Outlander

Feb. 13th, 2014 02:44 pm
lettered: (Default)
[personal profile] lettered
I had four different friends from four very different corners of my little world telling me Outlander is one of their favorite books. This was what persuaded me to read it, even though the premise is not my cuppa. The premise was described to me as, "Married nurse goes back in time to 1700s Scotland. Meets some hot guy. Has adventures." All of this actually did sound like my cuppa, except for the implied adultery. Two out of four of these people said, "Weeeeeeeeeeeelll, but she kind of made the adultery okay."

Usually when I hear recommendations from a bunch of different people it's still from the same corner. It's fandom, or people at work, or people I knew back in Texas, or it's young people, or it's the media. It was strange to hear so many different people have such intense love for this book, so I decided to try it. I had to stop after the first three chapters. It was intensely boring.

But then another friend I had got super into it, so I started reading again. And then I got pretty interested when I heard Ron D Moore was doing the show. I love DS-9 and BSG, so this is fairly excited me.

Now I'm about halfway through this book, and I feel like I'm going to throw up. I wanted to know if other people felt the way that I do about it, so I looked at Goodreads and accidentally spoiled myself for the rest. I'm going to trudge on through, because I promised my friend I would, but seriously? I don't just find this book bad; I find it upsetting. It's like some unholy combination of Song of Ice and Fire (which I think is awful) and 50 Shades (which I don't think is awful, but I haven't bothered to read it. What I do know is that it seems to have a lot of S&M which isn't handled as nearly as carefully and deftly as half the fics in fandom).

But seriously, I want to know--am I just a hater, or is this book really as extremely homophobic and misogynist as it's coming off to me? Inquiring minds, guys.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 10:57 pm (UTC)
sophia_sol: Hamlet, as played by David Tennant, reading a book (Hamlet: Hamlet reading)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
I'm fascinated that you've had it so highly recommended to you because everything I've ever heard is that I don't want to read it? I don't really know the details because I've never bothered seeking it out, but I've always understood that yes, there are some deeply problematic aspects in it.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:15 pm (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
holy crap, I knew it had issues but I didn't realize it was THAT bad. WOWWWW.

(and unfortunately the impression I get is that plenty of the people enjoying 50 Shades don't realize there's anything problematic about it either. There are a lot of people in this world who have never been educated about consent and don't know how to recognize when a narrative is lacking it.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:33 pm (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
I have unfortunately met one woman who, although she didn't actually LIKE the book, also didn't think there was anything problematic about its portrayal of things.

Yeah. And I know you know this, but it's not that there has to be consent. It's that if there's not consent I want the narrative to treat the situation as though consent has not been given

Oh, yes, absolutely - and in fact that's what I meant to say, I just wasn't explicit enough about stating it, whoops.

I'm sorry you feel obligated to finish reading this book when you find it so upsetting!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:40 pm (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
oh absolutely, and no worries.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 12:50 am (UTC)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
From: [personal profile] cofax7
YIKES. I have no recollection of that!

Bleargh.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:32 am (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
Spoiler for the second book and adultery: In book 2, he gets thrown in jail in France and she has some seriously awful sex with Louis XIV in return for his freedom. Ooonce again, he gets angry and spanks her for cheating on him, and she's okay with this. I remember being quite indignant that he wasn't in any way grateful to her for saving his sorry ass.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:05 pm (UTC)
cofax7: Westley: people in masks cannot be trusted (Dread Pirate Roberts)
From: [personal profile] cofax7
It's been a long time since I read those (well, some of them: I trudged through 3 or 4 before I gave up in disgust). I definitely remember the homophobia, but I don't recall thinking the misogyny was particularly unusual for a historical romance.

I admit that one reason I stopped reading was that I got bored with the sex, and as they went on, the books became more and more about the Hot!Sex! and less and less about an actual story. Also there are some deeply stupid characters and plot points that really upset me.

I suspect that they're so popular because they scratch a particular kind of fannish/romantic itch. But if it's not your itch, they're not going to do it for you.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:14 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Huh. I ...started the first book in that series, dropped it after two chapters, and apparently made myself forget it almost entirely.

Maybe that wasn't just me.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 12:06 am (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
I can make that work! (Eeeeeeee.)

Did Stulti mention her truly epic hawk scream of joy upon hearing you'd be in the area soon? You are well loved in our household. :o)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:19 pm (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
Oh god. Somehow or other, a copy of that showed up at the family cottage (everything shows up at the family cottage sooner or later), so I picked it up and yowled my way through the first few chapters and then skimmed the rest. Squickity squick squick. I had the same reaction to Song of Ice and Fire, except I didn't even bother skimming.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-13 11:36 pm (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
[personal profile] jjhunter, who is on the opposite end of the couch, will verify that I just SHRIEKED. Yes. Yes, make sure you tell me when you'll be here, and we'll meet up. :D :D :D

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:17 am (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
I can make any evening work, though Thursdays would take rearranging. Sat and Sun I'm free all day.

