Since writing ‘Alice’s Adventures in Steamland: The Clockwork Goddess’, I’ve come to a new understanding of exactly how subjective literature is.
What’s surprised me most, is the amount of ire I’ve unwittingly managed to raise amongst both fans of Steampunk, and lovers of Carroll’s original Alice in Wonderland.
When my publisher Bizarro Press, approached me with the idea of writing a Steampunk mashup/version of Alice in Wonderland, I had no idea of the sort of dubious waters I was about wading into.
For Steampunk research, I simply leafed through a novel or two, read exactly one short story and researched on airships. I was ready to go.
Then, the day before I was to commence writing, my publisher asked me to include all the characters from Alice in Wonderland in it.
I’d however forgotten the story. So I downloaded an abridged version of the book from Project Gutenberg (I think) and read through that. I made a note of the important characters, and worked out who’d be what etc.
That was that. Seeing as it was to be a new book anyway, I could do whatever I wanted with the plot. Right?
Wrong. How f*n wrong.
On the publication of The Clockwork Goddess, I found I’d desecrated an entire of culture of faith in Alice.
I suspect most female readers (and these ladies are really pissed at my ass), expected Alice to grow up and go to the University of California Los Angeles, graduate with a degree in medicine or law and eventually become the first female president of the United States of America.
Or maybe just marry a billionaire.
But I get the feeling I’ve really let them down in my depiction of her as an 19th century Xaviera Hollander.
The Steampunk crew are angry that I’ve amongst other things inserted ‘disgusting sex’ into their nice clean genre, and the Alice crew are super-angry that I’ve made Alice a prostitute and professional murderess, and worst of all made her SELFISH (which was honestly something I never intentionally intended.)
Er . . . when a reader starts telling you how a character is ‘supposed to behave’, you KNOW you’ve got a problem.
I’d decided from the outset that I wasn’t writing a nice-girl Alice, of the sort every grown-up-Alice movie seems to be unable to depart from. No, Alice was to be an assassin. And not 007, but a murderess for hire. Her previously being a hooker came later.
(Something to consider: Hollywood continually gets vilified for recycling stereotyped female characters in their films. I now think movie writers and directors long ago concluded it much simpler to use time-tested and safe/acceptable female character types, women-models guaranteed to create little or no controversy. That way they avoid the sort of fallout I’m currently enduring.)
Revealing though, no male reviewer’s yet commented on how bad Alice is. Not one. They generally LIKE her. So to phrase a bothersome question: I hope with my unflattering depiction of Alice Sin, I’m not unwittingly pointing out something about women which they’d rather keep hidden in their handbags, along with their birth control devices? LOL.
And something VERY revealing/amusing I’ve noticed, is that I’m yet to read a single review by a woman, where she complains about Metal Feather’s ‘lower dentition’. And remember they do complain about the book being vulgar and full of bad language etc.
One nice lady reviewer even complained about ‘Alice’ having ‘too much semen’ in it, but not about Metal Feather’s vagina dentata. LOL.
So guys beware, it might just be that your lady wishes she’s similarly equipped, so she could go ‘mince men’ on you when you piss her off. LOL
I’ve also not had any complaints from women about Alice faking orgasm either. Guys, interpret that at your own peril.
Then there are the violence and gore accusations. I honestly don’t think the book’s that violent. Honestly. But I’m not the reader. LOL.
So I’ve had all sorts of criticisms. What’s bothersome however, is that they’ve never been consistent. I mean no one (who dislikes this book) actually agrees on what they dislike.
And the sort of criticism The Clockwork Goddess gets seems rotational (nice pun eh? clockwork/rotational?).
At first the complaints were about the grammar, then it was the graphic gore and sex, then how Alice was so unlikeable, and now it seems to be that the ending’s a let down. But then some other people say they like the end, but the story sucks. (But someone else said the story was okay, but that the end sucked).
Someone else said they like the whole story, but not how it’s written. Someone’s even ridiculed my knowledge of sex and cows and machinery. LOL!
And now we’ve rotated back to complaints about grammar again . . .
Either which way, I’m not winning here.
So I can only conclude this:
The problem people have with The Clockwork Goddess isn’t really about the story itself. Rather, everyone’s scandalized by my lack of reverence to the concept of Alice, who’s apparently been deified as the paradigm of untarnished female youth.
I mean, when everyone’s favorite wholesome all-American girl grows up to be a hooker, someone’s going to be pissed off right?
Like peeing in a chalice of holy water, I’ve somehow deeply offended a concept.
I’ve somehow unwittingly written the Alice in Wonderland equivalent of The Satanic Verses.
Apparently the only people I’ve not yet annoyed are the Bizarro crowd, But I’m waiting and (not) hoping on them. I suspect most of them just haven’t yet heard the news that Alice is the new bad girl on the block. But they’re certain to get to me, sooner or later . . .
And you know, since everyone’s already pissed off at me anyway, I got nothing left to lose–I might as well have a look at modernizing the Wizard of Oz.
Watch out Dorothy, I’m about to grow-up your ass. Maybe I’ll make you a scat-loving porn starlet. Or a crack addict doing life for armed robbery.
(In case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, the book’s available on Amazon here.)