Date: 2018-12-30 05:11 pm (UTC)
arkessian: (Default)
From: [personal profile] arkessian
Aargh! I read this when I was 12ish IIRC and thought there was something skeevy back then, but couldn't put my early teenage finger on it back then.

I had no desire to revisit, but thank you for explaining why I do not want to.

Date: 2018-12-30 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"one of the 1990s sequels reportedly featured “literally savage black-skinned men coming to kill, loot, and rape any other humans they find” "

I guess that is the sharecropped "The City Who Fought", by Stirling. Given the spectrum of Stirling's villains I doubt that the depiction was informed by racial animus.

Date: 2019-01-01 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
This is "if I had a button to kill all adult male Muslims" Stirling, right? Not some other Stirling I am unaware of?

Date: 2019-01-01 03:23 am (UTC)
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
If you're referring to the same Stirling who has gotten kicked off multiple blogs because of his inability to SHUT UP when the moderator nicely asks him several times to drop a topic.... yeah, probably.

(I mean, what kind of ass do you have to be to get kicked off Scalzi's Whatever blog?)
Edited Date: 2019-01-01 03:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2018-12-30 07:05 pm (UTC)
julian: Picture of the sign for Julian Street. (Default)
From: [personal profile] julian
I read it at a somewhat adult age, and thought the debt bondage was (intended to be seen) as a semi-dystopic, not-at-all-good setup. (But McCaffrey was clumsy about it, because McCaffrey.)

I suppose it's reasonable to ask, "Then why continue it as part of your setup?"

Date: 2018-12-30 08:30 pm (UTC)
jbwoodford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jbwoodford
Maybe that's the clumsiness talking, but when an author includes problematic elements in a setting, it's incumbent on that author to acknowledge the problems in some way.

That said, there seems to be a serious worldbuilding fail in that the biotechnology used to keep a brain alive indefinitely can't be applied to repairing birth defects.

Date: 2018-12-30 08:40 pm (UTC)
jreynolds197: A dinosaur. (Default)
From: [personal profile] jreynolds197
Maybe they have a setup not unlike James Alan Gardner's League of Peoples: the technology to fix kids like that exists, but it's more important to have living, enslaved starships than it is to fix birth defects in kids.

Date: 2018-12-30 09:15 pm (UTC)
jbwoodford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jbwoodford
That would seem to qualify as a problematic element.

Date: 2019-01-02 03:36 pm (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
It's been a long time since I read the books, but wasn't Brain just a term? I remember the shell people not as disembodied brains but as people with severely handicapped bodies kept alive in life-support tanks with sensory links to the outside world.

At least as an adolescent it seemed plausible that a civilization could manage life support but not repair.
Edited Date: 2019-01-02 03:38 pm (UTC)

Date: 2019-01-06 02:12 am (UTC)
rwpikul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rwpikul
My interpretation was always that shell people were the extreme cases. Not just severely handicapped, but with defects that are probably lethal and at least totally incapacitating.

AIR, there was one story about a 'late entrant' who had a disease that was pretty much ALS on steroids. Her brain was fine but her muscles were rapidly being disabled.

Date: 2018-12-30 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
"Very few committees ever looked past the first few photos. Most of their original objections about ‘shells’ were over-ridden by the relief that these hideous (to them) bodies were mercifully concealed."

And now this is reminding me of some HP Lovecraft stories: more precisely the "well, I find this horribly gross, so clearly professional scientists, caretakers, etc. will feel just the same way I do!" thinking.

Date: 2018-12-31 12:52 am (UTC)
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
Heh. I remember the opposite thing happening in Julian May's Pliocene Exile series: the leader of the Firvulag drops his glamour to show his real, hideously deformed body to Elizabeth, expecting the sight to drive her insane with horror. This is Elizabeth, the exceedingly powerful metapsychic whose talents include telepathy and whose training is in medicine and using alien psi-sensitive tech to heal broken bodies and minds--and her reaction is "wow, that's the worse case of teratogeny I've ever seen. I wonder what caused it? Is your species especially vulnerable to genetic damage from radiation? Because your lair is in a future radium mine."

