I’ve given up on reading Outlander for the time being.
The novel was getting to be genuinely nauseating for me — it was like a super concentrated form of Boomerisms, to the point that I was starting to expect the book to tell me to “just get a job” during a massive economic crash with skyrocketing unemployment rates.
And by the way, I didn’t understand when I became a parent. Quite the opposite.
Aside from the blatant Mary-Sue main character and the woobie-love-interest, the whole story has been thus far told with rampant hubris and condemnation. I’ve read other highland romance books that didn’t treat the period or the culture with so much disdain, and I honestly wasn’t expecting it. Why write a historical book when you hate absolutely everything about the past?
At one point the reader is informed that the Laird’s wife is cheating on him with every **** she can get her hands on, as if we’re expected to believe that all the clansmen are eagerly insulting their Laird’s honor and authority while simultaneously respecting him. Yeah. Sure. If you’re a Boomer.
And we mustn’t forget the bit about pennyroyal being regularly used to induce miscarriages. While it technically can be done, the amount necessary is darn close to being lethal, and it comes with nasty side effects — it’s not something that any sane woman would gamble with unless she was desperate enough to die. It wasn’t the historic form of The Pill.
What makes the author so certain that all women hate the idea of being mothers? Oh. Right. Boomers.
I just can’t keep reading that book anymore. Like I said, it’s actually getting nauseating.
Aurora was still alone when she awoke, but the door to the bedroom was open. She pulled the sheet off of the bed, wrapped it around herself, then tiptoed out into the main room. CR1515 was sitting in a chair in front of a giant screen, and although his face was completely expressionless, his body language was that of someone who was thoroughly bored of his desk job. Her clothes were still scattered across the floor, so she moved as quietly as she could to gather them up, praying that he wouldn’t notice her.
“You slept for nine hours,” he said, still focused on the screen. “Brain scans indicated that it was prudent to not wake you.”
“Thank you,” she murmured, blushing as she turned away, conscious of the fact that she was still nude underneath the sheet, and the soreness between her legs that attested to the reality of what had happened. “Is there a bathroom?”
“You may attend to all your needs in there.” He pointed back towards the bedroom. “When I am finished I will require sustenance, and you will eat then.”
She hesitated, then asked, “What are you doing?”
Aurora couldn’t stop her curiosity, so she turned to study the screen. “That looks like our underground base.”
“I maintain the security grid,” he replied. “One of the exterior cameras malfunctioned, so I ran a diagnostic and am now programming the instructions for the repair drones. I do this for all of your cities and bases.”
“Really?” Aurora’s fingers touched her lips with surprise. “I thought that was all automated.”
“As I am classified as a machine, it is.” CR1515 turned to look at her. “What are you doing?”
Aurora found herself shrinking back when he stood and approached her, and he took the bundle of clothing out of her arms then pulled the bed sheet away from her. All she could do was wrap her arms around herself and shiver as she looked down at the floor.
“I did not tell you to cover yourself.” He returned to the screen and sat down, then continued typing.
“I can’t always be naked!” Aurora protested. “Do you really intend to keep me as a sex slave?”
“But …” A painful lump formed in her throat. “It’s not fair to do that to someone.”
“Is it fair to enslave someone for your protection then? To mock and ridicule them even as you demand their loyalty?” CR1515 tilted his head to one side and rested it against a fingertip. “From my perspective, taking a single human woman after decades of service is a small price to ask.”
Aurora squeezed her eyes shut in an attempt to hold back the tears, and asked weakly, “Why me?”
“Because you sought me.”
She was silent, hugging herself as her mind tried to make sense of it all. Then, vehemently, she demanded, “If it had been Talon at the Gate instead of me, would you have done the same with him? Would he have been standing here naked now, instead of me? Was it really that arbitrary?”
“No.” CR1515 was either finished programming, or had come to the conclusion that she required his full attention, because he stood and approached her again, laying his metal hand against the side of her face. “If a man had come to the Gate, I would not have answered it.”
“Then why me?” Aurora couldn’t stop herself from collapsing against his hard chest, feeling too weak to stand under her own power anymore.
“You may wear clothing when we are not engaged in sexual activity,” he murmured, then as if he was attempting to provide comfort, he retrieved the sheet and wrapped it around her shoulders. “Dress, and we will have our meal.”
Aurora nodded and slowly moved towards the bedroom with her bundle of clothing held tightly against her chest, feeling ready to sleep for another nine hours. She didn’t know how to cope with abruptly losing everything in her life, especially when she had been on the verge of finalizing her engagement with Talon. He was definitely worried about her by then, and she didn’t have a way to send word of what had happened.
