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The Lesson of the Tortoise

by G. Kevin Wilson

Eastern
1997

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Number of Reviews: 4
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Out of Touch, June 30, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
This well-received story pretends to have Asian influence but is remarkably western and male oriented. It should be no secret that cheating is culturally different in rural China, urban China, and western pop-culture. The scene where (Spoiler - click to show) the husband catches his wife in his own bed with his employee seems more like a scene from the old TV show Friends than a plausible event in in set China. In reality, in pre-Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary China, women, not men are undeniably the overwhelming victims, not the perpetrators, of cheating. When a woman does cheat, and is caught, her husband, the divorce courts of her government, and her neighbors will all ensure that her punishment is far greater than her 'crime.' Taiwan is little better, especially now recent court decisions have ensured that women do not have the right to safety. (People who attack rapists in the act are punished more severely than the rapists themselves!)

A story of a Chinese man who is the poor helpless victim of adultery is about as preposterous as a story of an American white man who is the poor helpless victim of racism by his African-American neighbours. Moreover, (Spoiler - click to show)three men team up to destroy one woman using absolute authority over another woman!

But I understand we all like a story of East Asian flavor that reads like a fortune cookie and ignores reality. I'm sure the author has read the take of several Western authors on Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist thought. HE probably did not intend any of the bitter irony that I'm reading into HIS story.

In a few days, I'll probably be embarrassed by something or everything I've written here and delete this review. I'm normally spineless. But I'll post it now while outrage fuels my, probably unjustified, courage.

Comments on this review

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Sobol, June 29, 2017 - Reply
It happens.

I've tried Demon Mark: A Russian Saga recently; it seemed a travesty to me (I'm from Russia). And I'm not easily irritated: I adore Firebird, I laughed my heart out at You Will Select a Decision.

Let's just say some games were not made for us to enjoy.
Christina Nordlander, June 30, 2017 - Reply
"Let's just say some games were not made for us to enjoy."

It shouldn't have to be that way. (Because intention can be hard to gauge across the internet, I want to clarify that I agree with you, I'm just saying that nobody should ever have to say "oh well, guess I'd better grow a thicker skin" after finding some work that insults their group.)

Though I am glad to hear that there are at least some games with a Russian setting that get it right and aren't offensive to Russians.
IFforL2, June 30, 2017 - Reply
Hi Christina, thank you for your helpful comments. In their light, I see that I owe a revision. I overreacted to the caricature in my review. Sobol isn't insulted by the fakey Russian portrayal in Firebird, and I'm only so in retrospect. I thought it was cute until (Spoiler - click to show)I found my(in-game)self treating two women like property, controlling one with absolute authority in order to regain absolute control over another. So I can't accurately say I'm insulted. Rather, the cute caricature suddenly became a dead serious (affirmation? accusation?) of the traditionally patriarchal culture it was just caricaturing... Or the author was going for cringe humor... Or the irony escapes the author... Or something.
Sobol, June 30, 2017 - Reply
I wouldn't say it's "fakey" - like, for example, Shrek isn't a "fakey" presentation of Western fairy tales. The author of Firebird knows the folklore material well enough, the absurd elements are obviously intentional and genuinely funny.

Demon Mark, on the other hand, provoked more of a facepalm reaction than laughter from me.
IFforL2, June 29, 2017 - Reply
Thank you, Sobol. Firebird was actually the IF that got me interested in the reworking (however loosely) of traditional stories into games.
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