skygiants: Cha Song Joo, from Capital Scandal, demonstrating all the fucks she gives (u mad)
[personal profile] skygiants
So I read Diana Peterfreund's Across a Star-Swept Sea, which is the sequel to For Darkness Shows The Stars. The pres of For Darkness Shows the Stars was that's post-apocalyptic Persuasion, and when I read it last year I really enjoyed it!

I have more mixed feelings about Across a Star-Swept Sea, which is post-apocalyptic Scarlet Pimpernel retelling starring a female Percy Blakeney and which therefore should have been 110% up my alley.

Some of that is the setup, which I felt kind of weird about in For Darkness Shows the Stars, and I couldn't pinpoint or explain exactly why at the time so I ignored it; the best way I have to say it is that the design of the post-apocalyptic setup kind of flattens fairly complicated issues of neurodiversity. And even though Across the Star-Swept Sea is in some ways actually better and less flattening about that, the way it's used and made a plot point made me feel more uncomfortable. But that might be just me? I don't know! Anyway, I don't feel qualified to talk about that, although if anybody does want to talk about that I FULLY WELCOME you to, please, let's have that conversation!

Anyway what I do feel qualified to talk about is SCARLET PIMPERNEL AUS, so ... let's talk about that instead!

Scarlet Pimpernel AU stuff I really liked:
- the fact that Lady Percy Blakeney (okay, "Persis Blake") has a circle of female schoolfriends who correspond to the Prince of Wales and the members of the League. The Andrew Ffoulkes equivalent is named ANDRISSE. This is actually my favorite thing. Yes, please, leagues of women fighting evil together!
- the fact that Armand St. Just almost always acts fourteen anyway, so making him a fourteen-year-old girl is both perfect and ... results in that character actually being MORE competent and effective than in the original
- the fact that Dude Marguerite is just as overall useless at rescuing Percy as Original Marguerite is
- the fact that Lady Chauvelin is not in love with Dude Marguerite (which I was afraid of and would have been awful) but just really mad that her fake cousin/BFF ditched her AND THE REVOLUTION
- the fact that there is a scene in which Persis Blake makes up stupid rhymes. They are not, sadly, as stupid as in the original. Still, she makes up stupid rhymes, which I respect.
- the fact that no one is white
- the fact that there are a lot of descriptions of really over-the-top and elaborate fashion

Scarlet Pimpernel AU stuff I did not like:
- PERSIS BLAKE IS NOT HAVING ENOUGH FUN

Okay, here is the thing -- and, okay, a few posts back I called this type of character the Troll Hero, so let's keep going with that. The thing about the Troll Hero, and Percy Blakeney is kind of the epitome of the Troll Hero, is that the archetype involves a level of EXTREME self-confidence that hits the point of arrogance. Percy Blakeney can pull off his Scarlet Pimpernel masquerade because he genuinely does not care what other people think of him. He knows he's amazing. If everybody's laughing at him, that's even better! The ultimate joke is always on them, because he knows he's in control, and he can manipulate other people to do what he wants (you know, for the greater good). And he loves it. (Until Marguerite, and angst, etc., but this is the gist.)

Who writes women like that?

Who writes women who are so confident in themselves, who are so aware of the fact that they're smarter than everyone around them that it literally does not matter what the rest of the world thinks?

Who writes women who are laughing at everyone else around them all the time? Who are laughing at everyone else around them all the time, heroically?

Almost nobody writes women like that. People hate female characters like that. A woman who's confident enough to know she's smarter than other people? God, no! What a bitch!

Persis Blake does not have that level of rock-solid confidence. Persis Blake is afraid of her mask slipping; she's distressed at the lies she has to tell to the people around her; she's angry, she's frustrated, she's worried. And these are all completely reasonable reactions to have to her situation, but -- man, most of the time it seems like she's not having ANY fun.

Persis Blake is not at all a bad character, but ... guys, I just really want some more female troll heroes. I want them to know they're smarter than everyone around them, and to be right. I want them to be total jerks. I want them to have SO MUCH FUN.

Date: 2014-03-23 11:54 pm (UTC)
newredshoes: radio tower on top of the world (hollow crown | shoosh with your face)
From: [personal profile] newredshoes
...I may be keeping this note in mind.

Date: 2014-03-24 01:29 am (UTC)
nextian: From below, a woman and a flock of birds. (Default)
From: [personal profile] nextian
I've been thinking this over, because I started trying to catch up, and I'm not sure this is a rec because I haven't had time to really backread and remember finding it very confusing, but I've finally realized that Griffin in Dicebox is the rare female troll hero and she is definitely (and despite powerful reasons to not) having a great time. (Though she's more genderqueer than female.. man, I gotta reread it and track down exactly what she says about how she identifies.)

