Feb. 11th, 2014

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A lot of people have said they wouldn’t watch the Olympics because of Russia’s stance on LGBT issues.

It’s been really hard for me, and that’s why I’ve taken so long to write this. In general, I watch only the Olympics when it comes to sports. The last live sporting event I saw was the U.S. Figure Skating Championships when they were in San Jose a couple years back.

I remember being that horse-struck teenager who saved up money from an early job to get lessons from a really great dressage rider. I remember getting to ride an Olympic horse. He had quite the sense of humor, that one.

And I remember later figuring out that winter sports really were my thing even though I don’t particularly like being cold. And that I got in a lot of trouble (which I will write about later) for arranging things to usurp the last slot of a great ice dance teacher. She’d been the partner of a guy who tended to cut the balance a little close; her career had ended when his fall spiral fractured her leg. He later went on to skate in national and international competitions with a subsequent partner. She was stuck standing around in moon boots with people like me trying to do school figures. And stuff.

Sadly, that knee that gives me fits now? If only I’d known it was defective then. I competed on it, which no doubt helped a bunch. Not.

I’ve only ever seen one winter Olympics event live. I happened to have an interview with Alphasmart, who was looking for a Mac programmer. The first round of interviews had gone well. Could I go to the Salt Lake area for a final round? Sure. In February 2002? Absolutely.

Airline tickets for the Olympics were inobtanium at any kind of reasonable price, but I was going to get to go for free? Bonus.

So I asked them to fly me on the first flight out and the last flight back, which they did. I paid for the women’s hockey semifinals ticket. The US won against Sweden, 4-0.

I don’t know how many people I know have ever seriously studied an Olympic sport or ever seriously hoped to compete. I did. I have a clue how much work it is, and that’s why I feel it’s so disrespectful to all the athletes who put in such hard work for so many years to boycott the games — especially since some of them are LGBT.

So here’s my thought: I’m going to root for the countries who have great LGBT policies to win as many medals as possible. And let’s give an extra cheer for all the LGBT athletes, out or not, and hope they win something really special.

I wish it weren’t Russia and fucking Olympics politics again. In 1980, 65 countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics. What’s really struck me, though, is how much freer generally the people in the former Soviet Union are now than they were then—and that’s the other reason a boycott is difficult for me. I remember the stories about how difficult it was for artists, musicians, dancers, and athletes to travel back then.

A lot can change in 34 years, but a lot still has to, too.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Everyone in science fiction knows romance novel covers are awful, right?

And Fifty Shades of Grey is a lurid book that can’t possibly have an understated, tasteful cover, right? Because that’s not the kind of book it is.

Well, okay, it has a tie on the cover, and it’s a, well, I don’t know what the hell to call it, frankly. Jenny Trout has a whole bunch of points about why it shouldn’t be called a romance novel, nor BDSM, nor whatever, so I’ll just link to her site and back away slowly.

In terms of marketing categories, though, erotica or erotic romance. (Yes, they are different, and they are also different from the marketing categories of both porn and sexy romance.)

Why, 50 Shades started out as fanfic of Twilight. But the cover on that can’t actually be too horribly awful (right?), given that Bella and Edward both retain their v-card throughout the duration of not one, not two, but three volumes of this saga.

So it has an apple and vampires don’t eat apples. Mmmkay.

But it is about temptation, though most of the temptation is on Edward’s side, and that’s only ever chronicled in a partially-completed manuscript, Midnight Sun told from his POV, rather than Twilight, which is told from Bella’s.

So now that I’ve basically admitted to reading all the Twilight books and none of E L James’s, how about some other covers? I remember someone recommending Outlander once upon a time. I randomly opened it, happened to be on a sex scene, and I backed away slowly.

It’s one of those where I really kinda wish I cared about it. I’ve tried to break into it a couple of times and it’s never quite caught for me. There sure are a lot of people who love it, though. Like Pam.