Gross damage or deformation doesn't really freak out doctors who've worked ER in trauma centers or similar places.
Edited Date: 2018-12-31 12:55 am (UTC)

Date: 2018-12-31 02:55 am (UTC)
jbwoodford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jbwoodford
Pedantic correction--it wasn't Elizabeth, it was Claude, the paleontologist.

Date: 2018-12-31 06:30 am (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
Elizabeth would probably have seen through Sugoll's disguise anyway.

Date: 2018-12-31 02:38 pm (UTC)
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
Ah, okay. Considering I read that series once, over 30 years ago now, it's not surprising I misremembered the details on that bit. It stuck with me, though, as it was such an awesome subversion of the usual trope. I keep meaning to re-read the series, but there's so many books I haven't read the first time waiting for me...

ETA: Also delighted that there are other Julian May fans here!
Edited Date: 2018-12-31 02:38 pm (UTC)

Date: 2019-01-02 04:40 pm (UTC)
jbwoodford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jbwoodford
ETA: Also delighted that there are other Julian May fans here!

I think Mindstalk and I were both on the old Julian May mailing list, discussing the Galactic Milieu trilogy as it came out.

Date: 2019-01-02 07:25 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] keith_morrison
Thought experiment: how would some of those characters react to seeing the live-action Deadpool, but not wearing the mask or costume? Despite looking like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado, by the time of the second movie he's still in a fulfilling (and sex-filled) permanent relationship, his friends aren't squicked by his appearance (except when regrowing things) and he doesn't particularly feel sorry about himself due to his looks.

Date: 2019-01-02 03:27 pm (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
I'd probably find the regrowing things phase fascinating.

Date: 2019-01-02 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
Deadpool isn't conventionally attractive, but he's no Joseph Merrick. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Merrick

Date: 2018-12-30 09:18 pm (UTC)
davidgoldfarb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgoldfarb
No C in "zwilnik".

Date: 2018-12-30 09:31 pm (UTC)
agoodwinsmith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] agoodwinsmith
Erm. I loved the book as a young girl, and it is the only one I kept when I purged my McCaffrey.

It was not meant to be a beautiful world. I thought the do-gooder view-and-run was sneered at - and relevant then (and now) because even now (and certainly then) many do-gooders blame the victims - and certainly wouldn't invite the families they donate Christmas toys for home for Christmas dinner.

The triumphs in a dystopia may be small and cramped and stingy, but they are no less celebrated by the person who gets them.

I realized later than McCaffrey had many flaws (but Milton and his daughters - don't talk to me about the art work justifying the meanness of spirit), but this book shows what can be done when the options available to a person are miserly.

(I am actually surprised that, given that world, the children to be discarded aren't vegetatively grown until their organs can be harvested for those who can pay.)
Edited Date: 2018-12-30 09:32 pm (UTC)

Date: 2018-12-30 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I decided about 25 years ago that Helva didn't have a birth defect of any kind, she was just unattractive and that was enough. Though this was about when I recategorized McCaffrey from 'buy in hardcover' to 'I say it's broccoli and to hell with it'.

Date: 2018-12-31 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] neowolf2
Author recategorization can have its moments.

I'm moving shortly. We were going through books, and every time I came across a MZB I still had it was "cool!" and immediately tossed in the recycling bin. No second hand bookstore for you, MZB!

Date: 2019-01-01 12:00 am (UTC)
bunsen_h: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bunsen_h
I'm assisting with the estate of an elderly relative whose inclinations were strongly towards NewAge (rhymes with "sewage"), alternatives to medicine, conspiracy theories, crystal energy, and such. There are boxes of ImmunoCal as well as a sales kit for their MLM system, boxes and bottles of magical cancer cures, and on and on.

Many of her books are fascinating: music from many countries, mythology, history, and more. Many are about things like "lost" civilizations, energy manipulation, pyramid power, etc., which I regard as essentially harmless. All of these things can be donated, or otherwise re-homed. But there are also books which go into supposed cures for incurable conditions and bogus treatments for serious medical problems, and those ones I want to see recycled, because if they fall into uninformed hands, they can do serious harm. Another of the assisters is very much into "woo", and believes that everyone is entitled to their own viewpoints. She's offended that I'm so negative about these things. Though I try to respect others' views on spirituality, I'm firm on this point: those books are evil, and most of them are written by charlatans.

