khana: (Default)
[personal profile] khana
I'm in the process of re-reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover-series these days. I loved those books when I was sixteen-ish.

So far, I've re-read Shattered Chain and Thendara House, though I got stuck during the rather boring City of Sorcery and abandoned it for now.
I re-read both or the Forbidden Tower novels (Better than remembered! Especially the second, and with a little more background-knowledge on poly-things), and read the follow-up, Bloody Sun, for the first time.
right now i'm on Star of Danger, which is rather late in the chronology, but early in the writing order, and it is noticeable. will see how it plays out.

I'm not sure yet how long I'll keep this up without an interruption by another author. The style is reather flowery and the dialogues are ofter quite archaic and stilted. In contrast, I re-read several Vorkosigan-novels just a few weeks ago, and they sounded a lot more natural. Maybe this style of dialogue writing is just a little dated, I don't quite know. But I didn't notice it that much when I was a teen. I might try re-reading one of the books in German, to see if the style was changed a bit by translation, or if I just didn't notice such things then. (I did read all of the Ayla/Earth Children books around the same age, and they are definitely hard to get through, as I realised a while ago...)

Also, hello world! I'm still alive, if busy with school and things.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-20 08:14 pm (UTC)
spes_unica: (happy farmer)
From: [personal profile] spes_unica
YAY MZB and Darkover!!!

My choice of reading there is pretty selective. I find her books really interesting to read, even if the feminism and the Otherness / culture shock stuff sometimes strikes me as extremely heavy-handed and somewhat crude. Then again, maybe culture shock and things like that do play out that crudely in some people, depending on how simplistic and self-reflexive their view of life is (I'm thinking of all those Terran men who marry Darkovan women or even join Darkovan households. Particularly of their prejudices in the gender stuff and poly-related departments.)

I think The Forbidden Tower (haven't even read the prequel to that) is easily my favourite book of all, because of the poly theme, and Damon is my fave character. Even though the treatment of what checks out as female sexual trauma, after all, seems very crude and horrifyingly simplistic to me in some points (it's all a bit too coitus-oriented for my taste, and does seem to boil down to "we must get these channels cleared so that Sex can take its Natural Course, once that's happened it'll all be OK", but it seems to me as if there is also some kind of psychic trauma involved there which, you know, can't simply be sorted out by Really Good Sex (TM), and not even by Love).

I like The Bloody Sun for the Tower atmosphere and the poly stuff. I haven't read the gloom and doom books that come in the middle - they sound too depressing. And yes, I also find MZB stylistically uneven - some of her books read like sketch stuff she pulled from a drawer, which could have done with a bit more editing, but on the whole, I totally love her world-building, her thoughtfulness, her feminism, her engagement with cross-cultural and intra-cultural conflicts, ...
I have to say I was freaked out by the novices' training in Thendara House - confrontational psychology / re-programming on a military scale, or so it seemed to me. I think a lot of the psychology does date, in that it is noticeably 1970s or thereabouts. I think these books would be written differently today, but maybe that would be a loss.

Reading MZB often makes me feel that in terms of feminism and sexual tolerance, we haven't really advanced that much since the 1970s. Particularly in the feminism department, I often have a feeling that positions are still as entrenched as ever, only many people think "Oh, we're over all that, women are liberated and empowered now, so we can forget all about that" - well, NO. So I think MZB still has a lot to give to us today, even if her stuff sometimes comes packaged somewhat crudely.

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