why I’m loving Erikson more by the page
Something completely and utterly unique about the Malazan fantasy series is that sexism and racism in Genabackis seem to be completely nonexistent, as if Erikson refuses to even hint at any such stupid and ignorant problems such as cultural inequality between the sexes and peoples due to their biology in his fantastical world that he created. In Erikson’s world, the people are smart enough to realize the ignorance of sexism and racism to the point where they don’t even address such things in anyway because they are nonexistent.For example, the armies are made up of as much women as men, and it’s not uncommon for a woman to be Commander of the Claw or Empress or Adjunct. Erikson is a genius in this way because he portrays all of these women and people in general with all these different phenotypes working in high-ranking, respected positions and making it not a problem at all by anyone around them. It’s the norm in Genabackis and what a beautiful example that sets for it’s readers.
totally old stuff but whatever, I am digging through the Malazan tag here and ahhh, this is one of those huge things I love about this series.
And I’m going to go one further to say another thing that doesn’t seem to exist in Wu is homo/bi-phobia — nor are characters stunted emotionally by ‘no homo’ mindsets. I was pretty sure Mappo and Icarium Were A Thing the first time through because the magic four-letter ‘l’ word was dropped, but that was before I realized I could really trust SE in a way I really don’t feel I can with just about any author.
But seriously, there are quite a number of powerful — mentally, physically and politically — LGBTQ characters in this series, and no one is looked down on for it. Sexuality, in all its forms, just isn’t a thing. Strong, manly men make the occasional joke about cross-dressing and drunken fooling around and no fucks are given — no christian side-hugs, no excuses for moments of emotion and love on a deep platonic level. Lead characters are identified and nothing is made for it — in fact, I can only remember one particular instance of a man looking at a lesbian and making any sort of jab at men missing out, and he ends up being such a massive asshole that it’s just one more drop in the douche bucket. The only even remotely notably ‘flamboyant’ character that gets joked about has a surprisingly compelling story, and the joke isn’t so much on him as the clueless lady that wants in his pants. (I’d really love to elaborate on some of these, but I have people new to the series and I’m trying hard to keep them spoiler-free ♥)
SE handles the complexities of sexuality with the same grace, wit, and love that he handles many other sensitive topics often done poorly — take Beak. Take Chaur. When was the last time you read a take on mental illness in a fantasy novel that wasn’t condescending or cliche? ’They are not broken, only different’ has never been so heart-wrenching or eye-opening; I cried myself sick over Beak, and still do every time I read that book.
But for all this gushing, it’s never a sole identifier, or even an important one. You will never hear these characters referred to as ‘the lesbian general’ or ‘the flaming marine with the scimitars’ or anything of that nature — no fanfare is announced. SE doesn’t lay out these characters like he should be patted on the back for being so ~liberal and open-minded~ in a traditionally-conservative genre. It’s not man-kink lesbian action; both the men and the ladies get comparable numbers on the board. Sometimes, you’ll miss it completely; it took me three times through to catch the line about Deryg, because SE holds to the same standards in his work as in his world: these are not the important things. Characters — people — are not, and should not be defined by the shapes of the bodies they like rubbing against, if they’re into that sort of thing at all.
And that’s awesome.
Reason #98509 to read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. He’ll curb-stomp your feelings into a million teeny unrecoverable pieces, but he will neverpiss you off with the usual array of -isms.
reblogging again as I see more and more people criticizing and questioning GRRM’s writing when it comes to female characters and a friendly reminder that this is what i’ve been trying to say all along ok pce