Will this be your only trip eastward this year? I'm going to Con.txt and Wiscon.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:05 am (UTC)
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
From: [personal profile] bironic
That book was also recommended to me, and I also found it super boring, super conservative and super offensive when I read it in maybe 2006 or 2007. However, because I am a person who often enjoys fictionalized rape and noncon, I did shamefully enjoy That Scene toward the end (the m/m one? not sure how much you're spoiled for), which is now almost all I can remember about the entire book. "Shamefully" because there were so many ways it could have been done without the raging homophobia.

But mostly I am stuck on: Ron Moore is doing a TV adaptation?! That should be interesting.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:08 am (UTC)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu
It definitely has evil queer problems, though later it attempts to make up for this by introducing my very favorite character in the series.

I haven't re-read for over ten years, and I was way less attuned to consent issues then, plus I imprinted on as a teen when I was reading a lot of romance novel-style dubcon. So I can't speak to the rest.

I kind of like them in spite of myself? But given your reaction so far, take it from a slight Internet acquaintance that the end of this book is going to be deeply upsetting to you and you should really not read it, promise to friend notwithstanding. (Oh, wait, I see you spoiled yourself--but I recommend against it.) Well, anyway, you definitely won't like any of the rest of the series.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:55 am (UTC)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu

Yes, though the jury's out on whether he ultimately gets a happy ending because the story's not done yet, but he's great and he gets his own side series.

And it's not just the rape but the rape recovery bit, which never worked for me even at the time.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:29 am (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
STOP NOW before you get any further into the book; the climax really will make you hurl.

I read about five of the Outlander books when I was a teen, and a lot of people in my parish did as well. At the time I had a pretty strong stomach (I also read ASOIAF and Wheel of Time) so I loved the historical and medical detail, though the spanking always annoyed and/or confused me (I remember the moment I intellectually realized that nonconsensual spanking is a kink some people have, and went, "Ohh, that's why it was in the book!" because otherwise I was like, author, why you do this to people I want to like?

The same author has another series in the same world/timeframe that are mysteries with a gay protagonist. I bounced off them, and soured on Outlander.
Edited Date: 2014-02-14 01:33 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 01:52 am (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
he held her down and beat her with a leather strap, and she couldn't sit comfortable for three days.

Whooooa that one slipped my mind. I only remembered the later episode, where he used a gorse bush. O_O

The misogyny issues are so variable. Like, that first book also gives us Jamie's sister, who is so absolutely amazing I want her in everything ever. It continues in a kind of seesaw thing, tempting the reader along with women being awesome on the one hand and them cramming in misogyny with the other. It was when an unapologetically feminist character showed up and got ground under by the plot that I was finally like, "Nope, can't take this anymore."

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 02:37 am (UTC)
attackfish: Yshre girl wearing a kippah, text "Attackfish" (Default)
From: [personal profile] attackfish
Isn't that written by Diana Gabaldon, the woman who said that writing fanfiction is like raping the original author?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-15 02:40 am (UTC)
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
From: [personal profile] neotoma
A former friend loved the books so I read them so we could talk about them together. Except that I really dislike the main character and wanted someone who was a little more aware that 1700s Scotland was a terrible place to live. You'd think almost getting condemned as a witch might have been a clue, but no...

(no subject)

Date: 2014-03-01 02:56 pm (UTC)
rheasilvia: (If ellipses could be capitalized)
From: [personal profile] rheasilvia
I haven't read Outlander, but I have read most of the stories and books starring Lord John Grey, the gay protagonist. And the thing is... they are homophobic too.

Most of the time, it's a subliminal thing that can be easily explained away by the time the book is set in. Homophobia is ingrained in this society and in the attitudes of everyone in it, including the gay people themselves. However. There is one aspect of the books' homophobia that is so inexplicable and disgusting that, in the end, it made me stop reading the series.

The thing is: Lord John is completely and inexplicably obsessed with, fascinated by and more than a little in love with Jamie, who appears as a minor character in several scenes. There is never any conceivable explanation for John's positive feelings towards the man; I was left with the impression the author simply assumed everyone would naturally be in love with this particular character because he is the author's favorite and just that awesome period, no in-character explanation or reason required.

Jamie, in his turn, is deeply, viscerally and openly disgusted and offended by John's homosexuality, and even more so by John's attraction to him. John goes back to see Jamie several times in a doomed bid for his approval, and Jamie showers disgust, revulsion and hatred on him. After the last instance of this, John runs out and desperately brings himself off, overcome by the enchanting vicinity of Jamie.

This was the point at which I just could not read any further. The level of self-hatred this narrative implies for John seems entirely unintentional on the part of the author; John is never otherwise self-loathing. It's not that John has a humiliation kink, either. It's just extremely bad storytelling. I don't have an explanation for it at all, but it reads as horribly homophobic in context.

Sorry for the rant; I feel rather strongly about this issue, as you may have surmised. ;-)

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