CR1515 shut the door to the main room, then walked across the bedroom to open another door. “You inquired about the facilities earlier,” he said, indicating toward the shower and toilet. “This one leads to the kitchen and dining area,” he continued, moving to another door. “As I implied before, all of your needs will be met.”
“Thank you,” Aurora whispered, then slipped into the bathroom and shut the door. It was comfortingly ordinary, down to the roll of paper next to the toilet, and she let out a heavy sigh of relief as she opened the shower door and turned the water on.
At the very least, he wasn’t callous towards her. Painfully blunt and unyielding, but … Aurora shook her head then upturned her face under the water, wondering if it would wash away the thoughts that she didn’t want. Perhaps Talon had been correct in wanting to finalize their relationship contract before engaging in intercourse with her, after how quickly she had thrown away her loyalty to him …
Not that CR1515 had given her a real choice.
He had revealed himself to her, then pressed his hands and mouth against her before promising to never take her for granted, after she had uttered a single, “Yes,” when he had asked if she would be his. She liked the simplicity and straightforwardness of it.
But that wasn’t what had really happened, Aurora chastised herself. CR1515 had been more than willing to let the artifacts fail and the mecha return to life if she had refused him. If she ever found herself back with Talon, she would tearfully explain that she had been blackmailed and raped, and he would be rightfully furious. He wouldn’t think that she had deliberately betrayed him.
Even though she was already wondering when she would have sex with CR1515 again.
“I’m such a mess,” Aurora whispered to herself, then turned the shower off.
She dressed after towel drying, then tiptoed out to search for CR1515. He was in the kitchen, once again out of his metal suit, with two meal trays waiting. She blushed and looked away as best she could until she was seated, but she couldn’t stop herself from sneaking in a glance at his golden skin that flawlessly covered his thick muscles, and heat twinged inside her.
They ate in silence, but Aurora’s appetite was small enough to disappear after only a few bites. She put her fork down, then stared intently at the table as she slowly asked, “You fought the mecha, right?”
“Yes,” CR1515 replied.
“Did you see Talon?”
He stared at her, and she couldn’t read his expression.
“I just thought that my betrothed should know that I’m …” her voice faded away.
“I wouldn’t know if I saw him.” CR1515 tilted his head to the side. “Why do you say betrothed instead of fiance?”
“We haven’t reached that point yet. After we agree on a finalized contract, we then set a date for our marriage, and that’s when we’re officially engaged.” Aurora squirmed under the look that CR1515 gave her, so she added, “That’s how it’s done.”
“You know … we work out how many children we want, and when we want to have them. There’s also the financial agreements, how to manage the household, as well as what grounds the marriage may be dissolved …”
“You were planning out how to end your relationship before it even officially began?” CR1515 asked incredulously.
“Things don’t always work out.” Aurora felt small and ridiculous as she tried to explain, “Sometimes you grow to dislike each other and start arguing too much. It’s important to know how to proceed if that happens.”
“Hmph.” CR1515 folded his arms. “If you try to argue with me, I will teach you better.” He studied her for a moment from across the table, then continued, “I would gather that this contract of yours goes much deeper than the possibility of merely not getting along. Your attractiveness, age, and status as a virgin were all bargaining points for you, were they not?”
Aurora’s face began to burn as she nodded, and quietly said, “My mother wanted me to marry well, and the men who can afford to be picky …”
“Had I been satisfied with stripping you of your virginity and sent you back home, it would have hurt negotiations with this betrothed of yours, correct?”
“Talon loves me. He would have …” Aurora faltered. “He probably would have changed some of the terms to be more to his advantage,” she admitted.
“It appears to me that I have rescued you from the undesirable fate of having your every move dictated out beforehand.” CR1515 scowled, then motioned for her to come over and sit on his lap. Aurora obeyed shyly, all too aware of the fact that he didn’t feel the same need for clothing that she did. He pulled her firmly against his chest and touched his lips to her hair as he murmured, “My terms are simple: you belong to me.”
“But I have no grounds to assert myself on; nothing to protect me from your whims,” Aurora began to protest, then stopped when she saw the devilish grin spread across CR1515’s face, and his hand pushed up her skirt to rest against her thigh.
“No, you don’t.”
When they were finished, Aurora stayed slumped against him with her arms around his neck, and she couldn’t help but ask, “Did you really mean it when you said that you wanted to love? As in, love love, and not just …” she trailed off.
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Will you love me even if I hate you?”
She didn’t wait for his answer, but instead buried her face in the crook of his neck, and breathed heavily as his hand stroked silently along the length of her back.
Somehow I’ve managed to write over 10,000 words for CR1515, despite feeling tired and busy with the gazillion things that always happen at once, and I still haven’t found the proper flow for the story. Not 100% settled in to it yet.
