kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I was going to say, last one for night, and then I remembered I went to three in a row but four total for day. Whee.

Lila Garrott (leader), Bart Leib, Natalie Luhrs, Sonya Taaffe, Vinnie Tesla
Our panelists muse on books that are really bad but in an amazing way! Genevieve Valentine's term "shitmazing" may be appropriate here. What makes something both terrible and great? Are these works worth analyzing and perhaps even emulating, or do they exist simply to be enjoyed (if that's the word) on their own merits (if that's the word)?

(I was socializing and did not write down any introductions)

let's start with examples! Sonya: have fear that am going to say, terrible but great, someone say, no, great, grew up on it! audience: "I wrote it!" Sonya: (identified later for me as) Kathleen Sky's Witchdame, Tudor England with witches. During really neo-pagan boom in 1980s, sex w/Archangel Michael at Glastonbury, sheets of blue fire. Years later: raising of wards of England happened in JS&MN with significantly less sex. why terrible but great. Plot-coupon, prose purple enough to be flown at Pride march, but idea of witches as central to English magic. Also someone turns into a dragon, someone else explodes, someone turns into Satan. "significantly more of the author's id than I was expecting" but author clearly decided, this is what am going to write about, gosh darn it!

Natalie: Deborah Harkness, DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, Twilight for middle-aged women. Alas second book not nearly good, too plotty. Vampire yoga and pretty horses. Q: did Edward change in the context? No, still creepy.

Lila: THE POLLINATORS OF EDEN, John Boyd, 1960s. First 100 pages, boring and incomprehensible. Last 50, protag begins relationship with giant telepathic space orchid and gives birth to seed pod.

Vince: PK Dick, TIME OUT OF JOINT, starts out realistic, slightly dull, then really weird disturbing shit starts happening, very trippy. Protagonist in Potemkin village scenario, finds old TIME magazine where he is Person of Year. Then explanation: war with the Moon and he was able to predict future through NYT crossword. Jumps ahead to theory of these kinds of books: deep passions of authors bubbling through swamp of crappy crap

Bart: WRACK AND ROLL by Bradley Denton. Alt hist post WWII, Russians & Americans allied against Chinese-European alliance, 1940s punk rock becomes political movement, now present day, society separated into normal people and Wrackers. really obvious that author trying to do counter-culture thing, but everything was wish-fulfillment all over the place. Even at 13, knew was hilarious and could never recommend it to anyone.

(someone, possibly Lila, I wrote down Julia and there's no-one by that name on the panel): noticing patterns: idea fine, execution terrible; inverse; and "I'm just admiring the author's id".

Vince: also has to go fast, cracked inventiveness key to terrible-but-great.

Sonya: also special class: the hard weird turn.

Natalie: another genre, the novel read at formative age that enjoyed tremendously and then . . .

Vince: Illuminatus Trilogy.

Natalie: FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC; Jean Auel's first four books in that series, the one where she invents slicing bread. Sonya: I made an amulet in seventh grade according to patten in CLAN IN THE CAVE BEAR. All the terrible stuff went over head. Natalie: in 8th grade I dressed up like (protag, I assume) for Halloween

Lila: another genre, book that good when comes out and then underpinnings destroyed by subsequent developments

Vince: PK Dick good ex., b/c writing at time of very rapid change. Lila: in otherwise fine Dick novel, realized that condominiums going to be A Thing, so abbreviated as . . . condoms, yes, in the text.

Bart: as editor, would never publish Terrible But Great, but obviously someone thought was just Great; how so do these get published? Lila: the space orchid did come out in 1967. Vince: Cecila Tan has anecdote about book published during churned-out erotica phase, where first 50 pages are actual erotica and then characters die and write each other zombie love poetry, because unnamed author knew editor wouldn't read rest

Lila: also children's & YA neglected genres for long time. Sonya: DEVIL ON MY BACK (Monica Hughes) dystopia novel of model where computer gives role to everyone; main character escapes and goes into nature commune thingie, 5th grade seemed normal (note to self: THE GROUNDING OF GROUP SIX (see), which I noted b/c I believe it has some living-in-the-woods bits and also it's very possibly terrible but great, or maybe just terrible)

Lila: terrible but great, or just weird? Vince: sense that book got away from author often has a lot to do with

Natalie: Sweet Valley High. Sonya: that genre of teen fiction where people just DIE.

Natalie: GHOSTS OF DEPARTURE POINT, about ghosts trying to communicate about under-signed turn through . . . balloons. Not sentient ones.

