Friday, April 5, 2013

The Host - Movie/Book

I've recently seen the movie - The Host.  It's based on the book by Stephenie Meyer.  I've mentioned previously that I was both looking forward to seeing the movie and dreading it.  We all know that the movie version of a decent book loses a lot in the transmogrification from word to image.  The translating can be good or bad, the necessary alterations might even change the tale.  Some attempts are best forgotten.
What's interesting in this, is first, seeing a trailer for the movie, I thought it would be decent.  I like the young actress chosen to play Melanie/Wanderer, Saoirse Ronan.  Then seeing the second trailer I realized they'd needed to add some action and drama and… it didn't sit well with my impression.  Of course it only added to my mixed feelings approaching a viewing.
I almost skipped it.
I'm glad I saw it in a theater.
I liked it.  I like the book more, but the movie did a decent job and told the story.
There is no way to know how I'd think of the movie if I hadn't read the book first.  It's not possible to forget the book to let the move stand separately.  So, I can't know if so many people are so critical of the movie because they didn't read the book, or they all wanted something on the Twilight level.  A lot of people get turned off as soon as the idea of Science Fiction comes up, alien invaders and what-all.  And of course if you have Science Fiction you need a lot of action and explosions or shoot-ups or something rather than just a story.
Going back to the book, it is a story.  The development of a character like Melanie isn't a cookie cutter process, given the conditions she must live in and deal with.  Our empathy for Melanie is something that needed to be developed.  We had to watch her grow into the character.   Then we had to learn of Wanderer.  We had to watch their struggle, their friction and then their cooperation.  Stephenie did a great job of it in the book, it still took a lot of words, but it worked.
In the movie you can't explain every little nuance of characterization, you had to watch it unfold.  Saoirse Ronan did an excellent job with the dual nature of herself.  The abbreviated story lines, from book to movie, are the elements of difficulty… again.  Each point in the book is developed with well-crafted verbiage, each trial, each footstep on whatever path is deliberate.
The movie holds the same deliberation but the brevity thwarts the needed compassion that carries the audience into the story.  For example - the imprisonment of Wanderer (It) in the cell-like cave - in the book it's a trial, she's cramped for space, in a little cubby hole where she can't stand upright, can't stretch out, can't lie comfortably.  The psychological torture that she goes through is painful.  The struggle with Jared hating her while she loves him, both of her, and what that does to her.  All of it (in the book) unfolds through days she can't count in the dark. (with no exchange of words with her brother).  Of course in the movie you need to show something so it's lit (rather than pitch dark).  And you need a faster progression.
When they first deal with Wanderer (in the book) they treat her with contempt, keeping her in the tiny, tiny cell.  Then they learn of her.  As she tells about herself, tells of her different lives on other planets, most of them learn compassion for her, or at least acceptance.  So when they later capture the Seeker (Diane Kruger) they automatically treat her with more compassion, even though she's nastily and tedeously tenacious (in the book), putting her in a larger cell.  Wanda/Melanie's reaction to that juxtaposition (even though she taught them) is telling and nicely told.
I don't know.
I can't decide.
Since I read the book a number of times I couldn't not know what was going on in the movie.
Okay… decision time… YES.  Reading the book, liking it, makes a difference in enjoying the movie.  I did enjoy it.  I loved how they had Saoirse play her role.  The 'voice' of Melanie was nicely done.
The FX of the Soul, when put into Melanie, was better than when they took the Seeker out of Lucy (the Seeker's human host).  Making it into a luminous FX creature… awww… I don't know.  I would've preferred a silvery look with a little bit of luminosity, but that's just me, I had an image left over from the book, my imagination.
Thinking through the movie there are so many parts where the brevity lessens or negates the emotional impact that I would recommend reading the book AFTER seeing the movie, if you didn't before.  One reason, of course, is that you now have character images to use while reading, even though Diane Kruger doesn't match the Seeker character (from what I remember).  I refuse to open the book to test myself.  The last time I did that I wound up reading the entire book again.
So, read the book.  See the movie.
If you saw the movie and didn't really like it, read the book, I think it will make you appreciate the story all the more.
Or, maybe, see the movie and then read the book.
I can't try that.
Aaargh, there's just so much, every time I flash to an image of the movie, I'm caught thinking of how the book told more about it, more depth, more emotion… It's one thing that Stephenie captures… emotions.  She does it by making characters to care for.
Crap… I'm going to have to read that book again… I feel it coming on…
Hopefully I'll get back to my main topic in my next blog, which (I hope) won't be so freaking long in coming.

