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To "E" & Edwardswifey

Thank you for going back and reviewing BRD.  It's been a nice lift in a less than stellar week.  I don't know if you will check over here, but thanks and I thought I would go ahead and comment.  The whole of that story was a triumph of inspiration of the moment over planning.  Big chunks (of which you have noticed some already) were reactions to fandom convention.  The guards were there because only stupid monarchs would not have personal body guards.  The "learning the business of governance" line was actually taken from some fan fic.  The only reason why I invented Morgan was because I had written those lines Edmund delivers about his names and titles and he needed someone to say them to.  The line about "so long as it isn't brother, father, or Peter" was there as another fandom spoof of the incest and love triangle stories.  There was a long bit eventually cut where Morgan explains that she is actually in Narnia for management training because she is such rubbish with people for yes, I very much saw Peter as CEO.  I was playing with management styles and, in another fandom reaction, DID NOT want to show Susan as list making and throwing parties.

As for the morality issues, which are danced around throughout the story (they aren't just Dancing with the dryads), and the chapter 4 depiction, well, I had no idea this would cause the kerfuffle that it did.  I had looked around and seen that it was practically canon that Edmund was raped by Jadis and Rilian by the LOTGK, and then there with all those stories with angsty Suspian,  girl falls into Narnia, love triangles, and Susan raped for her apostasy. I naively concluded that showing adults in  humorous and consensual conduct that was actually FUN would be pretty unremarkable.  Heh. 

I was playing with several ideas as well:  importance of succession; the mythological and biological proclivities of plants; culture clashes; imperialism; the historical escapades of the British monarchy; and equalization of power in an intimate relationship when one party is a ruling monarch.  A line I remember (it might have been from Edward VII) was that if a King expressed an interest in a man's wife, the husband kept his mouth shut and accepted the compliment.  I learned as well that the War really played havoc on the sexual contentment of the British, with a survey conducted in 1948 documenting rampant homosexuality and lesbianism, pre-marital sex and extra-marital relationships.  The results were so shocking, they were suppressed for 50 years.  The influx of American GIs in advance of D Day was another important factor, though of course that came later.


Anyway, thank you for reading. 

To Edwardswifey:  Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Chapter 22 of TQSiT.  I understand you didn't like the swearing.  In this case it was an English RAF pilot swearing, and after seeing a murder.  There are no Americans in the scene at all.  Also, I was concerned about what swear words to use to assure they were appropriate to 1942 and found the text of the speech that General Patton gave to the American troops in advance of D Day 2 years later.  Patton was, of course, an American and very profane.  The link is here and the words I put in Tebbitt's mouth in that scene are a heavily sanitized version of what Patton actually said.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
ILU, so, so much. However, I do want to point out that while rape is okay, consensual sex is not, and I think I just threw up a little typing that. UGH, FANDOM.

(Hey, do you have recommended sources for postwar England sexy times? Specifically teenage rebellion, premarital sex and out-of-wedlock pregnancy? I've got a book (whee!) but it's about Americans, and I have to start googling, but I thought I would ask just in case you'd come across something.)
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC)
There's this link, which talks about the Kinsey survey, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4293978.stm

Also, there is a lot of information on the impact on England of the Americans coming over for the D Day build up. George Orwell said to the effect: Americans are over paid, over fed, over sexed and over here. To the Americans, the British were underpaid, underfed, under sexed and under Eisenhower. The impact of the American GIs was huge, with their better uniforms, more money, chocolate, stockings, and access to condoms. Prevention of SDTs was a priority for Roosevelt when he was under scretary of the navy and so he assured distribution of condoms to sailors. Every soldier at D Day had condoms in his pack (I saw the packs at the New Orleans WW2 museum). I've not really focused on this, but I think if you start looking, you'll find a lot. Also, this is right after the abdication crisis and the very popular King "Bertie" died in 1910. I think there is plenty to work with if you want to go there.

I actually come at it all from a different angle which is that culturally Narnia was a very, very different place than England and it created a certain tolerance for differentness. I don't assume that trees or solitary Cats, or songbirds mate for life when that's not what they do in nature and so it required a far more flexible view of things. Species differences in bonding and reproductive behavior is a sort of shorthand for exploring cultural difference and tolerance.
Jun. 25th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
Excuse me, I think I am personally offended by your claims above that sex is an acceptable and even amusing activity for a person to engage in. Clearly, it is in fact the height of all sin and the most disgusting manifestation of our human weakness that there can ever be, and I simply cannot accept that our Most Glorious and Holy Monarchs, the Pure and Perfect Pevensies, would ever, ever engage in such activity of loose morality.

