Are you ready for more of Atticus “outwitting” the cops? No? Well too bad! Here’s Chapters 15 & 16! But if it makes you feel any better, I’ll tell you right now that someone will get shot.

Welcome to the opening paragraph!

I thought Sundays were supposed to be relaxing. As a male citizen of America, I’m entitled on Sundays to watch athletic men in tight uniforms ritualistically invade one another’s territory, and while they’re resting I get to be bombarded with commercials about trucks, pizza, beer, and financial services. That’s how it’s supposed to be; that’s the American dream.

I know this is a joke, so I won’t spend too much time on it, but it again highlights my problem with Atticus’s character: he doesn’t want anything. Atticus was just given a sacred mission by his goddess and he starts the next chapter telling us he’d rather be at home watching football. Can we petition for a new protagonist? One who actually wants to get off his butt every once in a while?

Also! Fun fact! Atticus isn’t an American citizen!

Wait, what?

…I’m not really a citizen of America. Mr. Semerdjian called the INS on me once, in fact. I waved my hand in front of the agents’ faces and said, “I’m not the Druid you’re looking for.” They were not amused. I waved my hand again and said, “Move along,” and they got out their handcuffs. That’s when I got out my slightly scuffed yet soigne illegal documents, prepared for me by Leif Helgarson, Bloodsucking Attorney-at-La. And after the INS agents went away, that’s when I sent Overon over to poop on Mr. Semerdjian’s lawn for the first time.

Yes apparently the first thing he did was use Star Wars references when the government came knocking at his door. Not once, but twice. Isn’t Atticus so funny? Isn’t he hilarious?

LAUGH DAMNIT

…why is he not a citizen? I know it’s probably easier all around, considering that because he can’t exactly submit a birth certificate, he’d have to submit fake papers sooner or later. I get it, I guess, and forging the papers makes things easier, but none of the reasons are gone into. Just like with the abusive father he mentioned earlier, it’s just dropped on us without a reason other than as a tangent in his rant about how Americans are lazy on Sunday.

This leads into how his feud with his neighbor started, and he keeps acting like it’s just a grumpy neighbor when it really reads as if Semerdjian is completely and totally correct in assuming that there’s something wrong with Atticus and he’s heroically trying to catch him on anything. It’s like, yeah, Al Capone did a lot more than tax evasion, but that’s what they nailed him on because that’s what they could find records of.

Also why is the Lebanese man the one freaking out about his Irish neighbor being an illegal immigrant? I don’t want to get anywhere near current events in the US about people being anti-immigrant, it’s just that this is not the way you’d usually expect these things to go.

Turned out he was just mean, and dog shit on his lawn turned him into Flibbertigibbet, a regular Lebanese Tom o’Bedlam.

Alright either go with modern expressions or old fashioned ones. Stop hopping back and forth between them. Also isn’t a Tom o’Bedlam a wandering crazy person? Mr. Semerdjian doesn’t wander around being crazy. He sits in his house terrified of his neighbor who gets up to no good with his godlike powers!

So Atticus is calling a contractor to fix the door Brighid melted through on her way in when the police roll up! Detective Jimenez (the Good Cop) and Detective Fagles (the Bad Cop) pop out of their cars along with way too many officers to be believable. Atticus hangs up and tells Oberon to hide invisibly while he deals with them. And then Atticus’s werewolf lawyer Hal Hauk arrives.

Hal slows down and bothers Fagles by explaining to the audience that the cops have already searched Atticus’s residence with a warrant, and the werewolf lawyer posted there has several complaints. Their warrant authorized them to search for the wolfhound that killed the park ranger, and they definitely went through a lot of places that a wolfhound wouldn’t fit, like “in a drawer or a dresser or in kitchen cupboards” so he’ll file a complaint and maybe try to sue the police department. This tips Atticus off to the fact that what they’re really looking for is Fragarach and most definitely working for Aenghus Og.

This has to be the tenth time the book has told us this, btw.

The cops deny anything like what Hal describes happened, and if it did it’s not like they could prove it! And then Hal’s all like, “Oh yeah, well my associate has VIDEO of your search on his phone!” which surprises the cops. And I understand that it’s not too hard to hide a camera phone if you’re standing in place, if he apparently wandered around following the cops while they searched the house it’s a bit stupid that they didn’t notice they were being filmed.

So Hal tells the cops that they will continue the search for a large dog, and only a large dog, and if they start poking through small cabinets or something, then he’ll sue you.

Fagles is not very happy about being made a fool of.

In Fagles’s defense, he didn’t know he was trying to play dominance games with a werewolf.

What the fudge does that have to do with anything? What does Hal being a werewolf has to do with his skills as a lawyer? They’re not playing dominance games, they’re arguing about laws! And I know that maybe, arguably, one person is “dominating” the other in this conversation but that has nothing to do with werewolves! It’s just… weird. I don’t want to hear about the lawyer having dominance over the Bad Cop, Hearne! That brings up uncomfortable mental images!

Atticus decides to look at Fagles with his Magic Vision, and he sees that a “band of green knotwork wreathed Fagles’s skull, almost like one of those Roman laurels. That was the primary method by which he was being controlled. But interlaced with those strands, I saw, were very fine blue and red threads.”

Basically: green knotwork around his head is mind control from Aenghus. The blue and red? He has no idea. But he can’t break the green binding without tripping those as well, and if he doesn’t know what those do it might be dangerous to do.

Fagles actually sees the sword. But that should be impossible, because Fragarach is magically cloaked. OHES NOES! Atticus deduces that the spellwork around Fagles’s head lets him see not through any glamour (as that way, he’d see through the cloaking on Oberon right away), but specifically the cloaking spell on Fragarach. But this means that he had help from the one who made the cloaking spell in the first place, and that was Radomila, the leader of the witch coven in town. Which means (GASP) that the witches are working with Aenghus!

Why are we acting like this is shocking? We’ve just been told this by Brighid.

I think what Hearne’s going for is that Atticus is undecided, because he has evidence that they’re not siding with Aenghus (like what Malina told him and… not much else) but he also has evidence that they are (Emilya’s subplot and Brighid’s exposition). It’s waffling back and forth, and Atticus doesn’t know for sure which it is. And like, okay, I get that. But the text acts like it’s a big reveal every time it comes up. Atticus will tell the reader something like “What? The witches are working against me?!” as if it’s a surprise when A) most of the evidence points that direction anyway and B) Atticus keeps telling Oberon and the audience that witches cannot be trusted.

Of course, if he had half a brain, Atticus might come up with a hypothesis that fits the facts, like, say, “Some of the witches are working for Aenghus and some of them aren’t,” which is what ends up being the case, but Atticus doesn’t have half a brain so we’re left with this waffling back and forth.

Anyhow, Fagles freaks out about the sword, but Hal tells him it’s not the dog so he has no reason to pay it attention. Fagles insists that it’s a concealed weapon, and that needs a permit. Hal, who has started filming this exchange with his phone, points out that a sword isn’t a concealed weapon and so it doesn’t require a permit.

Whoa. That’s why Hal gets $350 an hour. Quoting Arizona statutes, complete with their soul-destroying legalistic sentence structure? That’s Druidic.

Except… it’s really not. Considering earlier Atticus tells the audience that he practices sword fighting with the werewolves and his vampire lawyer, and they live in a college town, this probably comes up a lot. In any case, it’s not an obscure thing you couldn’t find on Wikipedia. I basically found the same information in high school when I was looking up whether it was legal to own a switchblade in my state. My point is this: while Hal’s being a good lawyer here, it’s not super impressive that he knows this off the top of his head.

Atticus decides that the blue magic around Fagles’s head is what allows him to see through the sword’s cloaking spell. So he decides he’s going to break that spell. He doesn’t know for sure, mind you, and that will also break the green and red bands, and he also has no idea what that’ll do to Fagles. But he’s going to do it anyway. Why?

It was one of those decisions you make when you have too much testosterone bubbling around in your system, or when you’ve been raised in a culture of ridiculous machismo, as I was.

[throws up hands]

What am I supposed to do with this?

“Yeah, it was a stupid decision, but I make stupid decisions a lot because I was raised to be a macho man .”

For starters, this isn’t out of character in the least. Atticus does stupid things without thought all the time. You remember when he went hunting with Flidais, the goddess who has control over animals, with his dog? And he turned into a dog while doing it? And when the hunt started he felt some magic being worked, but he ignored it because Reasons.

Atticus doesn’t think much about anything he does. He’s working entirely on impulse, and while some of his moment-to-moment impulses are handy, like defending himself in a fight, mostly they’re not, because he keeps making terrible decisions, like hunting with Flidais, or killing Bres, or not skipping town the moment he heard that Aenghus Og was rolling in for his head.

And part of what makes this so infuriating is that the book insists that Atticus isn’t like this. Over and over again we’re told that he’s really careful and paranoid and clever. Hal calls him the most paranoid person he’s ever met. Atticus mentions how paranoid he is all the time. Every time he makes a stupid decision, the other characters excuse it as being a good decision so that he doesn’t have to face consequences, just so we can hear how clever and smart and handsome Atticus is.

And now this is thrown at us, where Atticus tells us, “Yeah, it was a dumb decision, but I do that all the time because of my upbringing.”

This reminds me of the bit in Angelopolis (never a good sign) where Valko decides to release the Watchers. It’s a terrible decision, and there’s no reason for him to do it other than Plot. When his coworkers call him out on it, he just responds with “Yeah, it’s dangerous, but we do dangerous stuff in our everyday work. Now let’s do this!” And of course Valko gets killed soon afterward.

Except Atticus won’t get killed because he’s a Mary Sue and I hate him! Here he is, after telling us the entire book that he’s oh-so-smart, informing us that he just makes dumb decisions all the time. No it’s not quite as bad as the Angelopolis example is, because let’s be real, very little is as bad as Angelopolis (ONE OF THE VILLAINS EATS PENISES AS HER SCHTICK) because this has some buildup, but it’s not very good.

So, using his magicks, Atticus breaks the spell around Fagles’s head. And it basically blows back and hits everyone in the head.

…definitely a trap, the concussive sort. I felt a whump against my face, like getting hit unexpectedly full force with a pillow, and I saw Hal’s head snap back abruptly. He fell over backward, snarling in surprise. Fagles yelped and grabbed at his head, and then as Hal and I were recover—Hal fed-faced and eyes a bit yellow, his wolf close to the surface—Fagles went completely batshit and drew his gun on me.

So this makes Fagles even more angry because he’s convinced that Atticus hit him, despite not being next to him. The way it’s phrased, “Fagles went completely batshit” is meant to make Fagles sound like he’s an unreasonable douche who just snapped. And he is unreasonable, and a douche, yeah, but let’s look at his point of view: he knows Atticus is a villain, he knows he has what he’s looking for, and then he just gets whacked in the head by a mysterious force in his shop? Of course the guy’s going over the edge.

Also, Atticus’s lawyer’s about to wolf out. Apparently the blast of this magic blast was mitigated, somewhat, by the magic wards on the shop, and the blast didn’t bother Atticus as much because he’s got his super special awesome mega kewl chocolatey-covered amulet that has more powers than Mulch Diggums.