Monday, February 4, 2013

On To a Fading Sun

Since it's been such a long time since my last blog, I'll finish off the thoughts of that one at this beginning.  Concerning The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey.  I liked it.  I can't say that I had any serious, set-in-stone, expectations about what Peter Jackson would do with the story but the movie was fun.  Some of the scenes were wonderfully enacted, scripted and played, for fans of the books, and others were silly to create fans for the movie.  I suppose it was a juggling act.  As I mentioned, regarding the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, there had to be certain elements added and enhanced to entertain a movie going audience, rather than a literary audience.

Considering that statement, I believe the books, the first four of that world of Middle Earth, were presented to a more literate world, and therefore a more interested public.  I know that they were first printed in Great Britain and the language is the English of that nation, but we in the United States could read and appreciate it as well.  Those books had a profound impact on the future of literature and gaming.  They still impact our sub-cultures, although I wonder how many have read the books these days rather than watch the movies.
Anyway, leaving movies behind, this blog is supposed to be about books… the books that fascinated me and continued to grip me.  Oh, here's a kind of side thought.  I've found that most of the readers I know only read a book once.  They may read a book twice if they really liked it.  It struck me as odd.  Maybe I'm the odd one.  I know I used to read The Lord of the Rings set once a year from when I first found it.  I read Glory Road by Robert Heinlein once a year as well.  There were many books I read repeatedly.  They were good and fun stories and reading them again and again was like visiting worlds I loved.  Yes, I suppose I'm the odd one.  Like I've said previously, I read The Host, by Stephanie Meyer several times in a row.  Waiting for the movie. 
Do we read a book just to say we did?  I read for pleasure, or because several friends in the YOTB group I'm in at the library insist I do.  (I'm glad I did)  That book was Rising Up by Pamela Bender, a fictionalized family saga.  (One of those stories to cry over and through).
So, back on track…
C. J. Cherryh… author.  I can't even list the number of books she's written.  If you want to know, go to her website, it's very well kept… she's webmaster.  She's one of those authors who I would seek out at the bookstore with the familiar yellow spine from DAW.  (Yes, back to when they had bookstores in the malls)  I know I did not keep up with her prolific writing over the years… don't know why.  (Well, my life took some of my time and money is always tight)   I still have bookshelves.  (I'm selling my house, so I'm starting to minimize my holdings.)  So when I was thinking of which book to mention here, I looked at one of the authors taking up a large amount of space… in the one paperback section.  I have many of her books in hardback, too.
The Faded Sun Trilogy: Kesrith (1978), Shon'jir (1978), Kutath (1979).
I've read these books several times over the years and again this last weekend.  I'm not a speed reader, I don't skim.  This is a science fiction story.  It's a story of conflict, peace and genocide, fears and policies… it's a futuristic story and an ancient story.  It's a story that stands in any time.  The characters and the various species are fascinating, even the humans. 
We meet the mri.  In their tongue it means 'the people.' 
C.J. Cherryh creates an intricate culture and reveals the elaborate details in bits and pieces as the story goes on.  From the kel, veiled and robed warriors, the sen, scholars, to the kath, mothers and caregivers… we learn of a culture that has existed for hundreds of thousands of years.  Humans have only known the kel, through a forty year war.  They've learned that they were mercenaries hired by the regul to war.
The regul are an extremely long-lived trader species with eidetic memories and elaborate, intricate, self-serving politics.
Okay, here's the back cover of the first book… I don't usually do this but in this case it's worth it.
"This is the story of three people: Sten Duncan, a soldier of humanity; Niun, last warrior of the mri, humanity's enemies; Melein, priestess-queen of the final fallen mri stronghold.
"This is the story of two mighty species fighting for a galaxy: humanity driving out from Earth, and the enigmatic regul struggling to hold their stars with mri mercenaries.
"This is a story of diplomacy and warfare, of conspiracy and betrayal, and of three flesh-and-blood people who found themselves thrown together in a life-and-death alliance."
That last statement is the most important for anything I've ever read of C.J. Cherryh's.  Her characters are flesh and blood.  They live in our imaginations for the manner of her writing.  A book can only hold so many words, and when a page or two draws you into a story and compels you to continue, you know a master is directing those words.  From the first you're frustrated for the mri Niun, trained by weapon masters but untried, a young warrior held back from war, while all his peers leave for glory.  And now the war is over.
Melein, Niun's true-sister, raised kel but then pulled into sen by Intel, She'pan, Mother, Priestess, Queen of these mri, to a separate life and training.  She is concerned for her brother but Intel keeps her close. 
Sten Duncan, human, a Surface Tactical Force officer, an expert at surviving in hostile environments and behind enemy lines.  Now he is aide to the human envoy, governor-to-be, George Stavros, heading to the planet Kesrith, aboard a regul ship.  We learn of his frustrations, anger, bitterness of war… all in recognizable human terms in alien environs.
The people, the worlds… the creatures called dusei… all of it woven into a brilliant tapestry of story.  Once again it was a story that held me, keeping me up late into the night and turning from one book to the next until I was finished.  I recommend it for the samurai-like nature of the kel, the comradeship and characters, the intrigue and stars.  There's nothing about it that I wouldn't recommend.  The, perhaps, unfortunate thing, is that having read these familiar books I might be digging into the next of her books on my shelves.  I'll wait and see.
If you want a copy of her early books, I recommend going to her website first -  C.J. Cherryh is an author to investigate from her first books through whatever she has currently.  She inspired me to read a little more often than she inspired me to write, but when writing I've often considered her worlds and style. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Would Shunning Stop Monsters?

