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reading tiger

OK, I confess. I didn't much like "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love"; it felt a little too obviously manipulative rather than stirring (and I also had consistency issues that make me feel like a plodding literalist geek, i.e. if he's a five-foot-something dinosaur with fragile bones he's not going to be very frightening to much of anyone, is he?). But neither do I understand the virulent hatred it seems to inspire in some people. It was prettily written, emotionally true but not particularly revelatory, and ended up feeling competent but slight. It was publishable but not award-worthy. It was OK. And so every time this story is discussed or reposted, pro or con, I feel utterly bewildered.

Comments

I was really moved by it, but I AM really easily manipulated by sap. Having read your post on it and reflected, I do find the piece lacking in substance.
Fwiw, I'm with you. But I don't think the obvious manipulation is what its detractors object to. ("The Cold Equations" was manipulative too.)
You're quite right, I don't think what I dislike about it has anything to do with what the Haters hate about it. Which seems to be, basically, that it's prettily written and is about feeeeeelings.

Edited at 2015-04-08 06:21 am (UTC)
Also, it reads best as an extended metaphor. (Or maybe a simile. Whatever.) And while the Haters understand the concept of fiction as "entertaining lies" (which is better than the Fundamentalists), they mostly can't cope with fiction that lies about the subject it is lying about. It just blows their minds and makes them go, "wait, what was I just reading about?" and pulls the rug from under their smug certainties.

If your world view is rigidly straitjacketed in terms of black/white male/female goodguy/badguy, that's got to be annoying.
I didn't care for it myself. And yet: It didn't win! The voting process worked! Ugh, people.
I didn't like it either. The combination of anaphora and the meme-friendly subject matter (dinosaurs, yeah!) made it very amenable to viral transmission, even outside of SF circles. Sort of like some goofy thing you might spend five minutes reading on The Toast. Utterly unworthy of awards.

Of course, it's also not suitable to wave as a bloody shirt around the Hugos, as it lost the Hugo. The Nebulas should be embarrassed, but if they're not embarrassed after Mormon rape whales showed up (another Neb winner, Hugo loser) they never will be. The plain and simple reason that it's used by the Puppies is because Swirsky is a woman, fat, publishes frequently and gets many award nominations. The end.
I got two of those! Can I be half a bloody shirt?
Also, I don't understand the *love* for this story just as much as I don't understand the hate. Bunches of people have gone and looked it up due to the Sad Puppies denouncements and then reposted it with gushing praise. They cried! It was so powerful! I scratch my head again.
It's a political stance at this point. What are they gonna say—"The Puppies made fun of it and they're all sexist homophobes and I looked at this story they hated so much and it was pretty tedious."
Well, they could shrug and say nothing. At least a couple of the post-Puppy gushes I saw were from people who don't even normally read SF and just got wind of this because it blew up so big and they were curious. Maybe their expectations were so low that they surprised themselves?
The story did escape the confines of online SF when it was first published too. Might just be people reading it like a meme or a funny The Toast feature.
It's true, for a meme it's *deep*.
I liked the story enough that I didn't feel like I'd wasted my time after reading it. Because it's fantasy of how things could be different made up by a person who is standing by the bedside of their partner in the immediate aftermath after what is likely a deadly assault, I gave it a pass on consistency and verisimilitude, etc. I think if it had been perfectly consistent or sensible it would have felt too perfect given the circumstances. The flaws make it more true.

I think Swirsky absolutely intended for it to be obvious and manipulative, and the premise allows for it. It comes off as sad (emotionally) and impassioned and twee and could easily have been published in a magazine aimed at teaching college students how to decorate their dorm on a budget. It is a story that reaches some people right to the core, for various reasons, and those people will swallow it whole without any of the trouble that you or I have digesting it.

The reason I only liked it well enough was because of the obviousness and tweeness and 101-feel of the politics (as you said, not particularly revelatory). I think those were appropriate artistic choices for the piece, but not to my liking. It was cute and I liked some of the images. The end.

I don't think it's sophisticated enough to warrant an award, but I don't understand the hatred towards it either. At worst, it warrants a shrug of, "Eh, not for me."

Quibble: at 5'10", which is half a foot taller than me, and a little taller than the average height for men in most countries (and hell, dogs are scary at maybe three feet tall and weighing only a hundred pounds), I think the would-be assailants would be plenty scared to find themselves (suddenly?) facing a dinosaur with all the teeth and claws that comes with. And being tough-looking is sometimes enough that no one need find out you're not actually tough.
Yes, this makes sense. Thank you.

Although if we're going to quibble, "then nothing could break you" REALLY contradicts the fragile-boned bit.
Mmm, but I don't see internal consistency being a strength to this piece. Imagine it as a rough draft someone is running out of their head, hospital-bedside. The bits of this piece that stick out at odd angles make it seem more real than if it was polished and everything added up neatly. Or at least, it would be a very different piece.

A stretch argument is that the terrifying-ness of being a dinosaur intimidates people so that no one ever has the courage to attempt assault, so, "nothing could break you."
Like I said, my reaction made me feel like a plodding literalist; I think that for me a number of odd not-quite-fitting details would have been and were OK but when they crossed the line into (in my eyes) outright contradiction the story lost me. Not enough to be ragey but enough to be mildly irritated instead of appropriately moved. "It threw me out of the story," as they say.
I just read it, thanks to all the Sad Puppies hoopla on my FB, and didn't like it much either. It felt like a writing exercise rather than a story. Of course I was curious and wondering what the payoff would be, but when it came my reaction was "oh how clever" rather than a gut punch. Milage varies.

One line - "...calling you a fag, a towel-head, a shemale, a sissy, a spic, every epithet they could think of..." - felt like it had been chosen a little too carefully. It would have been enough to say he'd simply been beaten to death in a robbery or some such.

I don't understand the hatred and I wouldn't have given it an award, but that's what makes horse races.