So, I have been thinking about my story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” for obvious reasons. I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about that story than probably anything else I’ve ever written, which is amusing, given how short it is. On the plus side, that makes textual analysis relatively simple.
There are a lot of legitimate critiques of “Dinosaur” and I’m cool with people disliking it. I’m not cool with some other stuff that’s going on, but I don’t have a problem with people disliking it. (Which, for the record, is not limited to the puppies – the story actually has a mixed track record with “SJWs”. It was initially rejected by a market specializing in “diverse” fiction, as being too much like other queer fiction that’s been done before, and therefore not really surprising. Nick Mamatas dislikes it on aesthetic grounds, although I’m not sure if he counts as an SJW or not. Etcetera.)
Anyway, I have thinky thoughts about a lot of the story, and maybe I’ll write those down at some point. But maybe not, because internet arguments, meh.
What I wanted to address in this post is the criticism of my use of the word “gin.” The assailants in the story are described as gin-soaked.
This has been interpreted as a class marker. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to this, as some of the framing of the way it was brought up was irritating. However, that doesn’t really matter. If it’s a problem, it’s a problem.
I will say that I did not intend “gin” to be a class marker. My primary association with gin is hipsters. I have friends who make their own. (I pictured a college bar when I was writing the story, although I didn’t want that image—or any distinct markers–to be in the story itself.) My secondary association with gin is bathtub gin as discussed in musicals about the 1920s. My third is the inappropriate anecdote that Eliza tells about gin in My Fair Lady–which, I suppose, should have clued me into the class association.
I did not want the assailants to be marked at all, except that they were into beating people up with flimsy excuses, an activity of which I disapprove.
So: what can I do? My intent to not be classist isn’t significant. Some of my previous trespasses have been totally unintentional, such as the fact that the dwarf in “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” is easily read as an evil stereotype. (My intention was that, since the main character is evil, her judgment is unreliable.) Readers of Alas, a Blog brought that to my attention after the story had been published. I apologized but didn’t revise–it would have required substantial change, and I feel like the best way I can actually address that problem is to do a follow-up story from his perspective sometime. (Though my writing ambitions, alas, outstrip my productivity.)
However, this is where the brevity of “Dinosaur” is helpful. The change would be tiny. The story is online, which is a medium that allows for revision. People are still reading it, apparently, so revision is also potentially useful. I can’t do anything about printed copies, but I can ask the editor of Apex Magazine to switch out the word. (And leave a note in comments about having done so, which would allow people to easily trace the history.) He might decline, but I doubt he will.
So: what alcohol is unmarked? Pabst is definitely too distinct. Is Vodka too dourly Russian? Tequila too college party? Rum too, I dunno, piratey? Whisky too hardcore masculine? Wine sounds sort of melancholy poet, and beer seems Homer Simpsony. (From this list, rum seems like the most likely candidate to me.)
I don’t drink a whole lot, and when I do, I drink girly fru fru drinks because I’m a wimp. So, I don’t really know what the subcultures of alcohol are. Help me out. Sad Puppies welcome to contribute, especially since you’re the ones who spotted it.
(I assume it’s a given, but I’ll note anyway: please stay on topic and civil. That means everyone.)