Save the Pearls Readthrough (Part VI)

We’re at the end of our readthrough of Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden (original thread here).  Our “heroes” are living with a bunch of tribespeople who are totally in touch with nature, and there’s some very, very clumsy Spanish.  We end by discussing the Weird Tales review.

Me:

She greeted them with a simple hello. “Hola.”

“¿Mi padre?” Eden said, concerned for her father.

Way to impress us with your mastery of Spanish.

Blackbloc: See, she can’t be racist, she’s actually used Spanish twice in her book!

Me:

“Mis hijas.” he said, explaining they were his daughters.

Lorenzo introduced him as his brother. “Mi hermano Charlie.”

There, she pointed. “Ahí.”

Maria blocked his path and said that Eden was sick. “Ella está enferma.”

GAAAAH STOPPIT

Kyrie: Even with such simple words she’s so worried that people won’t be able to translate that she does it herself. Every frigging time. And I might be might biased since I’ve actually have more than one Spanish (evidently, Pearly didn’t) but doesn’t everybody in the US can understand hola/padre/madre/hermano?

Me: Yes, she does it every single time! Even if the word is “Hola!” And yes, everyone knows “hermano,” because we’ve seen Arrested Development.

Viscaria: Was she writing her novel in her Spanish 10 class, and got her homework and her book confused?

Cliff Pervocracy: Y’know, if you don’t think your audience knows any Spanish words, just say:

“My daughters,” he said in Spanish.

See how much less sad that is?

Me:

As a matter of fact, his affection might kill you.

Some distinct Twilight vibes going on here…

Me:

Eden doubted the monkey would return to find itself trapped indoors again. Why did she find comfort in stark boundaries when they confused a creature of simple intelligence? The Huaorani also lived in a seamless way. Was that why they seemed so happy?

Like water, she seemed to move along with the earth rather than against it.

Those happy Native Americans, living at one with the Earth. Like monkeys.

Me: New favorite analogy (she’s describing a cucumber):

Its dark, glossy skin glowed in the sunshine, as if it were more than a vegetable.

Me:

For Earth’s sake, she had bought into the hatred against her own kind. She had longed for a color-blind mate when she was more prejudiced than the worst of the FFP.

Ayup, there it is: she’s racist because she was prejudiced against white people. Calling all black women bitches has nothing to do with it.

Me:

She wondered if the scene had looked similar eons ago when the first clever creature had discovered fire. Perhaps he also had showed off for his mate. Look what I’ve done. And had that girl fluttered with amazement? Maybe she, too, had regretted a thoughtless remark.

Ami’s right. MRAs would LOVE this book.

cloudiah: I so rarely fly unsteadily or hover while flapping my wings when I am amazed. Perhaps I should try that.

Me: The bad news is that Bramford marks Eden with his scent. The good news is that he didn’t actually pee on her. Yet.

Me: Welp.

That was a very, very stupid book.

The good news is that it doesn’t end with Eden curing racism against white people; I suppose that will have to wait for book 2.

Cliff Pervocracy: 

Eden doubted the monkey would return to find itself trapped indoors again. Why did she find comfort in stark boundaries when they confused a creature of simple intelligence? The Huaorani also lived in a seamless way. Was that why they seemed so happy?

Eden doubted the monkey would let itself be trapped indoors again. She pressed her hand against the wall and found its solidness reassuring. The stark boundaries of human life were a comfort to her. The Huaorani had their own boundaries, different in shape from hers, but serving, she suspected, much the same function.

Like water, she seemed to move along with the earth rather than against it.

Like a dancer among the trees, she seemed to slip effortlessly through the terrain.

(not loving that because it still makes the Huaorani person out to be special magic sparkly, but at least it’s a human analogy.)

She wondered if the scene had looked similar eons ago when the first clever creature had discovered fire. Perhaps he also had showed off for his mate. Look what I’ve done. And had that girl fluttered with amazement? Maybe she, too, had regretted a thoughtless remark.

She wondered if the scene had looked similar, eons ago, when the first clever creature had discovered fire. Perhaps it was a woman gathering embers after a wildfire, or a man spinning wood against wood. And had the other creatures fluttered with amazement? Perhaps they, too, had made thoughtless remarks.

Blackbloc: Incidently, I just picked up Ursula K. LeGuin’s “Four Ways to Forgiveness” which is part of her Hainish cycle. The story is about a society of two twin planets, one of which was very recently a slave colony that fought for its liberation. *Incidently* (unlike Save the Pearls where that’s the whole plot of the book) the owners are dark-skinned and the slaves are pale-skinned. Now, I’m not far into it (I just read the ending Notes on Werel and Yeowe which describes these societies and started the first chapter) so it may still end up in a race fail, though I doubt it because LeGuin is typically a lot more understanding of power issues than Foyt. But right now it works a lot better than what I’ve seen from Save the Pearls. If only because she actually has a decent derogative name for the white slaves: chalks.

More importantly, the book acknowledges complexity and is not a ‘black and white’ (groan) story like StP. It is mentionned that in practice while the owning class is black, most owners were brown, and that while the slave class was supposed to be white, there were occasionally black and brown slaves and most are actually of beige coloration.

Also, it’s a different planet, so while due to the existence of the Hainish they share ancestors with us Terrans, they’re not simply the extrapolation of our current society into the future (without any change to the underlying stereotypes) that exists only as a way to scare whites into thinking about what it will mean when they’re not in power anymore. It’s an examination of power as a universal thing, not just a martyr fantasy. In fact, given that in the first chapter the main instigator of the slave rebellion and chief of the World Party is described as being black, I wouldn’t have understood right away the implications if I hadn’t read the closing chapter describing the society.

