2012-04-19

prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)
2012-04-19 10:35 am

Bearslayer and the Black Knight from BCS #92

This week, Beneath Ceaseless Skies podcast "Bearslayer and the Black Night" by Tom Crosshill. I listened to it on the way to work. Because of the story's structure and the way it uses scene breaks, it made more sense when I read it afterwards. (Also, colonists were marching to the drum on the side of the road. For that stretch of the morning commute, I was more concerned about the traffic disruption. I'd have expect them to march on Patriot's Day, not several days after. However, even having lived here over a decade now, I'm still not up on the local ways.)

I have decidedly mixed feelings about this story. At the end of the day, it's probably no fault of the story and more a fault of the context the story finds itself.

On one hand, it's exceptionally well written. The voice of the story is dead on for what it wants to accomplish. I love the cross-cutting between how legend records the main characters and what actually happened. The story uses lots of specific, vivid details to build the world and reinforce the bind the characters find themselves in. That he gets across so much in so few words is masterful. (And the story is precisely the right length.)

On the other hand, I've pretty much read my fill of stories where gay lovers die. No, strictly speaking, they are not killed because they are lovers. They are killed because they are the champions of their respective tribes but refuse to fight each other. Do I really need to interrogate why they refuse to fight each other though?

(No, that they are lovers is not the only reason, but it's hard to argue that it is not a reason. I mean they kiss "And it burned those who watched. Cries of outrage rent the air like sharpened spears. Snarls of hatred boomed forth like blasts of gunpowder. Latts and Greni both grasped for blades that had never seen blood until this day. The ground shook as they charged their champions." No, I'm not saying that one shouldn't depict homophobia in stories. I'm saying it's tiring that the outcome is always that the gay characters die. There are lots of possible stories. Why do we always tell this one?)

Do I need to point out that, of course, that legend erases their love for each other? (Not saying that this is implausible. Just saying I've seen this a lot. Can I please see something else now?)

Of course, it's not that there are no stories where straight lovers die. However, there are also lots of stories where straight lovers live. When they do die, they are rarely killed because they are straight. I suppose it's possible to tell this story exactly as is except that one of the lovers is female. In practice, you rarely see it though. In other words, I shout "feh!" at your false equivalence.

I've hit the point where I really don't care how plausible or how justified the killing is. It'd just be nice to read stories where gay characters who face death survive. Why go for the cliched ending?

If there were lots and lots of stories that do not present death as the predestined fate of gay characters, the ending of this story wouldn't bug me as much. However, gay characters don't get very much representation in this sort of fiction. It's disheartening then that when I do find a genre story with gay characters, it falls victim to this trope (with no visible attempt to deconstruct or subvert it).

Again, I'm not saying anyone should or shouldn't do anything. I'm just saying that I've read this story before and I'd like for there to be something else to read. (It's not as simple as "I'd like to read something else." Someone has to write it, people have to want it, then someone has to publish it.)