Fagles is freaking out, which again makes sense considering his grip on reality is unravelling right before his eyes, and though he insists that Atticus hit him Hal says that the security cameras will prove that he didn’t. But they’d probably also show Atticus doing something wouldn’t they? The breaking of spell is described as “the gentlest of mental tugs” but are you telling me there are no accompanying hand gestures? If nothing else, he’s staring at Fagles’s head when it happens.

Hal tries to calm down Fagles and get him to put down the gun. But on top of everything, Fagles can no longer see Fragarach, so he starts freaking out and yelling about the sword. This isn’t helped by Atticus going “What sword?” and pretending that the sword was never there to begin with. And since Fagles was the only one that could see it, no one could back up his claim that there was a sword there. Hal points out that he only argued with Fagles about the sword because as a lawyer, that’s his job, but from his position he can’t see the sword or the position it’s meant to be in.

Oberon gives us this:

I think his panties are getting twisted.

Tee-hee, a detective is being driven to homicidal insanity and is waving a gun around! Isn’t it hilarious?

LAUGH DAMNIT

[I should make that a count.]

The other detective, Jimenez, puts away his weapon, and all the cops except for Fagles chillax. Fagles is still upset about something hitting him in the head. Hal suggests that it was “a freak gust of wind,” as if that makes any sense.

Detective Jimenez basically says “Well the dog’s not here, let’s pack it up boys!”

Fagles gritted his teeth in frustration, and the green wreath around his head flared menacingly. And that’s when he shot me.

This would be cathartic if I actually thought this would be a threat to Atticus. But since we know that since Chapter 2, he’s been made mostly immune to death.

Chapter 16!

You know that old saw about your life flashing before your eyes at the moment of death?

Except we know that you’re not dead, so shut up.

The first thing I thought was, “Oh no! I’ve been shot!” in the immortal words of the golden protocol droid when he got lased with special effects in a mining colony.

A public service announcement from your not-so-friendly neighborhood sporker: pop culture references are not jokes. Just because you referenced Star Wars two chapters in a row, that doesn’t mean you’re clever. It doesn’t even mean you’re a nerd. Please stop.

There’s some more talk about him getting a highlight reel of his life in his head. Shortly afterward, Oberon telepathically freaks out, and Atticus assures him that he’s fine.

All the other police officers pull their guns on Fagles, because he just shot Atticus. Fagles is losing his mind, because he didn’t mean to do this; he was basically being controlled by Aenghus in that moment to shoot Atticus. But he can’t exactly say “An Irish god made me do it,” and I don’t know how aware he is of how he’s being used. So he doesn’t know what to say other than that a voice in his head told him to shoot Atticus and take the sword, which Hal keeps denying exists.

“There was someone in my mind. Telling me what to do. He wanted the sword.”

Which makes me question: why didn’t Aenghus do this before? Chapter 5 indicates that this is a thing that the Irish gods can do, just popping into someone’s head to tell them to do something. Here he seemingly enthralls Fagles, or at least pressures him into doing it. So if Aenghus can just find people with guns, and talk them into shooting Atticus… why didn’t he do that? It’s a bit late now, considering that Atticus is immune to death and all, but Aenghus has had over two thousand years to pop a cap in Atticus this way. All he had to do is grab a few guys with machine guns and give Atticus some lead injections! BOOM! Problem solved!

We’re meant to think that Aenghus has this elaborate plan to ruin Atticus before killing him, but that falls apart once this incident happens, because here Aenghus has his agent try to execute Atticus the second he knows where the sword is. We’re meant to believe that Aenghus had the option of more or less possessing a minion to assassinate someone this entire time, but he’s only used it now in circumstances that wouldn’t have worked.

Weirdly though, Atticus actually doesn’t have any healing power on him; despite no indication until now, he says that he’d worn out all the extra backup power in his amulet with camouflage and breaking the spell on Fagles’s head (yet another reason it was a dumb idea to do it in the first place). As long as he touches the Earth, he’ll be good, but that’s going to be difficult with the police here as he’s got to react like a man that’s just been shot.

Fagles insists he didn’t do it, but Good Cop Jimenez points out that, uh, he kinda did, as far as they can tell, and there’s a security camera and a lawyer so there’s no way this goes well for Fagles. Fagles actually begins crying, insisting that he wouldn’t do it, but Jimenez reminds him that they all saw him, and tells him to put down the gun. This jars Fagles into being defiant, and he decides that he’d rather go down fighting than go to prison, I guess?

“Oh, you’re going to shoot me, are you?” he sneered, and then he became unhinged. “Well, that’s better than going to prison! And even better than that would be taking you with me!”

We’ve never been given any indication that Fagles really hates Jimenez, by the way. He just decides he’ll happily die if he can take Jimenez with him.

So, uh… Fagles screams and raises his gun, and all the other cops shoot him. He’s dead now, I guess. This is confirmed later when Hal “sidestepped…over the body of Detective Fagles” so he’s really dead.

Okay then.

And again, this whole thing with Fagles? It’s really dark, yeah? A man being driven insane by having himself dragged into some immortal feud he knows nothing about? Atticus himself gives a “Poor Fagles.” This whole thing isn’t played for laughs, and I have to give Hearne minimum credit for that. But again, this is something very heavy and the book isn’t giving it that much time to develop in order to treat it with the weight that it should have. The other cops act more worried about getting in trouble than they do about shooting a coworker.

Jimenez asks that they call the paramedics. Hal checks on Atticus, who tells him he needs to get outside to touch some ground, or his lung will keep filling with blood. Hal tells Jimenez that they need to get Atticus outside because “He needs air.” but Jimenez points out that he should probably stay put until the medics arrive. Hal just picks him up and…

…and he hooked an arm under my shoulders and knees and scooped me up as effortlessly as he would an Italian runway model. Silly cop, I don’t need your help; I have a werewolf on retainer.

That’s… a weird and oddly specific simile? Are Italian runway models easy to pick up?

Hal puts him outside so he draw on the Earth Power to heal himself. He tells Hal to get the sword to him, and that he needs to clean up all the blood in case the witches come by and do something with it. That includes the blood that’s on Hal’s suit. Hal protests that the suit costs three thousand dollars, but Atticus assures him that he’ll cover it.

Yeah, Atticus can just throw out three thousand dollars?. But his neighbor’s suspicious of him because he’s just a jerk. Right.

Atticus also tells Hal to take care of his dog, and let him ride home with him in his Beemer. Hal agrees, but also says that Oberon better not do anything to his leather seats.

“Sybarite,” I said.

“Ascetic,” he retorted, and he got up to go open his car door.

Atticus owns his own shop, sells antique books, lives in a nice house in the suburbs where he regularly entertains women, and can throw out three thousand dollars with barely any notice. That’s not remotely ascetic. Like, I know that this is probably meant as a joke between friends, but considering how often the book tells us that Atticus is paranoid and clever and down-to-Earth, I feel the need to counter this.

Atticus instructs Oberon to go with Hal for the night; he has to be taken to the hospital because, healing or no, they have to remove the fluid from his lungs. I would say this actually makes sense and give credit to Hearne for thinking this one out, but then Oberon agrees to the plan as long as he gets a date with a French poodle, and I’m reminded of the dog’s poodle fetish. You ruined it, Hearne.

Then Perry, Atticus’s goth (or possibly Goth) employee, who just now got back. When he last was here, he was worried about the giant bird that was the Morrigan, so he says

“Holy shit, boss!” he said. “Did that big fucking bird do all of this?”

Tee-hee, isn’t this book hilarious?

LAUGH DAMNIT

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 13 August 2019, 09:51 said:

    Are you ready for more of Atticus “outwitting” the cops? No? Well too bad!

    Hah! You underestimate my level of preparedness. I have a whole bottle of hard liquor here, just for such an emergency… You know what, it’s Hounded, I’ll go grab an additional one. Or three. Just to be on the safe side.

    Yes apparently the first thing he did was use Star Wars references when the government came knocking at his door. Not once, but twice. Isn’t Atticus so funny? Isn’t he hilarious?

    The fact that the book makes light of immigration issues and the actions of immigration authorities certainly does not look bad in hindisght of 2019. Nope. No siree. Though given how seriously Hearne took The Troubles, I doubt it’d make a difference.

    Just like with the abusive father he mentioned earlier, it’s just dropped on us without a reason other than as a tangent in his rant about how Americans are lazy on Sunday.

    And it doesn’t seem to even be relevant in any way shape or form either to the plot or to his character. It is one of those little elements of being immortal that usually gets handwaved as something taken care off-screen. But I guess we needed more padding. Can’t have all that break-neck, fast paced action tire the readers.

    Also why is the Lebanese man the one freaking out about his Irish neighbor being an illegal immigrant?

    Without going into much detail, some immigrants develop anti-immigrant stances as a sort of “close the doors behind me” view. I doubt this what Hearne had in mind, given how mean spirited his writing is towards the minor characters (to be honest at this point I have devleoped a reverse Hanlon’s Razor towards him).

    So Hal tells the cops that they will continue the search for a large dog, and only a large dog, and if they start poking through small cabinets or something, then he’ll sue you.

    On one hand this is one of the most sensible ideas Atticus and his Lawyers presented while dealing with Police. On the other I strongly suspect that police searches do not work that way and it’d probably wouldn’t work. But at least it is not aggressively idiotic.

    Can’t wait to see how the situation degenerates from here.

    It’s just… weird. I don’t want to hear about the lawyer having dominance over the Bad Cop, Hearne! That brings up uncomfortable mental images!

    “What is the safe word?”
    “There’s no safeword today!”
    whip crack

    Why are we acting like this is shocking? We’ve just been told this by Brighid.

    Can you imagine how it’d look if Hearne wrote Star Wars? Obi-Wan would drop that Vader is Luke’s father during their first meeting, then he’d remind him that every other scene and once Vader and Luke met we’d still get the dramatic “reveal”. And then once per scene Vader would sent Luke text messages reminding him who he is.

    Atticus keeps telling Oberon and the audience that witches cannot be trusted.

    He has his head so deep up his ass, that he can’t even follow his own advice.

    he also has no idea what that’ll do to Fagles. But he’s going to do it anyway. Why?

    Because he has no respect for human life and probably secretly hopes that messing with the red stuff will make Fagles head explode, showering everyone in rain of gore and skull fragments. Or it’ll at least drive him irreversibly crazy, sapping away all his sanity and humanity, leaving only a weeping wreck of a man, capable only of gibbering and sobbing in unbearable, soul crushing depair.

    It was one of those decisions you make when you have too much testosterone bubbling around in your system, or when you’ve been raised in a culture of ridiculous machismo, as I was.

    Called it!

    (ONE OF THE VILLAINS EATS PENISES AS HER SCHTICK)

    Ok, that is gross and weird. But you must admit that image of her eating Atticus whole is an uplifting one.

    the blast didn’t bother Atticus as much because he’s got his super special awesome mega kewl chocolatey-covered amulet that has more powers than Mulch Diggums.

    You are too haesh on Atticus here. He didn’t get to witness a cop’s head burst like a tomato. That almost certainly ruined his whole day and harshed his vibe.

    The breaking of spell is described as “the gentlest of mental tugs” but are you telling me there are no accompanying hand gestures? If nothing else, he’s staring at Fagles’s head when it happens.

