This review is going to stray a little from the text itself. I’d like to apologize for that, both to my readers (who come here to be amused or find erotica) and to the author, Dr. Chuck Tingle, whose works are smart and shrewd and entertaining, and have evolved into damned clever social commentaries.
But I am angry this morning. Because of a clusterfuck not of his making, Chuck Tingle has been nominated for a Hugo Award. Whatever the intentions of the people nominating him, there are a lot of us who have come to appreciate Tingle’s work. We hoped this might bring him some broader appreciation as people took the opportunity to read him, and see for themselves how he uses the tropes of scifi and the workaday necessities of shortform self-published erotica to create something new and amusing.
Instead, more established authors who have already earned the respect of their peers are using it as an opportunity to kick downwards, and it’s fucking disgusting. I spend my free time knee deep in pseudo incest and ABDL kink and God alone knows what else, looking for the glimmers of craft that shine through, enjoying (and sometimes cringing at) the broad sweep of human desire, and then I get…this:
Uh huh, only Chuck already satirized the hell out of the RPs (they appear here as the Scoundrels, for the hard-of-reading), and for his pains got called a rabid puppy. So you just keep on moving those goalposts, that’s swell.
Although I will admit I’m a bit boggled by someone who doesn’t know who Chuck Tingle is, and therefore gets to call him “they” even though that’s not how he’s chosen to present his persona, but who nevertheless is intermittently psychic enough to know he’s not a minority and only in it for the cash. That’s a neat skill, and I wish to God I could flawlessly discern the personal details of people’s pseudonyms so I could sort out the motives of some of the stuff I read.
Lest we forget, these demands for a gracious withdrawal by Tingle are being made by another Hugo nominee, so “graciousness required of thee but not me” is the rule here. Because that’s a noble stance, and in no way plays right into the fucking puppies’ paws by making the Hugos look like backpats-for-the-in-group.
The goddamned Hugos, Jesus, why is this self-righteous shit creeping into my ragged little subgenre and spoiling my fun? Fuck the lot of you. (Except the original If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love; that was breathtaking and made me cry, and I was so glad it got awarded. Even in the midst of today’s bad mood I have to throw some love at that.)
Author:the Hugo Award nominated Chuck Tingle.
WhatWhat: Honch thinks he sees a unicorn using a human restaurant, and has a heart attack. But Kipper is a human (even if he was born a unicorn) and saves his life, just in time for Honch to go get pounded in the butt by a manifestation of his own bigoted fear.
Just because I get disgusted when I see a unicorn trotting down the street, doesn’t mean I hate them, or even that I’m afraid of them. I just don’t want them anywhere near me. (loc 4)
For those of you having difficulty reading along at home, that is Honch speaking. Honch is the bigot from the title. He doesn’t represent the author’s views, and has (like the Scoundrels) been created entirely so the author can point out the problems with his beliefs. I know: reading is hard. Keep at it. I have faith in you.
It’s a quiet night here in North Carolina, the sound of country music wafting out from the nearby stereo as the waitress kicks back and looks at her nails behind the counter. (loc 14)
Okay, this is going to be complicated, so take a deep breath and try to follow along as best you can. Even though this is shown as a scene in which Honch feels at home, and therefore you might think the author is condemning the South, country music, and waitresses with (no doubt red) nails, there’s a second, more sophisticated reading possible. It’s entirely likely that the author is mocking us-the-reader for having such firm preconceptions about just what sort of settings we’d find bigots in. Get it? The text is nudging you about your own prejudices. Wow. Imagine.
Unfortunately, I’m much weaker than I realized. Instead of displaying my aggression, I end up crumpling into the unicorn’s arms. (loc 67)
Sort of like if you nominate someone for something, and instead of outrage they provoke enthusiasm and support?
“Well, that’s a start,” says Kipper, “but it’s not really the point. The point is that these people can be anything they want to be. It’s not your business how they identify. Why would you want it to be your business when you can’t even tell? I mean, honestly, think of all the humans born as unicorns that you’ve peed next to and never even know.”
This is the kind of topicality and acceptance I’ve come to expect from Tinglers.
The irrational trans-species fear rolls his eyes. “Oh my god, I’m asking if you want to bang it out.” (loc 206)
The sentient fear has manifested as a unicorn-horned restroom sign, in case you were wondering.
Why not let people identify however they’d like: human, unicorn, plane, whatever. (loc 302)
Why not, Honch. Why not indeed.
Verdict: Chuck is a kinder, wittier person than I am.
- Do not start with me over whether that little gem is speculative or I will hammer a nail through your goddamned eye. That is as obtuse and bad-faith a misreading as claiming (about the author of this and this mind you) “CT’s brand of gay fiction appeals to straight dudebros“.
- This is sarcasm. I do not believe for one second that the people misreading Chuck Tingle’s intentions are doing so because they’re poor readers. I wish I did. That would be a more pleasant thing to believe than that they know perfectly well they’re lying about someone lower down the writer-hierarchy just so they can condemn him and dissuade Hugo voters from reading him without bias.