Blurbs, Covers, expectations and Rumors

Yesterday, while I was in the middle of an overdue short story (no, not that one, another one. Look, when you’re sick for a solid two months, you end up being late on a lot of things) one of the regulars (Janglionpress) left a comment on my blog which was jaw droppingly stupid.

Part of the reason it was jaw-droppingly stupid is that it amounted to “tell me you never read the book you’re complaining about without telling me you never read the book you’re complaining about.” The other part was because it amounted to calling the author an idiot or deceitful, at length in her own blog.

The THIRD reason it was jaw droppingly stupid was because it made it absolutely clear that there were rumors going on about this book in Baen’s bar (for those who weren’t habitues, it was a pretty big forum till about 2010 when an update killed it. I haven’t been able to access it since But the comment made it pretty clear that there was a rumor circulating about the book, and that a lot of people bought it, hook line, sinker and little tinkle bell.)

Now, there’s only one way to deal with concentrated stupidity of this calibre, combined with the fact that the author of the comment seems to be completely confused over what offends her about the book: whether it’s the fact that it has gay characters or that “it changes halfway”. It doesn’t change halfway. It is like all of my books a action/pause/action/pause/action/pause book. the pause always ends in an explosion of some sort.

I went to bed — two hours ago — and kept turning the insanity in my mind. There were two things I could do: respond to it, as I did on the comment section, and then ignore it. Or answer it on the blog post, in detail.

Now the second is more satisfying, of course, but is it wise? After all, this is a regular.

The thing is, you see, that what I finally hit was the realization I HAD to answer it on a blog post. For one because I would like to sleep tonight. But also because the comment whether it’s on the crest of a long-ago whisper campaign or not will give people a completely wrong idea of what that book is and what it contains.

That is, any of you who haven’t read that book will think I stop halfway through a mil-sf (I don’t write mil-sf) and start writing gay erotica (I don’t write erotica, gay or otherwise. In fact, when I’ve tried to kind of do write anything sexy, I’m told not to even try, because I can’t do it. It’s not how my brain works. I can write romance, but contrary to rumors my space operas are not romances. They don’t have romance beats or sex. at best they’re space operas with romantic subplots.) So this idea will get people to pick up the book who will be very disappointed in it and hate me, or get people who would have enjoyed the book to not pick it up.

So… here is the comment, in all its bizarre, contradictory, but very assured and angry glory, in italics, with my answers in normal text.

And you know, Janglionpress, you should definitely feel in good company. The last person who caused me to do this was a writer for the Esquire. This is the level of intelligence you’ve achieved. I hope it’s not permanent. I never had the impression you were mainlining dumbassamine before.

Going to say something that might get me in trouble. Feel free to moderate it if you want.

Here’s a thing, you know, those instincts exist for a reason. When we told people on my conference in the bar not to comment with “I don’t know if this is right, but you can delete if you want” it was because when you start something that way, you know you’re attacking and generally being a raging ass, but you are trying to get away with it by saying “you can delete if you want.”

When you’ve had an approved comment on my blog, if I then “moderate” what you get is the impression you were SO right I had to erase you.

You aren’t right, and you’re not going to be erased. It’s much worse than that. You’re going to be answered.

My beef with the Baen edition of A Few Good Men was that neither the cover nor the blurbs I saw gave any hint of the gay romance angle, and I was left to discover a subplot which didn’t interest me, which kicked up around the time the pacing slowed down, and the initial plot developments that interested me had been been at least temporarily resolved.

Okay. First, neither the cover nor the blurbs gave a hint of this, because it’s not what the book is about. The book is an American revolution in the future. Yes, the characters happen to be gay and yes, they become emotionally involved, but it’s not in any way shape or form a romance. For those who haven’t read it, a friend yesterday pointed out you can choose to believe they’re just close friends and the book still makes perfect sense.

As for “it wasn’t on the cover or the blurbs” — you do realize I didn’t have anything to do with those, right? Because in trad pub, you don’t.

BUT more importantly — tell me you didn’t read the book without telling me you didn’t read the book — you KNOW Luce — the voice character — is gay in the first chapter. Nothing gross (this book doesn’t even have impure thoughts, for crying out loud. There is no “look how he fills that jumpsuit”) but he is haunted by the ghost of his dead lover. Who is male. So, if you crack the book, you know from the first chapter that he’s male and interested in males.

ALSO because this is the THIRD book of the series, you know there’s a relationship subplot. Because there is in the other two.

I actually don’t have any idea when you think the action “slowed way down and issues had been resolved”. At NO time are issues resolved. Not even — completely — in the end, though there is indeed a marked slow down and wrap up in the last half chapter. It’s called a conclusion.

I suspect the rumor you heard is because the character doesn’t go to the front, and isn’t a military commander. The people who expected it had “Kirk problems.” You don’t put your most symbolic asset, the one that can rally people around him by virtue of his position on the front lines. He still does a lot of stupid sh*t after the war starts, tries to get involved in putting down an insurrection, is involved in rescuing the island from an invasion and takes out a space station.

That takes us to the wrap up, pretty much.

So, what the heck are you talking about actually? Yes, some people who — unlike you — actually read it (Let this be a lesson to you, child, not to believe rumors) whined that they wished I had followed the other character to the front lines.

This was because of the cover Baen chose, which — AT THE TIME — I told them denoted mil sf. But if you had read me by then, you probably would have known I don’t do mil sf. I can’t. It’s not that I can’t do action, it’s that I can’t keep ranks and procedure straight. I think you have to have had a lot more experience with it than I did to be able to do it. Or you have to at least RPG it. I never did. I’ve read a lot of military biography and fiction, but I can’t internalize it enough to write it.

This could be considered a “bad fit for Baen” but only by the time I came in. Baen used to have more range.

At any rate those people didn’t dislike the book, or complain of the relationship. They just wanted a few Mil SF characters. I’d have had to jump heads 2/3 through the book, and it would be weird in a first person book even if I could do it.

A lot of Baen readers would yowl just as hard about a hetero romance introduced in similar fashion, and I daresay they would get a somewhat respectful hearing when yowling.

Again, with tell me you never read the book. OR the other books in the series. None of them are romances, but all have a relationship component. Mostly because my characters need someone to kick them in the butt into action sometimes. (I’m not alone in this, btw. Most of Heinlein had a relationship component. So does Prince Roger, to pull one mil sf series out of my hat, for instance.)

AFGM has less of a relationship component than Darkship Renegades. No one yowled about Darkship Renegades. Though the action slows a lot more and becomes internal there. (Well, pardon me, one editor howled. I suspect the same personality that put about rumors this book was “gay romance.”)

The personality and inclination of the characters is known from chapter one, even if you never read the other two books.

And no, they wouldn’t get a respectful hearing, because with due respect, thinking or saying I ‘write romance’ ALSO proves you’ve never read romance.

The new cover at least nods to that aspect of AFGM, although I don’t know how obvious it is to people who aren’t already familiar with the story. New amazon blurb does not. At least some of the hostility you’re seeing is probably people who feel that, because this aspect of the story isn’t signaled that clearly, you are trojan-horsing content they don’t find appealing into a book that otherwise sounded interesting to them. (Yes, they probably should pay more attention to the book categories. I’d be prepared to bet that a lot of people don’t though.)

Um… The character shows he’s gay in the first chapter. Hell of a trojan horse. It has a big sign in front saying “I am full of soldiers.”
I’m not actually seeing hostility. Well, now I’ve seen yours, I guess. And I kind of wonder why you think it’s okay to come to a professional writer’s blog and tell her that on a book that continues to sell pretty well she’s so incompetent she can’t foreshadow. I don’t know why you thought this was a good comment to make, but hey, to each his own.

WHAT I DID SEE was not hostility, it was people who saw “gay” and decided I had an agenda. And therefore said things like “every good character is gay” and “every hetero character is evil” which is bullshit, since one of the genuine heroes of the book is Abigail who is very straight. Oh, Nat’s dad is also straight and not a villain. Just for an example. And frankly MOST PEOPLE IN THE BOOK ARE STRAIGHT AND NOT VILLAINS. But that comment was stupid, not hostile. I didn’t meet hostility till your comment. And boy, is it a load of hostility.

Again, as anyone who has read the book, even though there’s no sex, and no “um, um, um, he sure looks good in that jumpsuit” EVERYONE who can read knows Luce is gay in the first chapter. Go ahead. Read it. It’s in the free sample on Amazon, I am sure. I’ll wait.

Now about the blurb: Lady, are you out of your ever loving mind, or did you lose your marbles on the way to the blog? No, it wasn’t in any kind of gay category for Baen. I don’t know if it’s now, but Amazon is weird. I know they put it in the LGBTQ category, but frankly it’s one of those cringe moments, because anyone picking it up because of that is going to be horribly disappointed. It’s not the theme or the point of the book.

WHAT precisely do you want me to put on the blurb? “Oh, yeah, while leading a USAian revolution, he also falls in love with a guy?

What would be the point of that? OR do you want me to put in “There is a gay romance?” That would be pretty dumb, since then people would pick it up expecting the book to have let’s say a lot more kissing and physical action (as in, more than none) OR at the very least some salacious thoughts. And they’d be disappointed and tell everyone not to read me.

It is actually and for real the 21st century, and we all know some people are gay. The book doesn’t endorse or promote being gay. It doesn’t campaign for gay marriage or push the “everyone has to accept gays” even. It just has characters who happen to be gay.

If you choose to believe they just become very close friends and battle companions (not implausible as traumatized as both are) it will not in any way affect your enjoyment or understanding of the story.

So…. what are you asking for, PRECISELY? A trigger warning? “Warning, this book contains people who have a mean, evil nasty orientation and might hurt your lilac scented feelings.”

You know what, if you’re going to get triggered that easily, you’re on the wrong side of the isle.

Am I saying you should love the book? Oh, sweetie. I don’t think you have the reading comprehension to UNDERSTAND it. So, don’t bother, okay? Go read something with smaller words.

On the serious side — I don’t expect anyone to love my books. I don’t even expect anyone in particular to love every one of my books. Some people love one series and hate the other. A lot of people love shifters and hate Darkships and vice-versa.

I write a lot of very varied stuff. Almost by definition if you love some you’ll hate others. But that’s why Amazon has samples. And I think Baen did too, actually. Not that it matters, since you could have read the sample on Amazon. And since you’re offended by the possibility of a character being gay, even if it just is and determines his actions, but not the direction of the …. theme of the book, you’d have plenty of warning in that first chapter.

As far as the hermaphrodite species book is concerned: not my thing, but won’t waste my energy or yours commenting about it,

Aw. Aren’t you? Why? Dumbassamide wearing down? Again, listen up, kid: you don’t get to tell me what I write or not, but FOR THE RECORD: how do you know it’s not your thing? Go ahead, splutter. I’ll wait.

Oh, I know, it’s because someone told you AFGM is all chock full of gay romance. So, you know this book is going to be full on hermaphrodite action, right?

Sweetie, if I could write that stuff, I’d be cranking it out by the bucket full. I’d be rolling in money. I’d be sleeping in a house full of money, on a mattress made of money.

Unfortunately it’s not how my head works.

I only mentioned the hermaphrodite book to explain that some idiots — are you on some kind of medication? — might think it was a trans thing. It’s not. It is very much against the idea that gender “is a construct.”

Or are you offended by the very idea that someone in SF/F could write hermaphrodites?

If that’s the case, I owe some serious apologies to some puppy kickers who kept claiming we’d never heard of The Left Hand of darkness.

unless a truth in advertising issue crops up. When you get it done and published, please don’t be coy about it in the blurb.

Oh, truth in advertising is it? Again I’m supposed to guess what offends you and give you full warning on the blurb?

Look, I don’t have the time at four in the morning to go check the blurb for The Left Hand of Darkness, but the one I read long ago had NOTHING about the planet being hermaphrodites on the blurb. It was a surprise when I read that “the king was pregnant” but you know, I was fourteen and I’d read SF/F before, so I rolled with the punches. What offended me about it was sloppy worldbuilding designed to validate the author’s beliefs. This, c’est domage, was also not on the blurb. Which is probably a good thing, because if it were I’d never have read the book, and might never have tried to write science fiction.

No. I’m not going to put on the blurb “the hero finds himself in a planet of hermaphrodites.” You know why not? Because of what I wrote above. “IF I could write that stuff I’d be so rich.” But I can’t. And sucker punching people looking for that stuff is wrong. So it might say they were “tragically genetically modified” and, of course, the second chapter is in that world, so you know…. people can figure it out. And if they don’t like it, they can not buy it or return it to KU.

I can’t possibly be the only person who sometimes stops reading books because something kicks me out, like their worldbuilding involving magicians who don’t actually do anything magical, to mention a recent reject whose title I can’t even remember.

No. I’m not going to distort my whole blurb and my marketing to stop you from reading a sample and figuring out you don’t like it. For the love of light fandango, it’s not like ten minutes after it’s up someone won’t be making jokes on the blog comments.