I can’t help but wonder if I should dial back on the philosophical ranting and put in the effort to submarine it more, but it probably doesn’t matter. People can be shockingly oblivious to what’s right underneath their noses, so I might as well slap a fancy border on it and proudly display it.
The fun part about the Aurora/CR1515 pairing is that they argue A LOT more than any of my other main couples. The fireworks are a blast to write (har har), which is probably how I’ve managed to do as much as I have, despite being excessively busy/tired with a gazillion things. We have stubborn pride going up against unyielding stances, in a scrumptiously confined space. What’s not to love?
Just wish I could find the groove for this story.
In the vein of, “Everyone else is doing it,” I tried thinking of some books where I enjoyed the romance/couples/literally-anything-emotional, and I came up with nothing.
OMG I am so cranky.
At which point I realized that I actually have ZERO interest in the idea of ‘love’ for its own sake; might as well read about someone and their anime body pillow for all the difference it makes. Throw in the fact that everyone writes female characters as psychotic self-absorbed bitches, and you basically have the reason why I can’t name any romance novels that I like enough to recommend.
So there you have it: Don’t bother reading books. They all suck.
The thing is, I often feel like a hopeless romantic trapped in a world where romance has been deliberately slaughtered — of course I don’t enjoy it. Why would I? It’s all just pointless nihilism because nobody knows how to genuinely connect with another human being anymore.
For now, I’m content to sit inside my own little bubble, occasionally sending out the message, “It doesn’t have to be like this,” with the knowledge that even a butterfly’s wings can have a huge impact on the world.
Aurora is essentially the “perfect woman” in the context of the society she lives in. She skipped high school entirely and went straight into university, so at only 20-years-old she’s already an accomplished data analyst. She’s savvy about taking care of herself, and is drop-dead gorgeous to boot.
The artifacts were her project. She discovered their existence while researching something or other for one of her classes, and met Talon in pursuit of them. Through working together, they decided to become “engaged to be engaged” lol.
Her hope was that with utilizing the artifacts, humans would be better able to protect themselves against the increasing numbers of killer mecha that pop up and wreak havoc. However, her plans still ultimately relied on CR1515 to destroy the mecha, because it never occurred to her that humanity’s protector might not come through.
Although smart, she struggles with thinking outside the box.
She agrees to become CR1515’s companion and live in the space station with him, and while she’s emotionally conflicted about it, she sticks to her word.
I’m currently forcing myself to read Outlander for research purposes. Not doing a real review on it given that I’m not remotely the target audience for the novel, but I do enjoy ranting about it.
The love interest, Jamie, is way too much of a woobie for me to like him on any level. He shows up injured, proceeds to get shot, then is given a good thrashing — all within a few chapters. In the meantime, his dialogue seems to revolve entirely around some horror story from his past, with plenty of scars covering his body to prove it (naturally the main character is there to tend to his wounds and listen sympathetically).
A story with the Woobie allows the audience to vicariously experience relief from some pain by fantasizing about relieving the Woobie’s pain. … Woobification can also tie into a disturbing hurt/comfort dynamic, in which fans enjoy seeing the Woobie tortured so they can wish the hurt away.TV Tropes
Not my cup of tea.
On any level.
I actually find it a little sickening.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing, given that Outlander was originally published in 1991, but I can’t help but look at Jamie and think that he’s so pathetic, he wouldn’t do anyone any good in a post-2020 world. Like, if there was only one package of toilet paper left in the entire city, and Jamie had a family counting on him to come through for them, he’d probably get hit in the eye and be left completely incapacitated, thus failing miserably. Ain’t got time for that sympathy crap in this society. Toughen up, dude, and learn how to take care of yourself.
I prefer men who are capable of protecting babies against hordes of zombies during the apocalypse. Just sayin’.
I decided to read Outlander for research purposes, but since I’m not remotely the target audience, I’m not going to review it. Instead, I will tell you that I’m really struggling to get through the book.
Outlander is classic Mary-Sue fiction. As in, the main character is an orphan, but instead of carrying any deep emotional scarring over the loss of her parents, she grew up traveling the world and going on all sorts of adventures with her uncle. Wheee!
It goes downhill from there.
Naturally it leaves me, someone with a traumatic backstory, absolutely nothing to relate to. Actually, I find it quite triggering. Do other women really have someone constantly swooping in to protect them from everything unpleasant? Why was I never so fortunate?
Cue the accusations of being self-centered and making everything about me.
Given that Mary-Sue is one of the most popular sub genres of romance, I can’t help but wonder if I really am that much of an anomaly. Where are the fictional characters that are like me?
The villains in horror novels, I’m sure.
