Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:34 pm

Liliedhe wrote:If her a try then. You'll see.

Not saying she is a bad writer, technique-wise. But at least in her Star Wars work she is soapboxing a lot (and with vile opinions) and that ruins books. An author can write pretty much anything in a book as long as it is still a character talking. Once it is the author talking, it gets annoying for me.


Hmmm...

I'd avoid Dickens, Hardy and Austen, then. Well, pretty much all 19th century literature, really. (Hardy's atheism makes a significant appearance in Tess..., for example, along with his very noticeable compassion for his central character.)

For myself, I like a bit of authorial intrusion. It keeps things... interesting.

But, then, I'm weird.

I'll check her out, all the same. But probably not in good enough time to make a more meaningful contribution to this discussion. :)

All the best!

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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Liliedhe » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:13 pm

Personally, I think if an author has a point to make, he should make it so the reader can draw the conclusion him or herself, not get it shoved into their face. Say, the difference between Anne Perry and Barbara Hambly. With Hambly, I put the book down and think "yes, it would suck to be a black woman in pre civil war era New Orleans". Just because of what happens in the book. With Perry, the plot will be amended by about three characters who are more enlightened than their peers and endlessly TELL me how much it sucks to be a woman in the Victorian England.

If the author wants to tell me whatever his pet issue is, he should write a commentary. Or an essay.

It's like if you read the Gaunts Ghosts books and every three pages Gaunt muses how much it sucks to be a grunt in 40K. And how evil chaos is.
"You were a warleader, a fighter, when did you gain such illuminating insight into the minds of others?"
"I learned such things as you and your brothers applied brand to my flesh and parted skin with rasp and knife," snarled Astelan. "When your witches tried to prise open my mind they opened me for an instant and I stared back."
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Bellarius » Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:08 pm

J D Dunsany wrote:She's also served in the TA and has an admiration for the men and women who serve in the British armed forces, while being deeply sceptical of the interventionist politics of the last decade or so which has sent them into harm's way on foreign soil.


Bare in mind the only thing she has used her military rank for in any of these works has been to try and use it as an excuse to ignore all logical criticisms of her work. Such as pointing out how an army of three million is an obscenely low number to supposedly defend the majority of a heavily populated galaxy, and it could easily be corrected. She also showed no such respect to members of the armed forces and military experts who argued against obvious problems with her logistical and military knowledge displayed in her books.

In that context, her apparently subversive approach to the more political Jedi makes a certain kind of sense, along with her admiration for the more martial Mandalorians. (Yes, yes, all of this is massive generalisation, I know, but I think there's a bit of a link...)


It's not so much subversive as outright character assassination. We are quite frankly talking levels of poor planning, obvious bias and a lack of talent on par if not exceeding the likes of Mat Ward. The Jedi in this series are completely contrary to all other examples, immoral slave driving tyrants, psychopaths and ineffective warriors who could not fight their way out of a paper bag. Mandalorians meanwhile consist of people who could, going by the sheer number of one sided battles and the author's visible love for her bastardised version of the warrior culture, beat Chuck Norris with both arms and one leg bound behind their back.

There's a difference between "i'll be subversive to show new angles" and "I love one faction and hate the other, time to completely make up all kinds of BS to support my claim, perform acts of outright character assassination and murder the creations of other authors."

Her calling some Star Wars fans 'tallifans' made me smile. The links between a certain kind of fandom and extreme religious fundamentalism are fairly obvious - slavish devotion to the sacred text, intolerance of dissenting opinion etc. (And I say that as both a fan and a fairly fundamental religious chap. :) )


No, she reserved that insulting nickname for only the fans who disagreed with her. The fans with slavish devotion to her sacred texts, ignoring all flaws, bias, failure to do any research on any part of the universes she was writing for, problems and obvious hypocricy were regarded as being exempt from being compared with religious zealots. She instead referred to them as the "fandolorians" as if they were the "true fans" of Star Wars.

Please also note that the same themes from Star Wars were repeated in every single fictional EU she has joined, along with all her mistakes. She does not write books so much as extremely badly disguised essays preaching her own vision and trying to cram it down to throat of whoever is reading. And makes it clear, both in and out of her works, that if you disagree with her you are morally-bankrupt-snidley-whiplash-neo-nazi.