You’re — presumably — a big girl. Put on your big girl pants and stop wha wha whaing that you found something in a book you didn’t like. (Or more likely, because I give you the courtesy of assuming you’re at least semi-literate, because you heard rumors I sneakily put a gay romance in a mil sf book. The rumors were bullshit. The book is not mil sf, and there is no gay romance. And any semi-literate person would know the character is gay from chapter one.)

Go in peace and don’t leave stupid and insulting comments on my blog; particularly not comments that will mislead people about what I write.


Now, for the rest of you who haven’t lost your minds, two notes: the cover above is the new cover for A Few Good Men. I’ll be uploading it probably Wednesday unless it’s Thursday. There’s also new covers for Darkship Thieves and Darkship Renegades. I’ll put them on the bottom.

Second note: “But Sarah, why write gay characters at all?”
Well…. as most of you know who hang out here, I write what I write, because it’s what is there to be written. This thing isn’t entirely under my control.
“BUT people will think you’re pushing gayness!” Only if they don’t know me. Now, granted most readers don’t know me, till they stumble onto the book on Amazon.
Will it turn off a good number of readers. Sure. Look, I myself didn’t pick up a space opera because the BLURB goes on and on about how this space captain is gay. The story sounded interesting, but the prominent of “she so gay” on the blurb gave me the impression it was a central thing to the book. And I’m so tired of that crap.
OTOH I have no problems reading gay characters where the main point isn’t their orientation. (I liked Island In The Sea of Time.)
So, will it lose me readers? Yeah. Likely. But maybe not more than the fact I have a female name. Because in our troubled times, that’s already a bad sign.
Then why do I do it?
Because you don’t win a culture war by staying away from the confrontation. Yeah, I could put these stories in the drawer. (Though that’s kind of a violation of my principles.) BUT the point is, if every book that has a gay character out there is pushing a crazy agenda, people start thinking that anyone who simply is gay is pushing an agenda.

Now you can think it’s a sin (my religion believes it is a sin, but there are a lot of sins, and I’m out of stones) but I know gay people who are decent, moral human beings. I know a lot of them who are on our side. (Some trans too, of those for whom even “fake looking like the other gender” is a relief.) It’s important to remember that. It’s important to remember that individuals are individuals. Because where we’re going, whether you approve of them or not (you don’t have to approve of anyone. I sometimes don’t approve of me) we need the aid of all men of good will, so we don’t flip from the hellish landscape of the left to a mirror image that’s equally hellish and which again prioritizes the group over the individual.

I have a vested interest into not flipping over into that. You see, I’m female, and I tan. And I have no intention of being punished for the sins of the woke.

IF the only gay characters (or Latin, or black, or purple with polka dots) you read are leftist caricatures, you’ll letting the left claim those portions of the population and convince them you hate them for existing. And all their friends. And all their relatives. And all the acquaintances who know they’re decent human beings.

And that’s how you end up with locked-in electoral blocks that are willing to vote for crazy socialists.

More importantly, when you don’t engage in the culture wars by having off beat characters that the left claims as theirs, you are turning yourself into a caricature of what the left thinks you are

Now, again, you’re not required to like — YOU’RE not required to READ — any of my books. But if you, knowing me, think I’m writing a book to push some kind of crazed leftist agenda, let me tell you, there’s only one answer to that. Excuse me a moment.

Okay, I asked the minotaur and he says I should say “moo”.

And if you think I’m writing romance and putting it up as space opera, you really must think I’m allergic to money or something. Because, let me tell you, I could be making money hand over fist, IF I could actually write romance.

Below, the new covers for DST and DSRenegades. (There is also one for Revenge and one for the one yet-to-be finished, Fuse’s book, Hacking the Storm. Oh, what the heck. I’ll post those too. Darkship Defiance isn’t started, and I haven’t thought of the cover yet.)

403 thoughts on “Blurbs, Covers, expectations and Rumors

  1. Soo is it just me, or does Thena on those covers look like Sigourney Weaver circa Aliens?

    Also, I need your weird hermaphrodite world in my life. I hope it is coming along nicely.

    1. I got that vibe too.
      On the other hand, a hot babe on the cover can help sell books; at least to us straight guys with a pulse. Put her in space, with a blaster in her hand, and surrounded by good food, I’m sold. /laugh

    2. First I heard of it, Skip wasn’t allowed to do something.

      I blinked and inquired about if this was a military joke.

      … it was not, HOWEVER Skip should have that list.

      so so so so SO hyped.

          1. I know. Dude, I’m friends with Jon LaForce. I think some of that list was made for him.
            I didn’t even think about it. For the record I hate Skip as a name. But I’ll be fried in oil if I spend a whole series calling Scipius.
            His light of love calls him Scipius. Which is fine because he gets called Peaseblossom or His Majesty Peaseblossom.
            Skippy has snark a mile wide and an ocean deep.

            1. Hush, I am spreading the insane funny of the SKippy list!

              OK, don’t hush, I wanna know what happens next, but it’s a rhetorical flourish. 😀

              1. I need to finish Father Murphy. I have the last line. I might have to nap. I’m missing 3 thousand words and wondering if I’m laying the unease about his brother on with a trowel.

                1. Then Father Murphy from old Kilcormack
                  Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry
                  “Arm, arm”, he cried, “for I’ve come to lead you,
                  For Ireland’s freedom we’ll fight and die”

                    1. God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy,
                      And open heaven to all your men
                      For the cause that called you may call tomorrow
                      In another fight for the green again


  2. I’m sorry that you felt you had to use so many ‘column inches’ to rebut and comment on a commenter’s posts. I know sometimes, somethings must be got out of the system. Purged, as the English say, from one end or the other. I read through the posts, and comments, and the thing that came immediately to mind is that the person was deliberately trying to misunderstand. (Puts psych hat on) Likely the problem is a deep-seated issue with gay issues, either for or against. (Takes hat off) IDK, I think you dealt with it as you felt you must, and given this current enviro where peoples are scouring the Internet looking for something to be pissed about, you did the right thing.

      1. Heh. It’s art. Nobody forced them to buy it. If they don’t like it, then complaining to the author about it is merely transferring their own lack of judgement. Gee, now where have I seen transference before?

        Looks at latest news headlines.

  3. AAANNDD another thing: Sometimes WP ‘disappears’ a post I make, with no warning or wind up. It didn’t today, but a week or so ago I was replying to another commenter who was more or less deliberately misunderstanding something I said. I was, I thought, quite eloquent in my reply, and I was nice, and everything… but I didn’t make a copy/paste to a temp file and it went poof! I didn’t try to recreate it. So I let the calumny stand. Oh, well…

    1. There’s a misfeature in WP where occasionally it will take several minutes to bother to update posts. For me, if I make a comment and the screen goes to the top of the blog, it’s just WP being WP. After a minute or three, it’ll (usually) remember that there was a post and will list it.

      On the gripping hand, WordPress (delenda est) seems to be fond of taking longer comments and sending them into the ether, never to be seen by mortal men, women, or minotaurs. (Not sure of the mortality of the last.) So yeah, keeping a backup for long replies Is A Good Idea. (Note: this is as opposed to the one-link-per-comment rule, where it’ll go to moderation if you exceed one.)

      1. Happens to me all the time. Even “c4c” triggers that, sometimes. Key word is “sometimes”. So can’t be my one initial “name” it is whining about.

        Hadn’t thought about the problem being a “keyword” being trolled for (oops “troll” might be that keyword. I guess c4c is triggering. Oops. There I go, again.

      2. And …. WP just did this on my very first reply today. Noting WP does this to me fairly frequently. Know it went through because I actually remembered to click the box, and that triggered the appropriate “Follow” email. WP just has me on a list somewhere (it is software so it can’t hate me). I know it isn’t Sarah. It is WP.

      3. I usually have a backup but only because I am not a very good typist — another reason I’ll never be a writer. I create most of my replies in a text editor then copy-and-paste it to the comment box. That way I can correct the worst errors and do not publish posts that look like: “Noe ods te time fo all good men to com toteh aid og thier country.” (Only a slight exaggeration)

        1. There was a time …

          When we first moved to Eugene, and I was looking for work, went to an employment agency (first and last time, FWIW). Told them I was looking for programming work. Took my work history. Where they got I’d be a decent typist out of a Forestry and Programming background. (I’ve worked with programmers who two finger type, how? I give up. I can at least touch type thanks to 7th grade typing. Without the “practice” I have now, back then, not well, but could touch type.) I think my score on the typing test was 20 WPM (I kept fixing known mistakes). Sure I can now type fast. Well enough to take dictation whether live or from audio? ROFLOL … Oh. Wait. They are serious. Really ROFLOL until tears are flowing. But for comments on blogs. My typing is decent. On long comments that WP eats? If it shows up eventually, fine. If not? Guess it wasn’t that important. 🙂 Or maybe I should rethink the reply. 🙂 But that is just me.

    2. I’ve run into that a couple times. Sometimes it’s WP being WP, but other times it’s that I managed to include a ‘keyword’ that trolls and/or other ratfinks have used and so replies with such get “dropped on the floor” as it were. Alas, there is no warning (I do NOT expect to learn the problem keyword, as that just gives finks a work-around) that something won’t go through. However, things are generally reliable enough that I have not YET gone Full LiveJournal and composed EVERYTHING in a text editor and then attempted posting, because things so for go poof.

      1. I’ve had it happen two ways. Sometimes (very rarely) I hit “Post Comment” and get an immediate “Message cannot be posted” or similar, in which case it’s gone forever. More frequently, and usually when I post 2 or 3 times in quick succession, the screen jumps to the top of the current blog and the post doesn’t show up immediately. In those cases it almost always shows up a few mnutes later. Go figure, but in all cases WPDE.

        1. Almost forgot… In the first case I can recreate the original post exactly, even using copy/paste, and it shows up fine. Again, WPDE. With prejudice. 😦

          1. But sometimes there’s something in the post that WPDE does not like. After the 2020 election fuckery I made a long post about The Vote Stealing Machines Which Must Not Be Named. Waited half an hour and it didn’t show up, so I posted it again.

            And again.

            And again.

            I hadn’t saved the first post, so I had to rewrite it and there were a few differences. After about the third post, I composed it in an editor and pasted it into the comment box.

            Finally, I complained about my posts not showing up. Sarah trekked into the bowels of WordPress and pried them loose with her digital crowbar, and SEVEN near-identical posts showed up. Oops.

            It seems that WPDE got triggered by the brand name of those machines.
            Elections are far too important to be left up to a bunch of uncontrolled voters. The Party MUST exercise oversight and management to prevent mere voters from electing the wrong candidates!

            1. Yeah, I thought that was happening with the ones that returned the “cannot be posted” message, but the identical reposts went through OK. I think WP is trying to drive us all crazy. Not as much as MS with Windows 10 is, but enough.

  4. Imagine being enraged by Aral being bisexual and Bel being a hermaphrodite to the point of deciding not to read Bujold.
    What a self-inflicted loss that would be!

    1. I’m fine with (and fond of) Bujold. My problem with that particular reveal wasn’t its declaration of a sexual appetite/relationshop, it was its arbitrary nature, that for 15 (!) Vorkosigan books with these characters there was no clue provided.

      Without foundation, the surprise (and, yes, it was clearly intended to be a surprise) reeks of agenda, not of discovery or demonstration or amplification. I have no objections to the declared relationship per se, but even if the agenda impression is false it was certainly a clumsy thing to do, and she is not a clumsy writer. Look how well she handles the male wizard/priest with female demons in the Penric situations.

      1. In either the second or third book Cordillia is told by the villian that Aral us bi and replies in all innocence “Was bi, now he’s monogamus (sp)”. Totally flabbergasts the villian.

        1. One of my favorite scenes.

          “You should stop trying to provoke me, Count Vordarian. I’m very much afraid you might succeed.” Her voice turned low and menacing. “You should fear it too.”

          Along with “What? You’re a Betan! You can’t do—” and “Woman! Where have you been?” “Shopping. Want to see what I bought?”

            1. Well, she brought back the Bad-Guy’s Head in the Shopping Bag. 😆

        2. I just checked, and found that what I half-remembered was correct — Admiral Vorrutyer tried to torment Cordelia with that tidbit in the very first book while preparing to torture her. Did not end well for Vorrutyer.

          It’s near the end of Chapter 7 in Shards Of Honor:

          “I’ve embraced a number of things in my time. Not least of which was your puritan lover. Let your imagination dwell on that a while, my dear, my sweet, my pet. You’d scarcely believe it to meet him now, but he was quite a merry widower, before he gave himself over so irritatingly to these random outbreaks of righteousness.”

