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4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 0 replies · +20 points

"I really like that Pepe is allowed to be both supremely effeminate and gloriously hard as nails and at the same time."

Same. He's not at all the old stereotypes of the effeminate queer man, which is one reason I seriously love that it's Pepe who takes down Andy. There's a lot of layers in the characterization of Pepe. And I really like that it's not up to the same old Straight White Male Savior character to make the streets safe for decent people; the louche, queer non-binary dwarf-by-choice who doesn't personally choose to identify as "decent people" can do it, too.

I would have been disappointed if it'd been Trev, it would have been too cookie-cutter, and it would have undermined the actual character arc Trev had, which wasn't about learning to be tough, but about learning to not get drawn into those adolescent male politics and move on with an adult life. The payoff of his arc was him counseling Carter on how to grow up and move on. And it also would have really undermined Nutt's arc, too. They were both arcs about how you didn't have to be your stereotype, and taking out Andy would have been going back to their stereotype. While for Pepe, it was bang on theme - he's demonstrating again that you don't have to be your stereotype.

And you raise a good point about why it's important it was Pepe. He's the only one who could get away with superficially wounding Andy and having it end there. Trev or Nutt would have had to kill him, or it simply would have escalated; Andy would have come back at them or at Juliet or Glenda, who he'd already threatened to get at Trev, to get even. And killing Andy for being a minor street thug seems like an extreme plot choice of comeuppance. Because it was Pepe, Andy can't admit to it without learning to give up some of the toxic masculinity thing he's got going on. It's a great revenge, either Andy fumes silently forever or he figures out that he was wrong about what made a man, well, have worth. So this was also Andy's lesson on worth, and it wouldn't have been that from Trev, because he's just another street face, so that's just changing the current pecking order, not changing the game.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 0 replies · +8 points

And, come to think of it, that's very like Jackrum's role in Monstrous Regiment, and not a million miles away from Albert's role in the Death books. I think it's a character type that's often present in Pratchett's odd found families.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 1 reply · +17 points

(Actually, this reminds me a little of Vimes taking out Wolfgang. He's not doing it for himself, or for justice in Uberwald. He was happy to walk away, but Carrot and Angua were trying to be brave in the face of credible danger. He's doing it for Angua and Carrot, his reluctant proteges, because they can't and he can, and because he's been around the block enough times to know that it needs to be done but it won't be done. (And he's the one who has to take Carcer out, because none of his coppers has been trained, by him, to be a bastard like him, and so on.) That's Pepe's role in this book, the grumpy reluctant mentor who pulled himself out of the shove the hard way, who drinks and smokes too much and has seen too much, who teaches these kids how things ought to work in a fairer world based on bitter experience, and who figures he's the only bastard big enough to get the job done and look out for these poor sods he's been saddled with, so they can go live a good life that's a little safer because of him.

Which I guess makes Madame Sharn analogous to Sybil, and... I can live with that analogy.)

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 2 replies · +19 points

In a lot of ways, Pepe and Madam Sharn have a mentorship role with Juliet, Glenda, and (in a limited secondhand way) Trev. It's Pepe who teaches Glenda about the crab bucket, and helps her and Juliet grow out of it. Everything Glenda learns in this book, it's largely being taught by Pepe. As a boy from Lobbin Clout who didn't fit in, he hates the crab bucket mentality, and the pointless human waste of it, and when Juliet becomes part of his oddball new Shatta family, Glenda and Trev get pulled in, too. So he helps them. Sarcastically and a bit rudely and protesting his disreputability all the time, but he's seeing himself in them, working class kids who had a chance at something they were being told wasn't for them, who are being brought into line by the shove, and it's all shove out there. On one level, it's personal revenge. (And he knows it - the lemon was literally pouring salt on the wound. It was him taking pleasure in pure, deliberate, spiteful pettiness.) But it's also for them. Because he knows the crab bucket intimately. He knows the violent side of the crab bucket intimately. He knows what it does to a community when you have someone like Andy Shank strutting around like a petty dictator, with the Carters and Trevs just trying not to stand out for corrective punishment. But Pepe has learned first hand that you can beat the Andy Shanks of the world, so he does. He's weakening the harshest enforcement of the crab bucket by taking out the feared gang leader. It's revenge for him, but he's out; the people it actively benefits are the ones still trying to climb out of the bucket.

