I'm feeling a little better right now than I was yesterday, but I'm going to take kagetsume's advice and call in today anyway, in large part because I woke up at 4AM, miserable and unable to sleep. I may be currently human under the influence of oatmeal, tea, and acetaminophen, but I don't expect that to get me though eight hours of work on four hours of sleep. X.X Thankfully, we've got a good stockpile of my favorite tea, Hot Cinnamon Spice, on hand. I only drink tea when I'm sick, but Lut started drinking it at work and bought a huge box. Unfortunately, it's a black tea, not herbal, so it's not exactly ideal for drinking while sick, but it's better than diet soda. We've got a few herbal teas around, I'll drink some of them too.
So, been moping around the house whimpering for most of today. And reading John Ringo's Ghost, which is an interesting book. Lut read it years ago online and I'd put it on my Amazon wishlist; I think John or my brother got for me some months ago. I've read several other books by Ringo and generally enjoyed his work. Ghost is ... different. It's sort of conservative male male military fantasy. I don't mean "fantasy" in the genre sense: although Ringo is published by Baen and most of his books are military science fiction, Ghost is military adventure fiction. No, I mean fantasy in the sense of "Oh, come on, that would not happen." Which, oddly, is not so much my response to the military-adventure stuff (which generally feels solid and well-researched) as to the actions and responses of certain characters. It's just very ... conservative male fantasy. "The world does not work this way, you only wish that it did".
For a certain value of "conservative", anyway. Definitely not the "family values" style. Ghost isn't actually a single book: it's three novellas starring the same main character. The second novella really threw me by turning into, well ... a BDSM romp.
It's around, I don't know, 30-40 pages of character development up front, a hundred pages of BDSM, and another 30-40 pages of military adventure action at the end. I don't even know why Ringo threw in the military adventure bit at the end, except that possibly having mocked romance novels earlier in the book he was too self-conscious to admit to having written something rather similar to one.
The most interesting thing about the middle novella is the way it approaches the main topic, which is -- make no mistake -- sex and BDSM relationships. Like I said, it's got some military-adventure stuff tacked on the end but it's really an afterthought. The focus of the story is the protagonist's relationship with two girls.
When romance novelists write about sex, they write about the act with a heavy emphasis on how it makes the character(s) feel. Most romances get into one or both characters' heads and give loving details about how much they're enjoying it and what they're thinking, etc. This is what I think of as the "feminine" interest in sex: as much or more about headspace as it is about the actual act.
I've read much more romance than I have pornography or erotica, but my experience with the latter is that the emphasis is mainly on the act. It's about describing the mechanics of sex and arousal and turn-ons. I think of this as more "masculine".
And in the second novella in Ghost, Ringo's managed to write a story that isn't ... actually ... either. It's a BDSM story that was clearly, and strongly, influenced by another book: Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns. Ringo even mentions the book indirectly at one point. Screw the Roses is a very practical how-to manual on BDSM, with an emphasis less on "how to tie people up" but "how to engage in safe, sane, and consensual sexual fantasies". The answer is mostly "lots and lots of communication". And that's what the characters mostly do in this novella: Ringo spends more pages having them talk about scening than he does in describing actual scenes. Which I found oddly ... refreshing.
You see, most erotica, whether it's about the act or about the emotions, is written from a fantasy bent. The characters magically have great sex by, apparently, mind-reading or blind luck. They don't talk to each other about what they want: they just know. Somehow. They just know, in fact, in the way that real people in the real world never, ever know.
So yeah, it was nice to see a few characters actually talking about what their interests were and how to approach some kinky, sensitive desires in a healthy and emotionally sound way.
Which is not to say that the novella isn't still male fantasy, because it totally is. But it set itself apart with that aspect of its approach to fantasy. I enjoyed the story for that part of it, even though I didn't find the erotica very erotic and some of the character actions made me roll my eyes in the "come on, that is so not plausible" way.
Anyway, it's been a pleasant distraction from being sick. I haven't finished Ghost yet; just started on the third novella.
Which I still am. *coughcough*