Anyway, thanks for reminding me I gotta read For Darkness.
Edited Date: 2014-03-24 01:33 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-08-21 09:08 pm (UTC)
nextian: From below, a woman and a flock of birds. (Default)
From: [personal profile] nextian
Hi it's been three full years and I'm reading For Darkness and came back to find yr review of it, and holy shit this world-setup is uncomfortable, are you still interested in an articulation of this in this troubled time or like would you rather I just reread Persuasion and sigh longingly at you abt Frederick/Anne because I think that's the next step on this journey, happy to do either

Date: 2014-03-24 01:40 am (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
so what I'm taking away from this post is that I should read The Scarlet Pimpernel?

(also omfg I want ALLLL the lady troll heroes yes pls!)

Date: 2014-03-24 01:52 am (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
Out of my liking for being prepared going in, what are its flaws?

Did you ever write up a post about The Scarlet Pimpernel, btw? I went wandering through your tags but all I could find was a writeup about the Takarazuka production of the musical.

Date: 2014-03-24 02:00 am (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
Thank you! Those sound like flaws I can manage.

And I will look forward to reading your thoughts if/when you do go on a binge in the future. :D
Edited Date: 2014-03-24 02:03 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-24 02:54 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I just really want some more female troll heroes. I want them to know they're smarter than everyone around them, and to be right. I want them to be total jerks. I want them to have SO MUCH FUN.

You want to read Gemma Files. Some of her female characters of that description are monsters, literally, but I don't necessarily see that as a drawback.

Date: 2014-03-24 03:03 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
As it happens, I already have the entire series on my Kindle and two long plane flights coming up!

I will also give you the strongest possible advance recommendation for her forthcoming We Will All Go Down Together, which has female characters all over the place—multiple protagonists and antagonists—and is stone cold awesome. In the meantime, check out "Crossing the River," which is not part of the Five-Family Coven continuity only by a fluke of genetics.

Date: 2014-03-24 03:28 am (UTC)
lacewood: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lacewood
I love troll heroes but it is a fact that THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH LADY VERSIONS. It is a severe cosmic imbalance in the universe itself. >:(

I mean, universe, Touma Saya is excellent and I fully agree she meets and EXCEEDS all possible troll hero requirements TO INFINITY AND BEYOND, but she is still only one example

Date: 2014-03-25 11:06 am (UTC)
lacewood: (calling london)
From: [personal profile] lacewood
A GOOD THING INDEED. :D

Also, while Osawa Eriko from Boss isn't EXACTLY a troll hero, a good many of her cases do involve her trolling criminals! It's great! I just feel she doesn't qualify because she only reserves it for (some) criminals and doesn't troll people in the rest of her life, ahaha.

One day I should read The Scarlet Pimpernel. ONE DAY.

Date: 2014-03-26 03:02 am (UTC)
lacewood: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lacewood
OSAWA ERIKO WILL BE WORTH THE ATTEMPT. I mean, maybe my opinion is kind of biased. But she's worth it. :D

Date: 2014-03-24 03:42 am (UTC)
betony: (Default)
From: [personal profile] betony
*sneaks in to salute your choice of icon, because, as a new fan of Capital Scandal, CSJ is probably the best, and well, only female troll hero I can think of*
But otherwise, I am disappointed that this particular book doesn't have as much fun with gender swapped Scarlet Pimpernel as I would expect! (Also, being vague to avoid spoilers here, but...though I know everyone's aged down and therefore it's more or less logical, I feel like Justen and Persis's relationship lacked the genuine desperation of Percy and Marguerite's situation --I mean, the latter two are pretty much stuck indefinitely in their status quo at the beginning of TSP, where the same legal and cultural pressures don't seem to apply to Justen and Persis--and for that reason, didn't work for me quite as well as the original.)
Edited Date: 2014-03-24 03:43 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-24 05:32 pm (UTC)
cahn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cahn
Hmm! I think this is one of the (super many) things I love about Gunnerkrigg Court -- Antimony isn't exactly a troll hero, nor is she immune to frustration or worry, but in a real way she has a lot of self-confidence, knows that she's different from everyone else, and is for the most part cool with that and even welcomes it. (My favorite part being where she and everyone else assumed that the Court was going to pick her as the court medium...)

And then there's Veronica Mars. Who, again, lots of angst, of course. Then again, there's Veronica Mars is smarter than you! which is made of win.

I wish I could think of more... that's all I can come up with right now.

