DNF: Machinehood by S.B. Divya


DNF. Stopped at page 9.The reasons why bugged me so badly I had to type this out.

A direct quote from page nine, italics are the author’s: “Jack Travis had been a mentor, almost a father, and he’d never talked down to his squad in spite of getting ripped by other men for leading a bunch of girls.”

Okay, stop. Just stop. This book takes place in 2095. Gender neutral pronouns are used. Diversity is shown by the author telling the reader about the character’s ancestry. More on that in a moment. All that, and men are still being ripped for leading ‘girls’? Not, say, ‘women’? Or maybe, ‘people’? FFS why in hell’s bells would a man be teased for leading a squad of not-men? WHY? If the author can include diversity and gender neutrality, the author can omit ancient ideas about how girls aren’t as good as boys in the military. For that matter, while I’m ranting, the author’s choice of the word ‘girls’ is a tad degrading. As in, ‘throw like a girl’ is an insult to men because it indicates the man is weak. ‘Women’ at least indicates adults, ‘girls’ just sounds like prepubescent people.

Now for the rant about diversity. Do I love diversity in novels? Yes, yes I do. The world is made up of a glorious mix of people and that mix should be shown in all media. I understand that describing characters can be difficult without having that character look in a mirror and describe themselves, but I really do dislike it when the author takes an easy way out. In one segment from page 2 & 3, the main character Welga’s lineage is discussed. Literally. Welga asks a vendor how they know she isn’t Indian. The vendor explains that because they’re human, they can see past Welga’s brown skin and dark hair to notice nose and cheek shape. Just before this exchange is the quote, “The mix of Russian and Mexican in her parentage usually made it hard for people to guess her origins.” Oh thanks author, for sounding somewhat patronizing and condescending at the same time while very obviously pointing out the non-whiteness of the character. Ugh! There are better ways of describing characters, ways that don’t feel so amateurish.

/end rant. YMMV.