Sorry to repeat this, but I wanted to make a few things clear which your post suggested you may have missed. Besides those points I do agree with your stance on why the IP needs to be controlled, likely even more so than it currently is.
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Vivia » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:23 am

Liliedhe wrote:Personally, I think if an author has a point to make, he should make it so the reader can draw the conclusion him or herself, not get it shoved into their face. Say, the difference between Anne Perry and Barbara Hambly. With Hambly, I put the book down and think "yes, it would suck to be a black woman in pre civil war era New Orleans". Just because of what happens in the book. With Perry, the plot will be amended by about three characters who are more enlightened than their peers and endlessly TELL me how much it sucks to be a woman in the Victorian England.

If the author wants to tell me whatever his pet issue is, he should write a commentary. Or an essay.

It's like if you read the Gaunts Ghosts books and every three pages Gaunt muses how much it sucks to be a grunt in 40K. And how evil chaos is.

Hear hear. As it is usually opinions of a derogatory fashion: bigotry, racism, misogyny, mysandry. Hardly ever it is an opinion of gardening or hairstyles. It's a type Lovecraftian mode, seeing deep into their dark sides, I rather have that window close, I paid for fiction, thank you.

In Austen I can read it to some extent, Emma is my favourite book of hers, with Dickens, I have a deep loathing for his stories and characters, and they both have the habit of trying to smother the reader with narrow-minded point of views. Tolkien's opinion for forests, trees and deforestation I can completely agree with.
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Liliedhe » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:32 am

Tolkien also is not soapboxing. Sure, his characters have opinions, but those opinions are organically theirs. Given how the Shire is described, how the hobbits are described, when they are shocked at the desctruction, it is natural for them.

It's not this "everyone thinks women should have children till they drop dead, but character x for some reason is the only one who is intelligent enough to point out that is wrong" that annoyed me in the Monk novels (not that Monk from TV, another one).
"You were a warleader, a fighter, when did you gain such illuminating insight into the minds of others?"
"I learned such things as you and your brothers applied brand to my flesh and parted skin with rasp and knife," snarled Astelan. "When your witches tried to prise open my mind they opened me for an instant and I stared back."
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby J D Dunsany » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:40 pm

"Dickens... narrrow-minded"???

Them's fighting words!

Good job I left my dueling pistols back in the office...

:D

Well, we each have our own points of view, don't we? I was merely pointing out that the practice of authorial intrusion has a long (and, it must be said, literary - to the extent that that label matters any more) tradition, no matter how unwelcome you may personally find it.

I don't remember Tolkien doing it all that much, tbh - but it's been ages since I've read 'Lord of the Rings'.

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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Liliedhe » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:04 pm

J D Dunsany wrote:"Dickens... narrrow-minded"???

Them's fighting words!

Good job I left my dueling pistols back in the office...

:D

Well, we each have our own points of view, don't we? I was merely pointing out that the practice of authorial intrusion has a long (and, it must be said, literary - to the extent that that label matters any more) tradition, no matter how unwelcome you may personally find it.

I don't remember Tolkien doing it all that much, tbh - but it's been ages since I've read 'Lord of the Rings'.

Regards,

JDD


I've never read anything by Dickens except A Christmas Carol which I love. It didn't feel like soapboxing to me. Sure, it had a message, but that message came from the story, not from somebody stepping out of the story and hitting the reader over the head. ^^
"You were a warleader, a fighter, when did you gain such illuminating insight into the minds of others?"
"I learned such things as you and your brothers applied brand to my flesh and parted skin with rasp and knife," snarled Astelan. "When your witches tried to prise open my mind they opened me for an instant and I stared back."
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Athelassan » Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:21 pm

I think perhaps one of the disadvantages* modern authors have when compared to their older counterparts is that now it's much easier for them to engage with the readership on a personal level - indeed, in many cases it seems to be expected that they will. That makes it much harder to retain a detachment between the author's own opinions and those expressed in their work. If only the books of Karen Traviss had been read and she hadn't engaged with the fanbase at all, then people might still think the books suck, but they wouldn't know whether or not the stuff her characters were saying was her own opinion, an independent character's opinion, an opinion she was trying to satirise, and so on.

