1. notleia says:

    Y’know, you mention the perception that Christians tolerate violence more than sex as if you mean to disrupt that expectation….and then you don’t really do anything to disrupt that expectation. You were allllmost there, and then you refused the jump.

    I wonder what it says about you that you prefer nobledark to anything cheery. Why would you prefer people to be afraid of sex? (That’s a rhetorical question. Lord help me, I should stop expecting any real reasoning behind the Christian cultural disgust of sex that isn’t tacked on after the fact.)
    So naturally I’m going to compound ungrounded theories based on what little I know about your background and personality.
    So you prefer to be in a world with constant struggle? I suppose that’s a relic of your military brainwashing, and I don’t even mean that in a derogatory sense. They brainwashed you so you would be able to function in an unstable and struggling context. In basic training they deprived you of sleep and put you under a lot of carefully cultivated stress in order to condition you into how they wanted you to react, right?
    But your sense of identity and meaning were already structured for you. What would it mean if you didn’t have an external struggle to fight against? What do you do for internal ones?
    But I know you’re not a meathead and you’ve thought of this kind of stuff before. But you’re not comfortable with the uncertainty, are you? You mentioned your unstructured background and your crappy capacity for making decisions in the past, so that would be a plausible rationale for why you think preexisting structures are more reliable than any ideas that you (and prolly other people) can come up with.
    I’ve done some too-personal, careless poking at your marriage to a Mexican national before, so Imma do it again: what does it say about you that you chose someone from a culture with much greater emphasis on gender roles than American culture? Is it the thing with preexisting structures again? Didn’t you have a wife before this one, or am I mixing you up with someone else? I would have a LOT more too-personal semi-rhetorical questions if that were the case.

    Also I think I prefer “hopepunk” but it needs a better first syllable(s), for mouthfeel’s sake. Posipunk (positive-punk)? Optipunk (optimist-punk)?

    • notleia says:

      And I suppose it would only be fair if you played armchair-psychologist and published unsubstantiated theories about my personality and personal philosophy. I already know you think of me more or less as a rebellious dipwad who should have already outgrown this stage, but I’m curious about what other things you can come up with about my marriage or how I treat my cats or my deep-seated insecurities. I doubt you can be any scarier than the abyss of my own overthinking.

      Brennan I think of as being the rural Midwestern version of bourgeois. Bless his heart, I dunno if you can expect much more from someone with a business degree. He tries, but I want to call him a filthy casual until he puts a lot more hours in. Git gud, noob.

      Autumn I think of as being “like me when I was unmedicated” but I am definitely projecting and it’s super condescending of me despite whatever good intentions I want to have about sharing things with you and broadening your horizons ugh that’s condescending. I have complicated feelings about you and it’s not your fault.

      • Brennan McPherson says:

        Bourgeois? You might as well point at a bowl of soup and call it a banana. Try again, NUB!

      • Travis Perry says:

        I’ve answered you twice now–and neither time did the answer stay on the site. I’m not sure what’s happening, but the first answer I gave was very long, the second was medium long, but this will be pretty short.

        I don’t think you’ve analyzed me very well. I think I regularly express uncertainty about various things–though it’s valid to say I study hard and apply myself because I want to know what is true and seek to know what is true. But I also admit when I plainly don’t know. (AAAND you have very poorly identified formative moments in my life–Basic Training wasn’t all that big of a deal, but other moments were. And other things you got wrong. Etc.)

        You on the other hand, seem utterly certain your Progressive stances are completely true. I’ve never heard you express any doubt about any of those beliefs at all. Or much doubt about anything, actually (though you do admit you don’t know everything about me–yet you analyzed me anyway). Yet you say you feel insecure. Hmm. I’m curious why.

        Yes, I was previously married. Long story. As for my wife since 2016, she yes is a citizen of Mexico. Also has a master’s degree, speaks English, French (in addition to Spanish), prays devoutly, serves God as an Evangelical, worked at a paramedic for the Mexican Red Cross who performed mountain rescues (though that was twenty years ago). My wife is competent, capable, impressive, adventurous, and also, very serious about her Christianity. An important point is I’m multi-lingual and interested in learning and other cultures and I learn something from her about Spanish or Mexico almost every day. She is “my kind of woman”–not specifically because of Mexican ideas on gender roles, though I’m more than OK with her not believing she is a man. 🙂

  2. I generally prefer stories that are darker or at least more serious, though there are times when I like more lighthearted stuff. One thing that’s extremely important is whether the story feels like it has a decent amount of substance.

