beatrice_otter: Honor Harrington--Flag in Exile. (Honor Harrington)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
You know, the General series by S.M. Stirling and David Drake have many, many flaws, of style, of gender and sexuality issues, etc., etc. that one would expect of books mainly written by Stirling.  (HOMG, all the loving descriptions of eight bazillion battles per book.  And while there are a lot of strong female characters, they are all only "strong" in ways that further the plot, characterization, and desires of the male heroes.)

However.  While FAR from perfect, there are many charming things about the series.

For example, in the main books?  The good guys are mostly Latino.  Like, there's some Scottish stuff in there, too, but they are brown-skinned people who serve the Gubernio Civil and speak a language obviously derived from Spanish.

The main antagonists, the enemy who is just as smart and civilized and in every way their equal?  Muslims.  So, yes, they're the bad guys, but clearly several steps up as a people from the rest of the planet.  Opponents, not evil.  And we get told several times that if Center (the sentient computer guiding everything) had happened to be in their territory rather than the Gubernio Civil, he would be happily helping them instead.  On both a sociological level and a moral level, they are equal to the main characters.  They just happen to be on the other side of the war.

There are barbarians, however.  People with a society that does not support technological or educational development, people with morals that basically add up to nothing more than machismo.  And all of them are white.  Each and every one.  The really barbaric Skinners are French.  The medium barbarians are blond and blue-eyed "norteamericanos."

The people fitting the "Jewish" role, the scorned and hated religious minority that is "tolerated" but forced into narrowly-defined economic roles and then further stigmatized for it?  Are Christians.

I mean, it's not perfect, there is still a lot of the sorts of race problems you'd expect from a straight white guy who thought "I'm not a racist, let's try something interesting by race-flipping what you'd expect a white guy to write, but since I'm not a racist I don't have to do much research or put much thought into it beyond the initial cool concept."  And yet.

(If you would like to read this series, it's legally available for free download if you poke around the Fifth Imperium website.  They're on the "When the Tide Rises CD."  Now, you used to be able to click on the name of the CD and see all the books on it and just download which ones you want.  These days, the direct links are gone, so you have to download the whole CD by clicking on either iso.zip or cd.zip for that CD, downloading every book that was on that CD, and then extracting the ones you want from it.)

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