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Subverting the dominant paradigm

May 3rd, 2010 (08:26 pm)

current mood: grim

I finally finished Charles Stross's Family Trade books. (I'd put off getting #5 until it was in paperback; then, when I saw #6 was out in hardcover, I broke down and got both at once. Then I started from the beginning.) He has said that he set out to subvert the standard fantasy formula, but somehow I was still expecting a happy ending. About the most you can say in that direction is that the protagonist survived. So did about half a dozen of her friends, and a couple of hundred offstage relatives. Most of her nation, however, did not.

What really rattled me, though, was seeing America through Stross's eyes. I'm afraid he got us dead-on: with an enemy that would be unable to react, in a place where the fallout would never reach us, yes, we could be provoked into nuking a whole country into oblivion. (The story presented some of the people not dying in the attack; but their harvest, and their water supply, will be too poisoned to support them.) We're too convinced that we're Special.