I have to admit that I’m finding this a little discomfitting…

Posted on | September 9, 2008

At first, I thought a setting of military chaos and horror would be a great place for a meditation on the urge for humanness in the midst of it all.  Let’s face it: I write porn, and two people trying to make sense of it and live while so much dying is going on around them is good, powerful stuff.  But the more I read about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the more I keep thinking that the backdrop is too… something.  Too horrific.  Too unbelievable.  Too monstrous to be understood.

It’s funny; I mentioned self-censorship in a recent post, and I’ve been invited to participate in a panel on self-censorship at a small SF convention nearby.  I think this might be a Yowler story I let die, just because I can’t convince myself to write a story about a desperate search for an echo of happiness set sixty miles from I Wish To Inform You That In The Morning We Will Be Killed Along With Our Families.


3 Responses to “I have to admit that I’m finding this a little discomfitting…”

  1. draconispax
    September 11th, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

    Are any of the bastet stories on the site? I’d love to read them.

  2. Frank
    September 14th, 2008 @ 1:30 am

    From what you’ve said about the “Yowlerverse” so far, it seems to deal with some of the baser sides of Man’s nature; especially with the “You’re not us so you’re a threat” kind of xenophobia. And let’s face it: when that human trait manifests itself, things get real ugly real fast.

    I’m not quite sure you can write meaningful stories in that setting and not be confronted with the ugliness of it.

    As far as the Rwandan genocide is concerned, that (as well as countless other examples) is not too different from a gay bashing in more “civilized” locales (I used the word advisedly here) because it’s essentially a symptom of the same underlying phobia. It manifests itself differently only because Africa (I speak from some experience here) is a far more brutal environment than Europe or the US. Without wanting to digress into a dissertation on the environmental effects on culture and morals, I must point out that in Africa survival is harder, and the “eat or be eaten” or “kill or die” choice is considered more naturally prevalent, than it is elsewhere. This is simply because Africa is a much harsher environment than Europe or the US, where Man has had it relatively easy. Hence the kind of brutality that is all to common in Africa but difficult to understand for Europeans and Americans.

    Coming back to xenophobia (which I take to be a main thread in the storyline that you’re working on) I’m afraid you may have to choose between facing it (and dealing with the ugliness of it) or abandoning it. What’s more, your readers will face the same choice. And not everyone may like it.

    (That never stopped Heinlein, though. He said “fallout be damned” and went ahead to publish some of his most thought-provoking (although most often misunderstood) works.)

    // Frank

  3. Falbert
    September 16th, 2008 @ 7:37 am

    I can appreciate finding it difficult to deal with the horror of some of the most ugly times of human existence. The Journal Entries series has had some reference to that in it before (Sinox War), but it’s been on a personal basis, rather than an entire backdrop.

    Another example would be trying to set stories in concentration camps. The setting is so desperate, that it is difficult to do it justice, and yet still have a story with plot, character growth, etc. Yet it can be done.

    Perhaps this is your muse pushing you into growing and exploring this?

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