Dear Piers —
We were really close once — I read all your books. Literally. Race Against Time (with its problematic racial politics), Ghost Ship (….with its problematic racial politics), Tatham Mound (with its problematic racial politics…), the Geodyssey series (with its problematic… gender? politics (yay?)), the Xanth series (with its problematic gender politics), Virtual Mode (with its problematic gender AND racial politics, wtf?). But, we grew apart. I discovered feminist and anti-racist SF/F and my heart grew three sizes that day. I left behind you, your weird Firefly book, the Roundear series, and any hope of a satisfactory resolution of the Proton/Phaze conundrum. Sure, I checked in every now and then, but we’d both moved on. You were busy figuring out the color of Mela the Mermaid’s panties, and I was busy with Harry Potter fanfic. I won’t apologize for moving on, so long as you don’t blame me for growing up.
But! This past week, I decided to finally close out on the Incarnations of Immortality series. I knew Orb was now the Incarnation of Nature from Being a Green Mother, Luna was now a high-powered senator, and that Orlene was now God. Yay! An Incarnation of Good who understood that one could be a suicide, a bastard, and a rapist (all men are potential rapists, unless it’s a feminist saying so, amirite?) and still be a good person. Throughout this course of events, Nox had been an unseen actor — the Incarnation of Night no one knew a lot about, mysterious and sexily dark. I figured, hey, why not read a book about Nox?
For old times’ sake?
But, like Disney says, you can’t step in the same river twice. Now that I’m older, and thirteen doesn’t seem fabulously mature, I really have to question your choice to begin the novel with a thirteen year old Karena and a magic pussy fixing dildo, that both makes one’s vag capable of accommodating any cock and also “fixes” vulva vestibulitis, thus making ANY pussy a magically awesome pussy. I also really have to question your repeated use of a sexually precocious, aggressive pubescent girl seducing an older male caretaker figure, a motif seen in nearly all of your series, and your insistence that Karena, one of the most talented witches in the history of EVER, would need to rely on her body in order to become the Incarnation of Night. Plus, your frequent declaration that men are simply different from women and have no self-control when presented with cute girls showing flesh is simple male apologism. I’m over it, Piers. I was hoping you were too. In a series including wonderful female characters like Orlene (who almost makes me forgive you for describing Vita as having “a touch of the Negroid” about her) and Jolie (who, honestly, deserves her own book, instead of the perpetual sidekick role to which she has been consigned), Under a Velvet Cloak is a boring, painful travesty. I’ve had paper dolls with more interesting sex lives, and My Little Ponies with more complicated adventures.
With lingering affection,
PS: WTF is up with your constant use of state-of-being verbs and the complete lack of action in this conclusion to one of your most epic series? For a book centering on a girl’s quest to rescue her beloved, Karena spent a lot of time on her back. Seriously — the climax of the novel included a “battle of the sexes” involving fucking, pink and blue clouds, and a really bizarre version of capture the flag. Wasn’t that part of the Game in the Adept series, anyways? Only more interesting, because Sheen wasn’t playing with her own body?
PPS: I’m also not sure why the Incarnation of Night’s fellow Incarnation was the Incarnation of Darkness, and that he was presented as the ultimate male principle to her ultimate female principle…. none of the other Incarnations WORK that way. They’re the boss of their arena (War, Time, Fate, etc) and don’t NEED opposites to work.