    This is one of things that always made me wonder when reading Urban Fantasy books. If the population at large does not believe in magic or supernatural and it is accepted scientific consensus that this stuff does not exist, how would a supernatural act of destruction be treated by legal system. Somethign inobvious, like here. Even average mortal lawyer would argue that Atticus making a vague gesture towards Fagles could not reasonably be expected to cause the reaction it got.

    Hal suggests that it was “a freak gust of wind,” as if that makes any sense.

    This reminds me of this bit from Evil Dead musical.

    Except we know that you’re not dead, so shut up.

    Hey, we can at least hope!

    Which makes me question: why didn’t Aenghus do this before?

    Because that’d be a smart thing to do and we can’t have that.

    So, uh… Fagles screams and raises his gun, and all the other cops shoot him. He’s dead now, I guess. This is confirmed later when Hal “sidestepped…over the body of Detective Fagles” so he’s really dead.

    Despite Aenghus being invovled I am gonna say this one is another innocent dead because of Atticus. If he didn’t mess with the spells it’d probably wouldn’t happen. But hey, Fagles was an ass towards him so I guess we should cheer for him beaing dead.

    Atticus himself gives a “Poor Fagles.” This whole thing isn’t played for laughs, and I have to give Hearne minimum credit for that.

    Well, color me impressed. Given the gravitas given to death so far and callousness Atticus displayes I was almost expecting him to dance a happy little jig on Fagles’s grave.

    LAUGH DAMNIT

    No. Never again.

  2. Juracan on 14 August 2019, 15:17 said:

    You underestimate my level of preparedness. I have a whole bottle of hard liquor here, just for such an emergency… You know what, it’s Hounded, I’ll go grab an additional one. Or three. Just to be on the safe side.

    Probably safe. It gets pretty crazy sometimes.

    The fact that the book makes light of immigration issues and the actions of immigration authorities certainly does not look bad in hindisght of 2019. Nope. No siree. Though given how seriously Hearne took The Troubles, I doubt it’d make a difference.

    I mean… no. It doesn’t look good. And re-reading this chapter in 2019 is kind of cringey because of that. That being said, it could have been worse, and right now the cringe is because he uses stupid pop culture references rather than anything else.

    Without going into much detail, some immigrants develop anti-immigrant stances as a sort of “close the doors behind me” view. I doubt this what Hearne had in mind, given how mean spirited his writing is towards the minor characters (to be honest at this point I have devleoped a reverse Hanlon’s Razor towards him).

    No, no, I get the “Close the doors behind me” view, I just don’t think this is it. The most common occurrence of that is from people of similar ethnic groups? Like, and I really hope this doesn’t end up in a flame war (not from you Smith), Hispanic-American citizens sometimes have this huge thing against Mexican immigrants who crossed the border illegally; and the same with Middle Eastern-American citizens.

    Part of it is being associated with people considered criminals in popular consciousness; I know a lot of Hispanic Americans are of the attitude of “Why are these criminals going and sullying the perception of our culture by being illegal immigrants?” I want to iterate that that’s NOT a fair thing to say, and obviously immigration is a lot more complex of an issue than that. But that’s how a lot of people see it.

    Mr. Semerdjian, though, has no reason I can think of to even suspect that Atticus is an illegal immigrant, so this just comes out of nowhere? It’s mentioned several times that Semerdjian is Lebanese. Why does he have a particular interest in Atticus’s citizenship status? Why would it even come up, compared to every other sketchy thing that Atticus has done? Does he think that Atticus will sully the reputation of Lebanese people?

    It’s not impossible Semerdjian has this attitude, but it’d be really friggin’ weird if he did.

    Like, imagine if a Hispanic character was complaining about British immigrants coming to America and stealing all the jobs. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone did this, but it’s just not how you’d expect the conversation to go.

    On one hand this is one of the most sensible ideas Atticus and his Lawyers presented while dealing with Police. On the other I strongly suspect that police searches do not work that way and it’d probably wouldn’t work. But at least it is not aggressively idiotic.

    I mean… no. Not really. I think the cops would just do whatever and let it sort out in court if it came to that. A lot of writers underestimate how much people care about the truth, and the cops could easily handwave them searching in places a dog wouldn’t fit with an excuse like “We were looking for any signs that a dog could have been here, like a doggy treat or something.”

    bq..

    “What is the safe word?”
    “There’s no safeword today!”
    whip crack

    AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGH

    Can you imagine how it’d look if Hearne wrote Star Wars? Obi-Wan would drop that Vader is Luke’s father during their first meeting, then he’d remind him that every other scene and once Vader and Luke met we’d still get the dramatic “reveal”. And then once per scene Vader would sent Luke text messages reminding him who he is.

    This is kind of funny? Because Hearne totally has written for Star Wars before.

    Because he has no respect for human life and probably secretly hopes that messing with the red stuff will make Fagles head explode, showering everyone in rain of gore and skull fragments. Or it’ll at least drive him irreversibly crazy, sapping away all his sanity and humanity, leaving only a weeping wreck of a man, capable only of gibbering and sobbing in unbearable, soul crushing depair.

    I mean… you’re not wrong that he has no respect for human life, and Fagles does end up dead because of it.

    This is one of things that always made me wonder when reading Urban Fantasy books. If the population at large does not believe in magic or supernatural and it is accepted scientific consensus that this stuff does not exist, how would a supernatural act of destruction be treated by legal system. Somethign inobvious, like here. Even average mortal lawyer would argue that Atticus making a vague gesture towards Fagles could not reasonably be expected to cause the reaction it got.

    I don’t know, and this book doesn’t really explore it. I do wonder about it a lot too though? I remember there being some episodes of Grimm in which they catch the killer but the killer definitely killed using some supernatural method? And they can’t exactly prove it? It gets through because all the main cop characters are in on the Masquerade, but I wonder how that would have flown in court.

    Because that’d be a smart thing to do and we can’t have that.

    Tagline for the book.

    Despite Aenghus being invovled I am gonna say this one is another innocent dead because of Atticus. If he didn’t mess with the spells it’d probably wouldn’t happen. But hey, Fagles was an ass towards him so I guess we should cheer for him beaing dead.

    See, I don’t know how we’re supposed to view this action? Because even Atticus seems to pity Fagles a bit, but not that much. It’s kind of this detached, “Well sucks to be him,” sort of thing. So I don’t know if we’re meant to cheer, or just be like, “Oh good, another obstacle out of the way. Moving on!”

    Given the gravitas given to death so far and callousness Atticus displayes I was almost expecting him to dance a happy little jig on Fagles’s grave.

    Well we still have a ways to go so there’s still time.

  3. TMary...and Guest on 19 November 2019, 03:22 said:

    TMary: Hello again, everyone! I’m back in control of myself and ready to comment on these chapters. Starspirit’s going to be commenting with me, though, because, well…

    Starspirit: She started me talking and now I can’t stop. It’s a problem I have. Also, friends don’t let friends read Hounded alone, not even in sporked form (though the spork is great).

    TMary: Anyhoo.

    Atticus was just given a sacred mission by his goddess and he starts the next chapter telling us he’d rather be at home watching football.

    TMary: It’d be one thing if he had either spent the entire book moving the plot along, had just been handed a new job to do, and was starting to wonder if he’d ever get a break again, or else if we had opened on him actually doing some kind of work. But we didn’t and he hasn’t, so what we’re left with is a man, who has spent the last fourteen chapters doing absolutely nothing, complaining about finally having something to do.

    Starspirit: And he doesn’t even have something to do! Brighid basically told him to keep doing the same thing he’s been doing – hang on to the sword and beat up anybody who tries to take it. The only other thing is that she probably wants him to be on call for her now, in case she needs him, but aside from that? Sure, watch football! The rebellion against the old gods of Ireland, led by a renegade god making literal deals with demons? Pff, that can wait.

    TMary: So, basically, Hearne didn’t give us a plot at all. He just made what Atticus has already been doing look like a plot.

    Starspirit: From what I can tell, yes.

    TMary: Frack this book.

    I waved my hand in front of the agents’ faces and said, “I’m not the Druid you’re looking for.” They were not amused. I waved my hand again and said, “Move along,” and they got out their handcuffs.

    Starspirit:

    As a nearly lifelong mega Star Wars fan myself, there is a time and a place to quote Star Wars at people. Being almost arrested by the INS is not – it!

    And…OK,

    but without getting into it too much, surely, surely we can all agree that this is a really bad attitude to have when you’re being arrested for illegal immigration, and that you would likely be in even bigger trouble for having it? Surely?

    Also isn’t a Tom o’Bedlam a wandering crazy person?

    TMary: Also also, from my very brief scan of the Wikipedia page, a pretty harmless person who begs because he’s mentally ill (or else he’s pretending to be so he can get more sympathy/fear, but I digress). But I’m long past expecting Atticus to show any sensitivity or sympathy towards basically anybody.

    Starspirit: Also also also!

    This leads into how his feud with his neighbor started, and he keeps acting like it’s just a grumpy neighbor when it really reads as if Semerdjian is completely and totally correct in assuming that there’s something wrong with Atticus and he’s heroically trying to catch him on anything.

    […]

    Mr. Semerdjian doesn’t wander around being crazy. He sits in his house terrified of his neighbor who gets up to no good with his godlike powers!

    Can we get this guy’s story? A perfectly ordinary elderly civilian suddenly realizing that his next-door neighbor is some kind of supernatural horror that must be stopped sounds like a way more interesting book than whatever the heck Hounded is.

    Atticus hangs up and tells Oberon to hide invisibly while he deals with them.

    Starspirit: And, if anyone sees him, to hide in…his neighbor’s backyard and drag her into this. Not, you know, take off running as fast as he can, which is significantly faster than any average human. Which is what I’d do. But what do I know?

    TMary: I mean, at least she’s not his next-door neighbor, like I previously thought, but it’s still not great that Atticus is fine dragging her into his feud with the police.

    Starspirit: Sadly, “not great” is par for the course here.

    This tips Atticus off to the fact that what they’re really looking for is Fragarach and most definitely working for Aenghus Og.

    TMary: Wait. The cops at Atticus’s house – all the cops – were really looking for Freagarthach, but here, only Fagles is the one who can see it? How does that make sense? Were all the cops there under the same kind of mind control and camouflage…undoing as Fagles is? If not, how on Earth did Aengus get them to look for the sword, and if so, why didn’t he put all these cops under the same thing? Then they would have all seen the sword and could have worked together to figure out some way to get it from Atticus.

    And I understand that it’s not too hard to hide a camera phone if you’re standing in place, if he apparently wandered around following the cops while they searched the house it’s a bit stupid that they didn’t notice they were being filmed.

    TMary: Honestly, I think they should have noticed even if he was standing still. Filming just doesn’t look like texting or playing a game, and the cops are supposed to be trained to notice things. They could tell if you were filming them.

    So Hal tells the cops that they will continue the search for a large dog, and only a large dog, and if they start poking through small cabinets or something, then he’ll sue you.

    TMary: laughing That’s gonna be stuck in my head forever, now.

    Starspirit: “I’ll sue ya! I’ll take all ya’ munnay! I’ll sue ya, if ya even look at me funnay!