I'm making a really radical change from my normal format here.  Rather than write about books at this particular time, I had an idea about the monsters we have in society.  I'm not talking about sparkling vampires this time.  I'm talking about the kind of people who take the lives of innocents.  Whether it's in a movie theater or in a school.  No matter the location, these people are monsters and should be dealt with and then FORGOTTEN.

That's what I said... we forget the monsters.  We don't use their name in the newspaper or the blogs or on television.  Give them a number and deal with them.  Take them to court or bury them if they take themselves out.  Does that sound harsh?  Oh my god.  Let's be a little bit harsh.

Think of it as Shunning.  We don't have to be familiar with Amish or Mennonite societies to know what Shunning is and what it does as a psychological device.  Forget them.  Turn your back on their name, strike it from all public records.  Why should we have a historical account of every mass murderer, kidnapper or sniper rather than a record and monument to the victims?

You want to write a book about a serial killer?  Fine.  But that's not what I'm talking about. 

Journalists and reporters could think about this, they are the ones on the front lines of the media hype.  This is therefor a war... an info war... if you will, but why make it seem glamorous?  It's not glamorous, it's tragic.  Focus on the victims, raise up the families, support the efforts to prevent this type of criminal act.

Shunning might work to lessen the attractiveness of being a killer.  If you know your name is going to be deleted, if your history is erased, what do you leave behind?  Why not leave a testament of good works?  Help your neighbor.  Help build a playground and make it safe.  Why plan any of the cruelties that rev up the twisted psyche?  Plan something nice... be remembered for that.

It occurred to me that professional, televised, baseball games avoid showing the streakers and loony fans who run onto the field and disrupt life... and the game.  Of course then everyone with a cell phone records it and passes it around the web making them famous, after all.  But what if we considered the monster we're creating with that type of hype?  What if we cease and desist?  What if we were mature, adult, reasonably intelligent, at least, about these things? 

