Feudal rant

This is a rant. Stop right here if you love pseudo-medieval epic fantasies because I’ll probably just annoy you.

Reason is, I am abandoning yet another ‘epic’ fantasy novel in pure irritation. Why, oh why, do fantasy writers think that they can create a believable world, where women have equal importance with men, an (American) frontier spirit where farmboys are taken as seriously as monarchs, based on a European feudal model?

Remember what happened to her? Raped, insulted, abandoned, burnt as a witch.

Think about it. Feudalism was based on the power of a tiny minority, the servitude of a huge percentage, a distrust and contempt of women, and utter, unswerving allegiance to God, Church and every bloke with the wherewithal to own a horse. How can you take all the symbols of that system—the forms of address, the ennobling ceremonies, the oaths of fealty, the hierarchical system, absolute monarchy, divine right of kings etc etc— and then stick your women characters in as generals, rulers, local magnates, chief wizard, merchants, and power brokers?

It just doesn’t work. It’s bonkers. And it smacks of ignorance of real history.

When I read titles like liege, sire, lord, lady, squire, sheriff, bandied about indiscriminately, when whole populations fawn over some kid with a magic sword and hail him as saviour, liege, sire or whatever, when louts called ‘knights’ lumber around in full plate armour slapping wenches about, when each local ‘squire’ has his personal torture chamber and a resident mad, long-haired, shackled ancient who expires before the hero can blow up the door of the dungeon, I just put out the light and go to sleep.

These aren’t tropes, they are ineptitudes.

You want equality in your fantasy?

Then think outside real history because you won’t find it there,

get rid of hereditary, absolute monarchs,

get rid of societies in a perpetual state of war,

get rid of religion,

allow freedom of thought and expression,

create a tolerant, open society.

Feudalism was not a golden age for anybody except princes, temporal and spiritual. No time that anybody knows much about was a golden age for women. No time has ever been a golden age for ordinary people exactly because they were ‘ordinary’ as opposed to ‘noble’. So why keep bloody harking back to it? Is it really beyond the wit of man to invent a world system that doesn’t rely heavily on lieges and squires, and knights clonking around torture chambers in plate armour?

Tolkien’s Middle-earth was the quintessential pseudo-medieval fantasy world, complete with hereditary aristos, forelock-tugging peasants and a handful of beautiful, silent women out of harm’s way on pedestals where they belonged. Tolkien did not make his women or his rustics into world leaders. Like the result or loathe it, it’s credible. If he’d turned Sam’s Rosie into some head mage or axe-wielding general with superpowers to bring down Sauron, he’d have been laughed out of court.

I don’t think I’m being unreasonably touchy about this subject, but I really don’t think you can democratize fantasy worlds simply by changing the sex of your important figures without any rhyme or reason. There has to be a social structure and a moral code to go with it. I personally would have found Hobbiton stultifyingly boring and oppressive, but at least I’d recognize it. Unlike many daft places I can think of.

Lupa or What happens when the vessel overflows

Lupa was released today. Here’s the UK link.


In Providence, a woman is no more than a vessel, to be filled and emptied. She expects no more, never to feel emotion, never to love or be loved, never to care. This was Lupa’s destiny too. But Lupa has two bright stars in her existence—her small daughter Elina and the doctor who made sure she was born.
When Lupa learns that her parents are about to be ended, she finds the courage to break the chains of convention and resolves to bring together all those she cares about—her parents, her daughter, and the young doctor—to defy the cold laws of Providence with a barrage of love.

Lupa is quite a long short story (13,600 words) showing another aspect of life in Providence—the regulation of births. Enders was about the regulation of deaths, logical in an enclosed society where resources are precious and no one has much of an idea how renewable they are. Non-productive members of society are a burden, and in a callous society they are disposed of. The same goes for babies.
Lupa is an ordinary girl, accepting her loveless lot. At least she was. When she is confronted with the programmed death of her parents, the balance tips and she decided to take hold of her destiny. This is the story of a young mother who has had enough of being violated by society and is prepared to risk everything for a dream. It’s the closest to a love story I’ve written so far.

If anyone is interested in reading and, if you like it, reviewing Lupa, just send me a message and I’ll let you have a copy.