    TMary: Also, I know you already pointed this out, Juracan, but if the cops had a lick of sense, they’d say, “We were looking to see if a dog had been here recently.” As a matter of fact, I’d think they’d do that even if they were genuinely looking for a large dog, because if there is a dog living in a place, there will be signs. You know, a full water bowl, a dirty food dish, a slobbery tennis ball, muddy pawprints. The water bowl alone – you have to have a full water bowl if you have a dog in the house! There must be one somewhere in here, and the cops would be looking for it! Just hiding Oberon wouldn’t help Atticus a smidge, because he’d also have to hide every sign he owns a dog, and that that dog is very much here in his house at this moment.

    They’re not playing dominance games, they’re arguing about laws!

    TMary: I guess what Hearne’s going for is that, in addition to arguing about laws, Fagles is trying to be aggressive and put Hal in his place, which is something people do, but it doesn’t work on Hal because…Hal’s a werewolf. Which doesn’t make sense, because Hal is not the alpha of his werewolf pack, and thus, he should be used to submitting when he is told to by a more aggressive and domineering person. Again, you can’t have it both ways, Hearne! They can’t have animal instincts that inform all their decisions and every aspect of their lives, and yet behave exactly like human beings!

    (And I apologize for the continuation of the uncomfortable mental images with the use of the word “submitting”.)

    But he can’t break the green binding without tripping those as well, and if he doesn’t know what those do it might be dangerous to do.

    TMary: Please tell me that this magic mind control is not operating under the same principle as a bomb from a cheesy spy movie.

    Starspirit: I dunno, that actually sounds kinda funny.

    TMary: It is if it’s a joke! If it’s being played straight, it’s stupid!

    Which means (GASP) that the witches are working with Aenghus!

    Starspirit:

    What really stands out to me about this is how much he goes on and on about how witches can’t be trusted, and then freaks out when, le gasp and good heavens oh my painted aunts, it turns out that witches can’t be trusted! What, does he think they’ll make an exception for him?

    Whoa. That’s why Hal gets $350 an hour. Quoting Arizona statutes, complete with their soul-destroying legalistic sentence structure? That’s Druidic.

    TMary: stares at that for a moment or two Well, since we’re quoting The Princess Bride anyway…

    I just, I…this writing is really bad! Every line is engineered to grate on the readers’ patience until we finally give up in total disgust! It – just – that was stupid! IT WAS STUPID! AAAGH! turns and sobs on Starspirit’s shoulder

    Starspirit: pats her back There, there. Would you like some apple juice?

    TMary: Please.

    He doesn’t know for sure, mind you, and that will also break the green and red bands, and he also has no idea what that’ll do to Fagles.

    TMary: He also, I notice, has no idea how to deal with the rather obvious problem of what happens when Fagles is no longer able to see a sword that was right there in front of him five seconds ago. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even mention that one!

    Starspirit: Almost like he’s not very smart.

    It was one of those decisions you make when you have too much testosterone bubbling around in your system, or when you’ve been raised in a culture of ridiculous machismo, as I was.

    Starspirit: OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD THIS IS THE WORST BOOK I’VE EVER READ IN MY LIFE

    TMary: is drinking apple juice with her eyes closed and pretending this book doesn’t exist Go for the jugular, Star.

    Starspirit: Okay, so basically my thoughts on this are the same as yours, Juracan. Like, I just complained last chapter about how acting on impulse is a really bad thing that tends to have negative consequences, and Atticus does it way too much for anyone, but especially someone who’s supposedly two thousand years old and super-cautious…and now, what, the book decided to agree with me? What the heck?

    And don’t tell me, don’t tell me, it goes right back to insisting that Atticus is “paranoid” after this, right? One chapter from now we’re going to get him “covering his tracks” very “cleverly” and all the characters will ooh and ah at the bare minimum of brainpower he displays? So all this moment is is just Hearne having his cake and eating it, too. He wants Atticus to be really smart and careful, but he also wants him to make a stupid decision to move what little there is of the Plot along, so he just…has him suddenly make a stupid decision for no good reason. And no, “my upbringing” is not a good reason! You’re two thousand years old! You’ve had plenty of time to overcome “your upbringing”. In fact, you have overcome a good deal of it! You don’t act like an ancient druid, you act like a modern-day frat boy! And second, I refuse to believe that life in Iron Age Ireland would have taught you to act however you wanted and darn the consequences. It was really easy to die back then! Do you really think doing stuff that would get you killed even more easily would be encouraged?

    And you know what else? I might feel more lenient if I genuinely believed he had acted on impulse, but that wasn’t impulse, it was thought-out. You’re not impulsive, Atticus, you’re just stupid.

    heavy sigh My headcanon is just going to be that there’s a different Atticus in every chapter. It explains why sometimes he contradicts his own character, it explains why he keeps acting shocked when he re-hears information he learned ten chapters ago, it even explains why he never does anything. It’s hard to do anything if you’re not sure what the other guy has already done, after all.

    Starspirit: I heartily concur.

    That is the best response to this situation.

    Also, Atticus’s lawyer’s about to wolf out.

    Starspirit: Hey, who decreed that all werewolves will henceforth turn into wolves whenever they want, and it’s uncontrollable when they’re angry and not at the full moon?

    TMary: Stephenie Meyer. Really, these are Meyerwolves. I’m racking up more points with every chapter.

    Starspirit: headdesk Okay, my turn to pretend this situation isn’t happening. pulls out a bottle of ginger tea

    the blast didn’t bother Atticus as much because he’s got his super special awesome mega kewl chocolatey-covered amulet that has more powers than Mulch Diggums.

    TMary: The difference there is that Mulch, powers or no, would be dead by now without his ingenuity, whereas Atticus would be dead without his powers because he has no ingenuity.

    Also, it’s nice to see an Artemis Fowl reference in the wild.

    This isn’t helped by Atticus going “What sword?” and pretending that the sword was never there to begin with.

    Starspirit: Atticus. Atty, my dude. Bro. Mon amie.

    This is already a tense situation, nobody needs you to push it over the edge into a catastrophe. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but just because you’ve got magic healing powers and are immune to death doesn’t mean anyone else in this room does or is. If Fagles goes off completely and shoots Hal, or one of the other police officers, or Oberon, that’s on you. Just sit down and shut up for once in your life!

    TMary: reads the chapter and raises eyebrows Uh, Star? It’s a little worse than that. See, after the blast went off, Atticus went on to say that he wondered what would have happened if the shop’s wards hadn’t been activated, and that Hal’s head probably would have been blown off.

    Starspirit: frozen anger So…not only did he not care about the consequences to himself, he was willing to toy with the lives and safety of everyone else in that room just to break the mind control. He had no idea what the trap would do or whether his wards would be able to handle it, and yet he did it anyway. The cops, Hal, Oberon…absolutely nobody else mattered to him, for even a second.

    Two things, O’Sullivan. One, you are the most despicable little gastroenteritis bacterium I have had the misfortune to meet in a long time, and two, this.

    Where were we?

    And that’s when he shot me.

    Starspirit: So, if Aengus were to show up right now, Atticus could conceivably tell him, “I’m shot through the heart, and you’re to blame”?

    TMary: glowers

    Starspirit: “You give love a bad name”?

    TMary: GET OUT, GET OUT, YOU’RE AS BAD AS HE IS, GET OUT!

    You know that old saw about your life flashing before your eyes at the moment of death?

    Both: Have a link.

    The first thing I thought was, “Oh no! I’ve been shot!” in the immortal words of the golden protocol droid when he got lased with special effects in a mining colony.

    Both: look at each other and back at the sentence

    TMary: Have another link.

    Just because you referenced Star Wars two chapters in a row, that doesn’t mean you’re clever. It doesn’t even mean you’re a nerd. Please stop.

    Starspirit: And you know what’s really annoying about it? I don’t think he’s genuinely trying to be a nerd, I think he’s trying to make fun of us, like he’s so much smarter and better than us, because he figured out that Threepio got shot with special effects, ha ha, the droid wasn’t real and he wasn’t really being shot. And yah, duh, I know that. I just use this little thing called imagination to pretend I don’t know that. That way, I can have fun.

    Frack off, Atticus. I’d definitely rather read about Star Wars than you. I’d rather read about Threepio than you. I’d rather read about Jar-Jar Binks than you, at least he tries to be helpful!

    There’s some more talk about him getting a highlight reel of his life in his head.

    Starspirit: Oh my gosh, even being shot doesn’t shut him up! He just keeps talking! And keeps talking!

    TMary: And you know, his inner monologue doesn’t really sound like somebody who’s just been shot. I know he’s got magic and whatever, but he’s not using it, and the most he says about the pain is “Owie”, which is, I think, a gross understatement. I’ve never been in genuine agony before (at least, I don’t think so), but I have been in pretty severe pain, and I can tell you that my inner monologue was more like “AAGH IT HURTS OW OW OWWW PLEASE MAKE IT STOP SOMEBODY OW OW AUGH HELP ARGH.” Not “let me calmly exposit and crack jokes about everything that’s going on around me. Oh, my lawyer talking about my being shot reminded me that it hurt. Owie.” That’s a mild stress headache, not agony!

    Starspirit: I would say “As somebody who has actually been in agony, I concur,” but I am fictional, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. It would seem to be common sense, though. You can’t think very well once you’ve been shot in the lung!

    TMary: Much less about the “highlight reel” of your life (which, incidentally, is going to be my go-to section to read to people if I want them to know just how obnoxious and self-aggrandizing Atticus’s narration is, because oh my gosh, it is awful).

    We’re meant to believe that Aenghus had the option of more or less possessing a minion to assassinate someone this entire time, but he’s only used it now in circumstances that wouldn’t have worked.

    Starspirit: See, there’s another thing about old Mulch Diggums. He has to go up against actually competent villains, so it makes narrative sense for him to have a few powers in his arsenal. Otherwise, ingenuity or no, he’s gonna lose. Atticus? If he ever had to face an actually competent villain, he’d be dead in five minutes.

    Weirdly though, Atticus actually doesn’t have any healing power on him; despite no indication until now, he says that he’d worn out all the extra backup power in his amulet with camouflage and breaking the spell on Fagles’s head (yet another reason it was a dumb idea to do it in the first place).

    TMary: Not to mention, this really makes his narration unbelievable. He doesn’t have a papercut; in his own words, he’s bleeding out and his lung’s filling up with blood, and he has no way to do anything about that! His narration should be imbued with not only pain but fear, if not fear for his life, than fear of being forced to lie there suffocating but unable to die, or fear at least of his cover being blown!

    Fagles actually begins crying, insisting that he wouldn’t do it, but Jimenez reminds him that they all saw him, and tells him to put down the gun.

    Starspirit: My gosh, how is Fagles suddenly the most sympathetic character in this book?

    TMary: Because we have something to be sympathetic to him about.

    Starspirit: You’re right. I mean, our intrepid hero has just been shot but doesn’t seem to care much about it; meanwhile, the guy who shot him is reacting like an actual human being, for once in this book, and you know, that’s sympathetic.