          So, Aral’s orientation was revealed in the very first book. The scene with Vordarian takes place in the second book, Barrayar, published 5 years later. No Trojan Horsies, nothing ‘sprung’ on the unsuspecting readers.
          Simon Illyan: “Do you know all those old folk tales where the Count tries to get rid of his only daughter’s unsuitable suitor by giving him three impossible tasks?”

          Ekaterin: “Yes…”

          Simon: “Don’t ever try that with Miles. Just……don’t.”

          1. Nonsense. That he ceased to be monogamous while still married and with a subordinate is a surprise and undermines his character,

            1. Exactly. I mean, we more or less knew Aral was bi (or rather, that he was attracted to soldiers, all of whom were male on Barrayar) from Shards of Honor onwards.

              Him cheating on Cordelia, and with a subordinate? No. That’s not the Aral Vorkosigan we saw in over a dozen books.

        3. Cordelia mentions believing she is “a solution to a dilemma” for Aral in Shards of Honor which iirc was her first published novel. The scene with Vordarian where she explicitly refers to Aral as “bisexual but now monogamous” is in Barrayar, also one of her earlier published books. There’s another scene late in Shards or early in Barrayar where she finds a sketch notebook of Aral’s with drawings of a younger “Ges” Vorrutyer, which doesn’t explicitly show Aral as bi, it’s just not what I’d expect from a random straight dude.

          … but the ‘rents adventures are the set up for Miles’ own, and he is unlikely to think about how exactly Ma and Da arranged for his being in much detail, let alone anything else they might be up to. Which may be why I don’t think she did a good job of foreshadowing for Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen that Aral had been having an active heh, “non-professional” and non-monogamous relationship with Jole. There was a scene at the end of The Vor Game where Jole appears briefly but it’s (of course) from Miles’ POV and if there’s a hint, it’s pretty subtle.

        4. Oh, that wasn’t innocence. That was “don’t give a damn”, because it wasn’t a deal in her culture.

          When I first read that, I aspired to someday have a marriage like that – where my partner wouldn’t care, and would trust me like I trusted them. (No matter which sex that partner was.) It took until I was 30 to find my Calmer Half, and he’s flabbergasted so many people. They expect him to be so worried about me going out and doing things with female friends, or being on a road trip alone, “Because you know she’s bi!”

          And he replies in perfect faith in me, “She’s monogamous. Why would I worry?”

          When I get home, he sometimes tells me about this, in tones of mild disgust and sadness at their being prey to such neuroses and unable to imagine trusting someone you loved, and being trusted in return. My sexual preference is just the factory setting: it’s what I make with my life that counts.

      2. Aral being bisexual is an important part of the plot in the very first book, SoH, and is used later as a device in “Barrayar.”
        Bel is also a Betan hermaphrodite as soon as we meet it, and its feelings for Miles are a constant theme.

        I will agree that she took it too far (for me) in the last book and made it into a central theme of what is a relationship drama. That just isn’t what I look for in a Vorkosigan series. But she’s been turning the property into romance and exploration of relationships ever since Komarr and Civil Action, so it’s not like I didn’t see it coming.

        I have to say that I don’t enjoy the Penric series as much. They feel repetitive and less imaginative to me.
        I like the core Chalion trilogy a lot more.

      3. This was my reaction too. That book seemed to be more a reaction to savage puppies and the blogger who must not be named than anything advancing the plot. That Aral was bi had been fairly obvious from close to the beginning, the attitude of the Betan’s was no secret so Cordelia shouldn’t have been a surprise, and Bujold did write Ethan of Athos so her POV wasn’t any secret. This book just rubbed our faces in it.

        1. Yeah, I’ve read most of the Vorkosigan books, but skipped Ethan of Athos and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen because I thought they wouldn’t be my thing. I’ve also never read An Infamous Army and the Spanish Bride because I thought they wouldn’t be my thing.

            1. My point was that a detailed description of the battle of Waterloo and a 14-yr-old female child bride are just as uninteresting to me as a gay romance subplot, but obviously I didn’t make that clear.

                1. “How young is too young” has been a subject of debate for a long time.

                  Well, think of marriage now; younger than you,
                  Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
                  Are made already mothers: by my count,
                  I was your mother much upon these years
                  That you are now a maid. Thus then in brief:
                  The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.
                  — Lady Capulet, speaking to Juliet about Paris, Romeo and Juliet

                  But saying o’er what I have said before:
                  My child is yet a stranger in the world;
                  She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,
                  Let two more summers wither in their pride,
                  Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.
                  — Lord Capulet, speaking to Paris about Juliet, Romeo and Juliet

                  1. That’s right, Juliet was 13. One of the many problems I have with that play.

                    My main take-away from ‘The Greatest Love Story Of All Time’? “What a pair of irresponsible little twits!” Almost everything they did was Teh Stupid.

                    Granted, the adults weren’t much better. They were trying to marry her off against her will to a fat widower in his 40’s, after all.

                    1. The thing is, it wasn’t just Juliet. There were also the unnamed “ladies of esteem,” and the Lady Capulet of 13 years ago herself.

                      As for “irresponsible little twits!” Yup. I suspect that’s why the play had been described as a “comedy” or “tragicomedy” in the past. The audience was supposed to laugh at the stupid young twits. But today the play gets shoved up the noses of high school students as their introduction to Shakespeare, because “It’s got teenagers in it! So of course teens will like it!”

                      (Stifles rant about adults pushing “it’s got kids in it!” stories in kids, a rant I produced independently of and possibly prior to Pratchett’s snark on the issue.)

                    2. Honestly I think the play works much better when they cast Paris as young and handsome. Maybe a couple years older than Romeo, so that he’s steadier, but not so old that a young girl would be put off.

                      But casting Paris younger than “fat widower in his 40s” plays up the utter teenage stupidity of the protagonists.

                    3. The era had a lot more tolerance for wide age difference in spouses than we do. More older husband, to be sure, but there were older wives, as well.

                      Especially given which one died first was much more of a toss-up in those days.

                    4. Yep, just re-read it. There is nothing the text that requires or implies Paris to be middle-aged.

                      Middle-aged Paris is something that would only be put in to make the utter stupidity of elopement – rather than Romeo approaching the Capulets properly, honorably and in the daylight, to propose marriage – look even slightly reasonable.

                    5. “rather than Romeo approaching the Capulets properly, honorably and in the daylight, to propose marriage”

                      The FIRST FREAKING SCENE is the armed retainers of the two houses conducting open warfare in the streets of Verona that is only stopped by the equivalent of a military QRF.

                      Tybalt had no clue Romeo was after Juliet; he hunted Romeo down to kill him just for crashing the party.

                    6. Frankly, the only way to escape that toxic mess was to LEAVE.

                      Which, in Renaissance times, was kinda tricky. Perhaps have some mercenaries in the opening scenes whom the Prince tries to hire, and they refuse on the grounds that though they serve in foreign cities, not this one; have the ball be in honor of an ambassador not from the city he comes from, and let him speak of exile not being the horror it is proclaimed to be; and giving either Romeo or Juliet an aunt who married outside the city, whom they could run away to.

                1. Considering that she met Harry Smith during the intaking of Badajoz, well yeah. Even leaving aside the difference in time from then to now, that would cause one to grow up really fast.

                    1. The average age for marriage for males in my ancestry is 30. Women between 16 and 18. Lieutenants may not marry, captains may marry, majors should marry, colonels must marry was the rule. My maternal grandfather ran foul of that when he married in 1919, he being a brevet major soon to revert to a permanent lieutenant. They promoted him back to captain, and regimental adjutant soon after.

                      I saw somewhere recently that those averages cross cultures and times with the average child being born of a 30 year old father and 18 year old mother. My question is how do they know that, but that’s what the blurb said.

                    2. More or less “old” maids in Mom’s family. (for values of “old”, circa mid ’40s to mid ’50s)

                      Setting the wayback machine (think Mister Peabody, not internet 🙂 ) to mid WW2, Dad was 26 and Mom was 20 when they married. (Dad had been exempt until shortly after that, since he was in a job that was considered critical until it wasn’t. Draftsman at a steel company that specialized in construction shapes. It actually made sense, for once.)

                      Mom’s sisters married at 19 and 21. The first, hubby was a couple years older, the second, the same age.

                    3. Paternal grandmother was considered an old maid when she got married to a divorcee with a daughter ($100/month child support to the exwife whether she had physical custody or not). Grandma, because of her age, wasn’t expected to have many children. They had 6. Last two born when she was 42 and 44, 22 years after the first one.

                      Her brother didn’t marry until after the war. He married a war widow with one child. The only child they had.

                      I had uncles go to the WWII theaters, but both grandparents, and one uncle stayed home, although one uncle had orders to ship out when the European theater ended. He was held back because of a farm injury as a child. While grandpa’s, one was pulled from deployment to return to being a mine mechanic. The other was physically handicapped from the childhood polio that killed his younger twin’s twin when that set of twins were infants (there were two sets of twins).

                    4. I was 15-ish when I went down to Missouri to visit relatives. My foster step brother tried to hook me up with his girlfriend’s friend, who was 12 and in danger of becoming an Old Maid . . .

                      Did NOT go there!

                    5. Mohammed supposedly started “thighing” Aishaa at age six, and then penetrative intercourse with her at age 9.
                      And there are a large number of people in the world who still think that’s just hunky dory.

        2. Yes, I was terribly disappointed in Gentleman Jole – yes, it was clear that Cordelia was open-minded and Aral was bi … but after marriage to Cordelia, painted as being strictly monogamous.
          Whoops – retconning a long and loving marriage through the previous books into something rather icksome.
          Hugely disappointing to wrap it up that way.

        3. That was the only Vorkosigan book I put down half way through and never bothered to pick up again. It seemed.. sloppy. Jammed in for no reason, kind of like a long form epilogue to wrap things up without effort.

        4. My problem with that book is it destroyed Aral’s character. The man was honor incarnate, willing to be destroyed as long as he did the right thing. Cheating on Cordelia, regardless of any attraction or other circumstance? Nope, not happening

          1. That’s close to my reaction, although I add: Aral is very aware of power imbalances which would also put what the author gave us in that book off the table for him, whether or not Cordelia was into it. It’s the boss sleeping with an underling. Cordelia, as presented throughout the previous books would also have been aware of that issue and so, resisted, if tempted.
            So it trashed a lot of character.
            I’d been thinking the author was phoning in the last few entries in that series, anyway, though.

              1. My favourite will always be A Civil Campaign.

                The dinner party. Dear lord the dinner party….

            1. Hadn’t even thought of that – yeah, subordinates would be completely off limits for him. I don’t know who she was writing, but that wasn’t Aral.

              Thing is, it was the one published after Lord Vorpatril’s Alliance, which was amazing

              1. To each their own. I’d already gotten the impression of phoning it in, and had stopped buying Vorkosiverse books, reading library copies instead by the time Lord Vorpatril Alliance came out. I did read it. I remember skimming and finishing without a desire to own it. Even if that was a reasonably spectacular ending.

                By the time of Gentleman Jolie, I hesitated and read reviews first. Then bounced hard off the opening chapters.

      4. Bujold outright states that Aral Vorkosigan is bi in the very first book. She also didn’t have Cordelia as a viewpoint character at all for those fifteen books. So, yeah, it’s not brought up, but that’s because it’s not in focus for those stories.

        1. I think Aral’s relationship with Prince Serg was important to the arc of the books. It made it very, very personal. I like the fact that Aral was stupid when he was young, I know I was … still am I suppose.

          Still, I was disappointed with the Gentleman Jole. It struck me as choosing sides during the sad puppies controversy and, in a way, a goodbye to Barryar, I wonder how much more she’ll write about it. What a pity that he who must not be named muddied those waters so much, but trolls gonna troll.

          1. I kind of see it the same way, and the timing certainly made me suspicious and hesitant to buy the book. Which until then was unheard of for me with Bujold books. I always bought them as soon as she would write them. I even bought (and read) the Shearing Knife series, even though romance is just not my thing at all.
            But, like I said in the comment above, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that it was not puppy-kicker virtue signaling, because this “exploration of human nature / death / romance” is where she has been going with this since about Komarr.

            1. It is the only one of hers I have never reread.

              It just makes so little sense in the context of what we know about Aral and Cordelia that it is almost setting-breaking.

              But dammit, when that woman wants to, she can gut punch like a nuke. “Count Virkosigan, sir?”

          2. The impression I had when I read it was more that she was tired of the series and was fulfilling a contract obligation vs writing because she was enjoying revisiting those characters (let alone that they were bugging her again and she had to write something! 😀 ).

      5. My comment got swallowed, so sorry for repeating what has already been said.

        Aral being bisexual was an important part of the plot in the very first book, the Shards of Honor. Then it was used as a device in “Barrayar” in a misfired plot to rattle Cordelia.
        Likewise, Bel is presented as a Betan hermaphrodite as soon as we first see it, and its feelings towards Miles are a recurring theme in the series.
        Then there’s Ethan of Athos, which is her third book.

