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Marion Zimmer Bradley

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I have just finished a book called The colors of space, it's a light Science fiction book by one of my favorite writers: Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Marion Zimmer Bradley is a fantasy and science fiction writer, although The colors of space is the first science fiction book I read by her, I read many of her fantasy novels of "the Avalon" series, starting with the 1000 pages novel The mists of Avalon (which tells the story of King Arthur from a feminist perspective focusing more on the Priestesses and druids point of view and the celtic culture and religion), and falling in love with it, then following it with 3 of the 4 novels that happen in the same era but are before the story of king Arthur, and with the same perspective.

Reading The Avalon books made me want to read all what she wrote, she has a small series of books about Atlantis..in Avalon, the legend is the first priestesses and druids who came to England where the survivors of the drowning of Atlantis, so I really must read these books.

She also has a big series of science fiction novels called The Darkover

From Wikipedia:

During the early years of space exploration and colonization, Earth-based humans planted a colony on Darkover, a planet which circles a red giant. Through an unpreventable mishap, contact between the colonists and Earth was lost. The ethnic background of the colonists was Celtic and Spanish, and included both pro-technology scientists and techophobic back-to-nature zealots. (...)

Wow!! Science fiction book with a celtic theme, I would sure love these books :-)

It's this matriarchal world that really attracts me, and seeing all the events from the heroines' point of view, although this was not the case in The colors of space, in which the female character had a trivial role in the events.

Comments

Marion is among my favorite writers too, and one of the best women novelists ever.

someimes the Avalon books are more history than fantasy, it's facinating to read her description of the tensions between the old celtic world and the modern roman world, the tension between the matriarchal society and the patriarchal society the roman's brought with them, and then the big battles between the settled people of britania trying to protect two cultures and two traditions in the face of the saxons who are fighting for the more fundemental need to survive coming from the harsh lands of the north.

but thats not all, the conflicts are layered, there is christianity and the old religions, for that same period saw the rise of christianity in England, the first religion to preach equality, the first religion to give hope to the poor, and yet so sweeping, so gloomy, it seems almost againt culture and civilization, and so demeaning to women. and it is fundementally a loosing battle.

but it's even more fascinating to follow that aspect of her books while thinkig of the current western fear of Islamism, it's kinda similar, a force so strong, that brings much hope and sense of justice to it's followers yet the keepers of western traditions and cultures feel so threatened by it and fear it's ability to destruct their way of life, and again seems to be a loosing battle.

but Marion reconciles in the end, for no culture, tradition or idea is ever lost, the goddess lives in the virgin mary and in nature herself, the saxons settle and mix, the roman empire falls but the culture lives on. people, societies, gods and the universe itself change and adapt and live on.

another thing that I love about her writing is there is no start or end to the story, she gives us a short glimpse at a never ending story, her book starts with some central characters and ends when they die but the real story continues, pops up in other books, lives in your imagination and in history.

Wow, Manal and Alaa are suddenly transformed from Mother-fuckers talking only rubbish to highly 'Muthaqqafeen' reading and analysing science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction literature. Oooh, now I believe in Evolution. That cannot be intelligent design?!!!

we talked about this kind of non rubbish before, no sudden transformation here, you just didn't look hard enough.

check category culture and category music and category technology.

good to know that despite being an asshole you still consider fantasy and science fiction a higher form of culture, many consider them silly and shallow.

Feminist fantasy and scifi?

Why does there have to be a bloody feminist variant on everything? It's stupid (if it's a good book that's just too bad; the label is ridiculous).

Soon:

Feminist milk (low-fat but not so low as to obliquely insult dieting women with fascist-masculine insinuations of inadequacy)

Feminist word processor (gender auto-correction facilities in beta, comes in nice pink shrinkwrap as a clever feminist reverse psychology in-your-face protest at the male oppressor's longtime association of pink with women and weakness)

Feminist christmas trees (cheap, made in China, 2% of profits after tax to be donated to rescue species endangered by wars which are a result of man's inability to be reasonable)

the label doesn't really exist, most of Marion's work is not concerned with femenist issues at all.

femenist is how we perceive her work, she did not actually sit down and decide to write a femenist novel.

now as oposed to milk novels are a cultural products, femenism is a socio political movement and a set of values/ideals, novels tend to reflect values/ideals and readers and authors tend to be inspired by and define the world in terms of socio political ideas.

so it is quite natural that femenist fiction and femenist authors will appear, and it is quite natural that some of it will appeal to those who subscribe to femenist ideals, just as there will be novels that project libertarian ideals, novel thats reflect existentialist thoughts, novels that reflect imperialist thoughts, zionist thoughts, humanist thoughts, enlightenment ideals etc.

and you know what? you can read a novel and enjoy it without even agreeing with the philosophy or ideology expressed in it, kipling is usually fun to read though he is a fucking colonialist, shakespere feels like an anti semite but alot of people think he makes a good read (can't see why frankly). etc.

complaining about human beings expressing their philosophy, politics, and ideals is just plain stupid.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -- attributed to Aristotle.

