The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Women are Ruining Science Fiction

| 24 Comments

Jen and I are in Austin, being graciously hosted by Scott and Skyler and Egan White. It’s a lovely time, with much good conversation, and pleasantness all around. Or, rather, it was, until a couple of days ago, when I woke up early and came downstairs unexpectedly. Because I was wearing slippers, no one heard me. And there were Jen and Skyler, their heads together, over a pile of books.

Jen: And, seriously, Sandworms? There is, like, no way that desert ecosystem could support such a lifeform. Plus, they’re icky. I think fuzzy kittens would be better.

Skyler: No, puppies! Sandpuppies!! You write that part. I just crossed out this whole section about the Emperor’s soldiers, because the uniforms? Boring! And it totally bounces me out of a story when a militarized political structure doesn’t revolve around elaborate hats with plumes and brocade.

Jen: And insignia.

Skyler: Exactly! Do we even know how this army symbolizes rank and status in color? I’m going to replace the whole battalion with one super-powerful alpha-guy with back tattoos.

Jen: Remember, it’s the desert though, so if he’s shirtless and obviously…

Skyler: Obviously. Shirtless, but maybe with vambraces.

Jen: Okay, but it’s the desert so we’ll have to make sure there’s some kind of sunscreen or his skin, you know.

Skyler: We’ll need to protect it from burning and from the scouring effects of the sand. We could use magic! There wasn’t enough magic anyway.

Jen: I know, right?! But don’t take too much time; the publisher needs it by next month if he’s going to replace all the copies of the old Dune on time.

Skyler: It’ll be done. But what about this one?

Jen: Oh, that’s Doc Smith. Nothing but space battles. Ugh. Let’s take out all the battles and replace them with fancy dress balls.

Skyler: I’ve always thought dancing reveals more about character than boring space battles anyway. What kind of costumes do they have? Do they move with the body or constrict it? Are the dances partnered or not? Foot or hip-driven?

Jen: Oooh, yeah. You do those. And we’re going to need lots more description of the Lensmen. Because, I mean, hello? A lens? That’s an accessory! It isn’t easy to build your whole wardrobe around one accessory.

Skyler: Right. It has to really pop, but also tie the whole ensemble together. I’m having a lot of trouble with The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, because there is so much boring stuff about living on the Moon, and it all has to be replaced, but I like the bit about the guy-harems. We could just get rid of the rock throwing nonsense and concentrate on the relationships. How do they feel about the different men? What do they talk about? And I like Wyoh, and Heinlein does say she’s cute, but we need way more description and gossip, so there’s plenty that can go there….oh, good morning, Steve. We were just having tea. Did you sleep well??

They shoved issues of Cosmo over the pile of books, but it was too late; I’d seen what I’d seen and heard what I’d heard. Shaken, terrified, I crept back to bed to nightmares about killer robots in lipstick.

 

skzb

Author: skzb

I play the drum.

24 Comments

  1. Extended bout of evil cackling.

  2. I’m so amused you chose those two. My 7yo daughter is listening to the audiobook of Dune, and my 3yo daughter is making my husband read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to her. So far they haven’t asked to change them. 😉

  3. Jesus, Steve, thanks for blowing mission secrecy. *eyeroll*

    Maybe at least your commenters will provide us with new ideas for fixing up some sci-fi stories.

  4. Can’t type ideas. Too doubled over with laughter.

  5. But maybe Rosza and Cawti could rule the book after Hawk.

  6. @katie — oh noes! Quickly, train them in expected gender performance! 😉 (Seriously, though, awesome job provisioning them with excellent reading material.)

  7. Didn’t Garth Nix already do that?

    … Okay, that’s unfair and untrue.

  8. I bet there’s a whole lost volume — The Wallflower Lensman — about poor old Nadreck of Palain VII moping around the punch table because no one wants to dance with a 4-dimensional absolute-zero tentacle beast. Eventually he gets fixed up with one of those pink Chickladorian girls…

  9. I very much look forward to the PALADIN OF MANNERS series, in which the exploits of John Ringo’s Rapey Sue are replaced by several volumes of fluffy kitten tea party.

  10. Jen, Skyer, I am expecting descriptions of ball gowns to rival L.K. Hamilton from you two. Please do not disappoint me.:)

    Also, for Dune, I think you should keep the stillsuits…..but seriously, black? On a desert planet? Not only lacking in function, but SO bland. I am expecting some practical, but *fashionable* stillsuits.

  11. Admit it, Steve. You didn’t go back to bed thinking that. You left the room saying “I’ll be in my bunk…”

  12. These are all *excellent* ideas, really.

    Stillsuits obviously need glitter.

    In the Paladin of Manners series, the MC will indeed collect actual stray kittens instead of hookers.

    Nadreck and Judy the Chickladorian WILL live happily ever after.

  13. It would be interesting to see how Paarfi would re-write some of these books.

  14. Hammer’s Slammers have way too much emphasis on military technology. Let’s have more about the uniforms! And all those tanks need something — oh, how about if we have dances for them! Their AI should let them dance in delightfully complicated ways!

    More tea parties! Less battles!

  15. Dance of the Sugarplum Tanks, sure! *adds*

    And we do have the Paarfirotica, which is canon, to guide us on how such a fine historian would treat these re-writes.

  16. The Kzinti totally need blow drying and ribbons. Oh so many ribbons.

    also

    “Boss?”
    “What now Loiosh?”
    “Tell me again why I am glittery now.”
    “Shut up, Loiosh.”

  17. “Les femmes qiui lisent sont dangreuses.”

    (Women who read are dangerous.)

    Just sayin’.

  18. Hmmm; and would the project also include replacing the two fancy dress balls that are key scenes in Doc Smith’s Lensman series with space battles, maybe? I mean, it wouldn’t do to be just all balls, all the time, would it?

  19. skzb

    Wait….I’d forgotten there are fancy dress balls. Chiclit!

  20. Given Doc Smith’s famous “sense of scope” I’d have to say that the balls thrown by the Galactic Patrol have got to be the biggest balls of them all. Sorry, AC/DC….

  21. I’m just wondering if anyone has seriously calculated the physics of a zero-gravity fluffy kitten tea party?

    I mean, obviously the tea has to be in sippy cups.

  22. *Bouncebounce* Can fix (new) Star Wars, please? More realistic romance, better dialogue, less racism? Also, maybe change Anakin into an actual tragic figure instead of a whiny-ass dumbass donkey-ass? (The costume balls are so much the lesser evil.)

    (Palpatine: “Yes, Anakin, you can become less whiney. It’ll be an uphill struggle, but together, we can do it! Now, go jump into that lava lake…”)

  23. Sandpuppies?
    Definitely.

  24. Steve that was the best mindblowing i have had in a ton of years thanks your point is a valid one i think but you need to keep it on the downlow or the rest of us guys out there are gonna get castrated by our wive’s and or Gf’if we show solodarity with you but hey im there for ya man …… (crawls away to hide from an enraged spouse)

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