        So that was hardly a surprise sprung upon us in Book 15.
        I actually agree that the latest book goes too far (at least for me) and feels “in your face.” It is so far the only Bujold book that I haven’t finished. I started it a few months ago, but it just can’t keep my attention. I wasn’t shocked or anything, and I am willing to give her a benefit of the doubt that it is not simply woke agenda, because since about Komarr she has turned the series decidedly in the direction of “investigation into human nature” and romance. So this was not exactly a bait-and-switch. It’s just not what I want from a Vorkosigan Saga. So everything after Memory left me progressively colder, and here I am, with the Gentleman Jole read about a third through and no burning desire to get back to it.

        As for Penric, it is interesting. To me, it is enjoyable enough, but it feels repetitive and almost unimaginative (for Bujold) after the first couple of episodes. The core Chalion trilogy is one of my favorite series (and one that taught me to like fantasy), but with Penric/Desdemona, I still have a couple of novellas I bought but haven’t read. Which until the last Vorkosigan book never happened to me with Bujold books.

      6. You mean Gentleman Jole?

        Aral was established as being bisexual in either Shards of Honor or Barrayar (Ibhave them as the Cordelia’s Honor omnibus, and can’t remember which it was from)

        1. When you read a 15 book series one by one, as they are written, over a period of years, and the 15th book makes a big reveal, it would be nice to get a local reinforcement of any relevant clues.

          1. There were 5 or more real world years between the publication (and my reading) of Shards of Honor and Gentleman Jole. I don’t care about the so-called controversy that resulted (I like Bujold’s work), but I also don’t feel responsible for remembering a clue dropped 5 years ago (and maybe there was an intermediate one).

            All I’m saying is that, if you are writing the 15th book, it would be wise to reinforce the clues you expect the reader to remember that were dropped years ago. (I’m hardly the only one who was surprised. No point blaming me.) As authors, we should maybe think about that.

            “Blame the reader” is not a productive reaction to a discussion of professional craftmanship.

    2. Nit: “He was bisexual. Now he’s monogamous.”

      BTW, Gentleman Jole never happened

      1. If you’re going to pick nits, don’t misquote the book.

        Vordarian: “He’s bisexual, you know.”

        Cordelia: “Was. Now he’s monogamous.”

        Followed by the bit about Vordarian looking like somebody who dropped a bomb, only to have it go fizzle instead of boom, and nerving himself up to bang on it and find out why.

        1. Strictly speaking, Cordelia is wrong. Bisexuality isn’t something that is changed simply because one decides to confine oneself to one person in the bonds of matrimony. She seems to be buying into the idea that bisexuality equals promiscuity, in her reply.

          1. On Beta Colony, presumably bisexuals would routinely have multiple partners. She was speaking from her culture.

            1. Which still has nothing to do with sexuality being changed by choosing to remain monogamous.It wouldn’t change that Aral is attracted to both men and women, only what he chose to do with that attraction.

            2. Presumably so would other orientations.

              There’s nothing about bisexuality to make you insist on having both male and female partners as I have heard bisexuals explain with great passion. Some people are attracted to blond hair as some are attracted to women, some to brown as some are attracted to men, some don’t care. The third type doesn’t have to have both blond and brown-haired partners, and likewise doesn’t have to both male and female partners.

        2. Eh, going off of memory, last time I read it was back in 2016 or so. Brilliant scene…

  5. People are funny. One of the first reviews on my first book complained that there was no sex. In a book clearly labeled as “clean.”

    The cover had no hint of romance, nor the blurb, nor the content statement before the first page.

    I went and looked at her reading list, and I take that 1 star review as a compliment.

  6. Nat’s dad is also straight and not a villain.

    Straight, yes; not a villain? ‹waggles hand› definitely room to quibble there. I know, I know, henchman to evil tyrant doesn’t always have much choice, but still…

    1. He’s a decent man, stuck in an unenviable position. Waiting for an opportunity to flip it. And yes, he’s ruthless, because he’s seen how the sausage is made and he wants to stop the grinder. Tragic hero in some ways.

  7. I’m sorry that I was offensive. I had forgotten the circumstances under which you got the indie edition of the book out, and how close AFGM was to your heart. My gruffness and general irritation with other stuff going on in my life caused me to phrase my thoughts in an uncivil way, and you were justified in misunderstanding me. I will make one attempt to clarify, and then walk away.

    -At the time I attempted to read this book, 3-5 years ago, I didn’t spend a lot of time on the Bar. Please don’t blame anyone there for my misreadings. I had previously enjoyed Darkship Thieves, but found the opening section more “hooky” than some of the stuff Athena later becomes involved in.

    -I enjoyed the opening “fugitive” sequence of AFGM very much. I had a vague impression that the main character was meant to be gay or asexual, but could not have told you which. This is reasonable, given the situations he was going though.

    -About the time the story shifts from man on the run to man among the revolutionaries, the elements coding the hero as a kind of George Washington standin become obvious. (Or I thought they did). At the same time, his love interest shows up, with a code-name based on another Founding Father and some implications of him being parallel in temperament to that Founding Father. At this point, two thoughts occurred to me.

    –“I’m not that interested in where the main story is going.”
    –“The romance subplot feels uncomfortably like Real Person slash fic about the Founding Fathers, which is not my thing. Based on previous experience with the author, it’s not going to be erotica levels of explicit or anything, but it’s going to be a moderately prominent angle that I will not enjoy.”

    You have told us often about reader cookies, and how people are not interchangeable widgets. You mentioned in the post that triggered all this that the leads in AFGM belong to a minority (in sexual orientation) and how this is important thematically. As a reader cookie for people who like romance subplots, a gay romance subplot is not necessarily interchangeable with a straight one.

    At this point, I bailed on the book, and held my tongue for a number of years. (Left it on the side of my plate, so to speak.) I did not rate it, or make any attempt to malign it online. I spoke out yesterday evening because I thought a marketing/presentation issue was making life more difficult for you. In future, I will hold my tongue.

    1. You read the opening escape sequence and you MISSED the fact that the main character is being haunted by the ghost of his dead male lover? Or is messed up enough he’s halucinating that he’s being haunted?

      What book did you read?

      Sure wasn’t A Few Good Men.

      1. Whoa. I dimly remember him hallucinating dead friend, but seriously, I somehow did not pick up the dead boyfriend part. This was an ebook, and early in my time reading on the kindle app, so maybe I tapped wrong and skipped some important paragraphs? (I blow up the type to ludicrous size so usually only have a couple of paragraphs on the screen at a time.) Honestly, that is a major dumbdumb on my part and Sarah is totally justified in being annoyed.

        Sorry again Sarah! I are dumb 🙂

        1. May I suggest that in the future such subjects as “possibly incorrect for book messaging on cover and blurb” be kept to non-search-engine-indexable means of communication?

          In general, Huns, in case it wasn’t quite clear from the lack of “All posts must be approved by blog owner don’t resend fifty thousand times” notice when you comment, this blog, like most, is not pre-moderated.

          Put three links in, and the blog software ties it up until someone kicks it out. Be a regular commenter, and the software puts it through. Most of the time without human intervention. Moderator can go in and remove the comment after, but there is no human stop on it going thru.

          And honestly, you don’t want her spending her entire day moderating comments, which is what it would take to handle as many as this place gets. The fairly big blogger I know who moderates every comment gets about 1/7 the comments here gets, and does them in batches, so he spends a couple hours at it a day.

          If she had someone else do it, she’d have to pay. Maybe when she’s a multimillionaire.

          This doesn’t mean it’s not after-posting moderated. Egregious behavior contrary to the rules will get you banned.

          1. I’m not sure if it’s two or three links that force moderation. If I do more than one, any others get slightly obsfucated (www dot foobar dot com) but still human readable.

              1. I didn’t include any links, and my comment got swallowed. Twice.
                I think WP just doesn’t like Bujold and wouldn’t allow her to be defended. Or maybe it likes her too much and wouldn’t allow her to be criticized.
                Or maybe it just doesn’t like to be confused and is angry because I did both in the same comment?

        2. HE TALKS ABOUT HOW SEDUCTIVE HE IS. As a dead guy.
          Oh, I know the hints of “the scuttlebutt on the bar was that we get hit with gay romance halfway through.” I ALSO know where it came from. That might have colored your feeling.

          1. Sarah, I seriously, honestly don’t remember the seductive dead guy part. I feel kind of the way you must have during the “no really, they are prostitutes” discussion we had some time back about the custody battle between the two women that King Solomon handles in the Bible. Only dumb.

            1. It’s whatever.
              FYI I STILL can’t put in “the book has gay themes” or the like, because if you do that in a blurb, for normal human beings it signals “this is the focus.”
              That book I passed on might be great and right up my alley, but “the commander is an out and proud lesbian” means I expect wokeness and sex. And I don’t want that.
              So– I’m not putting that stuff on the covers. Maybe you’re hyper sensitive and need a trigger warning, but in this day and age — and no, I don’t mean “enlightened” I mean this is milder than Ethan of Athos and WAY milder than Misty Lackey’s stuff, and that was old when it came out — putting that there signals “I am pitching for the left” OR “This is outright pron.”
              You’re allowed to not like books. No, the action doesn’t stop till the end. Even during the time Luce is reading casualty lists and trying to figure out how to phrase letters, he’s showing how they’re losing the war by the numbers, and building the feeling SOMETHING must be done.
              You’re not allowed to tell me I didn’t foreshadow; that I am guilty of false of advertising; or scold me about things that are or aren’t in the book ON MY BLOG.
              I love my commenters, but I’m not their bitch. You guys didn’t buy me in the slave market. I’m not your toddler.
              The writing isn’t entirely under my control, which is why the one who dictates it sends me books like these while I scream “WHY ME?”
              It is even less under your control. You’re not the boss of me. Deal.

  8. I wonder if there may be a semantic issue here between you and the person you’re commenting to, which might be one source (not the only one) of the dispute. It seems to me that when you read the word “romance” you think of the romance genre of fiction, with its standard plot structure and character types, and say, rightly, “I don’t write romance.” But a lot of people aren’t thinking of a literary genre when they say “romance”; they’re thinking “a relationship based on sexual love,” and any narrative that portrays, involves, or refers to such a relationship is the story of a romance, no matter what its genre conventions are. Because “romance” is well established in American English as a euphemism for “sexual feeling”; back in the sixties, songwriters were writing “make romance” because “make love” was unacceptably risqué for the radio (as when the Supremes sang “each time we make romance/I’ll be thankful for a second chance”). I ran into this semantic gap years ago in San Diego, when I mentioned the romantic themes of some book (I think it might have been Bujold’s Sharing Knife series, as a friend of C’s and mine had read the first volume and complained that she could feel her IQ dropping from the romance content—not my reaction at all, by the way), and the friend I was talking to then heatedly denied that it could be called that, because it didn’t have the characteristic beats of a romance novel, whatever those are (I’ve read two volumes of Heyer and one of Lowell; this isn’t something I’m knowledgeable about). She, like you, was a novelist and one aimed at the existing fiction market. So there might be some element here of “using a technical term in a nontechnical sense.”

    Which of course does point to a different and deeper issue: If I’m write, the person you’re responding to may dislike, not just romance as a genre, but any mention at all of same-sex love. That’s not my feeling on the matter!

      1. I don’t know, Sarah, that sounds like a kind of Platonic essentialism. It seems as if you’re saying that a word can only have one meaning, which is inherent in the word, rather than that it means what the person using it is thinking of when they use it. That’s a surprisingly rules-based approach to language.

        1. LOL. I’m saying that “romance” has a precise meaning. Seriously. It has changed, but it is precise,now. Just because you call something romance, doesn’t mean it is.

          1. Yes, and having studied both physics and physical chemistry, I know that “energy” has a precise meaning, which can be defined mathematically. But when someone talks about “energy,” I don’t necessarily assume that they’re a physicist. They may also be using one of the various nontechnical vernacular meanings of the word. They may not know the mathematical definition; they may not even be aware that there is one. So if someone says to me, “I don’t have any energy today,” I don’t assume they’re talking about chemical bonding or metabolic rates or anything like that; I recognize that they’re talking about how they feel subjectively.

              1. As someone who has working in the publishing industry for years and years, I’m aware of a lot of technical language relating to books.

        2. “When I use a word, it means just exactly what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” — Humpty Dumpty

          Of course, if the person you’re talking to associates that word with a different meaning, you’re not communicating. Which is why Leftroids’ constant misuse of words is so stupid. It’s like they’re making up a language from words that sound and are spelled exactly like English words, but have completely different meanings. Why can’t they just use the perfectly good words that actually mean what they’re trying to say, instead of words most people understand not to mean what the Leftroids want them to mean.?
          Not everybody should go to college. Some folks, you send ’em to college and you just wind up with an educated idiot.

  9. Most of you know my stand on LGBTQ+; pretty much tolerate, not advocate.
    AFGM was a good SF book that just happened to have a few gay characters in it, one of them being the protagonist. So does life.