We often complain that news reporting is all about sensationalism, wow, there's news.  What if we shunned the reports that only hyped the killers?  What if we listened to the helpful things being done?  What about making a case for good news?

I know that nothing will stop bad people from doing bad things except their own consciences.  But if we found a tool to turn the initial impetus of those thoughts from wreaking havoc, wouldn't that be worthy of everyone's consideration and support.  If something like Shunning, or some other psyche tool, was used with responsible reporting of news events and it avoided even one more massacre, isn't that worthwhile?

Maybe you have a better idea.  Maybe you have something to say that could turn people from taking their first giant evil step.  I submit that erasing their names would deter those whose only motivation is their ego.  It certainly can't hurt.

Monsters should be kept in books, where they belong.  We enjoy a good fright, a good crime story and horror stories... but to take them out into public and let them loose... forget it.

I hope the few people who look at this are giving a prayer for those hurt by the shooting and every other tragedy that this country and the world deal with every day. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving... and The Hobbit

The thing about my blog is that I'm so random it's not funny.  I won't get into my personal life, since it's not interesting… to anyone… except to say that you need to watch your books.  That's right.  Watch your books.  I'm doing some house excavating since I'm trying to sell the old place and I've found books that I thought were perfectly fine, except for a little age smell to them.  Well, a word to the wise here, a book that smells aged is only so much paper getting set to be recycled.  Anything with mold or mildew won't make it in a throwaway world. 

We're not talking about classics, just some children's books that sat too long in occasional humidity and sunlight.  How was I supposed to know that was a… okay, really, I didn't know they were just sitting there like that, anyway.  Most of the books put away were in boxes and they were just fine… I think.  So… where I was going with this is, when you store books away use dry containers, dry locations, maybe - I'm going to experiment with a bacterial type of spray when I have to box most of mine up… since I imagine they'll sit for a time before going on shelves.  I'll likely use plastic tubs rather than cardboard, or plastic bag liners… I'll have to find the best storage method before I do.  I already have books that are in cautious condition but only for their age, nothing to do with mold or mildew.

So, let's get to the real reason for this blog… books that have inspired me in the past.

And this is a great time to bring up a book I've avoided because no one has ever forgotten it.  The Hobbit.  Yes, it's a classic and most people have read it a few times and seen versions of it animated, but it is now coming to the big screen from the man who brought The Lord of the Rings trilogy to life, Peter Jackson.

The Hobbit.  It's the story of young Bilbo Baggins and his adventure with the dwarves.  The wizard Gandalf includes him as a final lucky number to their group.  We all know how the story goes… if any of you don't I suggest reading the book.  It is fun.

I have nothing against the Lord of the Rings movies, I love them, I'm actually watching it(read - have it on in the background) as I'm writing this.  Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, have just entered the underground passage to meet the ghosts… 

I used to read the four books… I include The Hobbit as a prequel and a part of the set… every year.  As my library expanded I read them less often.  As my writing increased I barely read them at all.  And then the movies came out and I have all three in extended versions and I watch them again and again, more often than I read the books.  Of course that  made me lazy about the books and I tended to enjoy the movies.

Then, one day, when I had a job where I drove to work, I listened to the undiluted CDs of The Lord of the Rings.  It was interesting to hear the difference.  There were parts where I wouldn't have recognized the movie was based on the book at all.  Even with an extended version of the movie, Peter Jackson had to pare down the story… shorten it.  Then, since he wasn't making a literary work, he had to add extra moments of drama and - what was missing from the books - romance.

What?  Didn't the books have romance, you say.  Well, not exactly.  Mr. Tolkien was a British gentleman, but, while I do believe there was romance of a type in his mind, he was all about the fellowship of the men.  His experience in life, with war and with teaching, was one of fellowship… look at the Inklings… though they had females among them, it was a fellowship of writers.  Fellowships aren't about romance, except in a pure sense, at least there was no sex but a platonic relationship between fellows. 

