Just deserts

or ‘Just Desserts’

I always thought it should be spelled ‘desserts’ – After all, it came after, and wasn’t always sandy. ‘Just desserts’ and skipping the rest would have been my idea of heaven when I was about six.  Especially if it meant not having to finish my parents idea of vegetables (boiled. To death, and far beyond). Trust me on this, I lived through the worst (and best, but the worst was veg) of English North Country (made worse by the Scots grandmother) and Afrikaans vegetables.  Boiled meant greens boiled gray. And sometimes with added sugar.

You see, I grew up in a ‘no pudding (dessert) until you finish what’s put in front of you’ household. Pudding was not frequent. I learned to eat the veg first. And to love my Labrador even more, because she loved me enough to eat my Brussel Sprouts, so I could finally leave the table.  She was worth even the flatulent effects of the horror vegetable on the canine digestive system, when –as usual — I smuggled her onto my bed that night.  (sigh) A piece of my heart died with her, I reckon.

Anyway, we live in a world which just isn’t fair, and just desserts/deserts (in any sense of the word) are few and far between. That’s reality, not fiction (my trade) or idealism (my weakness, I suppose).

Look, in a fair world Crackhead McStripperbang would – no matter who his daddy was, have got ‘just deserts’ long ago, if that was the case. The same is true for a lot of evil, nasty folk who don’t get their just deserts in this world. It’s one of the comforts of religion – the presumption that eventually this will catch up on them.

Likewise, in a fair world, talent, hard work and enterprise would get the rewards… not dependent on who you knew, or who your daddy or mummy was, or what your sexual orientation, genitalia or skin color or even politics were. As we all know, this is not the case – not in life, and certainly not in trad publishing!

Do not try this in fiction.  Art in this case does NOT imitate life. Unless you want your book to be as popular as gray-boiled watery cabbage… some measure of just desert is called for. Part of what we’re providing is wish-fulfilment, at least while the reader has suspended their disbelief and is, as it were, living in your book. Of course, what that wish is… depends a lot who the reader is.  At the moment trad publishing is producing lots of straw version of the current US President and those who support him (or don’t support his antithesis) and showing how nasty they believe they are and having them die in fashions which they believe are just deserts, and having the antithesis (who are altogether wholesome, wonderful and whatever the current fashionable victim-bingo winner is) triumph and live happily in their idea of utopia (which doesn’t have to work, or be utopia for those nasty straw-people). For a segment of the readership I am sure that’s very appealing.  It’s going to need an exceptional and brilliant writer to make that appealing to those who don’t share NYC trad publishing’s point of view.

There’s a chunk of indy writers doing pretty much the same, just inverted. (shrug) They too have readers, and certainly had less competition for them.

For myself, well, I try to focus on what I do know, which are characters you might actually meet and know and identify with.  That too tends to reflect my ideological stance: which is that demographics are real, and many of our traditions (like having a mum and a dad to raise you, and even having to eat your veg) got selected for… for a reason – principally because they’ve worked reasonably well and reasonably often, for a long time.  Other non-traditional things work too, but the laws of probability say: we’ve tried them (humans have tried every system) and they may work, but the chances are less good. Times change, but the wet-ware is not a quick changer. 

My heroes are usually ordinary Joes and Jills, within the probability of their demographics (so if I write a story set in WWI trench warfare in France, my characters will, largely be the people who would have been there – not an entire cast of trans and/or gay females of politically correct color and education and social background. There’s a market for that, and plenty of writers providing for it. That after all is their choice, and I would support them being able to make that choice).  Over the years with rescue and Ambulance work, I’ve seen very ordinary people are actually mostly remarkably good folk (certainly not ‘deplorable’), and you really don’t know who the tough and the heroes are, until the devil drives. So my book wish-fulfilment and them getting (as really doesn’t happen enough) the just deserts (Sam Gamgee) they deserve.

It probably won’t give me any dessert, but it is what I am and believe in.   

On another tangent, given Twitter and Facebook’s decision to act as censors with the latest revelation about Crackhead McStripperbang corruption and shenanigans.

Limiting the freedom of news ‘just a little bit’ is in the same category as the classic example ‘A little bit pregnant’.  We are not yet free, nor will we be as long as anyone — even our ally Mike – controls our news.  Robert A. Heinlein The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

No wonder the latest generation of Trad pubbed award winners hate Robert Heinlein so.  He was what they so fail to be.  Most sf is reflective of the time and, contrary to their belief and follows the social mores and desires of the buyers (New York City editors for Trad pub – an insular group if ever there was one.) and is pulled by that. He, on the other hand, pushed the world. And he was remarkably predictive.  In this case, more than usually so: even if it is your ally Mark or Jack. No matter where you sit on the political spectrum: this way lies authoritarianism. And that never ends well.

Image by Mona Magnussen from Pixabay

27 comments

  1. Last spring, I looked up the old bureau of state security, and the department of national security on wikipedia. Then didn’t have the time to follow up better.