I'm somewhat tempted to try to cancel some of her automatic monthly deliveries with a note along the lines of "That 'cancer cure' you were selling her..? Didn't work." But that's up to the immediate family.
Edited Date: 2019-01-01 12:05 am (UTC)

Date: 2019-01-01 03:32 am (UTC)
dragoness_e: Living Dead Girl (Living Dead Girl)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
Sounds like the bookshelf I inherited. Edgar Cayce, Erik "von" Daniken, Charles Berlitz, all the classic 1970s and older woo. Junked or donated it to library book sales. I used to believe in some of that New Age woo as a child, but actually paid attention to the expert debunkings of Daniken and Berlitz. What really convinced me that "von" Daniken was as bogus as his noble patronymic was noticing the Suspiciously Racist trope of "No one but modern White Peoples are smart enough to pile one rock on another, so Ancient Aliens Did It".

Any woo whose central thesis is that "our ancestors were too stupid to pound sand", or conversely, "our ancestors were Enlightened Mystic Masters of a Lost Age of Peace and Understanding" is complete bullshit. (And probably racist as hell at the bottom--you'll recognize those two Woo Tropes as "Brown People Couldn't Have Built a Civilization, so Mysterious White People/Aliens Did It" and "Noble Savages/Peaceful Priest-Kings")

Edited Date: 2019-01-01 03:35 am (UTC)

Date: 2019-01-02 07:29 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] keith_morrison
It's still there. Although to be fair, "Ancient Aliens" has at least spread the stupidity around so it's not just brown people who had alien help. They pretty much had to since they drained that well dry, excavated the well, and then recycled the dirt as much as possible. Well, except the Mayan 2012 Apocalypse thing. That they don't mention any more.

Date: 2019-01-05 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I checked the book; Helva starts out as an infant with severe handicaps in movement, sight, and hearing... but the last two were not even total, and anyway, Helen Keller. Not grounds therefore for euthanasia in recent times, but in old Sparta she'd have a long wait on a cold hillside sharpish. The past was a different time, the future may be as well.

Date: 2018-12-31 03:21 pm (UTC)
jeffreyab: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jeffreyab
The book was written in the wake of the Thalidomide scandal when many children were being born without limbs. I speculate that this was the inspiration for the story.
Lots of skeevy moments like when someone talks about opening up Helga's capsule to view her body.

Date: 2018-12-31 07:49 pm (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Watercolour of barn owl perched on post. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
That inspiration does not make it any less skeevy.....

Date: 2019-01-01 01:38 am (UTC)
thornsilver: megatron pointing his giant gun at you (Default)
From: [personal profile] thornsilver
I read "The City Who Fought", which was the one with mentioned black barbarians. Yeah. On the other hand, I loved the concept of ship or station-bodied people.

Date: 2019-01-01 06:08 pm (UTC)
petrea_mitchell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] petrea_mitchell
Preteen Me, in the 1980s, didn't trip over the ableism at all, but Central did come across as a non-benevolent slave master.

Teenage Me was not terribly woke but I do recall thinking that making the badguys of The City Who Fought uniformly black was not an excellent look.

Date: 2019-01-01 11:21 pm (UTC)
sethsellis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sethsellis
Aliette de Bodard's The Tea Master and the Detective uses the mindship idea in a much less skeevy, more sophisticated way.

Date: 2019-01-02 07:33 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] keith_morrison
There's no indication Shadow’s Child was anything other than an AI, as I recall. At least I don't recall any mention of components that used to be meat human, so automatically a lot of the skeevy isn't applicable.

Date: 2019-01-03 02:22 am (UTC)
sethsellis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sethsellis
Wasn't Shadow's Child gestated in a human host in some semi-biological way, or am I misremembering?

Also, surely this is a bit like saying, "eugenics isn't a plot point, so a lot of the racism isn't applicable."

Date: 2019-01-03 05:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That was an element of "The Waiting Stars" that made me say "oh gods this is skeezy why was this nominated I'm never reading De Bodard again".

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