Althea's Revenge and the Finer Points of Landing A Shuttle
This is probably one of my favorite chapters so far. After coming out of a pretty intense situation like we did in chapter 9, I like that we slide into something lighter, a little absurd, and amusing.
And speaking of absurd, I sometimes second guess myself and wonder if having Viekko engaging in group sex is just over the top. I mean, it clearly is. But the appropriate question to ask is if it over the top in a way that serves the story?
I will say this, in context, I think it works because it serves as an extreme contrast to the intimate relationship that Viekko and Althea have. Getting drunk and being carted away by a group of beautiful women is such a stupid male adolescent fantasy, and I honestly can't think of any sexual situation less intimate and meaningful than that. And in a book that deals with love and sex vs. duty to the state, I think it serves a useful function.
Besides, I like Viekko's cavaleir attitude. It makes me giggle.
And that's kind of the heart of writing. Right or wrong, Viekko's sex party has a purpose, so I stand by the decision. It is not the first nor the last dumb decision I have or will have to own.
Overall, I love how the personalities bounce off each other in this chapter. From Althea's exasperation, to Cronus airing out his strange and disturbing ideas of love and sex, to Viekko just wanting to shut it all out and enjoy himself. I like how he ends up making the relationship between himself and Althea even worse, I love her petty revenge, and Viekko trying to give a sex talk to Cronus is one of my favorite things that I've ever had to write.
And, yes, I know how narcissistic it is to be amused by one's own writing. But given how much I tend to disparage most of it, I think I'm allowed a few lines that make me smile.
|It's such a well-known thing that someone has gone out and made a coffee mug.|
And on a related note, I want to end this post with a little story.
I did a series of holiday markets shortly after this book came out. At one of them, a woman approached me and was asking me questions about the book. I gave my usual sales pitch. 'Pulp sci-fi space adventure! A little bit Firefly and Cowboy Bebop! Complex themes, interesting characters, a fun story to dive into!"
At one point, she asked, "So my thirteen-year-old son is really into sci-fi. Do you think these books are appropriate for him?"
The question caught me off guard for a couple of reasons. First, I honestly hadn't thought about what age-groups I thought this would be appropriate for. I sort of wrote them trying to keep a wide audience in mind, i.e., minimizing crude language or explicit sex. But I really hadn't thought hard about what is appropriate for who and why.
And second, I think it's an awkward question. What is 'appropriate' is a totally subjective idea. Without getting deep into the weeds, I think my ideas run far more liberal than the average person in this regard. And I don't have a kid, so I have a hard time even knowing how I would feel in the same situation.
So I did my best to tell the truth. I told her that the books contained violence and sexual situations. These scenes could be intense, but they were never explicit or graphic.
That seemed to satisfy her. She bought a copy of each book and smiled, "You're sure he's not going to find anything weird in these books, right?"
My response was, "Depends on what your definition of 'weird' is. I think they are weird, but that's kinda my style."
And, again, she seemed satisfied as she paid for the books and tucked them away.
It wasn't until later that the phrase 'transplanetary orgy' drifted across my brain, and I got a little anxious about what I had just done. I don't think I mislead her about what was in the books but I could see that part being a sticking point. But, whatever, the books were sold, and on their way to a teenage boy that might be getting a little more of an education than his mother had anticipated.
I guess what I am saying is, if you're the mother and your reading this after an awkward conversation about that phrase or the situation in general, I guess I want to say, "Oops" and "Sorry?"
And if you're the young man in question, you're welcome.