In any case, I’m not done but one chapter in it seems infinitely better than StP.

Sharculese: i’ll have to look up the actual argument when i get home, but in the intro to the reissue of left hand of darkness le guin rejects, flat out, the idea of sf as extrapolating from the present and says that’s now what her work is about.

Blackbloc: I think there’s room for extrapolation sci-fi, especially since I’m a big fan of cyberpunk and near future type stuff (like Cory Doctorow’s Makers or Little Brother or For the Win). I like the more far off stuff as well.

The point I was trying to make is that in the case of StP it’s basically as transparent a racist plot as if someone was to write about some dystopian future in which whites are oppressed by blacks because somehow through the magic of terrible world building people’s ability to play basketball was the basis of your rank in a meritocratic totalitarian government. You can’t go “this is not about racism!” when the entire premise of your dystopian society is that racial stereotypes were true after all.

Me: The amazing thing is how books like these manage to be bad on so many fronts that things that would normally be glaringly bad (food pills, the fact that she uses the verb “study” 22 times) can get completely overlooked.

For instance, it’s full of scenes where Eden’s interpretation of and/or response to events is totally off-base and inevitably in a way that makes her look like a total whiner, like this scene:

“But this is an incredible opportunity, Daught.”
She drew in a deep breath. “Why don’t you ever call me Eden?”
“Daught is your nickname. I always call you that.”
“It sounds like a classification.”
“Precisely.”
“But I’m not one of your experiments,” she said in a firm, quiet voice. “I’m your daughter, Eden.”
“Yes, I see what you mean. Wait, please,” he called out as she turned to leave.
Over her shoulder, she saw his sad, desperate expression.
“Rest well, Eden.”
“You, too, Father.”

I think this is supposed to be character development for the father? Anyway, Eden’s view:

Her father is totally cold and doesn’t like her and that’s why he calls her a name she doesn’t like. She whinges about it off and on for most of the book, and finally near the end she is bold enough to assert herself.

What actually happened:

Her father had a nickname for her and had no idea that she didn’t like it. When she tells him she doesn’t like it, he stops using it.

Ami Angelwings: http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/2012/08/15/a-thoroughly-non-racist-book/ [the link before it was taken down]

Weird Tales is publishing an excerpt of Save The Pearls… and the editor is defending the book >_<

Weird Tales seldom prints SF, but this story is a compelling view of a world that didn’t listen to the warnings of ecologists, and a world that has developed a reverse racism: blacks dominating and detesting not just whites, but latinos and albinos, the few that still survive of the latter are hunted down and slaughtered.

It is the same literary technique employed in the off-Broadway musical a few years back, Zanna, Don’t!, set in a world where homosexuality is the norm, and a pair of heterosexual lovers are therefore socially condemned.

Racism is an atrocity, and that is the backbone of this book. That is very clear to anyone with an appreciation for irony who reads it.

I have noted the counterarguments that some Amazon readers have launched against the book and its author, and while I strongly disagree, this is America and they have the right to express their opinion(s).

That’s not a counter argument to the criticism, that’s passive aggressive “well I disagree but you have the right to say whatever you want.”

Why do ppl always say that? We KNOW everybody has the right to say whatever we want. By saying it, you imply that you wish in some way that we don’t, or you want to remind us that the only reason you don’t come over and shut us up is that we have freedom, or we should be thankful that we live in a country that tolerates our wacky and incorrect speech.

And of course, accusing the other side of harassment and etc etc which is the typical strategy ppl seem to employ on the internet now, and also is a kind of tone argument. Of course ppl will be angry, it’s so f-ing RACIST >:O

Me: The people who defend this book mostly seem to just be describing it in generic terms. Like “This book can’t be racist, because it’s about how racism is bad!”

Unless it’s the author, in which case the defense is “It can’t be racist! I hate racism!”

But I’ve never seen anyone actually defend, say, its use of blackface, or the pearls vs coals terminology, or any of the other specific criticisms.

Me: Weird Tales apologizes!

Props to them: Not much defensiveness, just “You’re right, it’s racist, we’re pulling it.”

Snowy: Well thank god for that at least. I hope the other guy’s apology will be similar and not some non-apology.

Me: OTOH, it’s sketchy of them to pull the post, which had a bunch of comments; sounds like covering their tracks.

Luckily the Internet is forever. [link to the Google cache]

cloudiah: That’s hilarious. The comments are pretty great.

redlocker: I’m sure you’re correct. I’m sure there is no conflict of self-interest involved in your critical judgement. Just as sure as I am that H.P. Lovecraft never had any issues with racism, either.

Keep up the fine work.

Snowy:

But I also have been told that they have not stopped there, but also have attacked Amazon readers who describe the book in positive terms. I do not know if this is true, but if it is, it is mean-spirited, espcially if they have not read the entire book before condemning it, a charge that has also been leveled against some of them.

LOL yeah sorry, I don’t think I need to read the whole thing to condemn it as a lot of racist bullshit. If that makes me mean-spirited then um… I think I’m ok with that!

Previous part here.  There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: An award-winning book worthy of publication in Weird Tales.  I hear book two is floating around now, too.  Anyone think we should have a crack at it?

Advertisements

Posted on April 25, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: