Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Sheathed in a purple bodysuit

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Good old Wally Wood

Good old Wally Wood

This is a third installment of what’s becoming a series – it began with the firm-breasted lawyers, it went on with the busty barbarian queens, now the time has come for astronauts sheathed in purple bodysuits.

The offending reference comes from the first lines of a recently-published, Italian science fiction ebook.
The very first line being

Sheathed in a purple bodysuit, So-and-So went to…

And then we are given a pretty insipid list of actions the purple-bodysuited So-and-So does.

Now, let’s make this clear.
The book in question is very poorly written.
Full of silly clichés, in-jokes that clearly wink at the target audience, and basically it reads like a poorly edited (or not edited at all), fairly childish Star Trek fan fiction.
The female character is further called a sweet bespectacled journalist – in a scene that feels like plain old harassment and little else.
It would be rubbish even without this patently stupid, vaguely (vaguely?) sexist elements – and the fact that it’s been written by a woman makes it to me just a little more ghastly.

But let’s go back to the purple bodysuited astronaut.
She is clearly the point of view character – we are sitting in her head, or looking over her shoulder, she is filtering our experiences.

ppink striped stockingsrsAnd now, in all honesty, I had some pretty wildly-dressed girlfriends in my time. They were bold and funny and whatnot, but none of them would have used that sheathed to describe their horizontally-stripped whitch’s stockings, their thigh-high swashbuckler boots or their steampunk corsets.
Even more so considering that the Italian equivalent – inguainata – is very uncommon, somewhat risqué, and is not even used for bladed weapons.
Describing someone as sheathed in a dress, in Italian, is automatically perceived as slightly kinky.

So the question is, why is the character thinking about her own way of dressing as kinky?

The second, obvious question being – why is the author giving us a kinky detail right on the first line of her novel?

Does she really need to have her self-perceived-as-kinky female lead to be harassed in order to show us what a tough nut she really is?
So, ok, it’s bad writing – but there’s mere.
This goes back to my old pet peeve… better, my old fear: that the reference audience actually wants this. They want the kinky and the sexy, and don’t give a damn about good storylines or at least competent writing.
If we are increasingly witnessing the reduction of writing to a commodity, we must also realize that it is the most basic, the lowest denominator form of commodity that’s being sold: smut.
Even if in the slightly more acceptable form of pruderie.

13de6028f06e33bc7a476c4c9bfb14e6After years of being told that genre fiction was, basically rubbish, after years spent fighting that notion, now we have authors and audience embracing rubbish as just what everybody needs.

What the audience wants – or, at least, what writers and publishers are increasingly perceiving as the audience expectation – is not the story, but the flash of boobs, the hinted gropings, the tight purple bodysuit of the sweet bespectacled journalist.

I am getting increasingly depressed about the deterioration of the imagination shown by both authors and readers.
And I fear this will only get worse as the give the people what they want approach to writing becomes the only viable modus operandi.
Last week I complained about this state of affairs, and I was snottily told

welcome to the real world

People forget that, as the poet said, reality is what you can get away with.
This, too, is a sign of how impoverished our imagination is becoming.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “Sheathed in a purple bodysuit

  1. Reblogged this on Iho's Chronicles and commented:
    Obviously quality is not in the numbers, but sometimes (frequently) we follow the numbers forgetting quality.

    Like

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