Posts Tagged With: extraterrestrial life

Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin – A Review

wogf_250

native tongue

Suzette Haden Elgin published Native Tongue, the first book in this eponymous trilogy, in 1984. I was 22 in 1984.

I remember Reagan’s election and how many of us on the left (I was already quite at home way over on the left wing) were frightened by the possibilities, many of which have come to pass. I also remember the beginnings of the backlash on feminism, a backlash that just keeps growing 30 years later. So, I get where Haden’s coming from with her story of a dystopian future USA where women have lost all their rights and are now the property of men in worse ways then they were before the second wave of feminism. My 22 year-old self would have eaten this book up and looked for more.

I’m sad to report, however, that the book didn’t really do much for my 51 year-old self. The story immediately irked me with the premise that the constitutional amendments revoking the 19th amendment and turning women into minors under the law would have happened by 1991. I mean, okay, Reagan and his ilk scared me, too, but 1991? That seems awfully premature.

That’s always a risk writers take, putting events in the super-near future. I’m still miffed that 2001 came and it was nothing like the movie. There was a 33-year gap there. To predict something this cataclysmic happening less than 10 years from when you’re publishing? Might have wanted to think that through a little more.

So, I had to try to push that aside as I read further. Fortunately the rest of the book takes place centuries in the future, the 22nd to be exact. There we discover that not only do women still not have any rights, but society has been divided up into two antagonistic groups: the Linguists and everyone else. The Linguists are the only people capable of communicating with all the alien societies humans have met, so they’re necessary as translators to make all the treaties and do all the negotiating. Regular people hate them, so the Linguist families (the Lines) live in large communal houses buried in the earth away from prying eyes and violent reaction.

One of the reasons that regular folk hate the Linguists is that Linguist women are allowed to work outside the home as translators because, apparently, there’s so much translating that needs to be done, they have to. Then we have all the stuff happening with babies blowing up because they can’t fathom non-humanoid alien languages (no, really). I haven’t even gotten to the Linguist women’s work on creating a language that allows women to express their thoughts better than standard English, French, German, whatever. This, one might argue, is really the point of the book, but it gets lost, to me, amidst all the other stuff.

Oh, and there’s a serial killer. (Who’s actually my favorite part of the novel; her first murder? That chapter would make a great Tales from the Crypt of something.)

I hate to say this, because Elgin’s short story “Old Rocking Chair’s Got Me” remains one of my favorite short stories (Top 10, no question. It’s awesome. And hard to find. I have it in Dick Allen’s Science Fiction: The Future (1983 edition).), but I found Native Tongue to be too bloated and ponderous, too preachy and heavyhanded. While not all the women are saints, by any means (see: serial killer), most of them are and there isn’t one kind man in the whole thing. They’re all stupid, misogynistic assholes, every one of them, which is just bullshit. Even in 1984, I had allies. Still do.

None of the characters are really developed at all; they’re all just game pieces for Elgin’s philosophical/linguistic chess board. And there are so many plot holes. What do the aliens in the Interface do all day when they’re not communicating with (and occasionally destroying) the babies? And what happened to all the kids who’d been fed hallucinogens in an attempt to keep them from blowing up after they were taken to the orphanage? The list goes on.

Things I liked? The serial killer character, as I said. She’s really the only person whose character evolved (however slightly) over the course of the novel. I also enjoyed Elgin’s discussions of language and the linguistic “tricks” that one male linguist in particular would use to win arguments. Those were interesting. And I liked the notion that an academic field such as linguistics would become so powerful. But the negative outweighs the positive for me.

Biggest disappointment? The cover of the edition I read. Nothing like that image happens in the book. I wanted my motherly alien! (2.625/5)

Advertisements
Categories: Books/Authors, Reviews, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Not Really Weekly Linkroll

So, last Sunday, I mentioned that the weekly link post wasn’t doing it for me anymore. However, I still find links that I must.share.with.everyone because that’s just how I am.

I decided that a more random approach might be worth a try. Random, in that there won’t be a set day during the week these posts will go up. And perhaps random in that I’ll post them whenever I have a certain number. I’m thinking right now that 5 is a good number. I like 5. (of course, that could change; hence random)

But what do you know? Today the number’s 5 and I already have that many.

Do I Look Like a Baby Killer?
Kat Richter talks about Planned Parenthood and what inspired her to become a clinic escort.

