stopping a speceshup correctly with a millisecond window coming out of light speed. And she’s definitely not a sue, the story isn’t contorting and conforming to her perspective.

              • Finn even overshadowed Rey in many scenes; for instance, when he – who may or may not be Force-sensitive, but definitely never had Jedi training – wielded the lightsaber with a much higher level of skill than she displayed before her flashback-empowerment.

              • @Roark, oh, right. Yeah, that was legit the one unexplained “super power” Rey had. But still within reason for a protagonist(and is less than than what Anakin had). Furthermore, that wasn’t what solved the movie, do it didn’t cheapen the plot.

                @GoldenFall, in what way she was overpowered? Art last in the context of Star Wars. She had more experience with the Millennium Falcon than Luke or Anakin had with the ships they piloted on their first movies, so to me it was credible enough.

              • Anakin took out a space station. It would have been much worse if he had force mastery like Rey did because he was so much younger.

                It took a while before Episode 1 was considered a bad movie, and I think it will be considered worse than 7 as time passes. All the characters were bad in 7, but it’s still not as bad as 1 and 2.

              • Anakin also won a pod race, which, if the video games are anything to go by, is actually much harder than soloing a space station.
                Episode 1 did have a lot to distract you from the badness. It had Liam Neeson. Double lightsabers. The first instance of good lightsaber fight choreography. Force Awakens was a decent movie in my opinion, but even though there were narrative reasons for it, the lack of a good lightsaber fight was inexcusable to me. Rogue One’s ending scene with Vader alone puts that movie over 7.

              • I am honestly not sure how “taking on a space station ” is suppose to be the lesser feat. Anakin being capable of doing that at the age of 10 is insane.

                Also, Rey didn’t have “force maestry “. She could do a feel tricks, but that is it. And so could Anakin and Luke.

              • I was joking about taking out a space station being a lesser feat to pod racing, if that’s what you’re referring to.

              • At the time I thought the mind reading mastery seemed a bit much, but as the movie went on I realized it’s probably more about him sucking that anything. He’s projecting his emotions all over the place! He throws honest to god temper tantrums! There’s no way he’s good at guarding his brain. When he was trying to shove his way into hers, he was probably projecting a full How-To manual at the same time.

              • That’s true. He’s also probably mostly accustomed to using the technique on people who can’t fight back, making him even weaker in an actual mental tug-of-war.
                Projecting a How-To manual as you’re mind-reading sounds absolutely hilarious, though. I bet he’s constantly reminding himself how mind-reading works as he does it.
                I’d love to see that get broken down in print.

              • I knew very soon that the villain was going to be worst than the Sue. It’s probably why Hux has a cult fanbase. Standing amoung Darth Idoit and Darth CGI makes you look like General Awesome by deflaut.

    • I mean that’s absolutely how you maintain a matriarchal society, right? Kill off the weaker guys and make sure the stronger ones get a good taste of rape to keep them in line.

      Oh wait.

    • The men are respawned enemies. If your tribe was near a spawn point, wouldn’t you have a ritual to kill off low level enemies?

      Seriously, the men aren’t thought of as persistant entities. There are always enough wimpy guys for the common folk.

    • Gust replied 2 weeks ago

      All I heard from the recommendations people gave for this book was about the cool setting and main character. An empire built off enslaved gods sounds so cool! Then I get slapped in a face with a cliche romance, weird rape-y moments and deus ex machina at the end of the book. I got the sequel but stalled on it and never finished.
      People say that the Fifth Season improves on this, and the lack of romance makes me cautiously optimistic.

      Author wrote this blog post about Scimina’s character. (tl;dr: she’s evil Just Because)

      • This may be the first time in blog history that everyone seems to have had the exact same experience as I did with something.

    • Hello Loten dear, fancy meeting you here ;)

      I mostly concur with this, though (you may see my preferences showing through here; I think Loten’s probably right that we tend to prefer whichever we read first) I think Pierce grew a lot as a writer over the years and the Emelan series is the stronger for it. Though, that being said, I think I’m biased against Tortall because I read the Alanna the Lioness series first and thought they felt very dated and Second Wavey (you can kind of tell they were written late 70s/early 80s). I’m glad they exist and actually think they did a lot of very interesting and important things (e.g. I think Alanna was a very deliberate gender-swap of the male hero who sleeps around; I almost want to call her a “female Gary Stu” if that makes sense), but at the same time I didn’t enjoy them much. From what Loten tells me the rest of them are much stronger and more nuanced, I’ve been meaning to get around to reading them but that less-than-stellar first impression has stuck with me. As I’m pretty sure the later Tortall quartets can stand independently, I think I’d probably advise starting with Immortals or Protector of the Small and coming back to Alanna later…

      Emelan, on the other hand, I absolutely love. It has a pretty diverse cast of characters who are all really interesting and nuanced (it’s one of those series where characters come in and out of focus from book to book, and I’m always excited to spend more time with whoever that happens to be because they’re all awesome), and the core conceit of “what craftspeople do seems magical to me, so what if it were actually magic?” is a lot of fun and you can tell Pierce did her research. It’s also a great example of how to write powerful characters (many of whom are female and POC) without them becoming Sueish. These books are definitely ones I reread from time to time (mostly Circle Opens and Will of the Empress).