Lila: another category, the long-running series. (Audience grunts of recognition.) Laurell K. Hamilton, started terrible but great, now just terrible. but also Black Stallion series, by book 11 invaded by aliens (everyone: WHAT).

someone: Mercedes Lackey; Natalie "you be quiet" "leave magic telepathic sparkle ponies alone". Bart: someone handed first Vanyel book, important to see someone realizing gay, but reread recently and could see all the little cringing things. Natalie: enjoy infrastructure emphasis. (see the GREAT Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer rereads) Natalie: was reading until Harry Potter in Valdemar, up to and including Quidditch analogue. Audience: and detailed description of safety equipment for the sport! most recent book had character who couldn't walk had surgery, recovered, took up parkour!

Vince: Stephenson THE BIG U, friend found in remainder bin, became their bible. Then S. became famous and trying to suppress on quality grounds. villain of book is university architecture. Keeps going over the top, then over the top of that, etc. Odd S. theme of dissection scene. Typical masked battle. Author thinks book is terrible, Vince thinks is great!

Natalie: reminds of collapse of ImpSec building in Bujold's Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (my opinion: only good thing about that book) Sonya: recipe for all kinds of terrible, when author is going for very specific tone. v common, have utterly misjudged disparity between tone and topic (ghosts re road signs); audience mentions Evil Chicken in Goodkind

Vince: loves to see reviews of own work, "that was delightful, I have no idea who I could recommend it" (possibly, "admit reading to")

Sonya: key part, unknowing stumbling over and then sharing with everyone in amazement. Lila: anyone else seek out reviews of terrible works? generally: yes. Natalie: I even read a V*x D*y book and raised $5k for RAINN! Sonya: thinks more common w/movies; MST3K revival. Don't hear about book clubs.

Bart; Evil Dead franchise; so deliberately bad it's good. Kung Fu Hustle: impeccable production, ludicrous but great through satire. audience: Kung Fu Hustle: camp movie, doing it on purpose; separate from Terrible-Bad, kissing cousin. Sonya: agree some quality of inadvertence characterizes Terrible-Bad

audience brings up DUNE movie, experience depends on way approach (something like, adaptation of beloved novel or look into mind of David Lynch, I think)

Lila recommends 1970s musical THE APPLE, unironic glitter

audience mentions The Company series, where enjoyed so much early and then SO TERRIBLE ending (it was surprise [personal profile] skygiants!)

audience mentions FOREIGNER series, where from book 7-15 not much happens at all unless, like audience member, really into minutia (Lila: trilogy where Bren gets his apartment back), can't really recommend

audience: VERY end of Black Stallion series: apocalypse: US destroyed in earthquake!

Lila: existence of writers like Anne Bishop indicates that editors know will sell, because getting one thing w/whole career, and very peculiar one

question from someone: relationship of series? well, built-in audience for terribleness. Yes, but that doesn't explain Anne Bishop.

then people attempt to explain Anne Bishop, particularly with reference to Tanith Lee. also magic cock-rings. and apostrophes. and wings. audience: you're all joking about it, but you've all . . . read them! panel: compulsively readable. though Sonya read one and fled.


Lila: Terry Jones from Monty Python wrote a kid's book which has historically-accurate pirate monks from Albania (Nicobobinus)

Sonya, Natalie: did enjoy and recommend books started panel with; couldn't hear Vince's rec; Bart, really does rec WRACK AND ROLL

Date: Saturday, July 15th, 2017 06:30 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
in otherwise fine Dick novel, realized that condominiums going to be A Thing, so abbreviated as . . . condoms, yes, in the text.

Hmm, I don't remember this at all and Google Books doesn't turn it up either. There was a discussion wayyy back when https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.arts.sf.written/q5yNiTKv6ag%5B1-25%5D

Dick used "conapt" a lot. I found one instance where "condom" was used but that author says it wasn't Dick.

Date: Saturday, July 15th, 2017 08:26 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Female head inside a box, with words "Thinking inside the box" scrawled on it. (thinking inside the box)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thanks so much for this virtual Readercon!

Date: Monday, July 17th, 2017 08:10 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] larryhammer
I too found THE BIG U in a remainder bin my sophomore year of college, and it became a cult favorite among my friends. It is deliciously, wonderfully over the top in EVERYTHING it does.

Date: Monday, July 17th, 2017 11:18 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] larryhammer

It has many first-novel weaknesses, most notable being -- well, you know how it took S. several novels to figure out how to end them? That, in spades AND the trump suit. But there's also things in the telling that make it clearly a writer's early work.

Date: Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 02:32 am (UTC)
selki: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selki
The Big U description sounds intriguing, since I've read articles about university architecture becoming deliberately anti-gathering in 1970s.
Here via http://www.pretty-terrible.com/links-roundup-072117/

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