    TMary: Not to mention he’s crying, insisting he would never do something like this. I mean, he must be terrified! Out of the blue, something just forced him to try to kill someone over a sword nobody else even believes exists, something just forced him to go against his nature, and nobody understands what it was and all his colleagues think he’s a murderer. No wonder he’s crying.

    “Oh, you’re going to shoot me, are you?” he sneered, and then he became unhinged. “Well, that’s better than going to prison! And even better than that would be taking you with me!”

    Starspirit: I knew it couldn’t last.

    TMary: Hearne. Two things to do. First, learn to write realistic human responses to situations. And once you’ve done that, see if you can’t figure out how to write realistic dialogue to go with it!

    Atticus himself gives a “Poor Fagles.”

    TMary: Yeah, but he gives it after Fagles shoots him, not after the dude’s been shot himself, and there’s still something…if not outright condescendingly amused about it, then at least detached. After Fagles dies, there’s nothing from him. No pity, no remorse (because it is, after all, partly his fault that the man is dead), nothing.

    Starspirit: What did you expect from the man who casually contemplated, after the fact, that his friend’s head might have been blown off his shoulders by his stupid actions? (No, I’m not over that. I will never be over that.)

    But you know, just ‘cause Hearne doesn’t want to give Fagles a proper send-off doesn’t mean we can’t. So, farewell, Fagles. I’m sorry we didn’t know you better, and sorry it had to end like this. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right. And I maintain that your blood is on the protagonist’s hands. And now I really don’t wanna go back to reading about him.

    TMary: I’m sorry, buddy.

    Starspirit: We were this close to a sympathetic character, Mary! This close!

    The other cops act more worried about getting in trouble than they do about shooting a coworker.

    TMary: Yeah, I mean, it’s better than the way he handled the Troubles or the Holocaust (because, let’s face it, few things aren’t), but it’s still not good. If I were going to name one weakness of this book that really stands out to me, it would be deep, serious emotions. The book can’t handle ‘em, so it just pretends they’re not there.

    Starspirit: frowning You know something I just thought of? Every time Atticus encounters a situation where somebody would be expected to show concern for somebody else, he thinks there’s a selfish motive behind it. Every time. And the thing is, we’re in his first-person narration. We don’t know that that’s actually how the other people think or feel. All we know is that that’s how Atticus thinks and feels. To him, there’s no reason why someone would not want to kill their brother, or be upset at having to kill their coworker, unless it inconvenienced them somehow.

    You know, if Hearne was trying to write a stone-cold sociopath, he made a pretty good stab at it.

    Silly cop, I don’t need your help; I have a werewolf on retainer.

    Starspirit: Frack you, you give gastroenteritis bacteria a bad name!

    I mean, what I’m trying to say is that I know Atticus has supernatural help, and thus is fine to be bridal carried outside, but Jiminez doesn’t know that. To him, it looks like Hal is going to kill Atticus, either through malice or sheer ignorance. It isn’t his fault he doesn’t know what’s going on, and he’s concerned about your well-being, Hipster Harpo. You could not be condescending. (I might consolidate Hipster Harpo into “Hipsto”. It has a ring to it.)

    That’s… a weird and oddly specific simile? Are Italian runway models easy to pick up?

    TMary: Yeah, you’re right. Where’d that comparison come from? Has Atticus seen Hal pick up Italian runway models before? Or is he just incapable of not thinking about women for more than two seconds?

    Yeah, Atticus can just throw out three thousand dollars?. But his neighbor’s suspicious of him because he’s just a jerk. Right.

    TMary: Atticus, you’re supposed to be twenty-one! For gosh sakes, act like it! Even the Cullens explained Edward being obscenely wealthy with, “His parents are obscenely wealthy!”

    Like, I know that this is probably meant as a joke between friends, but considering how often the book tells us that Atticus is paranoid and clever and down-to-Earth, I feel the need to counter this.

    Starspirit: I mean, when friends tease each other, it’s usually about something real. If Hal was actually going for an insult that would work, he would have said “Hypocrite”. Then again, if he had that much awareness, he wouldn’t be friends with this miserable moldy sack of diseased slugs.

    TMary: But at least I learned the word “sybarite”! And “inchoate” earlier, actually. I guess Hearne busted out his thesaurus for this chapter.

    I would say this actually makes sense and give credit to Hearne for thinking this one out, but then Oberon agrees to the plan as long as he gets a date with a French poodle, and I’m reminded of the dog’s poodle fetish.

    TMary: And I was about to give Hearne a point, because Oberon was actually being kinda funny here! Like, look:

    So I’m supposed to ninja past these cops, tread across the broken glass – you remember the broken glass, right? – avoid the buckets o’ blood outside the door, and jump silently into that puny little car without saying hello to the upholstery?

    Maybe I’m easily amused, but I found that funny, and thought Oberon was making some excellent points (like, he’s got paws, broken glass is a bit more of a problem for him than for you), and then…poodles, and it all went to heck.

    “Holy shit, boss!” he said. “Did that big fucking bird do all of this?”

    Both: stare for a long time at that dialogue

    TMary: Is Perry supposed to be really, really, really, really, really, really stupid? Because—

    Starspirit: —he’s really, really, really, really, really, really stupid.

    Well stretches it’s been fun, folks, but I’m gonna take off and let TMary talk about stuff in the comments. Ciao!

    TMary: Thanks for sitting it out with me!

    Smith of Lie: Even average mortal lawyer would argue that Atticus making a vague gesture towards Fagles could not reasonably be expected to cause the reaction it got.

    That’s a good point. Honestly, I think that, assuming they didn’t figure Fagles was just lying and trying to defend himself, they’d think he was having some kind of schizophrenic breakdown at the time. I mean, seeing things that aren’t there, hearing voices telling him to do things…I don’t think anyone would convict Atticus. They might wonder about the “freak gust of wind”, but probably just shrug their shoulders and chalk it up to One of Those Things.

    He has his head so deep up his ass, that he can’t even follow his own advice.

    cackles Well said.

    Given the gravitas given to death so far and callousness Atticus displayes I was almost expecting him to dance a happy little jig on Fagles’s grave.

    How sad is it that we’re actually impressed when Hearne manages to have Atticus show even the slightest hint of human decency?

    No. Never again.

    Hearne, look what you did, you broke Smith!

    Juracan: So I don’t know if we’re meant to cheer, or just be like, “Oh good, another obstacle out of the way. Moving on!”

    Yeah, this is kinda my thought too. I don’t know that we’re supposed to be happy; I just don’t think we’re supposed to care very much.

    This is kind of funny? Because Hearne totally has written for Star Wars before.

    [in the distance, there is a loud cry of “That’s not true! That’s impossible! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”]

    TMary: Oh, that’d be Starspirit. I’ll…go talk to him. See you guys in Chapter Seventeen!

  4. The Smith of Lie on 19 November 2019, 05:48 said:

    but without getting into it too much, surely, surely we can all agree that this is a really bad attitude to have when you’re being arrested for illegal immigration, and that you would likely be in even bigger trouble for having it? Surely?

    I am as far removed from US immigration issues as possible. And even I have heard about actual citizens who were detained by ICE for days or weeks under suspicion of being illegals. If the book lay within a sight of how real world works, Atticus should have prayed that his papers are perfectly forged and that Hal will do the overtime required to get our so called protagonist out of whatever detention center he’s gonna be hauled off to.

    And that is ignoring the idea that Aenghus is pulling the strings from behind to get the law after Atticus.

    Can we get this guy’s story? A perfectly ordinary elderly civilian suddenly realizing that his next-door neighbor is some kind of supernatural horror that must be stopped sounds like a way more interesting book than whatever the heck Hounded is.

    I might try to whip something quick in that vein later. Though I am not good at lovecrafitan horror that would do justice to the scenario.

    Also being more interesting than Hounded is sadly a pretty low bar. It’s more like an extreme limbo level.

    Wait. The cops at Atticus’s house – all the cops – were really looking for Freagarthach, but here, only Fagles is the one who can see it? How does that make sense?

    If not, how on Earth did Aengus get them to look for the sword, and if so, why didn’t he put all these cops under the same thing?

    I see you are making the same mistake as Juracan and assuiming that there is at least a single character in this book, that is not an utter idiot. Admirable, if misplaced, optimism.

    (And I apologize for the continuation of the uncomfortable mental images with the use of the word “submitting”.)

    Hey, I’m pretty sure you are hurting yourself and Juracan more than you are hurting me. So be my guest.

    What really stands out to me about this is how much he goes on and on about how witches can’t be trusted, and then freaks out when, le gasp and good heavens oh my painted aunts, it turns out that witches can’t be trusted! What, does he think they’ll make an exception for him?

    And he had reasons to suspect that exact scenarion since as far back chapter 10 or so… He is to being paranoid what I am to olympic level 100m sprint!

    This is already a tense situation, nobody needs you to push it over the edge into a catastrophe. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but just because you’ve got magic healing powers and are immune to death doesn’t mean anyone else in this room does or is. If Fagles goes off completely and shoots Hal, or one of the other police officers, or Oberon, that’s on you. Just sit down and shut up for once in your life!

    Haha. As is Atticus cared about anyone except himself. This is a guy who in a middle of a battle started killing his allies. Don’t look to him for a carash course on de-escalation.

    And you know what’s really annoying about it? I don’t think he’s genuinely trying to be a nerd, I think he’s trying to make fun of us, like he’s so much smarter and better than us, because he figured out that Threepio got shot with special effects, ha ha, the droid wasn’t real and he wasn’t really being shot. And yah, duh, I know that. I just use this little thing called imagination to pretend I don’t know that. That way, I can have fun.

    What I don’t get is why authors of genre fiction so often show disparaging stance towards the pop-culture they’re a part of. Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance are not high brow, art-house stuff. They can be quality entertainment but they are as deep in nerddom as Star Wars or other name dropped titles. Hell, Star Wars are more mainstream than whatever Hearne is creating.

    I wonder if he and Clare secretly despise their own work for being nerdy and geeky.

    Much less about the “highlight reel” of your life (which, incidentally, is going to be my go-to section to read to people if I want them to know just how obnoxious and self-aggrandizing Atticus’s narration is, because oh my gosh, it is awful).

    And imagine what a highlight reel that must be. I wonder what kinds of atrocities does it include. And I bet a large chunk is occupied by something like “Top 100 lootings and/or rapings commited by Mongol hordes under Genghis Khan that I took part in”.

    Or is he just incapable of not thinking about women for more than two seconds?

    Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

    Atticus, you’re supposed to be twenty-one! For gosh sakes, act like it! Even the Cullens explained Edward being obscenely wealthy with, “His parents are obscenely wealthy!”

    I was about to agree with you. But then it hit me that an irresponsible, self-absorbed and entitled eternal frat-bro is well in keeping with trust fund kid stereotype. And if the author was someone I was willing to credit for anyhting I’d almost call this clever. Except it is just an accident of Atticus being an asshat.

    How sad is it that we’re actually impressed when Hearne manages to have Atticus show even the slightest hint of human decency?

    Not like he manages to throw away what little credit it did him pretty much instantly.

  5. Juracan on 25 November 2019, 17:57 said:

    So, basically, Hearne didn’t give us a plot at all. He just made what Atticus has already been doing look like a plot.