This massive disconnect is the reason why I write the sorts of things that I write. My productivity is so slow in the winter because January is my “traumaversary” month — the event that permanently robbed me of my ability to write PG stories, so to speak. I have a darkness inside, and while it prevents me from relating to most people, it is also why I appreciate the things that everyone else takes for granted. You learn to live in peace with your demons.
I’m not sure if I’ll actually make it to the end of Outlander, even for the research purposes. It just feels too juvenile and naive for me to stomach.
I can’t help but jokingly think of this as “Beauty and the Beast with robots”.
This is still massively underdeveloped, of course, but I find it to be a thoroughly fascinating idea.
Aurora’s eyes closed, and for a moment she drifted into sleep before she snapped herself back into consciousness. The horizon was growing lighter, and he still hadn’t appeared. While she was doing her best to maintain the vigil, it was difficult to feel a sense of urgency when the fate of humanity rested on someone who was now hours late.
“He’s not coming,” Talon murmured, closing his hand around Aurora’s. His skin felt burning hot over her cold fingers, so she snuggled up against his side to soak in his warmth.
“He has to,” she replied quietly.
“As soon as the first sun rays appear, we’re out of time.” Talon motioned to the frozen mecha that stood some yards away, still poised in mid-attack. “The artifacts won’t hold it after daybreak.”
“He’ll be here,” Aurora weakly insisted. “He’s the only one who can stop it.”
“We need to leave before we get killed.” Talon stood then pulled on her. “Come on.”
“But what about the artifacts?”
“They’ll probably be destroyed. We’ll have to worry about that later.”
Aurora reluctantly followed Talon, but she couldn’t stop herself from looking back. Recovering the three golden artifacts had been a long and difficult process, and activating them to imprison the mecha had cost them the life of a friend. The thought of being abandoned by CR1515 at the last minute was too much to bear.
“Let’s go find him,” she suggested hopefully.
“If Robot Boy was coming, he would have been here hours ago,” Talon snapped, using the derogatory nickname for CR1515. Even though he was humanity’s protector, there were many people who resented and feared his abilities, and consequently sought to drag him down in petty ways. Despite the intended disrespect, CR1515 had never given any indication of noticing the nickname or the negative attitudes towards him … until his failure to appear that night.
“The Gate isn’t far from here. Let’s just go see if we can contact him, at the very least.” Aurora hated the thought of giving up, and even though she knew her idea sounded silly and irrational, it was far better than doing nothing.
“You go then, if it will make you happy. I need to tell the others what’s happened.” Talon stopped and turned to Aurora, put his arms around her waist, then kissed her lips. “Don’t risk waiting around, though,” he whispered. “If he doesn’t answer in two minutes, get underground.”
“I promise I will.” Aurora closed her eyes as they kissed farewell again, then continued to the Gate alone. She approached the metal door, standing in the middle of an empty lot free from any buildings or walls, and pushed the small button next to it. Silently, she began to count the seconds, feeling the weight of fatigue build with every number.
At 64, the door swung open.
She hesitated, then stepped through.
Aurora was no longer in the empty lot with solid earth beneath her feet. She was inside a large room with windows on every side, looking out at a dark sky that was speckled with innumerable stars, and her breath caught in her throat at the realization that she was no longer on the planet, but far above it in space.
Metallic footsteps came towards her, and she turned to face CR1515. It hurt to find him home, staring at her with his expressionless face, and she couldn’t stop herself from crying out, “How could you?”
He stopped. “Have you never questioned whether or not you are worthy of my help?”
“Aren’t … we?” Aurora was lost for words. The truth was, through all the hard work and sacrifices that they had made to reach their goal, it never once occurred to her to wonder what CR1515 thought of them – she had assumed that he would assist the moment he was needed, because he always had before.
“I have grown tired of humanity. Save yourselves.” He turned to walk away, but Aurora jumped forward and caught hold of his back, pressing herself against him as she begged,
“Please. Please. We’ve done everything we can, but that mecha is … a lot of people will die if you don’t do something right now!”
“No,” came his harsh reply.
“I swear that I’ll do anything you ask, if only you’ll kill that thing!”
“You swear?” CR1515’s metal hands pressed down over her wrists, holding her in place with her arms around him.
“I want what your species takes for granted.” He thrust Aurora’s arms away from him and once again turned to face her. “I want to touch, and to love.”
She stood, numbed by the words, unable to stop the thought, He’s a robot, from repeating itself over and over in her mind. CR1515 possessed the likeness of a human, but he was undoubtedly made of hard metal. How could he touch?
“Will you be mine?” he asked.
“But …” Aurora’s voice faded.
“Those are my terms. If you won’t accept, then begone.”
“…Yes.” Her lower lip trembled, and she wondered if she should try to take back the word despite having said it.