Monday, June 28, 2010


Why yes, I have been spending copious amounts of time reading the "Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil" series. The best way back into a love of the fantastic is connecting with the kid who loved it in the first place, and Maggie's adventures certainly do that. In addition to short-circuiting the been-there-done-that circuit in my brain and connecting directly to the girls-gone-questing circuit (a crucial but little-used part of the entertainment-goes-here neural net), the stories don't mess around with the idea of good vs. evil.

We're all aware that part of the attraction of fantasy is the idea that there is a point to being brave--that there is a victory to be had over the forces of darkness and grimness and evil and wrong. It's something that it's sometimes cool to subvert in terms of making "monsters" into heroes and borrowing more plot devices from horror and the literature of the grotesque. Humor should come with an edge burnt black and the idea that laughing at the hopelessness is the ONLY candle in the dark.

Or maybe it's just me. One of the last things that my defunct writer's groups left me with was the idea that I wasn't willing to mess my characters up enough. There are rules for these things, about how to torture and mangle and exhaust your characters just to the point where all the reader feels is the pounding of the blows, like a thunderstorm on the windshield. Then, when the rain slows, you're so relieved that it feels like sunshine.

So the concept of opposing forces is something that can seem missing. It's as if chaos fielded an entire team and the other side only fielded one player and a stadium full of impotent but hopeful fans. Yeah, I recognize that feeling. It's the way that it feels to watch the news, to skim through certain times in history, to let laziness win on the days it sometimes does. But it's not--and this is crucial--not why I pick up a book. If the laziness won, I wouldn't be holding that book.

The laziness pretty much carried the weekend. It kept me in my seat and hurrying away from talking to authors and panellists at the convention this weekend. Apparently, the aftereffects are still there, because this was intended to be a lighter post. I found a new series that I absolutely love and I'm gratefully reading it as fast as I can. I'm really excited about it. But I've been playing on the wrong side and it's going to take a bit to recover.

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