I think in Pepe's eyes, it's both. It's him helping the kids from his old neighborhood avoid the problems he had with the benefit of his experience, because he's not afraid of the crab bucket anymore, and it's sheer malice and petty revenge for what he has to put up with, simply because he can. I mean, he not only brought a lemon, but made the guy squeeze it on himself. What a magnificent bastard. But the sheer existence of the crab bucket offends him, and he hates the damage it can do to kids who can't fight it, because that was him. He's not that kid now, and he can make it easier for the next one like him to climb out, and that's his protest against the crab bucket, giving them a helping hand in climbing out rather than dragging them back in. So I don't think "I'm doing it for them" is necessarily misleading.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 6 replies · +34 points

Despite what Pepe claimed, I didn't read Pepe as delivering revenge on behalf of the heroes, but on his own behalf. The usual trope is that the small queer guy gets beat up by the working class thug. It's a standard of stories with queer characters. And Pepe does allude to a childhood like that. But we're seeing him at a point in his life when he can turn the tables on the tropes that made up his childhood, and turn the tables on the queer experience the readers probably had, by having grown into the thing that the thugs need to fear.

And I feel like that's an important subversion of the usual stories young LGBT people see about themselves. Usually the story they're asked to identify with is the suffering, and they don't see stories about queer people where they're successful in business and their personal lives, and have the life experience to be better than the bullies. And not better in the painful "morally superior and suffering tragically" way, but faster and harder and smarter, and able to beat them at any game they want to start. Juliet and Trev get their happy ending, Glenda and Nutt get theirs, and this is Pepe's. He wanted to tear down the crab bucket for everything it tried to do to him, and Andy Shank, who is currently running the violent face of the crab bucket, the one that makes people conform with beatings instead of gossip, was the icing on the cake of reminding the world that he was Pepe, and he won.

(As with Monstrous Regiment, Pratchett is not morally judging the happy endings he gives his queer characters. Remember that Tonker and Lofty get a happy send-off of arson and bank robbery. And I'm kind of glad that he's not asking his queer characters to be morally superior to the people around them in order to, as Nutt would put it, have worth. That's a trope, and real social pressure, that hits all sorts of lower-privilege characters, not just LGBT but women and minorities as well - they're held to a standard of perfection if they want to be perceived as valuable and are punished for falling from it. A queer antihero is fantastic, because that role is usually reserved for straight white men.)

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 0 replies · +14 points

I love seeing William de Worde again, but even more than that, I love seeing Dr Lawn again. The man who can out-snark Vimes, and also a genuinely good bloke.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 1 reply · +16 points

True, he admired the pet shop manager, too. And is remarkably egoless in immediately concluding that a woman in a minor service job is better than him at crosswords.

He's very fond of Margolotta when he reminisces with Leonard. Unusually so, when you realize he was a teenager, and she was still a frumpy middle-aged soccer-mom (okay, polo-mom, too wealthy for soccer) vampire with chintz sofas.

I like that their dot-dot-dot is so ambiguous. We still don't know which side of the bed he gets out of, or if he goes to bed at all. They have an intellectual connection, yes, but not one that's total agreement on anything. Which is kind of what he does with Vimes, too. They don't appear to agree on much, except all the unspoken stuff that's actually important, and there's a lot of friction, but they're each others best allies.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 0 replies · +15 points

This is true. And the guild leaders who consistently vote in his favor are the women: Mrs Palm, Queen Molly, Dixie Voom, and the head laundress.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 0 replies · +13 points

I don't think wizards have been precisely celibate for a long time. What they've been is not settling down. They do a lot of out of touch skirt-chasing. I think even Windle Poons regretted not having done more of it. And there's the wizard who has a crush on the housekeeper in the Rincewind Does Australia book, and Dr Hix's students, who become postmortem communicators to get girls - not to marry them, he specifies, just to sleep with them. (Oh, and the dead golem expert talks about his mistresses, IIRC, so historically they're not that celibate, either.)

What they're not supposed to do is procreate. Or at least not eight times.

4 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 6 replies · +33 points

I adore what this section reveals about Vetinari. However big a cultural snob he is, he's quite genuinely on the side of the common people of the city. You can kind of guess that from things like making Vimes a duke, and his concerns in Jingo, and definitely Night Watch, but he's being really clear about his choice here. Every statement he makes is in support of Glenda, and he takes her side sort of gratuitously, just for the enjoyment of needling Margolotta and admiring Glenda.

And I also love how often he's shown admiring women for their character, not a pretty face. He plays online Thud with the frumpy vampire in a cardigan, and reserves perhaps his most openly expressed admiration for a dumpy, fat cook from a rough neighborhood. He genuinely likes these people, and it's not wrapped up in things like "the wizards craned their heads to watch the pretty serving girl with the trolley, who probably also made the best pies, because she's the only one they've noticed". (He even pushed back on Drumknott's casual sexism with the "they say women have devious minds" platitude.)

In fact, maybe not just the common people, but maybe it's that he goes for the underdog every time. Like he's constantly looking for the value in things and people that other people overlook, and finding it.