    1. That’s the approach I took in Circuits and Crises. One PoV character is gay, he’s taken a vow of celibacy, but that doesn’t change that he finds men attractive. Which is the least of little matters in that particular book. (“Former lover’s advances vs. invasion and possible treason? Hmmm, which should I prioritize? Thinking, thinking . . .” Um, no.)

    2. Same here.
      I haven’t done any books with a gay protagonist – but some of my books have characters in them who are indeed gay.
      They just don’t shout about it.
      Or do it in the road and frighten the horses.

        1. Right! I got chewed out for having a protagonist’s best friend who turned on her being gay, because how dare I make a gay man a villain?
          …completely ignoring the fact that everyone on her team turned on her, and his being gay didn’t matter one way or the other compared to the social pressure and weakness of character.

          I figure that true equality is like A Few Good Men – it’s when your orientation doesn’t matter, and we don’t have to make the book about it. We’re writing hundred to thousands of years in the future! Why should they have to have the same cultural problems as the left imagines we do today?

  10. I just realized despite having seen the covers while they were being worked on: for the people on the “right” who have a deep need to be offended woman & baby on the cover is an excuse to start reeeeeing about stronk female characters who don’t need no man.

    You know. Morons.

    1. And the fake ones who live in Russia to do the same.

      Yes I am still giggling about the guys who threw a fit over A Net of Dawn and Bones and pretended to read it..and totally missed the lady on the cover is basically a nun, and not a naughty nun at that.

  11. Um… The character shows he’s gay in the first chapter. Hell of a trojan horse. It has a big sign in front saying “I am full of soldiers.”

    :sailor has to stop and reboot due to laughing too hard and NO WAY IN HADES going to explain it to the kids:
    Trojan full of soldiers– snerk!— PHRASING!

    1. Could be worse. Could be a football game between the University of Southern California and the Naval Academy.

      “The Trojans are holding the Seamen
      … wait! The Seamen have broken through the Trojans and scored!

      1. To be fair, they’re midshipmen, not seamen. Fortunately, or all the jokes would have happened.

        And we Sailor folks would be happy to show them why they’re not seamen.

    2. Wait, he says that in so many words? Boy do I feel dumb. 😀 I remember him being explicitly not attracted to his female friend, but wasn’t clear at the time on how to take that.

      Moral of the story: did not skim-read, kids.

  12. Thank you for the explanation and presenting your ‘side’ of the story. I’ve read the books and had to think a bit… huh, guess a couple of the guys were maybe gay – eh, so what. I was reading for the story, the plot, the action and the ideas and I’m rewarded with a lot of great stuff in those pages. Those looking for “agendas” just don’t get real writing.

    I’m just finishing up a three book series of military SF that I really liked and in a couple of places a character or two turned out to be ‘gay’ but it was just an element in the story and not a big huge deal. Some others experienced abuse and there was mention of a rape and it all fit with the situation and the nasty parts of conflict and war. Part of that authors efforts was to contrast and balance a bunch of other plot stuff going on with some very ugly aspects of war and human relationships and so it fit very well into character development and the storyline. That is what I think is going on in the Darkship books – story telling, plot development and well written characters who react to exceptional situations.

    So, I too will simply say “Moo” about it and move on – although I am waiting for more stories and will gladly read them as soon as I can!

    1. The mullet isn’t It’s hair swept back, But I’m not a great artist. I was trying to avoid the “hair blowing in the wind” because Luce isn’t FABIO. He’s scarred and beaten and a mess and no one’s dream.
      Okay, he’s prettier in the cover. I don’t want to scare readers.

          1. Not sure. The last photo I saw of him suggested it might be the years and the mileage.(grin).

            1. No, just autocorrupt. Spell check can be helpful for alerting you to tpyos, but when the computer decides it knows what you ‘meant’ to type, it’s gone too far.

              1. Or why I turn autocorrupt auto correct off. Just underline what is wrong, I decide what it is suppose to be. Which doesn’t help because the word isn’t even in the list !!!!! More often than not.

  13. Sarah, I will first note that I have enjoyed pretty much all of your books I have read ( I think there MIGHT have been one I didn’t get halfway through, but I don’t remember enough to say what it was. ). Still though I enjoy the Darkship series, I also won’t say it’s my very favorite. Just too many competitors out there, and too hard to pick just one. But you are also in my upper half of choices. I don’t think you will find that disheartening

            I wholeheartedly agree with your choice of having characters who just happen to be somewhat divergent, without being green skinned alien slave girls ( which for some people is apparently not just acceptable, but desirable ?!? [this re: the green skinned slave girls; rereading this, I wasn't sure if that aspect was clear]). I also have friends in real life who have different attractions and beliefs, and 'tan differently'. Presenting that in fiction for people who haven't yet figured out how to accept that as perfectly normal is a very desirable thing.
       So keep up the good work. Not everyone can be Robert Heinlein. But I think you probably are up there with, say, Poul Anderson in my pantheon.
  14. Eh?
    I freely admit that I passed on AFGM. The homosexuality thing is full of squick, and I’d prefer not to think about it.

    There are lots of books from authors I like, which I chose not to read for one reason or another.

    But I don’t understand getting emotionally invested in not wanting to read a particular book.
    Hey , I don’t want to read Gor or The Handmaid’s Tale. But I can’t imagine getting passionate about it, without someone trying to force me.

    1. I get the squick part. There’s an element of “eww, nasty” in male/male romance, even leaving aside erotica, that’s just automatic. I wouldn’t be interested in reading a book where that was a major factor either.

      That said, A Few Good Men was my first foray into the Sarah Hoyt catalog, and I loved it. Got the rest of the Darkship series because of it. It was clear from the beginning that the main character is gay. And of course he finds a love interest. Romantic subplots are a staple of storytelling in every genre, so if you’ve got a gay main character, you’ve got a gay romance in the story somewhere.

      But HOW you do it matters. This romantic sublot did exactly what romantic subplots exist to do — fill out the characters’ lives and give you a deeper stake in the peril they’re facing — without taking up undue space or diving into the details in a way that I’d find offputting and unnecessary whether the characters were gay or not.

      I’d call the romance (in the sense of conveying/describing the physical attraction) part of the romantic subplot very…muted. It’s implied that they’re doing the things lovers do, but only obliquely. Although I’m not sure how, it could be possible to just miss it. Ruminations on gayness had no part in it, either. The story simply shows how much they need and rely on each other as people, being young men who’ve both been through absolute hell and come out the other side not broken, but also no longer whole.

      Anyway, yeah. This is a very long way of saying that if I had known the book was about a gay man, I’d have given it a sideways glance and avoided it — but having gone into it blind, so to speak, I’m glad there wasn’t a chance for my (not unfounded) preconceived notions about books with gay main characters to get in the way of reading it.

      And if you’d still choose to avoid this book, having been told that other discerning readers didn’t see it as one of those, that’s fair too.

      1. As I said, guys, I avoid books where much is made in the blurb of “Teh character is gay” because I KNOW I’m going to be preached at. If it’s recommended by a friend who says “Oh, yeah, the character is gay, but it’s low tone” I’ll try it. But yeah, there’s hesitation.
        In my case there’s no squick. There’s squick for f/f because EWWWWWW. But guys it’s like “As long as the door closes and you don’t tell me what goes where, I don’t actually care. Are the guys interesting and their relationship human? Fine.”
        BUT again, I liked Steven Sterling’s Island in the sea of time with a lesbian character. it was more…. in your face than AFGM but not by much. Shrug. He didn’t PREACH. I didn’t care. It was a value in the novel, not an in your face political thing.
        MOST of my squick is the politics.

        1. Ask someone who hasn’t read Emberverse series, or even beyond the first 3 books. Given the following descriptions – “Which character is good? Tiphaine, who is gay. Or Mary Lu who is hetro.”

          Politically correct today would say “Tiphaine”. They’d be wrong. Not because she is gay. She is “good”, in this context, because of who she is, not because she is gay. Mary Lu is not good, at best tragic, but she chose her fate, not the least out of greed and desire for power, and outside demonic influence/possession (Mary Lu is not guiltless).

          Wouldn’t want to bed her (hell NO, ick, ewwwww), but in this context, team Tiphaine.

          1. It’s who the character IS not who he sleeps with. Heck, by and large I don’t much care who my friends sleep with, I just need a name for important invitations.
            Oh, and there are some people my friends have been involved with that have made me want to buy a plane ticket and take my cast iron skillet for a trip. (Only because they wouldn’t let me fly with the ax.)

            1. They won’t let you fly with a cast iron skillet now, ask me how I know? Was going to A wedding this summer.plane trip could only have been worse if it had craxhed. Was taking my late Mum’s cast iron skillet to grand daughter. They let me carry it on in SeaTac. Dallas it went thru check-in- TSA said no way. Check in said they couldn’t it had to be carried on. I finally got a supervisor who read the update. They didn’t crack it at least.
              So it took them 22 years to realize what every southern mother has know forever. Snort.

      2. :raises hand: target audience, here, I the squick is inherent if you stop to think about the details.

        I tend to think about details. And still read a lot of slash because the authors don’t.

          1. Oh, some, yes, but others that I am looking at in memory — be glad I can’t share what I am seeing– were like BEYOND the maiden aunt that didn’t know about Tab A to Slot B…..

            1. Oh, oh, oh.
              So, I had a friend doing a thesis (I swear. Often) on slash as feminist literature for Women’s Studies. (No, we’re not friends anymore. This was early nineties.)
              She didn’t have an internet connection, so she both did research on my computer, and I read some of the stuff to put in markers for her.
              I confess I read it in the feel of “trainwreck, can’t look away” after until I died laughing and snapped out of it, by reading aloud to Dan a story in which Picard dances can can for Q. (No really. I REMEMBER IT all these years later. The mind-image was RIDICULOUS.)
              Anyway, the train-wreck thing was “Wait, has the author ever SEEN a penis?” Followed by “It … it doesn’t work like that.” And in one remarkable case “THEY’re NOT Prehensile.”

                1. RIGHT?
                  I was reading it aloud to Dan with VOICES and poetic emphasis, and Dan is like “STOP. I can’t breathe. You mean this is supposed to be serious.”
                  To this day almost 30 years later, I say Picard, can can and Dan starts guffawing.

              1. “And in one remarkable case “THEY’re NOT Prehensile.””

                Milady, that image was ample payback for the Greeks…….

            2. Comment during college years with a few fannish roomates: “You’re gonna put what where?”

            3. I recently overheard Kid wailing to a friend, “My mom knows what A/B/O is and I don’t think I can cope!!”

              (I read reams of fanfic at an old job – feast-or-famine work, but my boss didn’t care what I did in downtime as long as I looked like I was working.)

  15. I wonder if what you’re running into is that, statistically, men have a far far higher ratio of squick response to male/male than women do to female/female or either do to the opposite. I saw the numbers years ago and it wasn’t even close. It is to the point I suspect it is a biological response.

    It is also an absolute taboo to even mention in current society, to the point I’ve debated posting it at all. I have other thoughts on why, but it is a real thing, and I suspect society’s refusal to acknowledge it is going to end up exploding on people who are in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

    Side note: I suspect a lot of the stuff involved is intensely political, not because it actually is politics, but because politicians look for highly emotional things to surf to power. And I will agree that all of this is highly emotional, whether we want it to be or not.

    Why yes, I have been accused of approaching these topics like some sort of alien from outer space. Why do you ask?

    1. There’s also the way that there’s active work since… at least the 60s… to force all bromances to be sexual.

      And yes, they got hella open with that for a recent movie, hijacking a term meant to EXPLICTLY not sex to mean teh geh.

      1. Yeah, and that’s fine, except that again, from the top, yeah, women get very squicked by girl on girl. Or at least every woman I’ve talked to. It’s just that we go “Bah, guys like it. It’s whatever.”

        1. Oh, gads, don’t get me started on the pressure to act like girly-on-girl stuff is So Hot or you’re into it.

          The “I kissed a girl, and I liked it” song really should’ve been titled “Attention wh*re” to get the point across.

          1. Yep. In my day it wasn’t like that, and most girls didn’t bother pretending. I ONLY knew that guys liked f/f because most of my friends were guys and I scanned “guy” to them. So, we’d go drinking or to dinner, and they’d TALK.
            If it went too far I froze them. Grandma could freeze people like the best Southern lady. I’ve learned it. Or as my older son says when I use her “look” “From what I understand my great grandmother just looked at you, until you realized the error of your ways confessed and promised to do better.”
            But I like men. As men, I mean. i like the way their minds work, not hot-hot. Men amuse me. I grew up with a lot of male cousins. I find them cute and adorable, like I find kittens and puppies cute and adorable.
            So most of the time I let them have their fun and pretended to have a sudden case of must do my homework, or write or whatever. (It would have been easier if I had a phone.)

