the psychology of power
Hello, readers. I’ve been digging through my drafts folder, deleting everything that doesn’t look like I can still get a post out of it, and I found this apparently complete post just sitting in there. I originally wrote it on February 17th, 2013, and I have no idea why I didn’t post it. I probably felt that I had more to say or something. Anyway, since I haven’t posted anything in a while, I figured I’d toss this up for you.
Interestingly, I don’t think I ever wrote a review of this book. Which is a shame, since it’s my favorite by this author so far. Maybe I’ll read it again and write about it soon, who knows.
Everything that follows the asterisks is from February 2013.
So I’m reading Enslaved, a new “paranormal romance” novel written by my friend/enemy R. C. Murphy. The basic plot is that an incubus is sick of his life as a sex slave, and I’m guessing he’ll meet the human protagonist and she’ll free him of his bondage with the power of love. I’m intrigued by the premise of incubi not as predatory monsters, but victims. Slaves with no power over theirs lives or bodies.
But that’s where it gets weird. I’m still early in the book, so perhaps it gets clarified later, but the psychology of the incubi seems wrong to me. The incubus protagonist, Deryck, is our viewpoint character for every scene involving others of his kind so far, so perhaps it’s just his bitterness at the life he’s been stuck with. But there are repeated references to incubi discussing their “conquests”, and that choice of word really bothers me. Even more than the idea of sex as an adversarial encounter usually does.
These beings are slaves. They are summoned up by means as-yet undisclosed, used for the pleasure of the woman who summoned them, and banished back to their otherworld. They have no agency of their own, no choice or control over their lives. If conquest is happening, they are the ones being conquered.
I see three possibilities here, which could easily overlap. First is that this is Deryck’s choice of word, and he’s expressing his bitterness that the other incubi don’t seem to be as miserable as he is. Second is a psychological defense mechanism, they treat it as a conquest or something to brag about to feel as though they have some actual power over their lives and aren’t really slaves being constantly raped. Third is that the author just tossed in a phrase about background characters without giving it much thought, never expecting that a pompous windbag like myself might pick it apart. Perhaps I’ll find out as I get deeper into the novel.
I can understand a desire to gloss over some of the more horrible aspects of the life she’s written these poor creatures into for the sake of the story, but the more I think about it the more I think that would interest me more than the story she’s actually written. This probably says more about me than about the book, I find psychological studies interesting.
But it is interesting. Deryck is apparently a demi-god, and was born into his servitude. It’s unclear if this is how all incubi come to be, and I can’t fault the author for not wanting to dig into the psychology of these creatures when it really isn’t central to the story, but I find myself wondering what people might be like in such an otherworldly, and yet also sadly real, situation.
There is actually quite a lot of information on people who are born into life as a sex slave, because sadly it isn’t that uncommon. But I wonder how “normal” someone who never set foot on Earth would be. Whose interactions with people other than their fellow slaves consist entirely of living sex fantasies in a strange, supernatural realm of imagination. It’s strongly implied that everything Deryck knows about our world, our daily lives and culture, has been gradually pieced together from fragments he picked up during a million anonymous sexual encounters.
I’m actually having a lot of trouble reading this book because what the story is talking about isn’t what really interests me about the setting. My mind keeps wandering off to imagine other things.
I’m also curious how and why this incubus program got set up in the first place. My current hypothesis is that the gods put it together as a way to shuffle demi-gods out of the way so they wouldn’t do anything embarrassing like Heracles and Perseus did. I’m pretty sure there will be more info about that as the book progresses, so looking forward to that.
I’m planning to write more about this book when I finish it, but so far my impression is that it’s better than her first novel, but still annoyingly the wrong genre.
Ah well. Maybe her next book will be catering entirely to my tastes. I can dream, can’t I?