Obviously, by the title of the first book, we should realize the direction Mr. Tolkien is going.  Also, keep in mind that a British idea of fellowship can be a bit different than an American (United States) version of fellowship, in a general way.  His story is about a group of men who come together for a specific purpose, the disposition of a Ring, and grow close through trials and tribulations.  Even the four hobbits grow through it all.  There is a great deal more depth in the books than in the movie, but a great deal less romance.  The elven princess does not find the hapless ranger nurturing a wounded Frodo and make a heroic stand at the river against the black riders.  One version stands as a book and the other as a movie.  However, a princess of the Rohirrim does take a hobbit into battle under her cloak.  Mr. Tolkien was not against females, but his story dealt with war and death and dying and I believe he wished to keep most women free of that, at least in an idealized way.

Why have I written a (tiny) critique of The Lord of the Rings movie vs. books?  Well, it's because The Hobbit is a similar story.  There are no female dwarves in the party.  There is no romantic lead in the book.  Again, it's a story of a fellowship, and it brings about the growth and education of one hobbit… after all, he's the star of the show.

What Mr. Jackson and his team do with the story is yet to be seen, but I anticipate the viewing of it.  I'm certain, simply from trailers and his previous work that it will be enjoyable.  I will wait to get all three extended versions… I must.

Oh, right, yes, The Hobbit inspired me in both my reading and writing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trying Hard not to Slack

It's been some time since I wrote my last entry and the way things are going I have no idea of when another will be posted.  I can only hope that things are going to fall into a pattern soon.
I noticed that my last blog only mentioned three of the books I've published on but at this point I have six books available there… all of  The Merged Worlds series (not the end of the series, yet).  I'll list them at the end of this entry, along with addresses and a 50% off code for the first two.
So, to business…
No.  One more thing before I knuckle down to a blog (probably why I haven't made an entry - I get distracted).  I joined up with the Year Of The Book at my library.  There I was, using one of their computers to go online (oh, another thing, my keypad on my laptop… it got ruined… the connection to the motherboard.  So, my laptop is no longer portable or, if so, is a kind of ghetto thing with a keyboard wider than the computer).  Anyway, I was minding my own business… and this really nice lady comes and twists my arm, threatening me with friendliness, telling me I need to join and write a book in a year.  There was a meeting the same day, a few hours hence, and they'd all started on Labor Day... I had to read...
So, now I'm writing a book… in a year.  I can do that.  No problem.
Business… this is a blog of books past.  Books that inspired me or simply carried me away to a world I'd never heard of before.  (Yes, the premise of this blog is evolving)
One of my favorite authors -  Tara K. Harper.  WOLFWALKER.  1990
A Del Rey book under Ballantine Publishers.
Talk about getting carried away in the first page… geez…
Ember Dione maMarin - Wolfwalker and healer.  She has a psychic connection to a wolf, Gray Hishn.
If you like action, adventure, and a world created with greater depth than the one you live in, this is the book and series for you.  Ms. Harper bio-engineered an entire world and culture that will fascinate you and keep you guessing and wanting to know more.  And that's only the background.  The characters are strong and moving and their growth through the perils that they face makes you want to know them… or help them.
It's a straight enough story (every story is) but the complications of the world and politics makes it all the more gripping.
I could say that Ember sets out with her twin brother, Rhom, on a journey that is like a coming of age challenge for Rhom.  Destiny casts a vote and Ember must go with him. Then… things get crazy from there… (remember, I don't like giving things away)
There's a parallel story line initially when Aranur Bentar neDannon, weaponsmaster, goes in pursuit of his sister, when she's captured by slavers…
Yes, it's one of those books.  A great one…
It's a thrill ride… the thrills are all in the adventure and the discoveries that you make as a reader (so I shan't tell you of any). 
In the tradition of Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey, Ms. Harper spins a tale that grabs you and shows you things you never expected to find.
I have ten of Ms. Harper's books in front of me.  I'm not sure if she has more.  Seven of them, I think, are of the Wolfwalker series.  Two are great cats and the other looks like science fiction from the cover.  That's called LIGHTWINGS and while I know I read it, I'm waiting for an opportune moment to open the pages and test myself.
For once, I checked out her bio site, finding it a little less than current, and Tara sounds like a great person, with energy and imagination. 
Where am I going to find time to read all ten books, though? 

