Taking a look at “Amazons and Predators”
As both an editor and a writer, I’m often concerned with the question of what constitutes a story and what makes a story good. As a reader, the answer is fairly simple, if it entertains me without driving me crazy in some way, and gives me something to ponder, I’m pretty happy.
A little over a year ago, Danielle Ackley-McPhail invited me to submit a story to an anthology called Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory. The theme of the anthology is Military fae and she suggested I write something about Amazon fae. I’ll address my approach to creating “Amazon fae” at another time. However, the theme dovetailed with some of my own questions about the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan, what it means to the world at large, and the nature of warfare itself.
Sitting on panels at science fiction conventions, I have heard an idea posed almost as dogma. The idea is that a story must be deeply involved with character and it must involve a major change in one of the characters. Now, I think its great when a story does that, but I don’t believe it’s a fundamental requirement. An example of a type of story that doesn’t do that is a parable. A story-parable is meant to be a catalyst for thought. It’s meant to present ideas that you can learn from. “Amazons and Predators” is not a parable, but it is meant to be a catalyst for thought.
One question that I pose in the story is whether the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan is really a war of liberation or if it’s really an act of revenge for the actions of terrorists on September 11, 2001. I don’t pretend to have an answer to such a charged question and I don’t try to suggest an answer. I only present the idea that it might be such for at least some people.
Another thing I have heard presented as virtual dogma is that warfare is at some level the result of male sexuality. It’s hard to miss the idea that guns are no more than phallic symbols. However, I find myself wondering if it’s really limited to male sexuality. I think sexuality tends to drive us all a little crazy at some point in our lives, and that sometimes results in aggression, whether you’re male or female. Perhaps that’s not surprising. Who we mate with and why defines who our descendants will be. Whether you’re male or female, the ability to control that choice is important. Again, though, this is something of a charged issue. The person who deals with this in the story is a faery. She’s not bound by human rules. I don’t suggest that the choices she makes are human choices. However, if my story serves as a catalyst to make you consider human choices, I’ve done my job.
What happens when a group of outsiders is caught up in a conflict? This is one area that was weak in the story’s first draft, and I have to credit editor Jeff Lyman for helping me bolster this part of the story. The answer I suggest is that the people in the middle don’t care about one side or the other. They only care that they were caught up in an unwanted conflict and want the fight to stop. Perhaps there’s no surprise that no one wants to be caught in the middle of a fight, but I do find it interesting that people are sometimes caught off guard when those people in the middle suddenly lash out at the attackers.
Now because this story is set during the present day and because it questions some of these fundamental issues, I will not be surprised if “Amazons and Predators” annoys or offends some people. By itself, that’s not a measure of the story’s success or failure for me. If the story entertained you enough to take the questions seriously and think about them, then I’ll have succeeded. If you come away saying “Summers is full of it”, then so be it. It’s not my objective to win you over to a point of view with this story. It’s merely to get you thinking about some things that we take for granted. After all, isn’t that one of the things fairy tales are for?
There’s a lot more than my story in Bad-Ass Faeries 3. There are great stories by L. Jagi Lamplighter, Patrick Thomas, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeffrey Lyman and a host of others. I hope you’ll check out the anthology and feel free to drop me a note letting me know your thoughts on some of the issues raised by my story. To learn more about the anthology, go to: http://www.mundania.com/book.php?title=Bad-Ass+Faeries+3:+In+All+Their+Glory