Heartache!

April 2, 2009 - 8:06 pm
Irradiated by LabRat
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So, apparently the South Park Pundit is getting into the Anita Blake novels.

I can identify. I pulled “Lunatic Cafe” off the shelves when I was in my late teens and deeply into my “devourer of all” phase of horror and fantasy fiction, and it was one of the best finds I’d made. I ate it up- I liked then and to some degree like still any bit of werewolf fiction so long as it doesn’t outright and blatantly suck big hairy wolfballs- and then immediately bought the preceding three books. Oh, sure, it was pretty campy and cheesy at points, but if anything that was part of the appeal; it fed right into my B-movie hot spot and made it all the sweeter for having plenty of genuinely intelligent and creative moments plus lots of violence. It was like the book version of Bruce Campbell movies, except all the sweeter because the badass doing the kicking ass and taking of names was a petite woman with a realistically depicted level of strength and ability- i.e., against even a totally unsupernatural large man, very damn little unless she was armed. And she was armed as often as possible. It was great. I waited eagerly for each new book in the series.

Yeah. Those of you who were also fans are nodding and sighing wistfully- or shaking their fist and screaming “HAAAAAAAAMILTOOOOOOOOON!!!!”- at this point.

For Josh, and anyone else who’d like to read the beginning of the series without foreknowledge of future details, I’ll put a cut here so as not to inflict any spoiler worse than “something dreadful happened to the series”. All I’ll say is- don’t read Narcissus In Chains! Seriously, STOP at Obsidian Butterfly. You know every negative trend you can already see developing in the writing? The questionable morality that the author doesn’t seem to realize is questionable? The slightly disquieting obsession with penises and men’s hair? The way Anita’s power keeps growing like a tumor? The way it seems like almost every recurring character that isn’t supernatural just… isn’t getting time anymore, or if they are it’s not in a likeable way? It doesn’t just slide down the slippery slope from there- it launches itself off and plummets down screaming “YEEEEEEEEEHAAAA” like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

In the beginning, Anita Blake is a professional zombie resuscitator whose primary line of work is resurrecting the recently deceased to either serve as witnesses to their own homicide or, more often, to resolve estate disputes. In her sideline, she’s a U.S. Marshall and licensed vampire executioner whose role is to track down vampires who’ve been naughty and kill them via various traditional means. Vampires are legal citizens in this universe, as are lycanthropes, though both are viewed with hatred and suspicion- this is conveyed at this stage pretty fairly, given that a disproportionate number of both either willingly or unwittingly slaughter a lot of innocent people. She is chaste, Catholic, and refuses to have sex before marriage even though apparently every monster in Christendom seriously wants to get into her pants. The books are lots of action with some mystery involved, sometimes pretty good mystery, and has its share of crowning moments of awesome.

Narcissus In Chains, widely considered the offical Dawning of the Suck although we’d had previous hints, opens with Anita finding her new soulmate- even though she already has two she’s having sex with- when he rapes her in the shower while she’s recovering from delirium, using soap as a lubricant for the dick that’s so massive none of his other girlfriends have been able to handle it. No, seriously. This is played completely straight- even though her entire introduction to him was “HI HERE’S MY SURPRISE PENIS”, every character in the book including her keep blithering on about how they’re amazingly well matched and soulmatey. The only problem it presents is how her other two boyfriends are going to react. We quickly trip along in the plot to the introduction of Anita’s new plot device power: through some sort of combination of her necromancey mojo plus the mojo of her master vampire and werewolf boyfriends, she’s developed the ardeur, which apparently only happens to certain master vampires. What is the ardeur? My dear friends, it is the reason the author came up with for why she has to have sex every few hours or she’ll DIE, and which coincidentally gives her the ability to solve nearly any problem by having sex with someone- because sex now gives her a huge, Swiss-army-knife-like magic boost. The rest of the series consists of Anita solving thinly constructed problems by fucking various men in scenes that go on for endless pages, including ones that are pleading with her not to- rape is just fine if it’s Anita, and of course they all join her harem afterwards. Oh, and by the way, NONE of these men are allowed to have sex with anyone but her. Because that would make her mad, and you wouldn’t like Anita when she’s mad. Oh, and anybody that dislikes supernaturals is a foaming racist despite the fact that by this point, they’re responsible for killing and defiling most of North America, judging by the body count per book.

So yeah.

