I realized the other day, while listening to an episode of This American Life about infidelity, that there are some topics in which I have so little inherent interest that a work focusing on them has to be extraordinarily good, or else largely about something else, to compel my interest.

One of those topics is infidelity. Another is zombies. (Zombies cheating on each other would be my ultimate "bored now.")

Perhaps infidelity doesn't horrify me on the level upon which I need to be horrified. I get the visceral anguish at the idea of being dumped or unloved or supplanted or lied to or infected with an STD, but not the horror solely at the thought of one's lover having sex or an emotional relationship with someone else. When faced with angsty love triangles, I tend to wonder why no one ever raises the possibility of an open relationship or polyamory. And finally, I've never been tempted to cheat myself.

But my lack of caring about infidelity goes beyond an inability to personally relate. I enjoy tons of fiction I don't personally relate to. But infidelity-driven plots nearly always strike me as dull, trivial, unnecessary, irritating, and give me a sense of second-hand embarrassment.

As for zombies, they are gross, rotting, and lack intelligence and personality. The first two actively turn me off, the last one removes the things that interest me in a character. The only zombie stories I've ever enjoyed are ones in which the interest is in the characters fighting or fleeing the zombies, and ones in which the zombies are still intelligent and have personalities. But in those cases, they are barely zombies at all.

I am also suspicious of vampires and faeries, but that's nothing inherent, it's just that they're so often done and so often done unimaginatively. Show me a new or merely extremely well-written take on faeries, vampires, or faepires, and I will happily settle down to read.

Please discuss the subjects and tropes which make you flee in the other direction, whether they're well-executed or not. (Or share my loathing for zombies and cheaters.)
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mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

From: [personal profile] mme_hardy


I always fall in love with Character B and really resent being forced to go hiking with Character C when I still want to be back with Character A. If they're all in the same place, that's fine; it's the ones where Character A is in Austria, B in Bulgaria, ...

I'm viewpoint-monogamous.
ellen_fremedon: overlapping pages from Beowulf manuscript, one with a large rubric, on a maroon ground (Default)

From: [personal profile] ellen_fremedon


What about when the different viewpoint sections are non-simultaneous? I'm thinking something like in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, or a lot of nineteenth-century literature, where we settle in with one character for one volume, and then a hundred pages and six months later we settle in with another character?
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

From: [personal profile] mme_hardy


Oh, that's fine. It's the chapter-by-chapter alternation that drives me nuts. I love The Woman in White and other epistolary novels. It's the constant "Meanwhile, back at the ranch" cuts that get me down.
chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)

From: [personal profile] chalcedony_cat


I don't (necessarily) mind even chapter-by-chapter alteration; the type I hate with a passion is when it's scene-by-scene, so a single chapter contains lots of different people doing different things. Except even as I say that, I remember that Stella Gibbons does this and I like it when she does, so maybe when it's done well (for some value of well) I don't mind it. But I think of it as something I hate, and I have put down many huge F&SF novels because they were switching POVs too much, often with an annoying sentence at the end of every person's scene, like "She only hoped her plan would succeed." or "He knew that it might not work, but he had to try."

I have no idea if I'm getting across the type of thing I mean, but hiss, spit!
.

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