Date: 2014-03-24 06:19 pm (UTC)
ghost_lingering: The statue of Bethesda in Central Park (belief with wings and arms to carry you)
From: [personal profile] ghost_lingering
Most of the woman I can think of who are smarter/better than everyone and know it are also not the protagonists. Toph (AtLA) ... Olivia (FMA) ... And many of the woman who start as smarter/better then get smacked down by the narrative. Other people mention VMars and Cha Song Joo above and I think those are two examples of women who are better and smarter and then have to pay for it in ways that male counterparts would and do not have to (sexual violence, death).

If robots count then TSCC has a few. Sarah Connor isn't a troll hero because she's not in control, but Weaver and to a lesser extent Cameron are troll heroes. Robotic ones ones that are quite possibly also evil, but. And speaking of evil, Elementary has [SPOILERS]. But evil women who are in control need to be shut down because they are evil, so you still get the problem that these female troll villains are made to pay for their trollness in ways that their male counterparts would not.

Date: 2014-03-25 03:24 pm (UTC)
ghost_lingering: Weaver gets down to Savannah's level and looks her in the eyes (daughters of robots)
From: [personal profile] ghost_lingering
Ahh, well your examples of troll heroes who pay penalties are ones I'm not familiar with, so! That might be part of why it seemed to me like troll hero woman pay more than the men. I do wonder if I knew the male heroes of which you speak if I would get the same sense that they are made to pay specifically because of their troll hero-ness as opposed to just because of a narrative need for angst. Thoughts?

(I should also say, when I think of troll hero I immediately think of Sherlock in all the incarnations and they don't pay in the same ways even if they do have angst in their backstories. Plus, massive Sherlock issues over here, so.)

(Also, Death Note: can be summed up as troll hero vs troll villain, y/y? Maybe I would actually like Death Note if they would both women.)

Another troll hero/villain (it's hard to tell sometimes) that I thought of: Rose Cross Benjamin from Kings. She's not the protagonist and she manipulates against other master manipulators but she's still pretty great and comes out ahead more often than not. And for the most part she is very self-satisfied by her manipulations. And it occurs to me, belatedly, that canons with mysteries or politics are really the ones to look for for troll heroes.

Date: 2014-03-25 03:19 am (UTC)
gramarye1971: Kasahara Iku holding Library Force badge (Toshokan Sensou: Insignia)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
I was running through my mental list of anime characters in search of troll heroines, and I think that Asako Shibasaki from Library Wars, while unfortunately not the main character heroine, is at least able to troll her way heroically through the narrative and not get smacked down for it. For someone who comes across as smart and confident throughout the narrative, she takes it to another level when she cheerfully outplots the series' quasi-villain (Satoshi) and not only traps him with his own logic, but makes him join her side. (It delights me that he's enough of a Magnificent Bastard himself to admit defeat gracefully and encourage her to continue to lovingly troll Tedzuka, which is fantastic because Tedzuka is so very troll-able.) Even in her more vulnerable moments, her doubts are never in her own abilities or how they come across to other people, but rather in the fact that she can't always tell her friends everything because it might compromise a mission or put them in more danger -- a plot point that makes her angry, but doesn't denigrate her skills.

And yet, not the main character. But still a worthy addition to the Troll Heroine list, even as a secondary character.

Date: 2014-05-01 12:13 am (UTC)
strangeattractor: strangeattractor logo (Default)
From: [personal profile] strangeattractor
I was thinking about whether I'd encountered some female troll heroes, and here are some characters that came to mind:

Oar in Ascending by James Alan Gardner. She is a transparent woman from an Earth-like planet. She is pretty confident, and ends up being right most of the time. If you want a taste for her style and voice, there's a sample on the website.

Isabel in a poem called "The Adventures of Isabel" by Ogden Nash. I have loved this poem ever since I was a child, and I think Isabel's supreme confidence is part of why.

Eve Dallas in J.D. Robb's (aka Nora Roberts') futuristic romance mysteries. She generally doesn't take crap from anybody, except occasionally her friends. She seems well aware that she's the best cop in the city, and will use her reputation to her advantage. She isn't exactly laughing at everyone around her, and I'm not sure she's exactly what you had in mind as a troll hero, but she is confident.

It has been a while since I read it, but I recall that Gypsy Rizka, in Lloyd Alexander's short stories, seemed to outsmart people most of the time, and to be confident in her own abilities.

And, one non-female character who might be a troll hero: Drake Majistral in Walter Jon Williams stories. He's a famous Allowed Burglar, and the joke does tend to be on those around him. The first story is called "The Crown Jewels".

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