Thursday, February 12, 2009

SSS: "Heroes Welcome"

I had to remind myself of what the editors said in the introduction.

Spicy Slipstream Stories was born of two things - a burning desire to make fun of all things 'slipstream', and a love of the occasional brilliant line that bubbled out of the classic pulp tales of the first part of the last century. pg 10

See, John Bowker's "Heroes Welcome" opens as an obnoxious pulp story with a hyper-masculine James Carter having a post-coital cigarette in the breeze of the open door of a plane. When the woman wakes and tells him no man ever made her feel like that before, Carter quickly puts a parachute on her and pushes her out of the plane.

My disgust was evident from the start. So, like I said, I had to remind myself of what I only hoped Bowker was doing here. The story opens with all sorts of pulp absurdity like Carter saving the plane as it crashes, having sex with all sorts of women who are also on randomly deserted island, and all in all talking serious hero smack.

Then the story turns with the introduction of an independant woman named Rose who doesn't think the world revolves around Carter and has her own ideas as to how to get off the island. It's not that things get better for Rose, but things get progressively worse for Carter as the hero-worship wears thin.


I don't know. Intellectually (or, as intellectual as I get), I like what Bowker does with "Heroes Welcome" and how he turns the whole thing on Carter and gives the man comeuppance. That's great.

I never could exactly get past my opening disgust even though I knew, more or less, where the story was going. I should be able to accept the absurdity of the story and and there was no chance Mamatas and Lake would have bought a straight pulp tale that doesn't turn the conventions of pulp tales, but "Heroes Welcome" still doesn't work for me. I understand what the story is doing and why. It just wasn't enough.

"Heroes Welcome" isn't my kind of story.


scholargipsy said...

Speaking as someone who taught the story to a group of fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds, it seems to me that you may have misunderstood the author's intent, the realism quotient of the story (and indeed, the entire genre to which it belongs), and the significance of the female characters to the design of the whole narrative.

Of course you are entitled to your opinion and your own affective reaction -- I would never say otherwise. Respectfully, though, my own opinion is that you've somewhat missed the point.

Joe said...

Hi John,

I think I understood the intent, and I do understand that this is not a simple "classic" pulp story, but rather one that turns the pulp ultra-masculine convention on its head (the men are ineffectual, after all).

I just didn't like it, and part of my issue was my difficulty in getting past the set up. I know that. I should have more appreciated the reverse and the comeuppance of Carter. Didn't. :)

Didn't work for me.

Thanks for the comment.

Joe said...

Oh, by the way...I am very much serious about this...

I appreciate when someone stops by, reads the review, and then disagrees with everything I said and tells me why.

I honestly love it.

I say this because
a) it is true

b) it is true and I have a review of Stephanie Meyer's New Moon going up in two and half hours and John's response is so far preferable to the "alright, that was ridiculous. Those books are the most amazing things i have ever read and all you can say is that it was awful. HOW CAN YOU HONESTLY THINK THOSE BOOKS ARE BAD? i don't know a single person who dislikes those books and then i read this. this is the most stupidly critical thing i have ever read." comment I received on my Twilight review. For reals.

c) it gives me further chance to reflect and think about whether I missed something in my reading of the story or novel and if I was perhaps unfair. (In this case I don't think I did or was).

It's the telling me why part I like. It is also way easier to take behind the veil of the internet.