    Recently I found a very happy story, but I might stop reading it because so far, it feels like it’s main purpose is to be cutesy and not much else. Whenever it looks like a problem is going to occur, it just ends up being a big wad of nothing. Like, the situation gets resolved too easily, or the problem wasn’t actually a problem in the first place. That’s not entirely bad, because lots of people might be cheered up by such tales. But for me it’s starting to get vaguely annoying. Like, the story essentially keeps yanking the reader’s attention to things that prove to be false alarms.

    And then sometimes a story can bug me even when it technically does contain significant issues and challenges. Two stories come to mind as an example(both share the same author). I sort of enjoyed them even though they were slow paced and even a little boring at times. But then I started having these little flickers of annoyance toward the main girl char. Like ‘how is she going to handle it when she finally has a REAL conflict with her new boyfriend, one that’s on an important issue that can’t be resolved quickly and might not end with her SO agreeing with her?’

    It’s really weird to describe how I feel about those stories, because I wouldn’t say they’re evil by any means, and in many ways they’re fluffy and nice(that doesn’t equal good, I’m just commenting on how the stories seem). On a surface level, lots of people might say those stories represent what healthy relationships can and should be like. And in some instances, they’d be correct. But what I eventually realized was that there was a subtle aspect to those tales that felt frustratingly fake.

    Not in the ‘it’s fiction so of course it’s fake’ way. More like there was a weird, vague boundary when it came to what happened and how the chars acted. Like, a lot of the main guy chars were allowed to have their hobbies and interests, but they rarely went outside the paradigm of what ultimately made the main girl char happy. And usually any char that went too far outside that paradigm was very toxic or made to look bad.

    After considering the story a while, I realized several things the main girl char did could put her in the category of a Mary Sue(Which isn’t automatically a bad thing. A lot of people write those, especially on accident when they’re new to writing.) I’d say the main girl char wasn’t as obviously obnoxious as other Mary Sues, but there was definitely a subtle aspect of everything in the story revolving and bending around her in some way. Like, everything being designed to make her happy, look good, or make readers feel sorry for her. That in and of itself is fine, except it rarely felt like she had much self reflection and accountability while nearly every char that upset her ended up apologizing or not being a major part of her life.

    It’s not that she constantly went around mistreating the other chars, it’s just that when one really pays attention it becomes evident that the story itself isn’t realistic in the sense of giving all the chars full agency/autonomy. It also doesn’t let the main girl char make/own up to mistakes in how she treats people. Or, at least, not as much as the other chars. When she DID take accountability, it was mainly in the sense of ‘I should have known better than to marry that stupid guy.’ So it was still centered on another person’s wrongdoing, not her own or what she could have done to make the situation better. I’m not saying the blame needed to center on her instead, it’s just that she was practically never shown as having a negative effect on her own life or anyone else’s.

    IDK, hopefully that kind of made sense. I’m not saying the story was evil, and stories like this can actually be very interesting in the sense that they work differently than real life does. And I can see how people enjoy romance stories like that for the sake of escapism. I actually enjoyed these two tales for the most part, it’s just that now and then they annoyed me with their fakeness and subtle implication that the main girl char was in the perfect relationship because she found someone that made her happy all the time. Part of that just didn’t add up when she talked like she put all the right work into her romantic relationships even though there was evidence that she actually didn’t. It just made it feel like her relationship wouldn’t withstand any serious hits.

    So, I dunno. I CAN like happier stories, but they’re very likely to bore me or drive me up the wall if they’re written in certain ways. Then again, part of me actually enjoyed figuring out why those last two stories bugged me, so it’s not all bad. I still learned some helpful things from them, too. Even if I disagreed with them, there was a lot to unpack and analyze and that in and of itself is valuable.

  3. I’m thankful for you T-1, because otherwise T-2 wouldn’t have known to try Prospect when it popped up in my queue. I also liked it, for many of the reasons you’ve outlined. I found it to be a character-driven story with some SF elements, which was perfectly fine; no need for big special effects. I appreciated the reference to pearl-harvesting; I hadn’t thought of it that way when I watched it, but that’s a great analogy. You hit on a solid truth that bears repeating: it’s not that an “acceptable” story needs to shy away from sex, but it aught to reflect the appropriate attitude towards it. Prospect doesn’t imply that sex is bad (I don’t think it really makes any implication), but it clearly does imply that sexual exploitation 1) exists in the story world and 2) is wrong. No handwavium, no “But they are from a different, modern culture”. Critics can argue what “appropriate” means, but I found the messaging of Prospect to be aligned with my own thoughts. Now to update my sales pages with “grimbright”…

    • Travis Perry says:

      Hey, nice to hear from you, Travis. I’ve missed interacting you with. Hope you are well.

      Glad you liked Prospect. When I saw the ad for it I was thinking, “This is gonna be cheesy” but in fact was impressed. Definitely worth seeing! (And I’m glad you agreed with me about that 🙂 )

What do you think?