09 July 2012

That was not science fiction

I just don't like when the back cover lies. Would you like it if the back cover lied to you???

Look, I really hate doling out bad reviews. Really. I want to be an author myself, and seeing my book described as shitty is not a thing that I would want. But I don't want to lie to my readers either. Geez, how hard is to write a blurb that doesn't lie?

The back cover of Germline reads as follows:

GERMLINE (n.) a secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang). 
War is Oscar Wendell's ticket to greatness. A reporter for the Stars and Stripes, he has a pass to the front lines of a brutal conflict over natural resources, where genetics - the germline soldiers - battle heavily armed troops deep beneath the icy, mineral-rich mountains of Kazakhstan.
But the front is nothing like Oscar imagined. The genetic soldiers are more human than he'd bargained for too. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of drugs and adrenaline, lines are beginning to blur. And if Oscar doesn't find a way out of the chaos soon, he may never get back.

Well, okay. Maybe it didn't quite lie. But it was certainly really misleading. When I bought this book, in the science fiction section, I was expecting the titular and frequently mentioned "genetically engineered supersoldiers" to be the main focus of the book. Let's face it, genetically engineered supersoldiers are really cool. One of my first personal ideas for a scifi novel involved exactly this. (I put it on ice because I was 14 years old and didn't know anything about advanced bioengineering.) And, well, here's another confession: I originally wanted to buy the sequel to this book, which was from the perspective of one of the supersoldiers. But when I saw that it was Book 2, I figured I might as well read Book 1 first.

Now, though, I don't really feel like giving the second book a chance.

The genetic soldiers (or "Gs") are, in fact, relegated to a very small space in Germline. Despite the book's being named after them, they only make brief cameos here and there. And when they do ...

Fun fact: All the Gs are women. At first, I though that was the coolest thing ever. So they are badass genetically-enhanced killing machine ladies? This is not some kind of repressed radical-feminist wish of mine to see males annihilated, no worries. It just felt new! The ideal supersoldier would be a male in his early twenties, but the book implies (implies, but does not elaborate on) that there were complications in manufacturing that made this impossible. So instead they made them female. Which is ... I dunno, some people might draw parallels to the buying and selling of women, but I just thought it felt refreshing and kind of awesome. Until, of course, I realized that women are far too seldom put in a story for the sake of being a great character or part of a thought-provoking concept. The reason you put women in a story, instead of straight men, the one function women can serve that straight men can't, is SEX.

Early on, the main character - junkie reporter Oscar "Scout" Wendell - starts thinking that it's kind of sexy that these supersoldiers look just like regular (hot!!!) girls, even though they have the power to rip his head off. (They're sexy even though they're bald! Wow, how nice of you to disprove the artificially engineered murder machines' feelings of physical unworthiness.) Then, for some mystical reason, they all start taking a liking to him. (They have names; I don't really understand why. If I was their manufacturer I would just give them serial numbers.) One of them falls in love with him and wants him to bone her so that she can explore her truly human feelings. Yeah, the extent of their possible discontent with being artificial soldiers is that they want to find love. Since the Gs' term of service is short (they kill them at eighteen; ooh, creepy pedo vibes!), his girlfriend is eventually terminated. All the Gs are identical, so every time they appear after this, their only purpose (aside from the contextualization of being sent into battle here or there) is to remind Scout of his lost love. Her face, staring at him everywhere. 

Last confession: I never finished Germline. Aside from this blatant conversion of the deadly soldiers (who happen to have vaginas) into a fetish, the rest of the book is really just a war story starring a guy with a drug problem. That was not what I signed up for.

I did page ahead a little, though. Later on, Scout meets another G, with the same face but a different name from his lost lady. She's in love with him too. Surprise. Paged a little further ahead. They escape the war ... get married ... and have kids.


Let's ask ourselves if fertility was a thing the supersoldiers needed? Dear Mr. Author, here's a newsflash for you: I really don't think a bunch of women on their periods are the ideal fighters. So if you were engineering them, wouldn't you, you know ... remove that function? I know I would.

I cannot get over how stupid this is. Why would you include platoons of genetically modified killing machines at all, if you're hardly going to mention their relevance beyond acting as fapping material for the main character? Why would the people who designed them not get rid of their sexual urges, or their ability to reproduce? All this does is establish them as romantic interests for the main character, and that isn't believable. The book does not go into any detail about the science behind the Gs, either, or if it does in the 100 pages I did not read, it would've been a pop-out surprise. Newsflash #2: a book is not science fiction just because it happens to take place in the future! There has to be some science involved!

And I didn't really care about what else was going on in the novel, because war stories without science fiction elements are not my thing at all. 

I would recommend Germline to you if you'd like to read a story about a man, ripped apart by drugs, and his awful experiences in a terrible war. With the occasional bonus of hot killer ladysoldiers. I would not recommend it to you if you, like me, were looking for a story about the ramifications of experimental technology and the transformation of human beings into weapons. Because despite what the cover implies, it's not about that. And although the sequel, Exogene, is told from the perspective of a G, I don't feel I can trust an author who so obviously fetishizes them in his first novel. Sorry, bro. It ain't working out.