Being good can be a shortcut. There is no shortcut to being good.
Scott Lynch on the magical secret shortcut to becoming a successful writer.

69 reasons not to send a message to space
Rico Simpkins at Worlds Without End brings up some reasons the METI project might be a tad premature. As I said on Twitter the other day, it’s always good to lurk for a while before commenting.

Gender Policing of Girls in Children’s Sports
Tracy I at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty on gender policing. When I was a kid, I was a “tomboy” with short hair, so yeah, I know where she’s coming from.

Sometimes. Writing. Sometimes.
Yes, writing is like this. Amanda Ching knows the score.

Categories: Random Linkroll | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Linkroll

Looks like we’re going to combine a couple weeks of links here, considering I haven’t been keeping up with blog business lately. There’s been gardening, writing, and general enjoying of spring, so it’s not like I’ve been goofing off. Much.

Book Review: Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women
First, a little self-promotion. My next novella is coming out in three weeks, and Jule’s Book Reviews has already reviewed Winter Well, the collection it’s in. May 24, folks!

White Lady Feminism, Christian Blogging, and the Worst of Both Possible Worlds
Dianna Anderson has some interesting thoughts on the similarities between online feminism and online Christianity. Dissent is often necessary.

Sexy Pool Party
It’s the last shot that really made me laugh.

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls… SO I WILL
The Militant Baker on body image and loving yourself.

The Myth of the Free Market: You’ll Find a Unicorn Before You Find a Free Market
Scriptonite Daily with thoughts on the free market, or if there really is one. A long read, but worth it.

Kentucky woman ordained as priest by dissident Roman Catholics
Sofia Perpetua, with NBC News, discusses the ordination of a woman as Catholic priest. I didn’t know there were dissident groups who did this. Cool.

Honey bees, CCD, and the Elephant in the Room
Fascinating post at Bug Girl’s Blog on colony collapse disorder in honey bees and how a lot of folks might be taking the wrong approach. Dr. Doug Yanega guest posts.

Newsflash: Spot Reduction/Spot Training Does NOT Work
Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty calls out a longstanding exercise myth.

14-Year-Old Scientist Makes a Groundbreaking Discovery
Maria Elena Grimmett is working to ensure that people around the world have safe drinking water.

Little Girls Are Better at Designing Superheroes than You
A fun tumblr project by Alex Law. Law draws superheroes based on little girls’ costumes. Kinda cool.

Applications open for Mars One, the first human space colony
Casey Johnston at Ars Technica tells us about the private space project that plans to colonize Mars.

Categories: Books/Authors, Weekly Linkroll | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Linkroll

Another Sunday has found us, as has the snow. Which, given that it’s 37 outside, is kind of odd. It was 34 when I got up and raining.

I don’t know.

Lots of links for this last Sunday in February. I hope you find something you like here. Find something cool you want to share? Do tell.

Black History Month: 4 Famous Black Feminists You Never Learned About in School
Policymic weighs in on Black History Month with stories of four women who were new to me, as well. Fascinating stuff.

Bullies Called Him Pork Chop. He Took That Pain With Him And Then Cooked It Into This.
From Upworthy, Shane Koyczan‘s powerful video on his bullied childhood (which is also many of our childhoods).

The salon experience from hell: Or, how I learned to love my curls
A powerful post from Visible and Real on body image and what happens when we allow others to define it for us. Has me thinking a lot of my own experiences.

This Loom Made Out of LEGOs is More Entrancing Than It Probably Should Be [VIDEO]
Shared by The Mary Sue, this video is definitely entrancing and fun to watch. I need to find the time and space to weave again. (My loom room, ARGH!)

This Year’s Nebula Award Nominees
John Scalzi is one of many folk who posted about this year’s Nebula Award contenders. So many more books I have to read now. And Joss is nominated twice!

Phoenix Lights
Are they back? Karen Gadient saw something that looks pretty similar to the sightings that happened back in the 1997. Aircraft in formation? Military flares? Whatever they are, they look pretty cool.

Photos of Volcanoes–FROM SPACE!
Sally Strange shares her love of volcanoes and links to a lot of cool pics. Plus! An interactive map!

 

Categories: Weekly Linkroll | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Linkroll

So, there’s a football game this evening. My feelings about football have become so mixed over the last few years. So many problems with the sport on so many levels.

