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You kids get off my lawn. 

Weak Sauce

Across the Universe - Beth Revis

I read this because I'm looking for books that have religiously motivated missions to the stars, and the ship in question is called the Godspeed. Alas, it does not fit my criterion; Godspeed is just a name. The plot is murder mystery on a generation ship, so it's sort of the ultimate locked room scenario. Unfortunately, everyone is an idiot -- though, to be fair, there is an in-world reason for this idiocy -- so the mystery drags on. If you've ever watched a Scooby Doo episode, you might ken on the shadowy scarred dude who has a stupid, likely metaphorical name. 


And I know I have just recently read Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora, which absolutely shreds the generation ship on both technical and ethical levels, but the way these people managed their ship made me freak out. You DO NOT eject dead bodies into space. You cannot just pick up more carbon, or iron, or calcium once you start running low; that shit NEEDS to be recycled. But KSR is a very serious elder statesman of science fiction, so comparisons and nitpicking are ultimately unfair. 


There's also a sexual assault which came out of left field, and was both needlessly brutal and just needless. And look, I know the standard objection here is: sexual assault happens in real life, and it's needlessly brutal and needless! Which, sure, but this isn't even approaching real life. This is a fantastical, impossible fiction, which is based on an artificially structured world. If we're going to talk about realism, then let's fucking talk about realism. Interjecting a sexual assault in some feeble bid for realism -- or, god help us all, grittiness -- when heretofore the structure of the world conforms to plot expediency over, say, actual physics, that's a whole lot of bullshit.


Authors make choices about what to include and what to leave out, and presumably those choices have anything to do with the aim of the fiction, or its goals, or some metaphorical structure, or something. You can be Oscar Wilde and declare "All art is quite useless" at the beginning of Dorian Grey, but that's a statement in and of itself: here is the art of the useless. Interjecting a brutal sexual assault in an otherwise airless young adult fiction that owes much to Scooby Doo is a strange choice, all told. 


And you know what? Whatever. I'm in a bad mood tonight. This little silly thing that took me no time to skim through in hopes of finding a book to add to a listicle is not even the worst perpetrator of the "sex crimes make me srs fiction" brigade. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, but I often pounce on this midlist crap for shit that I let slide in better written stuff. And I struggle ever single time it happens, because quality in terms of your characterizations or sentences structure or whatever should be no fucking cover for what is ultimately bad writing. It is bad writing to make some appeal to realness through brutality, and especially sexual brutality, because the author can't figure how to get your attention or make real, character-driven stakes any other way. That's weak sauce. 


So. You're welcome. This has been my Wednesday night rant.