    I don’t know what to tell you. Having a Plot might make Atticus have to work and we can’t have that!

    but without getting into it too much, surely, surely we can all agree that this is a really bad attitude to have when you’re being arrested for illegal immigration, and that you would likely be in even bigger trouble for having it? Surely?

    Yes. I already did a spiel about police abusing power, and that applies to other law enforcement agencies. As Smith pointed out, there are documented instances of the immigration peeps having American citizens detained or trying to deport them. Provoking law enforcement of any kind in this country is just a really dumb idea, and at the very least he’d be on some government watchlists for being a pain in the butt.

    Can we get this guy’s story? A perfectly ordinary elderly civilian suddenly realizing that his next-door neighbor is some kind of supernatural horror that must be stopped sounds like a way more interesting book than whatever the heck Hounded is.

    And heck, it can even be humorous in its own weird way! But nope! Because that would involve a protagonist who isn’t perfect and invincible!

    Wait. The cops at Atticus’s house – all the cops – were really looking for Freagarthach, but here, only Fagles is the one who can see it? How does that make sense? Were all the cops there under the same kind of mind control and camouflage…undoing as Fagles is? If not, how on Earth did Aengus get them to look for the sword, and if so, why didn’t he put all these cops under the same thing? Then they would have all seen the sword and could have worked together to figure out some way to get it from Atticus.

    My impression (and this is me trying to make sense of this) is this: Aenghus has some kind of hold on the Tempe police department, either by mind-controlling the higher-ups or by bribery. But the only one he had an actual magical spell put on was Fagles. I’m unclear if him possessing Fagles was even part of that spell; as Fagles tells it, and it’s like Aenghus was telepathically urging him to kill Atticus, and as he has no experience with this he thought it was his own voice in his head. Aenghus and the other Irish gods pop into Atticus’s head to talk to him in the battle that Atticus describes when he’s explaining how he got Fragarach in the first place.

    Which brings back the question I asked earlier: if Aenghus has the power to just start convincing people to do what he wants by telepathic communication whenever, why hasn’t he done this before???

    Please tell me that this magic mind control is not operating under the same principle as a bomb from a cheesy spy movie.

    I won’t tell you then.

    What really stands out to me about this is how much he goes on and on about how witches can’t be trusted, and then freaks out when, le gasp and good heavens oh my painted aunts, it turns out that witches can’t be trusted! What, does he think they’ll make an exception for him?

    Probably. He is very handsome, after all. [gag]

    Hey, who decreed that all werewolves will henceforth turn into wolves whenever they want, and it’s uncontrollable when they’re angry and not at the full moon?

    To be fair, the insistence that werewolves must change on the full moon and only the full moon is a fairly recent addition to the mythology (though it has more basis in folklore than the silver thing), so I don’t blame Twilight too much for this.

    Also, it’s nice to see an Artemis Fowl reference in the wild.

    No problem!

    And you know, his inner monologue doesn’t really sound like somebody who’s just been shot. I know he’s got magic and whatever, but he’s not using it, and the most he says about the pain is “Owie”, which is, I think, a gross understatement. I’ve never been in genuine agony before (at least, I don’t think so), but I have been in pretty severe pain, and I can tell you that my inner monologue was more like “AAGH IT HURTS OW OW OWWW PLEASE MAKE IT STOP SOMEBODY OW OW AUGH HELP ARGH.” Not “let me calmly exposit and crack jokes about everything that’s going on around me. Oh, my lawyer talking about my being shot reminded me that it hurt. Owie.” That’s a mild stress headache, not agony!

    This is true, but I didn’t mind it so much because it’s implied he’s telling this story some time after it all happened. That being said… you’re right, even if this is him retelling the story, it’s a bit ridiculous that he’s this calm in the situation.

    Building off of that…

    You know something I just thought of? Every time Atticus encounters a situation where somebody would be expected to show concern for somebody else, he thinks there’s a selfish motive behind it. Every time. And the thing is, we’re in his first-person narration. We don’t know that that’s actually how the other people think or feel. All we know is that that’s how Atticus thinks and feels. To him, there’s no reason why someone would not want to kill their brother, or be upset at having to kill their coworker, unless it inconvenienced them somehow.

    You know, the series How I Met Your Mother plays with the fact that is’s a man retelling the story to his kids, so he censors some bits, misremembers others, and so on and so forth. It’s an interesting way to play with first-person perspective. Can we do the same here? Can we work out the bits where Atticus is either lying or applying his own memory to things rather than telling them as they really were? Because you’re right, he always assumes everyone else is as petty and stupid as himself.

    Where’d that comparison come from? Has Atticus seen Hal pick up Italian runway models before? Or is he just incapable of not thinking about women for more than two seconds?

    That last one. Probably that last one.

    If the book lay within a sight of how real world works, Atticus should have prayed that his papers are perfectly forged and that Hal will do the overtime required to get our so called protagonist out of whatever detention center he’s gonna be hauled off to.

    [sigh] We can dream, Smith…

    Haha. As is Atticus cared about anyone except himself. This is a guy who in a middle of a battle started killing his allies. Don’t look to him for a carash course on de-escalation.

    !!!!

    Atticus killing his allies in the middle of a battle is something I will never get over.

    I wonder if he and Clare secretly despise their own work for being nerdy and geeky.

    I doubt it, but there are plenty of fantasy/science-fiction authors out there who are upset that their work is considered speculative fiction instead of “literary” fiction. Philip Pullman once said in an interview that he wishes His Dark Materials was compared less to Tolkien’s trilogy and more to Jane Austen or Edgar Allan Poe.

    [Mind you, this was an interview from years ago; he might have changed his stance since then.]

  6. TMary on 2 December 2019, 17:37 said:

    Smith: I am as far removed from US immigration issues as possible. And even I have heard about actual citizens who were detained by ICE for days or weeks under suspicion of being illegals. If the book lay within a sight of how real world works, Atticus should have prayed that his papers are perfectly forged and that Hal will do the overtime required to get our so called protagonist out of whatever detention center he’s gonna be hauled off to.

    And that is ignoring the idea that Aenghus is pulling the strings from behind to get the law after Atticus.

    I don’t think there’s really anything to add to that except a hearty “Exactly”.

    I might try to whip something quick in that vein later. Though I am not good at lovecrafitan horror that would do justice to the scenario.

    Should you feel inspired to do so, please do!

    Also being more interesting than Hounded is sadly a pretty low bar. It’s more like an extreme limbo level.

    That’s definitely true, but I feel like even what Hounded was supposed to be isn’t that interesting. A talented, or even decent, author could do a lot with it, to be sure, but I still feel like I might have gone “Meh, seen it” just looking at the synopsis.

    […]

    I see you are making the same mistake as Juracan and assuiming that there is at least a single character in this book, that is not an utter idiot. Admirable, if misplaced, optimism.

    Now, see, if I just remembered these two things, I could stop getting frustrated and just crack jokes or something instead.

    Hey, I’m pretty sure you are hurting yourself and Juracan more than you are hurting me. So be my guest.

    I confess that I was thinking more of Juracan, mainly because I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD, WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN?! um, that is, you haven’t been commenting here much lately.

    (And yes, I know, I have no room to talk in this matter, but I’ve kinda gotten used to you being pretty prompt with comments and stuff.)

    And he had reasons to suspect that exact scenarion since as far back chapter 10 or so… He is to being paranoid what I am to olympic level 100m sprint!

    I might steal this, if you don’t mind.

    Haha. As is Atticus cared about anyone except himself. This is a guy who in a middle of a battle started killing his allies. Don’t look to him for a carash course on de-escalation.

    Oh, I’m not. At this point, I’m just adding to Juracan’s list of “Reasons Why Atticus O’Sullivan is a Garbage Human Being”.

    And imagine what a highlight reel that must be. I wonder what kinds of atrocities does it include. And I bet a large chunk is occupied by something like “Top 100 lootings and/or rapings commited by Mongol hordes under Genghis Khan that I took part in”.

    That occurred to me too. Like, dude, I know the kind of stuff you get up to. Don’t brag to me about how much of it you’ve done.

    Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

    The prizes on this game show better be good, because the questions are awful. :P

    I was about to agree with you. But then it hit me that an irresponsible, self-absorbed and entitled eternal frat-bro is well in keeping with trust fund kid stereotype. And if the author was someone I was willing to credit for anyhting I’d almost call this clever. Except it is just an accident of Atticus being an asshat.

    I didn’t think about that. And yeah, if I thought Hearne had thought about it, I’d say it was clever, too. But we all know he didn’t, because he doesn’t think Atticus is an irresponsible, self-absorbed, and entitled eternal frat bro. So I still have something to criticize, no matter what.

    Juracan: Provoking law enforcement of any kind in this country is just a really dumb idea, and at the very least he’d be on some government watchlists for being a pain in the butt.

    Exactly again. It’s a little (read: a lot) naïve, if not outright ignorant, to think that this would turn out with no more than a few grumpy immigration agents getting their knickers in a knot for a little while.

    remembers the events of next chapter

    Poor choice of words, there.

    Which brings back the question I asked earlier: if Aenghus has the power to just start convincing people to do what he wants by telepathic communication whenever, why hasn’t he done this before???

    Because, like Smith said, everyone in this book has roughly the same intelligence as boiled cabbage? Best I can do for ya.

    I won’t tell you then.

    I appreciate your willingness to leave me to my denial.

    Probably. He is very handsome, after all. [gag]

    Starspirit is unavailable to comment at the moment, but he would like it to be known that, by the standards of his species, he is also very handsome, and yet he has never been under the impression that any women should go against their basic personality for his sake.

    To be fair, the insistence that werewolves must change on the full moon and only the full moon is a fairly recent addition to the mythology (though it has more basis in folklore than the silver thing), so I don’t blame Twilight too much for this.

    Well, true. Like I said, though, there are other similarities besides just the “can change whenever they feel like it” one, and fursploding when ANGRY is one of them.

    No problem!

    :)

    Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one (besides family members) who read those books. I guess because, despite being pretty popular, they don’t have a huge media presence?

    This is true, but I didn’t mind it so much because it’s implied he’s telling this story some time after it all happened. That being said… you’re right, even if this is him retelling the story, it’s a bit ridiculous that he’s this calm in the situation.

    In fairness, he does have that excuse, which a lot of first-person past-tense books don’t really have; despite being past-tense, they’re often told as if the events were happening right then to the protagonist, in an attempt, I assume, to keep some tension going. Still, yeah, he was calm about it then in addition to being calm about it now, to the point of kinda forgetting until Hal brought it up again. Which I maintain is not how pain works.

    Can we do the same here? Can we work out the bits where Atticus is either lying or applying his own memory to things rather than telling them as they really were? Because you’re right, he always assumes everyone else is as petty and stupid as himself.

    Honestly, at this point, I feel so uncharitable towards Atticus that I just assume he’s always lying. But yeah, first-person is pretty fascinating, done well, because there is so much room for an unreliable narrator. The thing with that, however, is that if events did not go as the main character thinks they did, the author needs to show that explicitly somehow. This is difficult with first-person, but it can be done. The best way is to show, through other characters’ actions, that they don’t actually think the same way the narrator does, and also not to have everything go the main character’s way all the time.