An oft-recommended book was Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren, which is a complex series to explain. There are a ton of interrelationships (possibly the only thing more complex than Torchwood as far as who has/had slept with whom), and a ton of plot threads. I read the four-book series over Christmas week.

I bring this one up because it is the most overtly sexual cover on her four books. Yet, it’s still quite understated, especially given the content of the book. As far as content: Nora’s a dominatrix on the side and an erotica writer by day. She’s got a difficult relationship with an editor who starts out hating everything she stands for. She’s got a live-in assistant who’s a 19-year-old virgin. (As Rick put it, “that’s just stunt casting.”) And then there’s the ex, but that would be a spoiler.

Are all romance covers like those above?

No. They are not.

Let’s go back to last year, about a claim Mike Resnick made that I’m disappointed that no one called him on.

Here’s what Resnick said (click for pic of text, quoted below)

And a lot of it abounded in bare, raw, pulsating flesh, totally naked from the neck to the navel. No question about it. It’s there for anyone to see—and of course, since such displays seem to offend some of our members, to picket.
You know where I found it?
In the romance section. I’d say that just about every other cover shows a man’s bare torso, lean and muscular, usually with a few more abs than Nature tends to provide. The man’s head is rarely portrayed. Clearly these are erotic covers, designed to get a certain readership’s pulse pounding.

Personally, I’d love to see pulsating flesh on a book cover—at least the first few times. Never have. That would be science fictional.

Last year, I posted a screencap of 25 (I said 30 yesterday and was wondering why the math didn’t add up) covers that was sort of a side commentary to the SFWA Bulletin issue. I don’t mind admitting I read erotic romance, nor do I mind admitting that I write the stuff. Part of the reason I’ve read so much was to get a sense of the market.

I’ve gone and made a current screencap, too.

In both cases, there’s no censorship about what I’ve read. These are, in order (most recent in upper left, oldest in lower right), the last 25 titles I’d read in the erotic romance genre in both pics. The only thing I’ve done is filter out the non-romance titles I’d read.

Itemizing Resnick’s points:

  1. Covers with men.
  2. Who are totally naked from the neck to the navel.
  3. Man’s bare torso […] usually with a few more abs than Nature tends to provide.
  4. The man’s head is rarely portrayed. (How many covers without heads?)
  5. How many covers with men who are naked, frontal, and without heads?

Difference is? This new batch of covers is infected with teh gay as several are M/M books or have M/M subplots. More men, therefore more likely to meet Resnick’s criteria, right?

So, here’s 25 books from last year.

image

Here’s 25 books from this year, ~8 months later. Four of the 25 are solely M/M, and two (Tiffany Reisz’s) have M/M subplots with concomitant sex scenes.

2014-02-10 17.39.33

Note: the cover for Where Nerves End got lost somewhere in the ether, but here it is for reference.

  1. Covers with men. 2013: 13 (52%), 2014: 20 (80%)
  2. Who are totally naked from neck to navel. 2013: 4 (16%), 2014: 9 (32%), though 3 of those are M/M.
  3. Frontal enough naked neck-to-navel such that one can see excess abs. 2013: 1, 2014: 1. (Tempting Adam has a frontal cover, but his abs are within the realm of normal.)
  4. Headless men (I counted them as headless if you couldn’t see most of the face). 2013: 2, 2014: 8
  5. Frontal headless men. 2013: 0, 2014: 0.

Lest you think my taste is different than the reality of the market as a whole, here’s a curated list that’s a combination of Amazon sales and Goodreads reviews. Scan down the first 100 covers on the first page and tell me the results are significantly different.

Let’s be clear here: several of the books I read (two from Maya Banks, two from Natasha Moore, one from Cathryn Cade) focus around sex clubs, and a sex club forms part of the plot unifying Tiffany Reisz’s series.

Even those covers are less lurid than the SFWA Bulletin cover for Issue 200.

Just sayin’.

As if all that weren’t enough, this Mary Sue post nails it.

I call bullshit on Resnick’s alleged experiment.

Link: Silvia Moreno-Garcia nails it.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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