Naturally, some of the fans were upset about the direction the series took- by which I mean, all of them which weren’t thrilled by the series’s abrupt genre shift from asskicking horror/mystery to horror-themed erotica. Since this is the modern age of the internet and authors are completely capable of communicating with their fans, Miss Hamilton felt compelled to address her fans…

…By going on her blog and issuing a now-infamous giant bitchslap to all of them. You don’t like how much sex is in the books? Aw, Anita feels your pain, it’s inconvenient for her too. Also, sex being the defining plot device of the series will continue, because it would be cowardly for her to dump it- because that wouldn’t be real enough. Not detailed in that post: her later claims that every book is perfect on the first draft, that she needs no editors, and that anyone who disagrees is a jealous hater who wouldn’t know talent when she saw it- after all, look at her sales. Apparently her publishers agree that editors are no longer necessary for her books, as the massive spelling and grammar and continuity errors that began to crop up demonstrated. But then, when you’re reading porn because that’s what you want, that stuff isn’t all that important anyway.

It has been pointed out that Anita is described as looking like a prettier version of the author, that a major character suddenly became a flaming asshole for no real reason around the same period of time that she was divorcing the husband he was rumored to be based on, and that Anita has vastly exaggerated issues about the death of her mother and the betrayal of a boyfriend, which Hamilton also does. I am quite sure this is coincidental, I really am, because not regarding it as such would mean I’d read a whole lot of… oh, ewwwwwww… NO THAT IS DEFINITELY COINCIDENCE.

…sigh. Maybe I- and the rest of us burned- should start a support group with Anne Rice fans. Then again, I *tried* to read her early books and… yeah, they started out as angst-drenched prettyboy porn, so maybe it’s not quite the same level of heartbreak.

No Responses to “Heartache!”

  1. David Says:

    Huh, maybe it would be worth reading the beginning, while she (apparently) still had editors. I’ve been looking for something to hold me over while Butcher writes more Dresden Files.

  2. Holly Says:

    This post is so supremely correct. I loved the early books when I was a teenager and watching a tough, prickly vampire slayer turn into an unsettlingly passive slut-goddess wasn’t just disappointing but downright offensive.

    Have you read Hamilton’s other series, the “Merry Gentry” novels? They’re even worse, although at least their heroine never had much dignity to begin with. The novels are about a faerie princess (who looks like Laurell K. Hamilton only gorgeous) who is compelled for various reasons (but generally not romance or desire) to sleep with an endless parade of short men with long hair and giant cocks and no lives of their own. Oh, and this may come as a shock, but having sex causes her to develop a cumbersome array of superpowers.

    The first Merry Gentry book, “A Kiss of Shadows,” actually sets up a moderately interesting faerie universe in between the sex scenes, but after that the series falls into a horribly sloggy pace where you can go a hundred pages without Merry even leaving her apartment. I could swear there are several non-sex chapters in “Seduced by Moonlight” where she doesn’t even get out of bed.

  3. Chris Byrne Says:

    Well, as you know I’ve written much the same thing about Hamilton and her so called novels from Narcissus in chains on.

    I have to say though the last two Anita Blake books were actually worth reading; with a minimuim of gratuitous sex, and a lot more character, plot, and story.

    Not as good as the first 8 books, but worthwhile; and hopefully getting better, or at least staying as good as they are

  4. ravenshrike Says:

    David, you might want to pick up Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking series. It’s not bad. For other ideas http://www.baen.com/library and baencd.thefifthimperium.com are there if you didn’t already know about them

  5. Kristopher Says:

    But does it suck as much as Tarnsmen of Gor?

  6. naleta Says:

    Kristopher, nothing sucks as much any Gor novel. I have to admit to reading all of the series mentioned here. In my opinion, Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking series is the best of the bunch these days.

  7. Fjolnirsson Says:

    Chris is right, the last two books have begun a slow climb up out of the crapper. Hopefully it’s a long lasting trend.

  8. Christina LMT Says:

    Heck. What can I say? I’m a die-hard fan of LKH’s. I’ve read everything she’s written, and (mostly) loved it.
    Maybe the fact that I also enjoy romance novels and erotica has something to do with that…?

  9. Christina LMT Says:

    Oh, and her latest Anita Blake, coming out in June (“Skin Trade”), is set in Las Vegas, so I’m especially looking forward to that. And I’ve heard it’s also more like the “original” Anita.
    I have to say that I DO *lol* at Anita being so incredibly powerful sexually that even gay vampires succumb to her wiles…
    (I said “succumb” heh-heh-heh!)

  10. Stingray Says:

    Christina- I wouldn’t be too excited. The one book of hers I read was set in New Mexico, specifically Albuquerque and Santa Fe. At the time I read it, I was living in Albuquerque (after living in the Los Alamos-Santa Fe-Albuquerque corridor my whole life), and I was… let’s call it not impressed. I mean when she can’t even be bothered to properly spell street names she supposedly researched… yeah, the rest was just basic fail.

  11. Christina LMT Says:

    Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed, anyway…:)

  12. Mycroft Says:

    I second the Dead Witch Walking series.
    Also, I suggest Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson series.