Saturday, February 19, 2011

Late! Crazy Late!

I suppose this is as good a time as any to announce Subsidized Sincerity is going to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule. I'm still going to think of it as Monday, Wednesday, Friday but there's less, say noise, on the internet Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, so I hope it will sit better in the immediate future.

I've been rough on the Dresden Files recently. Admittedly, the third book (Grave Peril) seemed to lean hard on the “darkness is bad, light is good” that's kind of simplistic. There was a guy from the Church (Michael) who has 2.5 kids, works as a carpenter, who carries a sword that may be a nail in the cross of Jesus and a priest that's old, reliable and apparently, churches are safe havens for the people suffering from vampire or demon attacks.

And yes, I'm going to contrast it again with the most recent book by China Mieville that I read. It's called King Rat and apparently, it was his first. It shows. He uses the word impossible too much in describing the titular characters abilities, but what stood out to me was how both books looked at darkness.

In the Dresden Files, the darkness is something to feared. Vampires or fairies or whatever lurk there. In King Rat, the darkness is sheltering. The darkness is useful. The darkness is home.

In the Dresden Files, purity is a thing from which power can be drawn and is spoken well of. There's pure white flame which Michael calls on to battle the dark, dangerous vampires. (At one point, a vampiress, in order to flirt with Michael, touches his arm. She erupts into a “white flame,” and is thrown off of him.) In King Rat, purity is abhorrent. “Purity is a negative state, and contrary to nature.”

I've read four five six Dresden Files books in rapid succession. Mieville's work, less so. Bottom line: Mieville is fucking complicated. Butcher is not. And that's only a partial knock against Butcher. I've laughed far more often at what Butcher puts in front of me.

In Summer Knight alone, we're talking about a book where the police lieutenant takes a chainsaw to the back of a troll's knee (an old Chicago tradition) and then to the head of a plant monster, a book where the day is saved by tiny pixies with box cutters flying out of a vase screaming “In the Name of the Pizza Lord, Charge!”, a book where Harry Dresden throws a cup of cold water on his erection to break out of Fey trickery, it's a book where, here a neutral party to the character describes how everyone else sees the character and it's fucking funny because more of it is true than false.

I love that moment.

I resent Butcher's attempts at epic because I like the magic PI story and I dislike conventionally epic storylines, a three way violent orgy between wizards and fairies and vampires. I like Mieville's attempts at epic because, motherfucker, they feel epic. You've got goddamn squid gods fighting mortals for control of reality using their imaginations as their weapons.

Now that's what I call epic.

Tonight it's Ballots/Stones by Hostage Calm. The recurring lyric is this, and it's a doozy: "Did you cast your ballot or a stone?"

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