Friday, March 11, 2005

It's not how I remembered it

Marion Zimmer Bradley, now deceased, wrote tons of science-fictiony books about a planet called Darkover. She also wrote the Arthurian The Mists of Avalon, but I never got around to reading that.

I read a lot of her Darkover books when I was younger, because I liked science fiction but there wasn't an awful lot of feminist science fiction around. By feminist I don't mean political diatribes thinly disguised as fiction - I'm talking about stories where female characters had a lot of power which had nothing to do with their sexual attractiveness, were immersed in exciting adventures and didn't have to wear metal brassieres. The Darkover books were the first time I'd come across the genre.

In a post-Buffy-novel search for something to read at the library, I remembered how much I'd enjoyed the Darkover novels and decided to get one out to read. I didn't remember having read Darkover: Landfall before, so this was the book I brought home.

What a disappointment. Maybe it was written before she got into her groove, or after she lost interest in the series. I dunno. I found it really dated and pre-feminist. There weren't any busty metal-clad warrior maidens - they would have added a Xena-like touch if nothing else. But the characters were like something out of a particularly uninspiring Seventies movie - sort of an unsatirical Stepford Wives.

I should have known that sometimes you just can't go back.


Barry said...

You might be better off trying, say, Sherri S Tepper. Even David Eddings seems to have created a strong female character in Lady Polgara in his Belgariad series, with the Princess Ce'Nedra being a more transitional female.

Frally said...

Oh. My. God. I can't believe I can FINALLY comment on your blog. What the heck's been going on I wonder?
Anyway, I tried to read "Mists Of Avalon" on a friends recommendation years ago and I will never trust that friends judgement again. It was the biggest load of flowery twaddle. If I was a frilly, girly 12 year old, maybe I would enjoy it. However, as I'm a cynical, ball-breaker, I HATED IT.
(I don't want this comment to end just in case I'm never able to do it again....)

Violet said...

Thanks Barry, I'll look out for them next time I'm in the library.
Frally: That's a shame. I was on the look-out for Mists of Avalon at first. But now that I've been disappointed by her other book and you've just dissed it, I won't bother now. I suspect I'm more of a cynical ball-breaker than a frilly girly girl too.

onanymous said...

You might also enjoy 'The Liveship Traders' trilogy by Robin Hobb. It features a whole cast of strong females, human and otherwise.

Violet said...

onanymous: I saw the the title and perceived "Live Sheep Traders". Well, it has been in the news recently...