      I will also say that “Will of the Empress”, which is book nine, is one of those books that keeps growing on me the more I think about it (I should probably write a review at some point). I found some of it a bit heavy-handed on first reading (in places it does kind of feel like “Our Heroes Go to the Land of Rape Culture Where There is Rape to Learn a Special Lesson”), but that didn’t bother me as much on a reread, and it actually deals explicitly with rape culture and internalised misogyny in a pretty nuanced way that I wish more YA books would do. What bothers me the most about it in retrospect is that it’s book nine in a series and therefore isn’t accessible without investment to the general audience who’d benefit from reading it; the message might have gotten to more people if she had been able to do it as a standalone novel.

      It is also worth noting that the Circle of Magic quartet (first four Emelan books) were titled differently, I think it was a regional thing, I’m familiar with them all as $NAME’s Book but you may also find them by other names (this has them ).

    • Oh shit wait.

      Fifty-fifty sex splits means the ONLY men who survive the coming of age for the girls are the tiny handful of rapists, who go on to father the entire next generation because no one else is left alive.

      The only way this could work is if, unlike what it claims about normally picking a weak guy, they make all the girls fight the roided up uberrapists until he slips up and dies. The men split into two sub-sexes – balls of muscle, who overall manage to rape enough women that a couple get pregnant and keep the line going, and willowy sticks who look as weak and harmless as possible, enabling them to avoid getting picked AND being so far from the muscleballs they rarely trigger the rampant PTSD in the female population.

    • That’s not following the rules as listed on TvTropes.

      If you want a successful rite rate(from the woman’s PoV, which ends up with a dead man), I would suspect most men are straved all their life until the rite so they would be weak. After surviving once, they tend not to be picked anymore.

      They might even be married in some equally edgy way. Maybe some sort of consential sex actual exists in their culture after you murder a guy.

    • Yeah, but they still reproduce sexually. If every girl needs to kill one boy, each generation is going to be descended from one or two guys. (Maybe you could have them murdering older guys, but there are more women than men, even if you started off making girls kill doddering old guys you’d run out and end up murdering the preteen boys.)

      Unless they go out hunting men from the surrounding areas for husbands. If they’re surrounded by patriarchies that practice female infanticide, maybe the numbers could work out.

    • Either way, it’s a picture of hell.

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    • [My dark black hair and red eyes]
      Some people think in cartoon by default. I actually had the inverted situation from a reviewer once.
      Also, eye color is really really hard to keep track of if a lot of characters get eye colors from all over the rainbow. If I remember how fan fiction usually goes, side characters don’t even get eye color.

      • Eye color annoys me because you pretty much shouldn’t be noticing it most of the time.

        Are you super close to this person, and do they have an unusual eye color or you’re infatuated? Okay, you can go on about their eyes then. You shouldn’t have enough eye colors to be running out of them unless the character has sexual tension with most of the cast. Hair and skin color are way more noticable, but people are always eyes eyes eyes.

        • I have to disagree, at least with conversational distance. Most of the time there is a “defualt” eye color, but the difference between brown, not brown, and bright blue is very noticable. The dark blue and green colors are pretty hard to communicate realistically in writing if you’re doing it with a character’s point of view.

          I think I did go overboard with eye color before. Mareep guy shouldn’t have yellow eyes. I think I’ll have a character mention his eye color as a clue.

          I also have a Ho-Oh goddess character who is never sexualized and her eye color won’t be mentioned until she in on her proverbial death bed. Her rainbow abilities definately overshadows her relatively normal eyes.

          • You can see it, but how much do you remember it if it isn’t striking and you’re not interested in the person? Because it’s only good when you’re standing right in front of the person, it’s not like you can use it as an identifier to a third party – you can say “guy” “white” “brown hair” and people can see those all at a distance, but “green eyes” is only useful if you’ve got someone fitting the of the description and they have reason to lie if you just ask if they’re the one. Listing off all possible identifying traits is good for a character who’s got police training or something, but otherwise it’s odd.

            And it’s not like most people have bright blue eyes (or bright green, or bright brown-yellow), so mostly it’s “dark eyes, medium eyes, light eyes” – you have to be staring to be sure of the difference between blue, gray, brown, and hazel, and it’s likely it’ll look different depending on the lighting, and different again if they’re wearing glasses of any kind, and god help you if it’s bright and they’re squinting.

  • Some extremely weird stabs at pokemon as thinking individuals today.

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