        2. And that’s the real difference: guys generally don’t go “blah whatever, girls like it.” You’re far more likely to get a ‘kill it with fire’ reaction, and it used to be literally ‘kill it with fire’.

          Even with modern social rules, the typical response is a lot closer to that early Penny Arcade strip where Tycho discovered Gabe playing that years’ WWF game.

          That’s part of the reason I suspect it has biological roots.

          1. But that’s because of how girls socialize, NOT because we like it. Most girls don’t tell guys the truth. I do. Which is why I’m obnoxious and widely disliked
            Sure, it’s biological for women to lie to guys. The rest? The rest is the same. Actually probably worse. Girls not only aren’t attracted to other girls, but most women hate other women. They carve out exceptions, but the great sisterhood is a bloody lie.

            1. Scene: Jr. High… lone ox at table for many… many gals at nearby table with one seat open.

              Gals: “Come over here, we want you to be with us!” (this has NEVER actually happened, and ox slow, sure, but ox not damnfool…)

              Ox: “Plenty room here, if you wanted, you could come on over.”

              –much exchange back and forth–

              Ox: “Alright, existence proof.”

              Gals: ????

              Ox move.
              Gals scatter.

              Being right didn’t make it any easier.

          2. Shorter:
            Guys kill stuff with fire by KILLING IT WITH FIRE,
            girls kills stuff with fire slowly and so you can’t find out who did it….

        3. I’ve got a theory about it, which basically ties it to Uncanny Valley stuff. Where straight guys like girls together because there’s no guy in there to make them think “oh, this is too much but not quite enough like reality”, that is the R2D2 robot. And same with straight girls and gay boys. But women also like to please (sorry, we do), and tease, and they know guys like girl on girl and think that if they play around with it, it gives them more sexual power.

          Because we’re also often stupid.

          1. Different ways of the sexes deeply, desperately wanting to make the other sex happy.

            We love eachother. That means it’s our biggest weakness, in both directions.

          2. I never “got” the male fascination with lesbian action… uh, by definition you are “included OUT.” Yeah, I know, no OTHER male, but… damnit man, THINK!

            1. AOL “me too!” /AOL
              But in my experience the fascination is common and those of us guys who don’t “get” it are rare.

            2. Orvan, based on what I’ve heard, the argument usually runs “they’re just settling for second best until a real stud shows up!”

              And said stud is looking back at them from the mirror each morning……

              As Ivanova would have put it “Worst case of testosterone poisoning I’ve ever seen.”

        4. If I never read a three page long homage to “girls have girl parts, let me describe [interacting} with them” I would be happy.

      2. I actually think that is a separate branch. Same possible root, but I don’t think one drives the other.

        Since I’ve already broke the taboo, I might as well explain the theory I’m working from. In for a penny, in for a pound (Be warned, I was never taught formal logic so this will be messy)

        Hypothesis: it’s a low level target error in one of the human reproductive strategies.

        Basic presumed truths: humans are a concealed ovulation species. From what I can tell this sort of thing seems to happen in all concealed ovulation species (dolphins, etc. The goose example is a completely different system. There, two males are acting as egg nest guards for a harem of females, some of while they have made eggs with. I argue it has more similarities to monestary orphanages.)

        Probably true, but still debatable: humans use pheromones for at least some of the mate selection process. Male and female pheromone profiles are different.

        Mate selection is expensive, so one of the strategies is to find a mate someone else has already vetted and deemed ‘good.’ One way to do that is to seek someone who has already been doused with an opposite’s pheromones. I.e. mate stealing.

        I think we’ve all seen this too: there are some people who’s ‘type’ seems to always be “in a relationship with someone else”. Not all of them are doing it intentionally. We’ve all known someone who meets someone they go for and always seems to find out afterwards they’ve already got an SO. (Practically a trope).

        And if all of this is happening in the lizard brain, and the targetting is looking for a specific set of the pheromones, why not go direct to the source instead? And, given we are insane jury rigged solutions, there isn’t any particular thing saying the source has to be something one is able to actually reproduce with, so, away they go.

        This lights hair on fire because it also suggests that it is a non-optimal state of functioning, and given that psychologial treatment seems to be to cut pieces out of one’s brain, if one considers some mental process to be working incorrectly, the immediate gut reaction is people expect to get lobotomized over it. It is not an entirely unreasonable expectation, either.

        I also suspect our culture has overly imbibed of the fallacy that we are perfectable and simply cannot handle realizations that we may not be; that people might possibly have to deal with things they cannot currently fix, and might never be able to fix. Or worse, live with a problem that some future generation may actually be able to fix, but won’t be around for their lifetimes.

        As for the pushing every bromance into bed? I think that is, ‘if it is not bad/shoot on sight, it must be good/everyone must do/celebrate it’ factor. And once it is in binary terms like that, one is really motivated to keep it in the ‘good’ camp.

        1. pheromones haven’t been proven in any study. They might be a seventies nonsense thing.
          OTOH it absolutely is a targeting error. OKay, sometimes it’s abuse or other trauma. I know a lesbian who is so because her dad was abusive and nasty. Not sexually, but she recoils from every male over puberty. She is still human and wants companionship, so Lesbian. It amused me when her therapist told her that. I COULD HAVE TOLD HER THAT.
          BUT in most cases? Targeting error. Every species where the sexes are too similar (and we qualify) misfires. Now you’re going to say “It’s dominance behavior” And in sex particularly male on male a lot is. BUT in other species, the ones that for lack of better term “do a dance and mate for life” sometimes two males, more rarely two females end up “mated” and they can’t even have sex.

          1. I’m honestly not sure how one would even prove them in an intelligent/self aware species. I’ve seen enough that I’m pretty well convinced there is something, but it certainly is not definitive or determining.

            But I know of enough cases of troops developing a BVR girl sensor after deployments, and other stuff that I’m pretty well convinced that men and women generally fundamentally smell different and can be distinguished by it. And that there is at least some degree of ability to pick up information useful to selection through those smells.

            But since we are a concealed ovulation species, I’m pretty sure there is also some sort of evolutionary arms race going on to mask and unmask data.

            And, we’re a thinking ape, so these would be more like ads, not dictates. Unlike the average insect, a human male can see a hot chick all ready to go (and actually ready to go), and still chose to run away screaming.

            1. Last time we were looking for houses, there were several places where I took a step in, adn went NO NO NO–

              short version, teen boys.

              On the upside, we didn’t get any kind of wiffy-waffy impulse, I went “oh, heck, that is BO” and it as a known thing wth the (mid-40s, male) realtor.

          2. :waggles hands:

            Pheromones the magical Humans Are Really Just Animals thingie may not exist.

            “Humans notice scents” is duh on the level of “kill yourself by facepalming” obvious.

            Also, Old Spice is on line one… 😀

                1. REALLY? I didn’t know that. And I doubt son has seen it.
                  I noticed when he started using it, because it was like “You now smell like my dad.”
                  I find it VERY comforting.

        2. Probably true, but still debatable: humans use pheromones for at least some of the mate selection process. Male and female pheromone profiles are different.

          :lightbulb: complication, it’s an input but not a mechanical one.

          So, like, humans use hair color in the mate selection process.

          …. I rather liked the flecks of silver in my barely mid twenties future boyfriend then husband’s hair… but some women want blonds, red-heads, black-brown or black-black hair….

          1. They have determined that hormonal birth control pills change who women are attracted to, and some people are pretty good at “this person is cute but they don’t smell right” with the added bonus of it seems to be evolutionarily helpful.

            My thought on pheromones is that we have a bit of vestigal sense on that, but on most people it’s atrophied away. You live in a modern city and the base smells of machinery etc. are strong enough to mask anything subtle. My husband has an excellent sense of smell, and in college, there were a few parties where he walked in and then immediately had to walk back out because of the “smell of sexual frustration.” 😀

    2. I believe at least some women are also icky with male/male. But there is that cohort of, ahem, enthused women who just seem to love male gay romance. Mind you, back when Kirk/Spock was a thing, I think there was an element of, “Well, if I can’t have him you can’t, either!”
      (Then there was the sadomachochistic cohort. That was an eye-opener).

      1. :pushes glasses up nose:

        A lot of it depends on how you group things.

        Because a lot of …I’m going with calling it yaoi (japanese, means ‘boy love’ — not specifically pedo think pretty young thing) for slightly better fit– is really not about dudes.
        If you went through and switched the pronouns, they’d work just fine.

        I didn’t read kirk/spock but I did read garak/bashir and WOW could a lot of that be rewritten pronoun wise and work better than in the fic……

        That said, yes, some is definitely “he’d never look at me– or my competition, either”.

            1. Actor. Played the villain in the first Tron and a quester first the Grail in Babylon 5.

                1. Yes, he was. He could pretty much play anything, and did. Except, possibly, romantic lead. But there are a lot more roles for villains/eccentric heroes than for romantic leads.

              1. He was also Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek 6 and Bob Cratchit in the 1984 A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott as Scrooge) . He also had a prominent role in the original The Omen. Among many other roles. Good actor.

        1. AND a lot of women read that in the nineties — trust me on this, I knew them — because it didn’t have CRAZY FEMINISM. It wasn’t political. Kind of like my husband watches Korean soap operas sometimes.

        2. My understanding of the yaoi thing was that the bottom was more a stand-in for the girl audience, just not as bound by the cultural limitations as being an actual girl was/is? Or at least that spun off of that in more mainstream stuff.

          But my only real contact with it was glancing blows in various gundam spin-offs. That was rather odd.

            1. Leslie Fish was in it very early, and there was a lot of hand waving about “power differentials” and “pure love, without sexual differences” and so on.

              But slash was pretty identical to the same time’s Gothic Vulcan romances with men and women in them. Or the vampire romances. Or the telepathy romances. Or the Wiccan romances. Or….

              1. Yaoi is more about “Japanese girls grapple with male hierarchy by age and height and social status,” which honestly I have no patience for. And Chinese slash is just not something I want to read in webnovels, because it is Gothic plus worse.

        3. Haven’t read fanfic since Star Wars (Where I wrote a bunch but not much of it published), but garak/Bashir? Words fail me. Gagging sounds, maybe….

          1. Mostly just because of how teasing Garak is. About everything. And how innocent Julian is. He tries. He tries so very hard. And the thing is, Garak would be the first person to try to protect Julian from somebody being (sexually) predatory on/around him. He’d do it in his own inimitable Garak-y way, but he’d do it. And Julian would be completely oblivious.

            1. :giggles:

              And that’s besides the plotline where Julian is the High Functioning of the Genetic Induced Autistics folks. 😀

              Garak is just so broke…..and so is Julian….

            2. I mean, seriously, on screen Garak’s response to Julian shooting him for Damn Good Reason is “minor outrage followed by delight!”

          2. I won’t do it, but I do have an urge to try to find the mPregGarak fic I read because.well, it was there, and it wasn’t BAD so much as Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

            It is still so cute to see folks 20-30 years later that think they’re being weird using shopworn tropes from when I was a teen.

        4. A lot of Yaoi and gay-erotica-written-by-and-for-women is very much about feminizing the male objects of desire and making them “safe.” They’re more emotionally driven, more recognizably female-coded– and I hate using that term, but there’s a reason why mpreg and actual forced feminization is big in a lot of these communities.

      2. The same number of women as men who like girl on girl. It doesn’t work the other way.
        BTW I have proof of this: Most males who decide to write go “I’ll write lesbian porn. Men will buy it, women will buy it.”
        And then they go broke. THe only women who buy f/f are lesbians, which are a tiny minority. Men are turned on by visuals, so they don’t buy that. And straight women CERTAINLY don’ buy that.
        But I had the late Gardner Dozois assure me that “even straight women love girl on girl because it’s just sexy.”
        He was shocked when I called him a sexist and said the women lied to him.

        1. I’ve tried to bring that up to people wondering why there was so little F/F erotica/romance–because the audience is so small, and the purveyors of same are generally also the audience. Unlike gay porn, which both gay men and straight women will read/write, thus increasing the audience size. The audience for lesbian porn, written or visual, is lesbian women and straight men, and men prefer visual.

          I got called sexist, transphobic, and anti-gay for my trouble. Because apparently the fact that straight women like to read/write gay porn is nonsensical, they are actually transmen who come to that realization late.

      3. raises hand

        Both same/same pairings squick me right out.
        Add to that the pure why of being erotically interested in something the same as what’s already hanging on your own body. I mean, literal incomprehension. I cannot grok it.

        Harem of any configuration is getting really close to Absolute No, as well.

      4. So, 30 or 40 years, after graduation from HS, one of our classmates came out, and introduced his spouse on FB. The response (at least on the female side)? “No wonder. I thought it was ME!” As in female competition to get his attention for dates. Most of us just thought he had a girl friend who didn’t attend our HS. That was true of other male classmates, but not him. He was a jock, football, basketball, and baseball.

