21 February 2003

I just checked the 2002 Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll results . . . . My story "A Gift of Bones and Motley Feathers," published last autumn in Fables, placed 24th in the Short Story -- Romance category. Of course, that's number 24 out of 27, plus each place often has multiple stories (for example, "A Gift" is tied with two other stories for 24th place). I still can't figure out why the story ended up in Romance. I wrote it as fantasy. It has a not-happy ending. I don't write romance . . .

Just finished reading The Iron Woman by Ted Hughes. It's the sequel to The Iron Man, the book on which the wonderful animated movie The Iron Giant was based. I saw the movie first, and loved it. Then I encountered The Iron Man in a collection called The Puffin Book of Modern Fairy Tales, which had reprinted the first three parts. It was fabulous, and I wondered why they hadn't printed the whole thing. The anthology wasn't very thick, and could have stood the addition of a few more pages. So then I found The Iron Man (the whole thing) in a used bookstore. Yay! But when I read it, I discovered why Puffin had only included the first three parts in their anthology. The last two parts are just (or nearly) as well written, but the plot takes a sudden turn. It's a lovely story about a metal-eating giant robot, but you have to skip from wondering, "Where are they going to find enough metal to keep feeding him?" to the attack of a giant Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon (yes, I said Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon). I can't jump that far so suddenly; it hurts.

So what about The Iron Woman? Well, the writing is mostly still pretty gorgeous, except occasionally it's very bad. And the story is a blatant moral tale about how we are destroying the environment. Now, I don't have anything against such stories. The crappy things we are doing to our homeworld are deeply disturbing. On the other hand, I don't like being hit over the head with a heavy blunt object. To make things worse, the Iron Woman comes to save the day (with the help of the Iron Man, of course, because what woman could save the day on her own? aargh). She has the amazing powers of the Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon to help her out. She turns all the men into fish and other water creatures (great illustrations!). The world falls apart -- phones stop working, cars run out of gas, the electricity goes out -- because there are no men to run things (because what woman could run the world without a man? aargh). But then the Iron Woman sets things right once she's taught everyone (or, the men at least) their lesson ("Who will clean you up?" "Mother will clean me up.") This book was published in 1993!!

Well, I didn't mean to get quite so annoyed. I didn't hate the book that much. There were some good things in it. Nice illos. And I'm sure no one will listen to me, but my advice is this:

  • rent Iron Giant, watch it many times;
  • find a copy of The Iron Man, read the first three chapters many times;
  • do not, no matter how tempted you may be, read parts four and five of The Iron Man and especially don't read The Iron Woman.

    So there.
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