Therefore, it is clearly my duty to not read your stories - oh, wait, I've already read them all? What? Oh, guess I'm a bad person. Shucks.

I'll bring the marshmallows for toasting.

I was playing with management styles and, in another fandom reaction, DID NOT want to show Susan as list making and throwing parties.
This, once again, just - AMEN.
Jun. 25th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
I'll bring the marshmallows for toasting.

If god had not meant us to have sex, she would have made it less fun.

Also we have lots of marshmallows, but we're light on hotdog rolls. (Yes, I do know people organizing the afterlife BBQ. What?)
Jun. 25th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC)
amen, Amen, AMEN. (to all of the above : )
Jun. 25th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
I adore that icon. And God does indeed have quite a sense of humor.
Jun. 25th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
Well, as I am the old crone elder, clearly it is I who have seduced others to the Dark Side. I'll get right to that after I answer all my child's questions from his week in "family life" class at public school, and while gearing up for the teachable moments to come with my tween friends eager to see Eclipse in which I expound upon how pre-marital chastity will not make the rest of a dangerously bad relationship good.
Jun. 25th, 2010 04:50 am (UTC)
Oh isn't it wonderful when people comment on stories :P :D

(And I'll bring the hotdog rolls if someone brings the picnic blanket)
Jun. 25th, 2010 08:27 am (UTC)
Afterlife Picnic
I'll bring the blanket and the chocolate and crackers, cause I wanna try s'mores (Not sure on the spelling)! Someone else need to bring the rice krispies though!
Jun. 25th, 2010 10:10 am (UTC)
I've always been happy for any commentary I get even if it makes me wince. I work for brutal editors in RL, so this is not so very different. It's better than the billowing silence and equivocations in which I can but assume that long time readers have thrown up their hands and left in disgust or ambivalence -- a conclusion I've been wrestling with given how TQSiT has ended.

In this case, I'm delighted that E responded to BRD. And I've got a picnic blanket and will bring some wine and maybe Bacchus will show up.
Jun. 25th, 2010 08:30 am (UTC)
You know, I might be wrong and all, as I haven't really been on ff.n much as of late, but isn't there a nifty little rating level button or something fandangled like that which, if you're under a certain age, you can filter out stories for Big Kids Who Leik SexyTeimz (TM)and be left with all those above mentioned terribly written self-insert stories?

And, y'know, I'm pretty sure you make it fairly clear at the beginning of each story about the appropriate age groups and some general warnings about things like SexyTeimz, and really, why do people feel the need to read an entire story before complaining to the author about how they don't like said story? If you don't like a story, or what the author is saying in her story, then--gasp, novel concept!--stop reading it!

If I ever managed to write a Narnia story that was more than a one-shot, I would totally follow your lead, rth, and make all of the characters something more than saints and apostles and eunuchs.

(And wouldn't that be an interesting accusation for someone like, I don't know, Rabastan maybe, to make towards Peter? *grins innocently*)
Jun. 25th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
You get right on that last idea, Keeper. So not going there. Nope. Nope. LA LA LA

In the case of the recent TQSiT reviewer who objected, her statements were in the nature of what I have heard and received before. I do empathize with these readers in that that they perceive their morality as constantly under attack by modern secular society and they view this fandom proprietorially as a safe and sacred place. Work such as mine is highly disrespectful to Lewis and inconsistent with canon, Christian allegory and the medieval ethos of the story. Oddly, I came to understand that view after traveling in the Islamic world and having Muslim family members and so see better the perspective that American-style cultural, religious, and commercial dominance was threatening and disturbing to some Muslims. Lady_Songsmith pointed out that at least in this fandom, readers are fortunate that there is a lot of high quality gen fic to chose from. I am always sorry to alienate readers over this because I just hear them thinking, "WHY did Rth have to go that far? I was with her to that point." And it is a fair criticism.
This is one of the points that I am pondering in the TQSiT decline.
Jun. 25th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
Work such as mine is highly disrespectful to Lewis and inconsistent with canon, Christian allegory and the medieval ethos of the story.