    3. Ah. Your sexism is showing. I won’t yell about this, as I did to Gardner Dozois, but dude, women have the same level of squick OR HIGHER to female/female. They just lie to guys to make them happy. LOL
      No, what I’m running into MOSTLY was not squick at all and 90% of the people who are crazy fans of the book are straight males.
      Most of the complaints on the book were that it was not MIL SF, which is, whatever.
      The complaints relating to their being gay has ZERO to do with squick. It’s that they decided to see things that weren’t there. And I don’t mean SEX. I mean You mean only women and gay men are GOOD.
      And that’s bullshit, and you have to read it with your head twisted sideways.

      1. Sarah: “It’s that they decided to see things that weren’t there. ”

        Perhaps one might call that the “implied bandwagon fallacy”.

      2. Storytime…

        Once upon a time, “Kelly” came into the ‘lab’ and was followed by her alleged boyfriend (dunno if she thought of him such, but he did…) who was trying to convince her to go along with this Great Idea… of a threesome. Kelly wanted nothing to do with it. Now, this would be of no note or matter except the discussion endured beyond all reason and was getting rather distracting.

        Now, Sarah has threatened to write Minotaur Matchmaker stories… this is sort of the opposite. An Opportunity was seen. And the following communication took place:

        “Kelly, I think you should at least consider it, you’ll likely really enjoy it. Of course, you’ll have to set ONE condition.”

        And the ‘boyfriend’ suddenly looked hopeful. Kelly paused and was still, quite rationally, rather dubious. “What condition?”

        “You get to pick who the other guy is.”

        And almost as fast as light propagates a Planck length, the two traded opinions on the subject. And there was peace in the ‘lab’. Also much giggling/snickering for a little while.

        1. Well, if a woman really wants to “try having sex” with a man who isn’t her current man, to the point where she actually agrees to it… I think she has already moved on to the new guy.

          1. Much like the rule about having to give all wives the same thing from the old testament– it destroys a huge chunk of the Bad Stuff angle.

    4. So what you are saying is politicians crap on everything and that’s why we can’t have nice things? (sad grin)

    5. Boy/boy or girl/girl, my reaction is the same. Not so much ‘squick’, as ‘meh’. Don’t care for yaoi or yuri in anime, either. Not ‘Offended!’, don’t condemn as wrong or sinful or evil, they’re just not for me. Other people can write and read them all they want.

      The problem is, I demand the same consideration for myself. That, I am told, is Eeevul!

    6. Setting aside the squick factor, for me there is also the fact that I can as a straight woman understand why someone would want to be in a relationship with a man. I look at f/f and I think “women are crazy” why would you want to be in a relationship with one.

      1. There is a reason when a group of people, regardless of age, mixed company, the following comes up when one of the woman finally blurbs out “Having relations (sex) with another woman would be gross.” One of the men will quip back, “Willing to make the sacrifice.” On which the women agree they are willing to make the sacrifice for the men (willing to have sex with a man so the man doesn’t have to have sex with another man). Is funny. When written correctly.

      2. I’m pretty sure that for most guys, the attraction of the harem fantasy dies off about the time of their first serious relationship.
        For much the same reason.

        1. Or he has more experience with actual women and the women’s “disagreements” between themselves.

        2. I have heard stories of the stallion seemingly delighted to be allowed to be with the mares… at first. A few days later… evidently there is a ‘look’ that is equine for “rescue me!”

          1. What most non-horse people do not understand is in a wild band, the stallion is Not in charge. True with most if not all herding species. Be it elk, deer, bison, or antelope, just to mention the US wild herds. The males form bachelor herds (some species, bison, for one, the two herds intermingle), off season, for a reason. Horse herds are different in this one aspect. There is always one stallion with the mares, but he isn’t the one in charge.

      3. From a visual male perspective it is very simple. More boobies. More boobies are good.

  16. End of the post covers ….Hacking the storm? Darkship thieves 6 ????? never heard of it, is it real? OR…..


  17. Interesting post. I hope I don’t make anyone mad here. My thoughts. I remember back when I saw the cover for AFGM (I think the ‘Goldport’ version) on your blog here. I commented that, the two men were ‘standing awfully close.’ I had not read the book, knew nothing about the book… but that was my reaction. I can’t remember what kind of response I got, so it could not have been that bad. To put the aforementioned in context, I knew at that time, almost nothing about you, Sarah and I was not aware of any controversy concerning that book or any other of your books. Actually, I still haven’t read any of your books, but I now own one (Draw One in the Dark) and intend to read it. But as an author who likes to push the envelope, as you evidently do, I do understand. In my latest book, Escape From the Future and Other Stories, in the title story, a character is either suffering a major mental breakdown (due to the death of his spouse) or is ‘transitioning.’ I’m not pushing anything sexual in that book. And so far I haven’t had any ‘drive-by shit-flinging one-star reviews’ yet… so here’s hoping.

    Again, I hope this controversy, what remains of it, does nothing but sell lots of books!

    1. I can’t remember what kind of response I got, so it could not have been that bad. To

      :waves hand: I do!

      Folks told you that yes, they were standing “awfully close”. Because they were, ahem, awfully close.

      You to my memory went “oh” and carried on. 😀

      I remember because I chuckled and went something like “yep, that’s a scifi group for you” to it.

      1. You think you’re joking. YOU THINK YOU’RE JOKING.
        I’ve had one book, written in three days, where Dan would bring me food tot he desk and stand over me while I ate. I didn’t sleep or shower for THREE DAYS.

          1. Yeah. I hope you guys are happy. I now have a writer-detective investigating the murders in the muse-world. Both of writers and muses. I HOPE YOU”RE HAPPY. I might inflict first chapter on you tomorrow.

            1. However muses cannot be killed. They are immortal gods. If you try to kill them, they will then spend long nighttime hours singing minor key love songs outside your window with a rommelpot for accompaniment.

      1. I am liking this Muse concept less and less :-). I’ll stick to being a boring plugger/plodder and enjoy the output of you folk that possessed by these darn things.

        1. That’s the safest way to go. Amanda Green’s and my muses are mild, semi-docile, and easy-going compared to Sarah’s. Thus far. Trots off to tap wood

          1. I may appear to be a Rigellian but in my soul I’m a Hobbit. This whole muse thing sounds too much like an adventure, and to quote B. Baggins one of the famousest Hobbits

            “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.”

  18. LOVE the new covers. And I knew in advance who was gay because I got the recommendation for AFGM from Log Cabin Republicans. Remember them? But they were pushing it as libertarian fiction and they may have even used the big l. (grin)

    1. And they got it from Dan Blatt, (Gay Patriot) because he was a beta reader.
      And I’m periodically gushed at by gay guys and frantically hugged by gentlemen in uniform who whisper “Thank you for making Nat and Luce fighting men.” (I’ll point out I don’t mind being hugged by buff men in uniform. They don’t want anything. I don’t want anything (I’m Dan sexual) but it’s nice. ;))
      HOWEVER the majority of the fan mail I get on this are straight men, a lot of them very religious. Because the book is THAT clean.

      1. You are also correct that especially in this time where the left wants us at each others’ throats that we need to avoid the temptation assiduously.

      2. Mark Bingham.

        istr someone joking long ago that he and the others leading the charge were “like a group of characters from a Heinlein novel”.

  19. This whole post tickled my funnybone. I didn’t really recognize the implied hostility of the original comment from the previous post, but I often miss the implications of things people say. I found your whole response quite entertaining. I sometimes forget how emotionally involved people get with their fiction reading.

    I guess the fact that the original comment didn’t reach me at any emotional level gives me some confidence that when, I do see something as insulting, I am probably not seeing something that isn’t there.

  20. What I remember most about the original cover was the hand problem. Which was so common on Baen covers for a while that it became a running joke over at Good Show, Sir!

  21. Re: Left Hand of Darkness. Didn’t know what the gender species were called, ability to switch genders. Do now … hermaphrodites, but at 12? Nope. Got a clue however long before the “king” became pregnant. The whole story was based around the climate (published back when we, here on earth were going to freeze because of speeding up next ice age), and while the King had sired offspring, the King didn’t have “one of the body” (given birth), which determined his successor. Which kind of implied ability like some reptiles, gender could change, under the correct biological conditions, but not based on the individuals control. Which was the King’s problem.

    I don’t pick up books because they have a gay character. I pick up books because of the premise. Don’t care if they have a gay character. Just don’t want to be beat over the head with it. OTOH don’t want to be beat over the head with ANY physical relationship (Outlander rereads gets a lot of skip through sections). Not into reading booty calls (more of the fade into the background and, then “Next chapter”). I’ve also read all three of the Nantucket series, “Island in the Sea of Time”, etc. I like Marion and Sun Dancer. I’ve read all 15 of the flip side Emberverse series, I like Tiphaine (well as she turned out, a friend to Maddie and Rudi, etc.) Note “Conquistador”, same author, has none, zero, gay characters, followed in the story.

    Premise of:

    Nantucket series: What happens if an Island of today (Nantucket) is grabbed and set down in X thousand years BC?

    Emberverse: What happens to the rest of the world?

    Where do either indicate a gay character?

    1. Precisely.
      Oh, and the changes genders naturally and cyclically is truly not believable for human-like beings. My affliction are just both all the time, poor sods.
      The premise? An ambassador of Britannia on High gets marooned in a colony so lost Earth and its offshotts don’t remember they exist. A human race that was genetically changed into something that makes their survival perilous, and who are under attack by another – much stronger — lost colony.
      Scipius Africanus Hayden can save them.
      If he can survive a manhunt for him by three separate bands of assassins from different worlds, as he looks for the original colony’s spaceship in a frozen continent.

      1. Yea. I haven’t read it again (which means it was something I finished, but …). I read it at a time where I was to young to understand all the innuendos, and biology (I wasn’t raised on a farm or ranch). What I remember is exactly what I outlined. Frozen planet -> “We’re bringing on early ice age” analogy (beyond that, have no idea what other analogy they were trying to get across). They were running, in peril from “something/someones”. The King needed his successor to be from his body, as in he changes gender, to be able to get pregnant by someone who is male during that cycle. The off worlder, being male, and unable to change genders, means the King becomes female at some trigger. They are snowed in, it is cold, they use body heat and more … King gives birth after they are safe. That is what I remember some 50+ years later.

        1. Nope.
          You conflated the later.
          There is never sex. In fact, the human character is not very well outlined. And he’s on the run with the exhiled minister who rescues him.
          He might fall in love with the minister, but there is no sex.
          What she was trying to build, though, was the “if we were hermaphrodites, i.e. truly equal, we’d raised kids in communitarian pods, and everyone would be free for whatever.”
          Which hit me as “BULLSHIT.”
          Weirdly what you outlined is more my book than hers. LOL.

            1. d – “Endemic memory I do not have.”

              Spell-checker missed “eidetic” somehow, but in the context “endemic” also works.

              1. Spell-checker missed “eidetic”

                Not surprised.

                but in the context “endemic” also works.

                Totally meant to do that. Honest!

                (Hint: If I’m using “totally”, I’m lying.) 100% accident.

    2. The part where it says “Written by S.M. Stirling”? 🙂

      I giggled HARD at the beginning of “The Peshawar Lancers”, where the lead female character steps onto the airship thinking “I bet everybody thinks I’m gay” or words to that effect. The occasional crack in the fourth wall is refreshing. 🙂

  22. I just read that ‘Activists’ in Houston are ‘calling for the arrest of’ the man who shot the armed robber in the restaurant a couple of days ago.

    I suspect what they’re really doing is shrieking “Off with his head!” but the left-wing news won’t report that.

    Because robbing customers in a restaurant at gunpoint is right and proper, but shooting an armed robber is Eeevul.
    The Democrats trust violent criminals and terrorists with guns more than they trust you.

    1. The dead goblin was “only threatening the customer’s purses” and thus fine.

      And folks held to that for several days.

      …until it came out that the dead goblin had murdered a prior victim.

      Who still had children to make comments like, “if someone had stopped this guy before, I might still have my dad.”

      1. Oh, so pointing a gun at people is not threatening their lives? In what delusion?

        Never mind, I know what delusion. The one in which communists just want to hold hands and sing Kumbayaa. The same one where ‘fascism’ means keeping the government out of our books, wallets and bedrooms.

        The one in which an armed robber is the good guy.
        When police arrest violent criminals to protect innocent people, they are Jackbooted Fascist Stormtroopers.

        When police arrest innocent people at the behest of corrupt politicians, they are National Heroes.

        1. :dragon snarl:
          why, because when he had done so to most of the group, adn then someone acted like it was real, to teh point of killing the scum and removing the gun, it turned out the gun was not real.

          Because of course the folks you’re threatening should know that, and be held accountable to it, but the can’t-f-a-fleshlight guy is not to be held to account for it.

          1. For reals? Sticking people up with a fake gun?

            That is one well-earned Darwin Award there. The Outrage Brigade can go stick it where the sun don’t shine. Right next to their heads.

