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11 May 2009 @ 09:51 pm
The Seven Citadels  
When I was in middle school, I read (some of?) The Seven Citadels, by Geraldine Harris. It's a fairly generic fantasy quartet (what's the word for a series with four books?). I've just finished reading the first two books again, and discovered that I remembered almost none of it, and that it's more interesting than I remembered.

Oddly, it's almost a What These People Need Is A Honky situation -- blessed and God-dispatched protagonist brothers for whom everything goes right, weird foreign servant whose respect they earn and who constantly sacrifices his comfort for their benefit, coming from a blessed land falling into disrepair and bringing the gifts of Golden Galkis (their home city) through all the lands they touch. They also do things like bring bows and arrows to the tribesmen they meet, because the tribesmen hunt entirely with thick spears from cowback, and apparently nobody ever, y'know, brought bows over during the regular commerce between advanced countries on both sides of them. Or horses, but there aren't as many horses in the books so far.

Only one major difference springs to mind -- they're brown-skinned and brown-haired, mostly with vaguely Asian-sounding names (what nationality would "Kerish Lo-Taan" be?), and most of the people they're dealing with are white folks. The servant is pale white, if toad-shaped, and most of the primitive natives are either green-haired and -skinned or golden-skinned and white-haired like the bowless cow-riders above.

So then, do I call it What These People Need Is A Chink?
r_transpose_pr_transpose_p on May 13th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Oooh, while we're at it, I just read "A Deepness in the Sky"

The bad guys are backwards totalitarian caucasians, and the "good guys" are a technologically advanced, racially non-uniform, interstellar trading society in which most people have Asian names (their most famous "starship captain" is named "Pham Nuwen" (presumably a better transliteration of "Pham Nguyen" than the one we'd use))

At first one is botered by the "cold war mentality" and "quasi-religious libertarian dogma" but the book gets more nuanced as it goes on. Kinda dark, but really solid in the "hard sci fi" category.

It has some other nuance as well. There is alien contact with an alien species which is less anthropomorphic than the usual sci-fi tripe, but not quite as "alien" as one would see in a Stanislaw Lem novel. The twist is that the "humans" play a role that "aliens" usually play in our fiction and the "aliens" play a role that "humans" usually play in our fiction.

Overall a good read (note : long and slow. Reading "A Deepness in the Sky" (one book) takes about as much time as plowing through the entire "Ringworld" series)
r_transpose_pr_transpose_p on May 13th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
p.s. You can see I've made "good use of my time" since finishing the work for my PhD.