With many/most classic authors, by contrast, we have relatively little to go on so we have to interpret the text. If Shakespeare had taken to the internet and revealed - intentionally or not - that he considered Iago to be the true hero of Othello, would we hold him in the same regard, or would that information taint the play, and cause people to go looking for recurrences of the theme in his other work until the whole lot can be condemned as opinionated garbage? With Dickens, I suppose, he never made a particular secret of many of his opinions and was quite the social activist, so it's not hard to pick up recurring themes in his work (workhouses are bad, orphanages are bad, social conditions are terrible, etc.) That hasn't really hurt him in the long run, but what if instead his private life and novels could be seen to be upholding the message "slavery is good"? Tolkien is another who's been mentioned here. If you go in looking for it, the message of "industrialism is bad, agriculture is good" is really very blatant. But JRR kept his cards fairly close to his chest on that one, so we'll never know whether that was intentional or not.

It all makes it harder to maintain the divide that's essential if we're going to run with the "death of the author" principle, which is something I am admittedly entirely ambivalent about but in which I can certainly see the validity. In particular, I think it's important to separate our personal opinion of the author from their work as far as possible. When they're directly commenting on the work, then that's harder to ignore (but that leads us down the "Dumbledore's gay" path which I won't deal with here) but when it's just the author being a bit of a prat and rude about fans on social media, why should that necessarily mean their work is poor?

(On my last day in my last job I got into a discussion/argument with my successor about whether or not it was ok to appreciate the artistic works of "bad people". My argument was that you absolutely should try to separate the deeds of the creator from appreciation of the art, and that it was possible to do so; hers was that you can't and in any case you shouldn't and nobody should "support" these people. I said that surely humanity would be culturally impoverished by not having access to such works of art, and she said it didn't matter. It's probably best that it was my last day.

What prompted this discussion/argument, incidentally, was a colleague walking past the office humming R. Kelly's I Believe I Can fly. But my point still stands.)

I'm not saying that this excuses Karen Traviss, necessarily. But authors putting their own words in the mouths of their characters has always happened and always will and there is almost certainly quite a lot of it unremarked in books that we all enjoy; it's just that the authors didn't live in a period where they were able or expected to communicate so directly with the readership, so we'll never know.

Ath

*Obviously, there are advantages too. But in this context I think it's a disadvantage.
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby J D Dunsany » Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:44 pm

All good points, Ath - and made considerably more succinctly and intelligently than I could have managed. That Traviss has been a bit (how big a bit depends on your point of view) of a fool in engaging with fans in the way she has is inescapable. To what extent that colours your view of her work is likely to depend on things like how closely you identify with it and the wider body of Star Wars literature of which it's a part.

Despite Barthes' essay (which does have some validity - and yet is also quite problematic in its own way), the concept of the author isn't going to go away any time soon and the internet has, as Ath's rightly said, really divided the line between the 'author' as an originator of creative works and the 'author' as a fallible and probably quite annoying human being. The internet tests the premise that "there is nothing outside the text" to destruction - because, quite frankly, there's a heck of a lot outside the text and you'll find it plastered handily all over the net. That said, we should perhaps be a bit careful about turning to external sources for interpretative help when it comes to reading any given text. Just because an author states an aim doesn't mean he or she manages to achieve it. Sometimes, they achieve something quite different (yeah, Milton, I'm looking at you), due to the slipperiness of language and its social/historical/cultural contingency. Sometimes the text stands apart from its author for a variety of reasons. Whether this is the case for Traviss, remains to be seen, but I am genuinely intrigued to see for myself. Just don't expect it to happen any time soon! :)

That distinction between the human being producing the work and the work itself remains the same throughout literature. I love Shelley as a poet, but it's impossible to ignore that he was a pretty crap human being. His treatment of women, for a start, was pretty awful and, like a lot of creative types, his narcissism is pretty unpalatable, too.

The thing about 'soapboxing' (which I take to refer to the practice of direct authorial interventions in the text aimed reasonably pointedly at the reader in order to hammer home a wider cultural/social/political point) is that it becomes more glaringly obvious when you don't agree with the point being made, and thus it's regarded almost wholly negatively. The worst thing that can be said about it, I think, is that it runs the risk of jarring the reader out of the story.

Going back to Hardy again, his authorial intervention after Tess' rape in Tess of the D'Urbervilles - which effectively amounts to having a pop at God ("Where were you, huh?" - not, I should point out, a direct quotation) - didn't offend me so much for its atheism (if I got offended by atheists I'd end up having a very limited number of people to talk to) but for its pulling me out of the narrative a bit - not completely, but enough for me to notice what he was doing. And, given that the rest of the chapter was written with Hardy's customary skill, sensitivity and sympathy for his central character, it was all a bit unnecessary.