This has been a review no one cares about but if you've no essays to write me about how ridiculous it is to make this awesome badass concept into fapping fuel maybe you can tell me about something you were disappointed in idk

07 July 2012

In which I get my knickers in a twist over personal values

I plan on going far in life.

My strategy so far has been a combination of a few different things, mainly:

  • The determination to go the extra mile
  • The self-awareness to realize when you've gotten there
  • The humility to understand that you can always go further

These are the principles I live and work by, and I have the deepest respect for anyone else who shares them, or whose decision-making shows proof of their presence. I don't instantly despise anyone who doesn't, of course. But I do have a tendency to get peeved.

Not fulfilling #1 basically means you're a lackluster person, and I'm that way myself if it's something I don't care about. I might get pissed off if you're supposed to help me on equal footing with something I'm enthusiastic about but you don't; however, in some cases I can work hard enough for two and pull the whole load. So this one's usually chill.

As for #2, what happens when this one is neglected is usually that somebody who's really good at say, writing or drawing or whatever, continually insists that they're terrible at it. In other words, throwing a whiny bitch fit which is easily ignored. Just don't feed the animals.

But fail to fulfill #3 and you can guarantee yourself (or at least a part of yourself) a spot on my black list. WATCH IT.

What this entails is that the person in question reached rung 2 and knows that they have talent and the ability to succeed. However, they've failed to realize that just because they're good at something, that does not make them the Einstein or Michelangelo of their field, god fucking dammit!!!

I tend to notice this sense of over-accomplishment in fields that I know I'm good at, namely, a) the English language, and b) writing fiction. Let me elaborate. And then rage a little.

  • It seems you're not a native speaker of English. And yet, you're really awesome at it! Kudos to you! The only foreign language I'm halfway decent at is German, and I can't really communicate for shit. I admire you for getting this far! But wait - what's that? Did you just claim your English is perfect? Just a minute - are you acting as if you're a native yourself? But ... but you mispronounce words all the time! Your grammar is faulty! You have a heavy accent! You're excellent at this language, but by no means as fluent as someone who's had it hardwired to their brain ever since they learned to talk! If you don't deal with that fact, how are you ever going to get better? Iron out those flaws? That's right - you aren't! So FUCK YOU.

  • It seems you're writing a story. That's great! I love writing too! Can I read it? Thanks! Well, overall it's an awesome piece of work, but I've got some critique. You've got some basic structural errors here and I think your main character's a bit too perfe--wait, what? Nobody else has given you negative critique? But how is that relevant? I'm a reader, and I have an opinion on your work; you can't just shoot me down like th--wait a sec, what's this I see? You're going around telling everybody that you're going to get this published? You're referring to yourself as if you're an accomplished author? But ... but you can't even handle critique from a fellow aspirant! Has an editor taken a look at this? Have you asked for honest opinions from people who know better than you, to try to develop your style? You're excellent at this, but you've got so much room for improvement! If you don't deal with that fact, how are you ever going to get better? Iron out those flaws? That's right - YOU MOTHERFUCKING AREN'T, so stop acting like the best thing since Stephen King. Seriously.


05 July 2012

The lull that made me a responsible citizen

I suppose my absence has been duly noted.

The A-Z challenge was part of it. I'm just not good at sticking to structure, it kills the Mind of the Artiste, bohemic bullshit etc etc. So from here on out the letters with which I start my posts will be completely random.

What's more, way back when (in May), I was going into the final stretch of TONS OF SCHOOLWORK. That's over and done with now. (It went well.)

And then I started working. That's right - no one can ever tell me I haven't worked a day in my life anymore. In fact, I've worked for approximately 2 weeks! The job is one of the least glamorous I can think of - my neighbor set me up at her job, which is some sort of packaging facility for various dental products. This includes hands-on working with a LOT of plastic: I swear it's changing my genetic makeup. Most of the other tasks can be boiled down to simple button pressing. Well ... somebody has to do it. The main thing I've learned from this job is that I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure I don't end up at one like it for the duration of my life. Everyone working there is very kind, though, and there's unlimited free hot chocolate, and (sadly, limited) free cookies. And the pay's fine and dandy; I believe I get paid more than the average young person, and all I do is push buttons eight hours a day.

Said pay will be dumped into my bank account on the same day I leave for a convention, at which I'll also be working: more precisely, four-hour shifts in the cafeteria. I have no experience with registers whatsoever, and two of my five shifts are from four to eight in the morning. Aka the worst possible time, smack in the middle of the sleeping cycle. I'll have to sleep in shifts as well!

At least this will improve my CV???

Well, I sense approximately twenty days of down time during which I may or may not blog a bit. NO PROMISES.

