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Interview article with Seth Dickinson - AKA our very own General Battuta!

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General Battuta:
I also imagine her as shorter and heavier just because those are helpful traits for a combat pilot but honestly I haven’t pinned anything down beyond that.


--- Quote from: General Battuta on May 01, 2019, 02:32:32 pm ---I also imagine her as shorter and heavier just because those are helpful traits for a combat pilot but honestly I haven’t pinned anything down beyond that.

--- End quote ---

Didn't you said once that physical aspects are more or less irrelevant for a fighter pilot?

So, I had my rest ... time to adress what happened on Monday.

*deep breaths*

Firstly, an apology is warranted.
I failed to do my due dilligence on Monday to engage with the interview on its own terms; a number of lateral moves would have been required and I did none of those. As a result I let the dissonance between my opinions and the opinions expressed in the answers get the better of me and results are as they are.
I will now try to offer an explaination to what the cause of said dissonance is.

I apologize for the offence given.

As for the explaination, let's start with a fundamental point - I have little regard for Realism as stylistic choice for which Battuta expressed his perferrence.

I actually tried to find if I had given my speech on the subject on HLP before, but no results. I hope the tl;dr suffices: In essence, while Realism frequently produces works of great quality, I find there is a "mutness" about works of Realism. "Muteness" in this context is not the same as expressionless or empty, it is more the absence of points to connect beyond the surface level.

As such reading his answers in details requires a lot more mental legwork for me, as I tend to be in a quasi-Idealistic position (and to try to be subversive tends to bring a smile to my face :D ).

Due to that position it kinda came tumbling down following this:

--- Quote ---CD: Following on from this, some of your characters undergo a major change during their story arcs. For example, Laporte, the protagonist in War in Heaven, starts off as a young, naïve and possibly schizophrenic rookie pilot. She then matures into a hardened fighter ace, then on to a state sponsored spec-ops terrorist. Eventually, she becomes a pivotal element in the war, and mankind’s survival as a species, when it is revealed that her presumed schizophrenia is in fact communications with post-human intelligences. How did you ‘get into the head’ of such a character, and what techniques did you use to avoid Laporte falling into the clichéd ‘Mary Sue’ or ‘The Chosen One’ tropes.

I don’t think there is any real value in thinking about ‘tropes’. They’re lists of things that often happen in stories. What matters is understanding why and how they’re used.

Laporte is a person raised in a culture of sanctity and compassion who discovers, and must come to terms with, her own talent for killing. She’s been activated as a weapon or agent by an alien power using humanity in a proxy war. She has to decide who she’s going to become under these circumstances. I think about these things. I don’t think about tropes.

--- End quote ---

Now going from what he describes, I read a disinterest in the normative side of narration here, beyond the inherit "represent what is". Coming from an idealistic position that side however is crictially important.

From an idealistic position you already picked your cause and you chose to champion it.
You are engaged in an act of communication, and thus have to take the reader by the hand and lead them into the logic inherit to the story. "Tropes" are points of familiarity, the starting proposition with which you gain the trust of your audience.

Of course, the first steps don't make the dance. :D

I don't want to propose some sort of hierarchy here. I don't want to declare that the way I engage with writing is inherently better.
There are differences in execution and intend here, that goes all the way down to the axioms. However as "violent" as my infiltered reaction may be, there is no need actually compete on merits of any of these points.

As to why I found Battuta's reactions ... "poor" is related to what I just called "the normative side of narration".

The premise of the Destiny questions, dogwhistles as they are, is that all narration is normative, which is not an odd proposition considering how a lot of narrative traditions tend to focus on morality tales, i.e. stories that also serve to transmit the values of a society.
However the premise tends to fail the test of reversing its logic - the importance of morality tales does not make all narration normative.

Add a garnish and serve :D

Now there are more aspects to responding to that kind of dogwhistle but they tend to be non-universal; hegemonies, to which such dogwhistles are supposed to draw defenders, tend to be quite specific systems - so I will refrain from further, more uniformed propositions.

re: Laporte appearance
For some reason I imagined her to be of mixed-african descent, but I can't eactly point to the why ... maybe a deduction from her adopted(?) uncle being from Johannesburg?

As to physical traits:
Military recruitment today tends to focus on smaller hights for pilots and drivers - in no small part because it easier to adjust a vehicle to smaller person than a larger one.

Mito [PL]:
Perhaps since Martians experienced lower gravity throughout their lives than Earthers, they became a tad higher and slimmer than their ancestors, but also had less dense bones and muscles which limits their capability of coping with G-forces?

General Battuta:
I have no idea what most of that means but none of it is about the inanity or lack thereof of that one question AFAICT. But I appreciate your thoughtful reply, genuinely.

When it comes to ‘diversity’ or lack there of, any departure from realism should be purposeful. Most such departures aren’t - they’re just filling casts with more white guys than you’d expect from random chance.


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