All of which is taking us a bit farther away from the topic, for which I apologise.

Bellarius, thank you for your earlier post, btw. I feel your pain - although, not being a big Star Wars fan, I can't really share in it. :)

Take care, good people!

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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Liliedhe » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:15 pm

J D Dunsany wrote:
The thing about 'soapboxing' (which I take to refer to the practice of direct authorial interventions in the text aimed reasonably pointedly at the reader in order to hammer home a wider cultural/social/political point) is that it becomes more glaringly obvious when you don't agree with the point being made, and thus it's regarded almost wholly negatively. The worst thing that can be said about it, I think, is that it runs the risk of jarring the reader out of the story.

Take care, good people!

JDD


No, soapboxing doesn't mean the author says something I disagree with. Victorian morals were horrible on women for example. I just mean the author is treating me like an idiot, because he thinks I won't notice the point unless he gets on a soapbox and yells at me and uses characters that are not fitting into the tale to do the yelling for him.

For example, the main character in the Mistress of Death novels by Mrs. Franklin whose first name I always forget, is living in 12th century England. But the character is thinking and feeling like a character from the 20th century, just so she can point out all the superstition and violence and misogyny of hte period appropriate characters. That's taking the reader by the hand and pointing everything out to them by the way of a tourguide. Why bother writing a period piece if that is what you want to do? Go to Disneyland instead.
"You were a warleader, a fighter, when did you gain such illuminating insight into the minds of others?"
"I learned such things as you and your brothers applied brand to my flesh and parted skin with rasp and knife," snarled Astelan. "When your witches tried to prise open my mind they opened me for an instant and I stared back."
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby J D Dunsany » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:37 pm

Liliedhe wrote:
J D Dunsany wrote:
The thing about 'soapboxing' (which I take to refer to the practice of direct authorial interventions in the text aimed reasonably pointedly at the reader in order to hammer home a wider cultural/social/political point) is that it becomes more glaringly obvious when you don't agree with the point being made, and thus it's regarded almost wholly negatively. The worst thing that can be said about it, I think, is that it runs the risk of jarring the reader out of the story.

Take care, good people!

JDD


No, soapboxing doesn't mean the author says something I disagree with. Victorian morals were horrible on women for example. I just mean the author is treating me like an idiot, because he thinks I won't notice the point unless he gets on a soapbox and yells at me and uses characters that are not fitting into the tale to do the yelling for him.


Apologies if I implied that 'soapboxing' means the author saying something the reader disagrees with. That wasn't my intention. I was just trying to point out that, in my experience, I tend only to notice those examples that are really glaring because I feel like I'm being force fed something I don't particularly agree with. My post above suggests that that's a more general experience rather than one specific to me, for which I apologise. (I really need to be more precise when writing these posts. Or less hasty in pressing the 'submit' button.)

All the best!

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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Vivia » Sun Oct 27, 2013 5:52 pm

J D Dunsany wrote:"Dickens... narrrow-minded"???

Them's fighting words!

Good job I left my dueling pistols back in the office...

:D

Well, we each have our own points of view, don't we? I was merely pointing out that the practice of authorial intrusion has a long (and, it must be said, literary - to the extent that that label matters any more) tradition, no matter how unwelcome you may personally find it.

I don't remember Tolkien doing it all that much, tbh - but it's been ages since I've read 'Lord of the Rings'.

Regards,

JDD

Still off-topic:
I don't know if Tolkien having so much of it but in the eyes of a child in middle school and then in pre-teen, his descriptions of the trees and forest made a big impression on me, I love them and the chapters with the Ents were my favourites (The Two Towers is my favourite). When Pippin and Merry returned to the Shire, the deforestation described was horrifying in my eyes. What was real horror, Mordor or Shire? It was so hideously depressing I couldn't get over it, it took weeks until I could get the courage and read the last chapters. It might have been so devastating because I fantasised about living there (that dream has never truly died, btw). :)
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby Bellarius » Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:39 am

J D Dunsany wrote:Bellarius, thank you for your earlier post, btw. I feel your pain - although, not being a big Star Wars fan, I can't really share in it. :)


You're welcome, I just wanted to make sure you knew what you were in for. When reading her books. Admittedly, starting with other authors does likely make the impact of her casual retconning of well established history more frustrating.
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Re: Essays and Jedi hatred of Karen Traviss

Postby mnmnm » Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:34 am

that is a very nice story.......
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