    So, if Hearne had intended Atticus to be a sociopath who thinks highly of himself and assumes everyone thinks like him, I would actually think he was an interesting and well-drawn character. I still might not want to read a book from his perspective, but he’d be interesting and well-drawn. But since he didn’t do that, I’m left to assume that within this world, Atticus is telling the truth. My headcanon is that he isn’t, but I don’t think Hearne meant it that way. So, yeah, the cops really are more upset about how much trouble they’re going to be in than “Oh my gosh, our coworker just went insane and we had to shoot him!” Which makes for a pretty sucky world, all round.

    Atticus killing his allies in the middle of a battle is something I will never get over.

    I might even be able to forgive it, if it was clear it was a horrible act that he’s still haunted by and feels as though he can never atone for. Like, say there was some reason why taking Freagarthach was absolutely necessary, and not just “Eh, Morrigan said to, so I did”. And then say he genuinely tried to get away with it without hurting anybody on his side, because they were still his friends. But then somebody wouldn’t let him leave unless he killed them, and he absolutely had to have the sword, and so he kills him, and suddenly he’s a murderer who kills his own comrades and he has to flee for his life and go into hiding, and he still wakes up screaming at night because of what he was forced to do, and I’m sorry, I went on a tangent about a much better character, won’t happen again. The point is, it’s the flippant way he goes, “And then I had to kill them all AND I DID IT LIKE A BOSS” that makes it truly unforgivable for me.

    That and the way he’d already said, “I might have killed some of my own allies in the dark and confusion. Sucks to be them, I guess.”

    And finally…

    Smith: What I don’t get is why authors of genre fiction so often show disparaging stance towards the pop-culture they’re a part of. Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance are not high brow, art-house stuff. They can be quality entertainment but they are as deep in nerddom as Star Wars or other name dropped titles. Hell, Star Wars are more mainstream than whatever Hearne is creating.

    I wonder if he and Clare secretly despise their own work for being nerdy and geeky.

    Juracan: I doubt it, but there are plenty of fantasy/science-fiction authors out there who are upset that their work is considered speculative fiction instead of “literary” fiction. Philip Pullman once said in an interview that he wishes His Dark Materials was compared less to Tolkien’s trilogy and more to Jane Austen or Edgar Allan Poe.

    [Mind you, this was an interview from years ago; he might have changed his stance since then.]

    I mean, I kind of get the position of wanting fantasy/sci-fi to be compared to more “literary” fiction. To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent sure I understand what makes something high-brow and literary as opposed to, “well, you know, fantasy.” I always assumed that it meant “fiction which has deep and important things to say about life and the human experience,” and, well, fantasy and science-fiction can do that, in the same way that non-genre fiction can be nothing but an excuse for the author to bloviate for three hundred pages. What’s more, fantasy and science-fiction might be able to explore real life in a way that real life fiction can’t, because they deal in the realm of “what if” and not “this is”. And it is annoying to think that there are people out there who think that fantasy/sci-fi aren’t “serious” or “real fiction” because they talk about magic or advanced technology. So I get where Pullman’s coming from on that level.

    That said, there’s a lot of speculative fiction that really ain’t that deep; like Smith said, compelling plots and interesting characters, sure, it’s not all just candy fluff for your brain, but it’s not, say, Ursula K. LeGuin, who I would class as a great literary author and not “just” fantasy. And that’s the sort of stuff that tends to draw geeks, the Harry Potters and Star Wars…es of fiction. It’s accessible enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be hard to read or watch or say anything super challenging, but it’s also deep enough that there’s something for your brain to chew on, something for you to feel that keeps bringing you back. (Also, loads and loads of canon minutiae to memorize and discuss, but I digress.)

    My extremely round-aboutly made point is that I don’t think Hearne was really aspiring to any great literary heights when he wrote Hounded, so he doesn’t have that excuse, but I also don’t think he even managed the intellectual level of Star Wars. So I dunno where he gets off making fun of geeks, especially since he’s pretty geeky himself. All I can figure is that it’s “cool” to make fun of geeks, and so his “cool” character must make fun of geeks, irrespective of anything else.

  7. The Smith of Lie on 3 December 2019, 03:25 said:

    I confess that I was thinking more of Juracan, mainly because I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD, WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN?! um, that is, you haven’t been commenting here much lately.

    Now I could regale you with tales of derring do and life-threatening, high octane, non-stop action and adventure, as I ran from the hit-squad send by Knights Templar and sought help from the Learned Elders of Zion, trying to unveil a web of conspiracy and sinister plots. Or I could tell you that Hearne, even experienced indirectly, managed to burn out my supply of witticism and cynical comments and I just had to take a break.

    You decide which of the above sounds more believable.

    I might steal this, if you don’t mind.

    It is not like I could stop. I mean there isn’t an Illuminati team of hackers cyber-stalking your every move and sifting all that you say through incredibly sophisticated comminication control AI, ready to censor anything you say. Nope. No such thing.

    Oh, I’m not. At this point, I’m just adding to Juracan’s list of “Reasons Why Atticus O’Sullivan is a Garbage Human Being”.

    So… They changed the title from Iron Druid Chronicles?

    The prizes on this game show better be good, because the questions are awful. :P

    Well, I am glad you asked, because you won… [drumroll]…

    I mean, I kind of get the position of wanting fantasy/sci-fi to be compared to more “literary” fiction. To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent sure I understand what makes something high-brow and literary as opposed to, “well, you know, fantasy.” […]

    I agree with both you and Juracan (and Pulman) that genre fiction unfairly gets the shaft. Sure, a lot of it is a pulpy trash like Hounded or just a solid pulp entertainment. But that is true about most of the genres, just because the fiction is nominaly grounded in reality it does not mean it has some deep insights about human nature or anything else. And by volume I am led to believe there’s much more trash romances and trash crime stories than trash speculative fiction.

    You will also note that when a book is deemed to deserve critical recognition it suddenly stops being genre fiction and gets bumped to “magical realism” or some other pompus designation, just to prevent it being lumped with fantasy.

    Sci-fi is less tainted from what I’ve seen (and I’ve also seen sci-fi people look down on fantasy) mostly due to longer tradition of using sci-fi settings as a backdrop for exploring some heavy, deep themes.

    But the ghettoization of speculative fiction was kind-of secondary to my point about Hearne and CC. Maybe it is due to their characters being so juvenile, but the way those authors treat their references to the nerdy stuff it almost seems like they are embarassed by association. Which is strange, given that urban fantasy, while not exactly a niche genre is not exactly what I’d consider main stream or hip. It is quite squarely on the nerdy half of the field, and yet it seems as if the authors would like to disassociate with what seems to be a major part of their audience.

  8. TMary on 5 December 2019, 21:00 said:

    Now I could regale you with tales of derring do and life-threatening, high octane, non-stop action and adventure, as I ran from the hit-squad send by Knights Templar and sought help from the Learned Elders of Zion, trying to unveil a web of conspiracy and sinister plots. Or I could tell you that Hearne, even experienced indirectly, managed to burn out my supply of witticism and cynical comments and I just had to take a break.

    You decide which of the above sounds more believable.

    Well, I dunno, the first one could be true. :P But I’m glad to know it’s nothing worse!

    I mean there isn’t an Illuminati team of hackers cyber-stalking your every move and sifting all that you say through incredibly sophisticated comminication control AI, ready to censor anything you say. Nope. No such thing.

    I’d believe you if they hadn’t emailed me…

    So… They changed the title from Iron Druid Chronicles?

    Well, I am glad you asked, because you won… [drumroll]…

    …Can I keep the big cardboard box, at least?

    I agree with both you and Juracan (and Pulman) that genre fiction unfairly gets the shaft. Sure, a lot of it is a pulpy trash like Hounded or just a solid pulp entertainment. But that is true about most of the genres, just because the fiction is nominaly grounded in reality it does not mean it has some deep insights about human nature or anything else.

    Exactly. Sturgeon’s Revelation, and all.

    And by volume I am led to believe there’s much more trash romances and trash crime stories than trash speculative fiction.

    That is a good point, and I think it comes from two places. One, people think it’s really easy to write those stories (especially romance), even though it most emphatically is not, or more accurately, it’s easy to write any story, just not to write a good one. The other thing I think is that just-in-it-for-the-money authors and publishers know those stories will sell really well, regardless of how good they are, so they’re more likely to get written and published.

    You will also note that when a book is deemed to deserve critical recognition it suddenly stops being genre fiction and gets bumped to “magical realism” or some other pompus designation, just to prevent it being lumped with fantasy.

    I have seen the term “magical realism” a handful of times in my life, and always wondered what it meant. Now I know: It means some literature snob found him- or herself finding merit in a fantasy book, and went, “No! This cannot be! I can’t like fantasy!” and hastily came up with a new genre to validate their feelings. “There. Now I can like it. It’s magic realism.”

    I guess that’s what they call A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest, and Hamlet, then?

    But the ghettoization of speculative fiction was kind-of secondary to my point about Hearne and CC. Maybe it is due to their characters being so juvenile, but the way those authors treat their references to the nerdy stuff it almost seems like they are embarassed by association. Which is strange, given that urban fantasy, while not exactly a niche genre is not exactly what I’d consider main stream or hip. It is quite squarely on the nerdy half of the field, and yet it seems as if the authors would like to disassociate with what seems to be a major part of their audience.

    I know we’ve discussed this before, but I wonder if, maybe, they never really intended to write “urban fantasy” as such? They just came up with a story that seemed cool, and then someone called it “urban fantasy” and they went, “NO! That would be nerdy! I’m not a nerd!” and quickly added in a little nerd-bashing so everyone would know this story was just supposed to be Cool and not Nerdy.

    But that still doesn’t fully explain it, because CC started out writing fanfiction, which still screams “loser” to some people, and Hearne is clearly very fond of Star Wars, Neil Gaiman, and lots of other nerdy things. Did they never realize that they were nerds until someone pointed it out to them? And then they had an identity crisis and started making fun of nerds to reassert their position as one of the “cool kids”?

    Or have they never realized that they were nerds and were writing nerd fiction, and so happily make fun of other nerds without realizing that that is their target audience?

    I mean, it’s probably more likely that it’s a cynical marketing thing, trying to draw in readers from outside the target audience by reassuring them that the thing they’re reading is still mainstream, in the same way that a lot of books for kids have the kid protagonist hate reading, but there could be more to it than that. And if I’m right, this is why we need more positive nerd representation in literature.

  9. Juracan on 5 December 2019, 23:24 said:

    Hopping in just to add:

    I have seen the term “magical realism” a handful of times in my life, and always wondered what it meant. Now I know: It means some literature snob found him- or herself finding merit in a fantasy book, and went, “No! This cannot be! I can’t like fantasy!” and hastily came up with a new genre to validate their feelings. “There. Now I can like it. It’s magic realism.”

    I guess that’s what they call A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest, and Hamlet, then?