..and there's nothing such as anti-semit*

I think if she's writing about the days of King Arthur from a feminist perspective then it's clearly and unequivocally feminist writing.

Look, let me bring it home to you a little. It's like making a movie about, say, Madonna from the perspective of FOSS. Simply because we're FOSS zealots. And because FOSS is so goddamn important it has to color everything we do. So we shoehorn it in everywhere. And pretty soon, people get sick of it because it's, quite frankly, dumb.

no you are the one who is being dumb.

FOSS is specific to software, but the free sharing of knowledge is not, so if you make a film about madonna that from the perspective of someone who is against copyrights or pro copyleft it would make sense, since madonna happens to be a singer and her works are copyrighted, would it make a good movie? I doubt but then again any movie about madonna is probably going to suck.

now the Arthurian Saga has many central female characters, from the witch Morgain Le Fay to Gwenevere.

it is quite common for authors and filmmakers to treat old stories with a fresh look by trying to present the perspective of a different character, been done hundreds of times, in many cases with great results.

The arthurian saga is typically told in a very male centric way, the female characters are there to ruin everything for these great men and dwestroy their lives. more importantly they happen at a time when the roman rule in britain was declining and when christianity was rising, pre-roman celtic society was a bit matriarchal, the central diety was the goddes and the priestesses where the clergy (there where druids too of course). Roman society was different and they forced their values on the people of britain, christianity was also different.

So to tell the arthurian saga from the perspective of the female characters is normal, to find femenist themes in these times is also quite normal given the tensions I just mentioned.

the Avalon series is about the priestesses fight to retain the old traditions in the face of the romans, the saxons and the christians.

You are misrepresenting my position.

Don't.

I didn't say a movie about copyleft/open culture, I said FOSS. If that makes no sense then good, that was sort of the point. To abstract is a little for you, the idea is to create a work of art viewed form an angle which is entirely irrelevant and therefore absurd. "MAdonna: The Revolutionary Open Source Software behind the Sets" - how does that strike you? Might even be a damn good movie, but in the end, who the bloody hell cares?

Most literature surrounding King Arthur is dominated by central male characters. It's a little thing called "fact". You're painting this picture of women running the show back then and reference is painting a more moderate picture of women having a stronger role than is traditional, but nowhere near justifying calling it "matriarchal" or even "a bit" so. Where'd you get that from, the novel?

It's not as if the historical background the novel is set against was actually woman-centric but succesive male historians repressed this; if a woman did something great 500 years ago and historians have changed the books to ascribe said achievements to a man, then by all means write a book about the great lady. But to hijack an innocent story which by dint of lack of social evolution was male centric to go out of the way to push the women towards the center is disingenuous. Not the kind of literature I'd read, but it comes with an -ism so I suppose it's easy to fall for.

you are discussing a book you did not read, that's ridicolous.

I don't understand where the madona thing comes from or where it is leading to so I'll just ignore it.

the fact that males where central to the events does not mean that all novels have to have males as the only central characters, a story can be told many ways, I didn't say Marion removed the male characters, or made them secondary (she didn't, she has no fight with men, go read the book), all I said is she told the story from their perspective, Morgain Le Fay is the main character of her novel, she is cast in a role very different from the usual so it's a totally different story than what you'd be used to.

I did not paint a picture of women running things back then, you didn't get it, they had a big share in running things before the romans came to birtain, all I said is in the avalon stories the remaining priestesses where trying to regain that position, trying to protect the old pre roman tradition, arthur represents a hybrid of pre-roman celtic and roman traditions and he is the savior of britain from the threat of the saxons.

Marion's assertion is societies don't change quickly so the mostly matriarchal traditions must have lived on outside the main urban centers of the time even until the time of arthur.

now your last paragraph you just assumed you know what the novel is about, historian don't know much about King Arthur yet, all that is there is legend, there are different versions of the legend and they differ considerably, Marion is neither claiming that history repressed the story of a great woman nor is she claiming that the men in the saga where nasty chauvinist pigs nor is she moving them to secondary roles, the stories of the men don't change much, arthur and his knights are there, Lencelot is there and he does fall in love with Gwenevere's, there is a quest for the holly grail, it's all in there, you just get to see the story told by Morgain, and it is the women whose stories are changed, and elaborated upon.

I also tried to explain that the women thing is not the only theme in the book, the roman vs. celtic, the saxon vs. all, the christian vs. all are all themes in the book.

she tells stories of women from the era, you are angry about it, I'm confused.

you don't know what you are talking about, and without reading the books you won't so let it go.

One thing you're right about is that I should read the book; it's true that my positions will be construede (may even be, I'm not perfect) as less weighty having not read it.

But the thing is, I'm more pissed off that a genre such as "feminist fantasy" exists than whether this book is a manifestation of such genre or not.