Except that it isn't, because Lewis was fully conversant with the seedier side of life, and even hinted about it in the Narnia books (and need I point out that he put in Bacchus?), and the 'medieval ethos' is a Victorian pastiche picked up by Hollywood. Medieval folk were horny, bawdy bastards. Shakespeare is relatively clean compared to some of the earlier stuff, and we all know what he put in his plays. Heck, just the existence of the pages and pages of Church rulings against a variety of sexual sins tells us that we're not getting up to anything these days that our ancestors weren't. You don't legislate against things that aren't happening, and you don't repeatedly legislate against things unless you were ignored the first umpty-ump times. (Really, the Church's medieval rulings on sexual practices convey the sense of someone flailing their arms and shouting, "STOP IGNORING ME!" into a gale-force wind.)
Jun. 25th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
OK, so I understand what you're saying re the threat to moral conviction, etc, so I get where these reviews are coming from. I just don't agree, that's all. I don't know what it exactly; maybe I've become less rigid or narrow-minded as I've gotten older, but I'm no longer as fixed in my opinions as I was when I was 18, and I'm no longer dealing with so many absolutes. I'm always going to try to do the right thing, but I don't necessarily expect anyone else to conform to the tenets of my moral code. To get to the point, isn't it more disrespectful of me to expect others to conform to exactly what I believe, with no regard to their beliefs, judgement or life experience? Life isn't a safe little box, and I am not God to know what is right, wrong or best, so why should I expect that to be so. I've found some wonderful things by not staying locked inside my own self-imposed boundaries, even though that's hard. Yes, there are some truly awful things that happen in life, but I don't accept that fanfic (even if it's "morally ambiguous") is one of them.

Right, going to climb down off the soapbox now. Rant over : )
Jun. 25th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
Well, I am very, very old, and so of course share precisely your view. And bringing it back to fan fic, while I can see where some come away with the perspective that they do, I also see this amazing message of inclusiveness and tolerance and that judgment belongs to Aslan alone. Even if such alternative viewpoints were not canon compliant (though I think they are), I find the beauty of derivative fic is that it explores and stretches and is not bound by what someone has divined the original content creator's intent to be years after his death. I saw a fic writer in this fandom say in a Board post that, essentially, those who were not adhering to the original intent and Christian allegorical morality of the Chronicles as she was, should just get out of the fandom because they don't belong there.
Jun. 25th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
Right, so define 'author's intent'. Lewis never came out and said in so many words that this was a Christian allegory (though it's fairly obvious), and the man's no longer with us to ask. Isn't it both disrespectful and (potentially) hypocritical to tell others that they must 'get out' because the stories they want to tell don't conform to the poster's version of the 'author's intent'? Isn't that just a fandom way of playing God?

Oh, and btw, I realized that my previous post could be construed as me saying that I find your stories morally ambiguous. Point of clarification - NOT my view at all
Jun. 25th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
"WHY did Rth have to go that far? I was with her to that point."

The thing is though? You don't go that far. In fact, there's less actual sex in your stories than in some so called "gen fics". Which, by the by, there aren't that many well written gen fics in this fandom. At least in my opinion.

And having the characters engaging in healthy, consensual relationships is so much better than some of the things the authors have them doing. And, yeah, personal squick here (that I know most people share), incest, eww.

And if you feel your morality is being threatened by something like this, you must be living under a rock in regards to every other aspect of life, because you can't pick up a book or the newspaper or turn on the tv or the radio without being inundated with more sex than you show.

Don't mind me getting huffy over other people trying to nay-say your writing. Some of us enjoy it quite a bit and would be sad to ever see it go away. Because honestly? What you write isn't romance, precisely--there's romance involved, but it's not the focus of the story (except maybe in H&M and even that's arguable). Rather like life, that, and that's what's so damn refreshing about your writing.

And hey, I've read some of Lewis' other works, and you've certainly not been any more or less graphic than he ever was.
Jun. 25th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
And yes again. It occurs to me that we're preaching to and (in my case) ranting at the converted.
: )
Jun. 25th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
And having the characters engaging in healthy, consensual relationships is so much better than some of the things the authors have them doing. And, yeah, personal squick here (that I know most people share), incest, eww.
I was ranting to myself in the car after dropping kids off at a sleepover. I had been developing this idea more fully in the later chapters of TQSiT and I wonder if this is one of the things that caused the drop in readership because I went too far. I attempted to show Susan as a young woman who is aware of her own desires and wants but who also makes wise choices to not act upon them. I expressly state that it is not the desires that are wrong, it is that the immediate circumstances make it unwise for her to act on them at this moment. Susan desires someone who is not her brother, Rabadash or Caspian (or her husband). It is an inherently deceptive relationship (not good) but I did also try to provide an equalization of power and respect which are good. Yeah, Tebbitt isn't as awesome as she is, but who is? And I wonder if this is one place where I did go too far and some readers finally didn't want to go there.
Jun. 25th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
OMG. So fabulous. Thanks Kate. I so needed that.
Jun. 25th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
I thought you might need a good laugh.

And when you are down, remember that montycrowley the paleontologist and andi_horton the writer and me the editor are obviously all arbiters of good taste, and think you and your stories are pretty damn brilliant. I mean, you really can't argue with that. *sage nod*
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )



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