            1. From a moral perspective:
              the mitigating factor of using a fake gun is on the side of the aggressor.

              While he is threatening death, he can not inflict it.

              So, wahtever is done to him on the grounds of “he is trying to kill me” is justified– but he has the moral protection of “I can’t actually hurt the person I am threatening.”

              1. Well, I suppose that could be used as defense in a trial. “But it wasn’t really a deadly weapon!”

                IF there’s a trial.

                In this case it was, Play stupid games, win the Stupid Prize.

                I don’t think threatening people with a plastic gun or a rubber knife should be dismissed if they believed it was real. Stupid should not be an excuse.

          2. “REEEE!! The gun wasn’t real! They were in no actual danger!”

            “Uhh…that trick only works if everybody believes the gun IS real. Including the guy who shot the armed robber. You can’t expect to convince all the people you’re robbing that it’s a real gun, and then expect the guy standing up in defense of himself and others to know it’s a fake.”

                1. Sarah, I follow Andrew Branca’s Law of Self-Defense blog. He’s by no means left, but his comment is that it wasn’t that he shot the goblin, it was how many shots, especially the ninth and last. That one was after the guy was down, not moving, AND the shooter had taken away the goblin’s gun, The legal system is likely to regard that as unreasonable.

                  Doesn’t bother ME; getting dead should be an occupational hazard when you pull a robbery or any other crime.

                    1. Here’s his column:

                      “The bottom line, of the nine rounds fired by the shooter at Washington, the first four were almost certainly legally justified, the second four may be legally justified, and the ninth and final shot almost certainly was not justified, based upon the only evidence currently available to us, which is the surveillance video of the encounter.”

  23. Dear Hostess’s post was (correctly) indignant. Some of your comments veered tangentially to different dimensions where mere fans are discouraged. And I am fan. DH SAH writes clear prose that often goes right to heart. (Do you recall free Christmas stories she posted? One was something about cat on space vessel. The other was about lots of tech and some guys t-traveling in desert or somewhere. Different authors. Both good. Which one hit heart?)

    AFGM was 1st SAH I read. (Read BUNCH since.) Really good “kinda” sci-fi; having protagonists like each other saved plot from tedious “which of two heroes will wind up with buxom babe” de riguer plot line. It was logical relationship. Whole story worked well.

    Now then. What is all this guy likes guy and girl likes girl fooforah in the comments? Is this a THING? Or are people trying to make it a thing? To me, fan, its just part of really good story that is AFGM. If you insist on its being big thing you will likely miss other, perhaps subtler, plot developments. Artist creates. Fans like, don’t like, or don’t care. Critics be like 5th leg on donkey (IMHO).

      1. I loved the stripped-down no unnecessary articles prose in TMIAHM. Hey, good enough for Heinlein, good enough….

          1. I’ll bet it sounds adorable and exotic to us native USAians. Now, what to do about those pesky irregular verbs?

  24. I’ve been thinking (which can be very dangerous) and while I don’t remember reading “The Left Hand Of Darkness”, I do remember reading F. M. Busby’s “The Breeds of Man “.

    Rough story plot, a genetic engineering company creates a “super bug” in order save mankind from “Super-Aids” (which was going to “kill everybody”).

    The “super bug” has a major draw-back. Basically, it sterilizes women after their first pregnancy (aborted, miscarried or life-birth). Oh, a woman could get pregnant again if the “sperm doner” had a different “blood-type” that the earlier “sperm doner”.

    The company’s CEO decides that We (the company) Have To Do Something.

    The company creates a “new Breed of Human” that isn’t affected by the “super bug” but the results aren’t exactly what they intended.

    As the children reach puberty, something strange happens. The boys change to girls and the girls change to boys.

    After about 28 days, they revert back. Oh, if the “girls” become pregnant, then they remain female until the child is born.

    There’s other aspects to it as the male “Mark Twos” can get a “Mark One” woman pregnant and the female “Mark Twos” can give a “Mark One” male a child.

    There are other aspects to the story that I didn’t like but am wondering if anybody else had read the book and what they thought about it.

    By the way, it appears to be out-of-print and there’s no eBook version of it.

      1. It may be “biologically impossible”, but it somehow worked for “much younger me”.

        In any case, I was wondering more about “what other Huns thought about it”.

        I’m not willing to try to find a used dead-tree version of it mainly because of other problems I had with the book (IMO).

        The author didn’t appear to like religious people.

        1. Okay, I want to point out I was a biology geek from ten or so, so this offended me.
          I MIGHT actually have read that, but I don’t remember. I read a lot of trash.
          It looks like a weird, convoluted way to get everyone having sex with everyone else. A lot of that at the time.
          ALSO for that I prefer Cordwainer’s Game of Cat and Dragon.

          1. Well, generally the “Mark Twos” had sex with the “opposite sex”.

            A “Mark Two” who was male would have sex with somebody who was female.

            And the “Mark Twos” started pairing off with other “Mark Twos”.

            1. Okay, now my head hurts. But what I mean is the progression of the whole thing is so BIZARRELY improbable that it seems like the motivation was “I want to write a lot of sex and piss off those uptight religious people.”

              1. There wasn’t that much sex VIEWED by the reader.

                Yes, there was sex “happening” in the book but except for one situation, the reader doesn’t see it.

                The book was published around 1988 so the “sex happening” was similar to what would happen in “mainstream fiction”.

        2. Probably. Busby’s “Rissa Kerguelen” books had some good points but were utterly marinated in that late 60s-early 70’s SF viewpoint of “sex as neutral, sex as entertainment, sex as weapon but NEVER sex as emotional, bonding, or significant”. I encountered “The Breeds of Man” sometime after, remember being mildly squicked (small-town conservative, early teens) but nothing really settled in my memory.

    1. I mentioned it here a few weeks ago. For me, it fell under the category of, “Interesting, not likely to reread.”
      Busby had a number of common themes/character types and one that showed up in a lot of his books was, “Sexually deviant/handicapped, quite possibly not sane, but can be helped by the correct medication or therapy.” The one on “The Breeds of Man,” was a butch lesbian secret police type, who eventually helps the protagonists.
      He sets up that the gender-shifting type is genetically dominant and will eventually replace normal humans.
      Honestly, his best work was the, “Rissa Kerguelen,” series.

  25. Nod, even without the parts of the book that I disliked, it was read once OK but not likely to reread.

    I lost my paperback copy several moves ago and see no reason to repurchase it.

  26. Women are strongly territorial, to my mind, and need to control what happens in their territory. Home,.workdesk, whatever. Only very secure women can let go.

    I think this is why girls have problems so often with female roommates, or why stay at home dads sometimes get unfairly criticized by their wives, why harem fighting was so vicious, and why lesbian couples fight more violently than any other kind of couple. It is why women clean up before the cleaning lady comes.

    So yeah, f/f romance might be squick because it means that some other chick is messing with all your stuff, as well as having access all the time to your house and your body. Territorial violation. Worse than living with your mom or your sister or your female cousin. Deeply squicky even without sex.

    Like a houseguest who won’t go away and changes how the bathroom is organized. And they are at your house when you are not there to supervise, plus watching and judging. Ugh.

    That is my theory, anyway. Because it doesn’t seem to be about the threat of rape or other standard triggers.

    Meanwhile, invited men do not seem to trigger territorial violation feelings, because you often have women thinking that it is nice to have a man around the place or stopping by. But of course men do not usually watch and judge the same way that women do. (Or they are nicer about it.)

    1. It might partially be the control of situation/direction of activities drive, which the Mama Bunny book shows a lot of, both with daughter and mother. Trading off or distributing situation control is part of parental interaction, while maintaining discipline.

      So yeah, it is healthy and protective when done right, but grown women tend to butt heads together if they don’t have their own spaces to control. Even a contemplative nun”s cell.

    2. Alex Comfort (Joy of Sex) more or less agreed. He also suggested women identify with their living space, to the point of using it as a metaphor for their bodies.

      1. Well… Yeah, men don’t usually say that being burgled is like being raped….

        And come to think of it, St. Teresa and the soul as an interior castle, with the journey towards God being primarily inward. Whereas the early Christian male analogy was usually the ladder.

        Of course, both sexes do “the journey/pilgrimage”, and St. Catherine of Siena was big on “the bridge over a raging mountain river in flood, kinda like in Siena.”

  27. TLDR. But I DID look at the pictures. The book covers look very well done! It has gotten where you can’t tell an Indy cover now from a good traditional publisher’s cover. Pretty soon it will be easy to spot the traditionally published book by their lame, cheap cover art.

  28. “Second note: “But Sarah, why write gay characters at all?””

    Because [in answer to the idiot asking the question, not Sarah] they show up, demand to be in the story, and they’re gay. Just the same as sometimes you randomly meet people at the store or at a party, and they’re gay. Big whup.

    No need for an international conference on Gayness. Just get on with the story.

    I find it irritating when the Lefties absolutely insist that EVERYTHING MUST SPARKLE at all times under all circumstances. It is a science fiction book. It is meant to be entertaining, not to be an instruction quiltbag of Leftist sacred cows and assorted Marxist drivel. Plus, I don’t like sparkle. Not my thing.

    Equally irritating are the Righties insisting the opposite. Or possibly more irritating, given I lean Right pretty far. No, little friends, a little bit of sparkle from a character is not the end of the world, nor even a sign of the Apocalypse.

    Full disclosure, I read “A Few Good Men.” It contains sparkle. I skipped those (few, short) parts, and the book carried on just fine. Not a sparkle fan, I make no apologies.

    Bottom line, in a FREE COUNTRY if an author writes a character, nobody gets to tell them they’re bad and wrong for doing so. Because in a free country, when the author says “get off my lawn,” you get the hell off their lawn. Nobody made you read that, after all. You’re free to skip the next one as well.

    All of that said, people WILL read shit into a book that you the author have explicitly, repeatedly, and very carefully explained is not there. People have done that to my (one, single, solitary, lonely) book and it seems they love to do it to Sarah’s books as well. You can’t argue them out of it either. They are invincible.

    De gustibus non est disputandum appears to be the last word on the subject. Readers are advised that it also applies to WRITERS too, and that if they don’t like the writer’s characters they should get off their lawn.

  29. Off topic: you show us 5 of the covers; I’m thinking “Where the hell is the cover for fourth book?”

    1. I put them up yesterday. Still need to do the paper ones, but right now I’m going to grab an energy drink, go upstairs and do Barbarella, before Matt — gives side eye to comment section — crawls through monitor and kills me dayd.

  30. Thoughts in no particular order:

    You are quite correct – you would starve very quickly as a writer of erotica. Straight, homosexual, bi, furry, whatever.

    Now, some of us need at least a 4×4 clue bat. I, for one, didn’t twig about Luce’s orientation until much later in the book.

    Yes, I did read the “mourning the lover” part – but the only thought process that occurred was “‘Daddy’ is one nasty SOB, and Sara had better terminate him with extreme prejudice later in the book, or I will be very disappointed with her.”

    Of course, I’m the same guy that thought for years that Rod in Tunnel In the Sky was white – and was still rooting for him to get together with Caroline.

    I kind of like Prednisone Sarah. Not that I don’t want you to ditch it just as soon as possible, but it’s rather refreshing…

    The new covers are, in a word – FAN-DAMN-TASTIC! I’m tempted to buy again just to get them.

    1. Of course, I’m the same guy that thought for years that Rod in Tunnel In the Sky was white – and was still rooting for him to get together with Caroline.

      Um. Wait! Rod from Tunnel in the Sky isn’t white? 😉 😉 😉 …

      Seriously I didn’t realize until it was mentioned on Sarah’s blog. Didn’t think about it. Does it change the story? Does it change what I think about Rod, his classmates, and how they managed to gather the other classes to survive and thrive? Nope. Not one bit.

      1. Same place that I saw it – and I had to go back and reread to verify. You have to go looking for it.

        A prime difference between “us” and the “woke.” We read to encounter interesting characters, doing interesting things; and the state of their tan or who they enjoy bed games with matters not a whit, and we might not even notice it. Whether they are the heroes or the villains.

        Whereas, to those other people, color and sex habits are the most important things about the characters.

        Those are the stories I have always bought and enjoyed – and, sorry wokerati, I’m too old to change even if I had the slightest desire to do so.

    2. I don’t remember Rod’s race being mentioned at all.

      It wasn’t important to the story. It wasn’t important to him, or to the other characters. All I remember is the scene where the paparazzi sprayed paint on his face to make him look ‘primitive’.

    3. Eh, the only people in Tunnel whose race you could deduce were a girl nicknamed Zulu because she was so dark, and a guy nicknamed after his pasty complexion. The astute could deduce the other children were all medium.

        1. I remember she was an Amazon. That was the official designation of her brigade. Rod recommended Caroline Mishiyeni (sp?) to her as a potential Amazon recruit.

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