Anyway, at the top, I said I'd list my books and here they are. 

Too Much Magic -   50% discount code is DA93E  valid thru 1/30/13
Vampire's Magic -  50% discount code is DF36Z valid thru 1/30/13
Pepper's Magic -
Artificial Magic -
Unexpected Magic -
Hunter's Magic -
coming soon:
Timely Magic

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Young Adult books Come and Go

Okay, you know the problem I have with young adult books?
Neither do I, except there are so many and I no longer have a young adult around reading such books.  That means I have to go into the library and get my own.
I mean, I don't pretend I'm checking them out for my kids.  YA books have great stories.
Right, that's today and this is all about books past and so I have to go back to when my daughter got me into reading young adult fantasy.  (Okay, we're pretending here that I stopped reading it on my own)(At least she introduced me to some new things)(Alright, alright, I have no excuses)
It didn't last long, don't worry. 
I mean… it didn't last long for her, she was soon into John Grisham, leaving me to fend for myself.
Which books were they, you ask?
Yes, teen twin witches.
A really great young adult series.
A really, really, really great series, great storytelling, great characters.
And do you want to know what the problem with the series was?
Disney made it into a movie.
They  trashed the whole series. 
Made me physically sick.
Every time I look at the books (yes, they are on my shelves) I get a flashback sick feeling.
At least I got the rant out of the way in the beginning of the blog this time.

T'Witches. Bk 1 - The Power of Two. 2001 by H.B.Gilmour & Randi Reisfeld, published by Scholastic
Think Parent Trap for witches but with a hundred more things going on… kind of without the parents. (and without Disney)
A young teenage soccer player from a nice eastcoast school hears voices and has visions, Camryn Barnes, with mojo.  Great parents, great house, great friends, everything is nice in her life.  Although sometimes she thinks she's going crazy.
Then there's Alexandra Nicole Fielding living in a rusting trailer on poverty's edge, with her mom, and dreaming about getting a real life out in the world.  She works in a cowboy theme park… things tend to fly when she's upset.
Of course you see where this is going.
Girl meets girl and things go sideways.
They're only fourteen years old so there are no hunky werewolves coming onto the scene or vampires for that matter.  This is all about witches and their secret society.  They live in the human world and separate.
Later in the series there may be a hunky witch boy or two so don't worry, if you get into it…
This isn't only about sisters finding they've been separated just after birth (although obviously that's a huge part of it).  It's about power and politics and trust and betrayal, love and faith, the kind of things that teens are learning about in real life.  It's about family and friends and looking for answers and making mistakes… then learning how to deal with them.
It's a ten book series… I think only ten books… sorry, uncertainty rules here.  But it's a cohesive story with a delightful set of characters.
Smuggled away from their home after they were born they were separated to keep them safe from an evil uncle.  Talismans of power, gifts of their father, stayed with them and later take an active part of their lives.  Left alone for the sake of security the twins are watched over by good witches and hunted for by the bad.
Cam and Alex need to uncover the secrets of their past and do so… in that gradual way that makes for a certain level of suspense.
If I remember correctly the authors did a good job of creating those you don't want to open that door type of moments.  Or don't trust him, Cam, don't listen, Alex.
There was plenty of depth to the story and I was kept interested.
I just reread the entire series about three years ago so my recommendation stands.
I still have this problem about giving things away in the stories I'm talking about… I want you to read them and find the little hidden things.
Of course that means…
Never mind.

Anyway to close out this blog today I wanted to say I just published the Smashwords edition of book three of my - The Merged Worlds series - Pepper's Magic.
I don't know if I ever said I published the first two with smashwords, but, I did.