It is my opinion that there are some categories of culture which I will avoid simply because, by default, it is dumb. Example: I wouldn't bother with white supremacist rock music, why should I bother with feminist fantasy?

To preempt, I disagree that this limits my options. It would only limit options if lifetimes were infinite. Given a finite space of time to pick and choose culture to which I am exposed, I'm glad to let someone else buy books like that. In my weltanschauung, it isn't worth my time.

your position is, the mists of avalon is a big book though, don't start with it, read one of her science fiction books and see if you like her style, apart from the feminism thing, if you do then give mists a try, if you don't then drop it wi khalas.

I don't know if there is a genre called "femenist fantasy", all we said is Mists of Avalon feeled like it presented a feminist point of view, fantasy like any other art can harbour a full spectrum of views, this one happens to feel feminist, I really don't know why this is annoying you, seems like an irrational reaction to me.

if you consider feminism dumb or wrong or whatever you might still want to check her books, not to broaden your choices (when did I ever say it limits your choices?), but because her book has much more than femenism and the other aspects might appeal to you.

It's not feminism which pisses me off, it's the tendency to shoehorn it everywhere.

Feminism is fine, but there is this tendency to stick it where it doesn't organically fit in simply because some proponents can be relatively militant about it. It's almost monomaniacal.

I'll take your word for these books not being nauseatingly jingoistic, you've read them I haven't. If that is the case, then fortunately they don't claim constituency as members of the "feminist fantasy" genre.

My objection is to the existence of such a genre, not to feminism or these books.

Well, I just do believe that despite your hollow attempts (you and those around you) to show some cultural base for yourselves as a political group or people with a political orientation your failure I doing so never ceases to amaze me!

You people have to understand that a chang3e needs a cultural base, and you simply lack it! (like you say sexual freedom, religious betengan tolerance, etc…) things that don’t exist in the US for example, sexual freedom is being fought for in the US uptill now and the efforts are strongly going backwards, so to come in Egypt and ask to start from where the Netherlands have ended in terms of cultural change shows how empty you people are! This of course can’t happen unless your eager for an Iraq like change…which by the way is gonna make your little furry butts burn in earthly hell!

what political group are you talking about? you seem to think that this blog is a mouth piece for a specific political group? can't see what put this idea in your mind.

Me and Manal participated in some politicaly oriented events organized by a bunch of political groups, we agree with these different groups on certain issues and participate when we have the time, we also try to help any group even if we don't agree with use the web effectively.

the cultural base (whatever that is) of these groups has nothing to do with how cultured Manal and Alaa are, Manal and Alaa are simply insignificant to these groups.

we are not trying to show a cultural base for anything, we are trying to talk about books, music and other cultural artifacts that we like to share with the world.

how did a piece on a fantasy and science fiction writer, a piece on blues music and a piece on a crime writer turn into a cultural base for people with a political orientation in your mind is beyond me. of course we are failing to do that, because we are not trying to do any of that to begin with.

who is we people? and what fucking change? the only change we said we are working on is freaking democracy and freaking free software, I can't see that we as individuals, the group of people we happen to work with or the whole country lacks a cultural anything that is required in order to have democracy and to use free software.

I fail to see how we actively worked on promoting sexual freedoms in Egypt, maybe you can give me a link or something. do I want sexual freedom in Egypt? yes, do I believe in sexual freedom? yes, are we even pretending to be working on it? no, do we consider it a cause to fight for? not really

now can we get back to talking about science fiction?

One of the things I can't quite grasp is why some people insist that a given blog exists, and is maintained, with the sole purpose of giving them itches up the rectum!

The idea is very DNAian to me, I can imagine a cyberpunk short story based on it :)

The web is so vast that it is probably much easier to forget about a site which you don't like than to keep coming back to it.

Although advances in search technology and social-selection of content magnifying (ironically) the network-effect is making certain spots on the web so radiantly hot that an observer can hardly avoid bumping into them, similar tools allow a person to put a smoke-glass on their viewport to the web so thick that it can even make the name of Microschrot disappear and be as if it never existed. These tools exist now, are free, and require little technical knowledge.

oh..and change doesn't require a base of any kind other than sincere and brave people, who above all have dignity.

Netherlands, USofA, Poland, Ukrania, Zimbabwe..these are only learnt lessons; nothing more, and nothing less.

i just wish that people stop their ever lasting habit of judging each other. Just read the goddamn book if u want and give it a bloody chance...

Manal was talking about a book she liked, sharing her experience with people who might like it... why should a book make her dumb or smart and get us talking about culture and educational exposure?? should we all read philosophy to be up to some sort of standards?? how about the junk we read in newspapers every day??? bloody hell!!

the funny part is, some one is calling the whole topic dump while someone else was bloody impressed of how can manal and Alaa become "mothaqafeen" all of a sudden!!! as if the whole topic is about them and their beleifs but not the book!!

please understand ya sha3b masr... focus on the topic... these side discussions are the biggest waste of time!