    Recent events have me thinking about the case where a national security organization drifts into dabbling in state security.

    Poor taste in story notions is a peril of being a) a nerd that knows relatively few people b) wanting to figure out the dynamics of large organizations from book knowledge.

  2. You’d have to be an exceptional and brilliant writer to pull off any depiction of Trump that isn’t a caricature.
    Personally, I’m fond of “lifelong grifter is the most honorable man in Dizzy City, and makes enemies right and left because even criminals have standards.” Lots of room for farce in that one, but not quite reaching the true absurdity of reality.

    1. It’s not so much the caricature that’s a problem– as I “read” him, Trump is caricaturing what folks expect, half the time; my mom does that, so did my favorite chief in the Navy, even Alice Cooper did it and promotes it for dealing with being a Stage Personality– it’s the inaccurate caricature that’s a problem, if you want to appeal to someone besides the guy who point and laugh.

      There has to be something there to hook the Trump thing on– so memetically bad hair, loud, bombastic, responds strongly when attacked, chewing the scenery type stuff sticks.
      Accusations he’s a pedophile or that boss from The Devil Wears Pravda doesn’t.

  3. Speaking of banning things and just deserts, a certain Guardian writer and famous Puppy Kicker (Damian Walter) has banned a certain camel (the flopping one) on twitter for his usual sea-lioning.

    Also hilarious, Damian Walter the super socialist has come out hard -against- Corona Chan lockdowns in Britain because of the economic damage and widespread unemployment. The camel, naturally, is all for more lockdowns, more economic damage, and more/bigger/better government bailouts/welfare.

    There will be no links, because I know those creatures haunt this blog trying to hoover up little crumbs of outrage.

    Fortunately my popcorn supply is capacious. Mmm, crunchy…

    1. Must be as informative as two diversity managers explaining quantum physics. Mathematically. I think I’ll pass on their ‘gifted’ grasp of epidemiology and economics via their misunderstanding of CNN. Neither could pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the sole.

      1. It’s like a slap fight between two spastic children.

        Of the two, Damien Walter is slightly less hilariously wrong. He at least understands (or claims, anyway) that unemployment and economic destruction is -bad-.

        1. one imagines that consequences of some kind occurred in his life. He’s brighter than flopsy – but we’re talking about ‘still can’t tie his own shoelaces without help’

          1. There do exist Lefties capable of learning. They’re the ones that turn into the fiercest personal self defense hawks after being mugged. Some it take a couple of muggings, maybe a near-death experience, but they are capable of learning from Professor Pain.

            Damian Walter may well have got mugged by Corona Chan. (Mental image of Soy Boi having his ass kicked by little anime schoolgirl… popcorn, mmm….)

            Then there are the other kind that never learn anything at all. Capable of cruising through an historic pandemic and economic disaster without really noticing anything has changed.

      1. I have not heard one way or another. One must wonder if he -can- write a novel. Having done it myself, it wasn’t easy. Considerable commitment of time and energy.

  4. There are vegetables that benefit from long boiling (but not with sugar). You should try collards or turnip greens with a big ole lump of bacon grease. Deplorable and delicious.

    Also, Heinlein will outlast the current crop of trad writers. He’s readable and they are not.

  5. Almost caught up with “Wine of the Gods” (book 51). One of the very few complaints I might lodge is not enough stage time given to Lord Hell – the God of Just Deserts.

    1. One the older books (somewhere in the mere 30s) has some time with him before blanking-on-the-not-wife’s-name. He’s definitely one of the less appealing gods. Consider that it was just him who infected most of the empire.

      1. Ah. You are thinking of the bioweapon that removed the “rape” genes? Seemed to be a just deserts, indeed, at least to me, and a quite mild rebuke actually. A genetic predilection for rape is not a good thing to have running around the population, especially among the “elite.”

        (BTW, that was at the end of the first Directorate novel, which I just finished. Yes, going back in time in Pam’s world, but I didn’t have a reading guide… It worried me for a while that I’d managed to miss one of the Wine books back there somewhere and would have a heck of a time figuring out which one.)

  6. I had to double-check; yes, you are the author and there is still no sequel…
    them getting (as really doesn’t happen enough) the just deserts (Sam Gamgee) they deserve.
    In which case, I’m looking forward to the sequel to Star Dogs because there are some deserts that desperately need getting in that cast of characters. (I’ve mentioned it before, but while reading it, I hoped everyone would die in the desert.)

  7. I like (and try to write) realistic characters too. Odd that it appears only a certain segment of readers like those…

  8. Mad Genius Club doesn t ban people. They just won t let a lot of posts through the filter unless they think they re getting a chew toy or if they start out with something relatively innocuous.

    1. If by “relatively innocuous” one means “not obvious spam,” then you are both correct and have described every non-spam-blog on the internet.

  9. so what you’re saying is you grew up in a house where ye can’t have any pudding if ye don’t eat yer meat…

    (please catch the reference… lol)

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