I hope you'll check them out.  They may not have twins but they do have witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and more…

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Problem With Reading

Okay, as far as past books go I haven't quite left the stories of the Diadem by Jo Clayton.
I read Star Hunters and The Nowhere Hunt and it shows a swerve in the path of the stories, when Aleytys, the star of the series, joins an organization that's kind of a detective agency, repo team and protection service.  She does it because one of their agents helped her out and she thinks it sounds like a good use of her skills and it pays well.  She's still on a quest to find her mother and her people but it's no rush. 
A lot of interesting twists and turns go on amidst the straight plot of her mission.
What Ms. Clayton does especially well is create an alien culture in which Aleytys must work.  In The Nowhere Hunt, almost half or more of the story is told by the natives of the planet where Aleytys must go.  An entire culture is created as the background of the story, except it's not really the background but a major player in the story.
The same is true for Star Hunters, of course.  It's a mission where Aleytys was requested by those of the planet to help.  That part of the story turns out to be something twisted and interesting.  But the majority of the story is about the natives and what they go through.  At one point it seems to be the coming of age of one of the characters.  It's also a nice story of female empowerment, women's rights in a very repressive society.
I don't know that Ms. Clayton deliberately wrote allegories of the world she lived in and the changes that were necessary but most writers who use reality as a basis for character development wind up doing it.  Like poems, a good story reveals a lot about the character of the author rather than only about the character of the characters.
Previously I suggested that Ms. Clayton may have had some hippy in her, maybe she did, maybe not but the creation of a strong female character like Aleytys gave her ample room to display the dysfunction of society.  She points out stereotypes and the dangers of assuming people are automatically like us just because we manage to communicate.  Several situations display the difficulties that women have in breaking from traditional standards. 
It isn't just that she points them out and creates changes she shows the power and hope that such change could inspire.  Unfortunately, like the hippy movement, only those already predisposed to change will actually change.  When dealing with the peer pressure of an entire society (including politics, economics, prejudices, isolationism and the continual degradation of the supporting infrastructure) most wind up a part of the situation or living in a commune or a hermitage. 
While very few people read this I'm still making a point, the point on one hand is that while few read this, even fewer will think it credible or of any value.  The idea that Ms. Clayton may have introduced changes to the world culture through her science fiction is no less credible than any other author touching those of the world.  Those who read her books were moved or entertained.  She did make an impact and it showed her heart.  I recommend looking up her website, put together as a memorial to her.  It will show how many people she touched.
Fear No Art.
We all hear of that saying but how many people care what it means or why it's necessary.
Artists of all media reflect the world around them, showing what we love, hate or hope for.  Many artists merely reflect the works of artists they seek to emulate.  The reason we should not Fear Art is that it also points to freedom… or I should say FREEDOM.
Every artist is pointing at beauty, love or another of the great motivating ideals that rule all cultures.  We know that even in the most repressed culture there is a seed germinating and seeking sunlight, the seed is hope.  Everyone everywhere seeks a breath of fresh air or a drink of pure water… it is human nature.
So why am I going off on a rant? 
Eh, don't bother asking.
If you need to ask, you don't know enough.  Since you don't know enough, think about the ignition temperature of paper.  Or why soylent green is not a color.  I'm writing this on the Fourth of July.  A day of celebration for something long past.
I write a lot, especially when the muse grabs me.  The thing I have often wondered about my stories, as they go past a hundred thousand words, is why those in the story are somehow trying to save the world?  I've created a line of good seers fighting a line of wicked for control of the future.  I've created a kidnapped and imprisoned woman who guides an ancient House into a saving role in their future.  Another is a tale wherein a woman is the pet of two immortal aliens who need a plan to change the future of mankind, to save the world and all free humans.
The same type of thing evolves in the books I have epublished and will soon put out as Smashwords editions.
So, dropping the rant, I go back to Jo Clayton and the next book Ghosthunt.
Unfortunately I can't read someone else's book and write my own so I go back and forth, a lot.