melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-05-01 09:05 am
Entry tags:

FMK: Electric Forest

Huh, today is blog against disablism day. WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

So, only read Electric Forest if you are the sort of person who actively seeks out stories about how people with disabilities are monstrous, hideous, hateful, dangerous, and literally "ab-human".

Also if you are that sort of person, why are you on DW?

I would have thrown the book at the wall much earlier except - the POV character is the aforementioned person with disabilities, and she is psychologically screwed up, but that's because she lives in a virulently disability-phobic society and has been tortured and abused her whole life, and the narrative does not pretend it isn't torture and abuse. And I knew the kind of stuff Tanith Lee writes so I had hopes she would end up killing them all and escaping and it would just be some cathartic revenge porn.

She does kill them all but SURPRISE, none of it was real, it was all just an experiment into whether a person with disabilities could be manipulated into killing her abusers, therefore the people who abused her are actually good guys and scientists and nobody died! Also she isn't actually disabled, she is a "normal" scientist who "borrowed" the body and memories of a person with disabilities for the duration of the experiment, because using a real disabled person was out of the question for... reasons that they failed to explain adequately except that asking us to empathize with someone who was really like that would be too hard, I guess?

Plus, like most experiments based on torturing disprivileged people, it is as a result so badly designed that it fails to reveal anything but the experimenters' own bias, so it's really bad science, too. OBVIOUSLY if you trap someone in a series of abusive relationships and remove their memory of anything else, they will have a distorted view of the world! Yes, if you put someone with a strong sense of embodiment in a body very different from their own, they will be extremely dysphoric, and they will feel a compulsion/attraction for the body they belong in, that tells you absolutely nothing about people with disabilities in general or the psychology of making body duplicates, augh. (Also if you can play with memories that cleanly, there is absolutely no need to elaborately torture/brainwash vulnerable people into being assassins anyway, you can just give them a false memory that the target is trying to kill their family or something.)

It's possible that the experimenters were *supposed* to be evil people doing junk science, but if so she really failed to convey that intent. I think it's more likely that the story she wanted to tell was about playing tricks with perception and reader expectation and bodyswapping and it never occurred to her that the disabled person she used to tell that story was anything other than a horrifying SFnal prop.

The last straw was at the end of the fake-experiment write-up where the scientists thanked everybody involved but somehow entirely failed to even acknowledge the person they "borrowed" the experience of disability from.

She does still do good prose and good fucked-up relationships and hatesex, so that much of my memory of her stuff was accurate. And it's a yellow DAW paperback which I enjoy as a cultural artifact but at this point I don't even want to save it to use in crafts in case someone mistakenly thinks I'm a fan.

In summary, NOPE. I think this is the first one in FMK to get recycle bin, not even donate.

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