    Terry Pratchett had a schpeal about this. Basically: “magical realism” is a snobby term to describe fantasy written for people that don’t really like fantasy much to begin with. It mainly is used to describe fantasy literature that doesn’t really have hard and fast rules on how the world works and is very obviously making a point about society. And that’s not bad! Neil Gaiman’s works like American Gods and Neverwhere are sometimes called “magical realism.” But that’s plainly a type of fantasy, and Neil recognizes this. I

    n the case of Neverwhere Gaiman himself labelled the original BBC series as “magical realism” because BBC didn’t want to produce a “fantasy series,” so he had to come up with a more critically acceptable label.

    Whether or not Shakespeare’s works, especially the ones with more fantastical elements, are fantasy or not is actually the subject of vigorous debate. But from my time as an English major, let me tell you: snooty literary critics will go to insane lengths to argue that a piece of fiction isn’t really genre fiction, because said critics thought it was good and Lord knows that genre fiction can’t be good amirite?

  10. The Smith of Lie on 6 December 2019, 03:25 said:

    I’d believe you if they hadn’t emailed me…

    Well that does it, someone is getting fired.

    That is a good point, and I think it comes from two places. One, people think it’s really easy to write those stories (especially romance), even though it most emphatically is not, or more accurately, it’s easy to write any story, just not to write a good one. The other thing I think is that just-in-it-for-the-money authors and publishers know those stories will sell really well, regardless of how good they are, so they’re more likely to get written and published.

    Oh yes. My grandma loves the Harlequin romances and she has those by the hundreds in her home. I paged through them once or twice (and once, out of sheer, absolute boredom I read one when I had no books of my own). And they are epitome of mass produced literature to me.

    It might be that I have never looked for it, but I have never seen cheap fantasy made on such a scale. Sure, there is stock fantasy that does hero’s journey by the numbers, but not in such overwhelming numbers. Though I think one of the reasons might be that it is more difficult to cram a stock fantasy into 150-200 pages lenght that those cheap romances usually inhabit.

    I have seen the term “magical realism” a handful of times in my life, and always wondered what it meant. Now I know: It means some literature snob found him- or herself finding merit in a fantasy book, and went, “No! This cannot be! I can’t like fantasy!” and hastily came up with a new genre to validate their feelings. “There. Now I can like it. It’s magic realism.”

    I have been a little bit facetious, but this is one of the roles of magical realism. Though the most of stories I know of, that are classified under magical realism have their specific niche, which could be argument for it as its own subgenre. Those are the stories that are sort of low on fantastic element and the reaction to it and sense of wonder are the driving force behind it being there. Think Curious Case of Benjamin Button – the fantastic element is there and it is central to the story, but it is not the urban fantasy in its classic sense.

    This does not stop pretentious people who don’t want to admit they like fantasy from using magical realism as a safety device to “nobilitate” any works they consider to be above that label.

    It mainly is used to describe fantasy literature that doesn’t really have hard and fast rules on how the world works and is very obviously making a point about society. And that’s not bad! Neil Gaiman’s works like American Gods and Neverwhere are sometimes called “magical realism.” But that’s plainly a type of fantasy, and Neil recognizes this. I

    Yeah. I am not against admitting that magical realism is, or at least can be, its own, legitimate thing. I just find it silly that it has to be used as a marketing tool to distance some of the works from the bigger “metagenre” they are a part of.

    I mean, it’s probably more likely that it’s a cynical marketing thing, trying to draw in readers from outside the target audience by reassuring them that the thing they’re reading is still mainstream, in the same way that a lot of books for kids have the kid protagonist hate reading, but there could be more to it than that. And if I’m right, this is why we need more positive nerd representation in literature.

    This is a little amusing to me, because reading itself is seen as somewhat nerdy. I am fully aware of being affected by stereotypes promulgated by media and that they are not exactly true, but think to how many “cool kids” you’ve seen in movies, tv, games or even in books, who were avid readers? Most of the time the characters that like books are the outcast, loner and nerdy types.

    I know for a fact that this is not true, but I have to consciously remind myself of the people I know who didn’t fit that stereotype who liked to read not to fall back onto cliches implanted by media.

    Sometimes I feel that people are too focused on “pop” aspect of pop-cultre, to the point of forgetting it is part of a culture anyway. And then we get self-hating books like Immoral Instruments and Hounded.

  11. TMary on 25 December 2019, 01:25 said:

    Juracan: Whether or not Shakespeare’s works, especially the ones with more fantastical elements, are fantasy or not is actually the subject of vigorous debate. But from my time as an English major, let me tell you: snooty literary critics will go to insane lengths to argue that a piece of fiction isn’t really genre fiction, because said critics thought it was good and Lord knows that genre fiction can’t be good amirite?

    That actually sounds like an interesting and educational debate and worth reading about, as long as it doesn’t take the form of “it can’t be fantasy because fantasy is inherently not good and Shakespeare was a genius”. But I can see a discussion worth having in there about what makes fantasy fantasy and how different the idea of “fantasy” would be throughout the centuries.

    Smith of Lie: Oh yes. My grandma loves the Harlequin romances and she has those by the hundreds in her home.

    …Do we have the same grandma, or does everyone have at least one grandma like this?

    But yeah, my grandmother is the same way. She has two bedrooms in her house with stacks of Harlequin romances, and it’s like they have five plots between them (just judging from the back covers). Now that I know about sporking, I want to try one or two, just to see what they’re like…

    It might be that I have never looked for it, but I have never seen cheap fantasy made on such a scale. Sure, there is stock fantasy that does hero’s journey by the numbers, but not in such overwhelming numbers. Though I think one of the reasons might be that it is more difficult to cram a stock fantasy into 150-200 pages lenght that those cheap romances usually inhabit.

    Yeah, when I think of stock fantasy, I think of Eragon or something along those lines, books with authors who thought all fantasy had to be high fantasy epics, without bothering to find out if they could write a high fantasy epic. Whether or not any actual effort or talent went into those, though, they do look intimidating to most people. The 250 pages at most of your average romance is less of a challenge.

    Also, fairly or unfairly, I think romance is seen as having a wider market appeal than fantasy, so publishers want those and will even pay people to write them.

    This is a little amusing to me, because reading itself is seen as somewhat nerdy.

    reads that

    rereads her last sentence

    And if I’m right, this is why we need more positive nerd representation in literature.

    Oh dangit, I meant fiction. We need more positive nerd representation in fiction, and I need more sleep.

    But yeah, you do very rarely see “cool” readers. As someone who fit the stereotype myself, that never really stuck out to me as a problem or even untrue, but now that you mention it, it really isn’t fair to make “reader” synonymous with “social outcast”. Although at least in books – usually – I felt like I was meant to sympathize and even identify with the shy loner kid who found it easier to read than make friends, rather than point and jeer at them and identify with the cool popular kid.

    Sometimes I feel that people are too focused on “pop” aspect of pop-cultre, to the point of forgetting it is part of a culture anyway.

    That’s…a really good point. I’m gonna remember that one.

    Also, “Immoral Instruments” is the best nickname ever.

    And finally:

    Juracan: Terry Pratchett had a schpeal about this. Basically: “magical realism” is a snobby term to describe fantasy written for people that don’t really like fantasy much to begin with. It mainly is used to describe fantasy literature that doesn’t really have hard and fast rules on how the world works and is very obviously making a point about society. And that’s not bad! Neil Gaiman’s works like American Gods and Neverwhere are sometimes called “magical realism.” But that’s plainly a type of fantasy, and Neil recognizes this. In the case of Neverwhere Gaiman himself labelled the original BBC series as “magical realism” because BBC didn’t want to produce a “fantasy series,” so he had to come up with a more critically acceptable label.

    Smith: I have been a little bit facetious, but this is one of the roles of magical realism. Though the most of stories I know of, that are classified under magical realism have their specific niche, which could be argument for it as its own subgenre. Those are the stories that are sort of low on fantastic element and the reaction to it and sense of wonder are the driving force behind it being there. Think Curious Case of Benjamin Button – the fantastic element is there and it is central to the story, but it is not the urban fantasy in its classic sense.

    This does not stop pretentious people who don’t want to admit they like fantasy from using magical realism as a safety device to “nobilitate” any works they consider to be above that label.

    Now that you guys mention it, I have actually read books where there was some definite supernatural element, but still were not something I would classify as fantasy/sci-fi/horror outright – in some cases, it was a little ambiguous how real the fantastic element was – and I was never quite sure what to call them. So in that context, actually, “magical realism” is a helpful marker. It would just be nice if it could be used that way and not as a pretentious label to make fantasy sound more socially acceptable.

    Anyhow, Merry Christmas, guys! Have a good one!

  12. Juracan on 26 December 2019, 09:55 said:

    That actually sounds like an interesting and educational debate and worth reading about, as long as it doesn’t take the form of “it can’t be fantasy because fantasy is inherently not good and Shakespeare was a genius”. But I can see a discussion worth having in there about what makes fantasy fantasy and how different the idea of “fantasy” would be throughout the centuries.

    The one paper that I distinctly remember wasn’t actually about Shakespeare, it was bout the book No Country for Old Men which argued that while plot-wise, it looked like a crime novel, it actually couldn’t be, because crime novels are shallow, while this one has, like, themes and stuff, and so therefore it was actually literary fiction disguised as genre fiction in order to deconstruct the expectations we have of genre conventions. Or something.

    Now that I know about sporking, I want to try one or two, just to see what they’re like…

    Doitdoitdoitdoitdoit

    Now that you guys mention it, I have actually read books where there was some definite supernatural element, but still were not something I would classify as fantasy/sci-fi/horror outright – in some cases, it was a little ambiguous how real the fantastic element was – and I was never quite sure what to call them. So in that context, actually, “magical realism” is a helpful marker. It would just be nice if it could be used that way and not as a pretentious label to make fantasy sound more socially acceptable.

    I agree, but mostly I like to think of it as a subgenre of fantasy, rather than something else altogether. Which is probably what you’re thinking as well, but I’ve seen a bunch of literary snobs try to say it’s something else altogether, because again, if it’s good it can’t be genre fiction. It’s not a bad label, in and of itself, but it’s not a fully separate one, I think.

    Anyhow, Merry Christmas, guys! Have a good one!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS!

  13. TMary on 30 December 2019, 23:00 said:

    The one paper that I distinctly remember wasn’t actually about Shakespeare, it was bout the book No Country for Old Men which argued that while plot-wise, it looked like a crime novel, it actually couldn’t be, because crime novels are shallow, while this one has, like, themes and stuff, and so therefore it was actually literary fiction disguised as genre fiction in order to deconstruct the expectations we have of genre conventions. Or something.

    Do you suppose it has occurred to any of these so-called critics that crime affects real people in varied and complex ways which can then be the root of a complex and deeply moving novel? No? Well, just thought I’d ask.

    Doitdoitdoitdoitdoit

    Now I wish I’d borrowed one while I was at her house on Christmas Eve. I’ll let you guys know if I get another opportunity…

    I agree, but mostly I like to think of it as a subgenre of fantasy, rather than something else altogether. Which is probably what you’re thinking as well, but I’ve seen a bunch of literary snobs try to say it’s something else altogether, because again, if it’s good it can’t be genre fiction. It’s not a bad label, in and of itself, but it’s not a fully separate one, I think.

    Yeah, that’s pretty much how I think, too. You definitely can’t detach it completely from the larger fantasy genre just because it’s mostly realistic.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS!

    And Happy New Year!