So, my guild leader wrote a book, and another one of my guildies illustrated the cover! He’s asked me to take a look at it and write about it to raise awareness. It’s hard to write something coherent and cohesive in the first place let alone something over a couple pages, so he deserves at least that! Here goes.
Set in a dystopian future reality tormented by plague and violence, a young man seeks to understand the mystery of Big Dog from a guy named Amos, who will share the real story in exchange for amusement and a square meal. What Amos knows (and why he knows it) may turn out to be more than John expects.
I’ll be honest – this setting is not my cup of tea, so I was turned off from the start. I’m from a former factory town in the Rust Belt, where the death of local heavy industry hit hard and there was substantial decline as a result. The dark pulling at the edges of life is nothing new to me, be it the body I once saw on the now-unused train tracks, or the countless houses left to rot for lack of money and/or people to live in them. Decay and despair are familiar, yes, to a degree that when they’re laid on thick to create a city “beyond redemption,” I can’t help but roll my eyes.
It’s intended to have the stark, sometimes gritty feel of film noir (I like calling it “dystopian noir”), a setup in which women are often portrayed in ritualized ways. So it’s probably no surprise that the biggest issue I have with the story is how the only women in it exist to be used, stared at, or even outright abused. They are, in short, the same old plot devices, ornament and minor motivators. I’ve produced my fair share of writing where the majority of characters are female simply because I am – it’s easiest to write from the perspective you are most familiar with, after all. And of course women don’t have to be in everything ever.
But this reading of women just feels like the same old trope to me, trotted out to fill in the cracks of a form that’s old and not holding up well outside the “young adult” category. It’s not the only way stereotype wins in service to the form. Cassius the doctor is practically a demigod, and is good, kind, intelligent and educated. He is white, while his less than perfect parents are not. The country is pure and good in comparison to the rotted, diseased city it surrounds.
There are several plot twists you might appreciate if you’re not like me, because once I get my skeptic hat on, I can’t take it off. I can’t divorce a piece of fiction from the greater context in which it was written (some people think I’m insane for being unable to split the two). If you’d like to check it out and challenge my view, please feel free to do so! It’s here on Amazon, or see some excerpts at the Facebook page.