03 May 2012

New Old Spice Guy Fabio

It is not my purpose today to endorse the sales of products claiming to emulate the enhancement of one's testosterone levels to the olfactory organs.

It is not my purpose to talk about hair, advertisements, or romance novel covers, although each of these things will play a role in my message.

My purpose, friends, is to introduce to you a man whom I admire.

A man whose glorious locks ripple in the winds formed by the pining sighs of ten thousand lovesick angels.

A man whose glistening oiled pecs refract the light of ultraviolet rainbows and the infrared glow of unanimously beating hearts.

A man whose smile, along with the twinkle in his eye, would bring the cruelest to penance, the mad to enlightenment, and the lost, lonely, and lacking souls populating our world to ultimate spiritual bliss.

A man whose ability to laugh at himself is the most hilarious thing I have ever - pray help me - ever fuckin' seen.

This man, friends, is Fabio Lanzoni.

Holy fuckin' shit.

he'sa genius hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaahjdslff

01 May 2012


Wow, sorry again for the late posting; I suppose I haven't really been on edge. Ugh, I have got to finish the A-Z thing so that I can make a random post if I feel like it.

In honor of May Day, I am going to tell you all about another odd collection of mine. My mother and I were discussing the origins of the Swedish Walpurgis traditions (BIGASS BONFIRE LET'S GET SMAAAASHED), and hoping to answer some questions I went and dug out a few tomes from the large selection in my room. After looking at Wicca, Wicca Craft, Witch School and Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft (although this last one turned out to be a lot more anal and less informative than the others), we had learned a little bit more about Pagan Beltane festivities. Yup.

The thing that's a bit odd here is that all these books date back to when I was between ten and twelve years old. I was always precocious in regards to literature, but I was also, as a fundamentalist would say, a devilchild of the highest degree. (I also have books about Egyptian magic, moon divination, herb properties, Chinese horoscopes ... all acquired before the unlucky age of 12,89.) I know loads about this stuff. I really mean loads. I read reference books about earth religions from cover to cover, multiple times.

and this was my desktop a LOT of times

My mother's family, despite their Catholic origins, have always been very open to the spiritual, and so I was raised by a pack of crazy crones exposed to these sorts of things early. I suppose I enjoyed the thought of the Other, the esoteric, and the ritual - things that make the drab Real World a bit more fun. I'm also a compulsive systemizer, so the belief in the power of the four elements and all their affiliated symbols (seasons, compass points, gemstones, planets, zodiac signs...) was a great resource for categorization of the world. Mumbo jumbo hocus pocus things (as the uninitiated may say) are also fond of foreign writing systems, be it runic, ogham, or Chinese, and so for an eternally budding linguistics/mythology enthusiast like myself, that shit was irresistible.

There used to be a fantastic little shop nearby my house. The shop was called Tre häxor (literally Three Witches), and had I really been a chosen one, it would have been the place where my supergroup would gather and be coached in the secret arts by the magical elderly lady who ran it. Tre häxor sold overpriced essential oils, gemstones, incense, and books about light healing, but dang there was some cool stuff in there. (Crystal balls! Dragons! Tarot decks!) I loved that store. I loved the clerk lady. She probably loved me too, or at least my frequent monetary donations to her business. She retired many years ago. The last time I saw her was at some sort of girls' fair in my municipality, where she sold off as many of her wares as she could. She gave me and my friend (who I dragged down with me, and who loved the store equally) each a big hug and a hematite ring. BEING FRIENDS WITH SALESPEOPLE GETS YOU FREE STUFF.

My hematite ring cracked down the middle not long afterwards when I dropped it in the sink in a fit of stupidity. I am choosing to believe that this was because it had fulfilled its purpose and not because of any explanation that makes some sort of sense. I saved the halves in one of my weird little boxes.

And now, what you've all been waiting for: PICTURE TIME.

This is the outside of Sophia's closet 
This is the inside.
It's not too visible with this shitty no-effort nonquality, but that big dark spot on the lower shelf is actually a trio of removed scalps that I wear on my head sometimes when I impersonate people.

And here is a close-up. The light is terrible because I can't be arsed to go get an actual camera, but allow me to clarify. You can see a variety of phials and some incense in the back. That yellow thing is a Tarot deck. Among all those black spots is a quite lovely scrying bowl and a bag of home-made divination rocks made by a preteen past self after the instruction of a book called "Moon Magic for the Modern Woman" (they were actually quite accurate). The copper glint is a teeny-tiny absolutely adorable cauldron my paternal grandma gave me, and the green thing in the front is an ocarina, aka the smallest piece of shit I ever spent too much fuckin' money on. There are two small boxes in the back stuffed with exotic curios.

Now that I have clarified things you should have been able to see had I taken a proper picture, I can summarize what happens next.

I slam my closet door shut and all my imaginary love interests slowly back away.

No, jests aside I'm sure you all think my extensive knowledge and material wealth in this subject is pretty great.

unless any one of you is a closet Christian fundamentalist

please don't burn me