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.

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