But my favorite city’s team is playing tonight, so I’m kind of excited.

Charles Street, Baltimore, looking north

Charles Street, Baltimore, looking north

Not only that, but my second favorite city’s team is also playing.

Coit Tower and neighborhood, San Francisco

Coit Tower and neighborhood, San Francisco, also looking north

If the 49ers were playing anyone other than Baltimore, I’d be rooting for them. Sorry, guys.

But it hasn’t been all football this week. Here are some links for you that I hope you enjoy.

Twenty Great Writers on the Art of Revision
Emily Temple shares some super quotes on writing and revision. I’m especially fond of what Raymond Chandler had to say.

Finishing School Book the First: Etiquette & Espionage (trailer)
This is seriously impressive book trailer. Can’t wait to actually read the book.

Pro-choice on Amtrak: The time I told a group of anti-choice teenagers about my abortion
Michelle Kinsey Bruns on Feministing talks about sharing her story of abortion with a train car full of anti-choice teenagers. Powerful stuff.

Is Twitter a better predictor of the flu than Google and the CDC? Researcher says, yes
Interesting Medcity News article on tracking the spread of this year’s flu season.

Think Women Haven’t Been in Combat Situations Already? The History of Crossdressing Soldiers
Women in the U.S. military will finally be able to fill combat positions, officially. But it’s not like they haven’t fought before. The National Journal looks at a few women who crossdressed their way into battle.

Interplanetary Cessna
xkcd’s What If column takes on the question, “What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies?” Venus is a terrible place.

And to finish up… a fun parody tune from Beauty for Ashes.

Categories: Weekly Linkroll | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekend Linkroll

Happy Holidays, everyone, whatever you celebrate this time of year! Belated Happy Hanukkah and Solstice! We finally have some snow here in Vermont, so it’s not looking so damned gloomy outside anymore. The brown ground and grey skies were starting to get to me.

So, links. Hope you enjoy.

Writer’s High
Empty Pen and endorphins. It’s an awesome feeling when you get that nagging scene right.

So You Want to Read PKD? Here’s Some Help.
SJ over at Snobbery has created an amazing flowchart to help you figure out which Philip K. Dick story you should read next. Personally, with Substitution Cipher just out, I’m hankering to reread The Man in the High Castle.

Day of Rest
Feeling frazzled? A Thousand Shades of Grey shares some thoughts (and great quotations) on the rightness of being yourself. “The message is sending me a universe.”

Possible habitable zone planet is a mere 12 light years away
Tau Ceti, eh? A lot of science fiction has happened there because it’s so close to us (relatively). Will there be spider people? Romulans? Barbarella? Time will tell.

Hasbro to unveil gender neutral Easy-Bake Oven
Thanks to McKenna Pope’s change.org petition for her little brother. It’s about time.

Michigan cousins go after crayfish, hook a mastodon
“The ‘coolest’ show-and-tell item anyone’s ever brought to the sixth grade.”

Categories: Weekly Linkroll | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Blogroll

Another week’s gone by, so it’s time for the latest roundup of web links I want to share with you.

Ye Oldelympics Medal Table
The 2012 Olympic medal count based on the borders of old empires. A history geek kind of thing.

78 Inspirational Quotes To Start Your Fire
Danielle LaPorte posts some of her favorite inspirational quotes. There are some good ones in there. My favorites are probably these two (at least right now they are). Continue reading

Categories: Weekly Linkroll | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Outsiders #2: Dorothy Gale

A little less obscure this time around. While no one knows the bodyguard‘s real name (at least in the first two films), everyone knows this girl’s name. Although does her last name come to mind as easily as her first? Probably not, given that the Wicked Witch of the West only writes Surrender Dorothy in the sky, not Surrender Dorothy Gale.

Surrender Dorothy written in the sky

Continue reading

Categories: Fangirling, Movies, Outsiders, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thinking About Outsiders

I watched K-PAX last weekend and really enjoyed it. (Well, the subplot about Jeff Bridges‘ family was trite and boring, but other than that…) Kevin Spacey stars as a man who may or may not be from another planet. The movie does a good job of keeping this question up in the air until the very end. And even then, it leaves you to wonder.

Me being me, though, I always go for the extraterrestrial option when given a choice. Continue reading

Categories: Books/Authors, Fangirling, Movies, Outsiders | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: