alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
alias_sqbr ([personal profile] alias_sqbr) wrote2016-12-05 10:54 pm

A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet

A fluffier, less morally ambiguous Farscape/Firefly-ish "found family of misfits have adventures in space" story where everyone is nice and there's a very obvious attempt at inclusiveness and diversity, including POC, queer, and disabled characters in significant roles getting to be fully rounded and happy. It's very comforting and light but still has enough narrative tension and plot to be engaging. Also, there's AIs. Overall I quite enjoyed it!

EDIT: After ranting to a friend my issues boil down to (a) It feeling pointedly Progressive while actually having a bunch of unfortunate implications (b) the author wanting the heroes to be Good People Who Do The Right Thing to an extent that felt morally and intellectually lazy especially given the author's narrow vision of what "good people" can look like.


But it rubbed me the wrong way 'progressive' speculative fiction often does (specifically Star Trek tv shows and the Liaden series):
"Diverse" human society (in this case of the "everyone is mixed race" type) which feels like Anglo-US culture with the serial numbers filed off having charming "cultural differences" with uniform alien species that are largely within human variation.
Alien species divide, psychologically, into Basically Human, Human But More Enlightened, and Jerks (who, despite the general message of tolerance, are all jerks).
It is assumed that the ideal state for everyone is a very specific worldview where you talk like you've had a lot of therapy and have a specific sex positive attitude to your 'lovers' (a perfectly valid attitude, but one I don't share, which felt erasing and set off my sex aversion).
Some kinds of diversity are heavy handedly included (the narrative grinds to a halt to rant about poor treatment of alien!autism), others are ignored entirely (I was charmed by the common use of non gender specific pronouns until I got to the end and everyone we'd actually met was cis and binary gendered(*), it was repeatedly assumed that Females Bear The Babies and the closest to a use of singular "they" is basically someone with a parasite)

Also some of the characters felt a bit...familiar. Like if the author has written a crossover fic where Zaan and her original female character ignored Rodney McKay's whining then ate strawberries with Kaylee I would not be surprised.

But on the other hand...that's not the world's worst premise for a fic ;)

(*)Although one of the male aliens was from a species that starts out female before becoming male, and that was handled well asides from the unstated "baby bearers=female" assumption.
ursula: (Default)

[personal profile] ursula 2016-12-06 03:15 am (UTC)(link)
There were bits in the middle of this book where the moral I wanted to draw was definitely "The boss who is nice to everyone is not a good boss."

Like, I would classify "just curling the wires into a ball and shoving them into a panel to deal with later" as a potentially firing-worthy decision rather than a cute character moment, and some of the other characters' plans are less well thought through.
ursula: (Default)

[personal profile] ursula 2016-12-06 12:47 pm (UTC)(link)
No kidding. Yes, please do tell me about the escape pods right away. Maybe we could even do some safety drills, later?

The weirdest effect was that I kept interpreting events as foreshadowing that weren't foreshadowing: I was convinced "We're really glad you hired a clerk" meant "We're really glad you hired a clerk with unsavory family connections, because we can use them to spark an interspecies diplomatic incident," for example.
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)

[personal profile] lea_hazel 2016-12-06 01:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Admittedly, that's a pretty solid cast for a crossover fanfic. I do get what you mean about the passively assumed "Americanness" of culture that's kind of hard to define.