Seldom I've dabbled in the realms of red,
Or splashed my cricket bat with sanguine stains:
Who once the zombie genre sore disdains
Not lightly is amused by dudes undead.
At whiles attempts most valiant I'd read:
Bill Swears and Alden Bell took noble pains,
Yet none, meseems, did nosh upon my brains
Till Mira Grant scooped mine from out my head.
Then felt I like stout Rudyard Kipling when
Of all the well-worn ways to tribal lays,
He stumbled on that lost Threescore-and-Ten,
That closes hidebound books, and opens eyes
To all they asked - nor craves we read again,
But do, and do! - and cry, "When will we rise?"
Keats' original can be found here, for those unfamiliar with it.
For those unfamiliar with Mira Grant (alias the excellent contemporary fantasist seanan_mcguire), what more can I say? Go on, get some read on you!
* ETA: Which first persuaded me that a zombie apocalypse book could also be a right good read, and in whose absence I might never have tried out the others.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was "in".
Sing, Muse, something bouncy and feelgood by Stock, Aitken and Waterman!
I got to tell you this story about guns and this geezer.
Here, listen: you know how the old Vikings used to stick it to their enemies.
April's wet and windy, and the pigeons are shagging in your gutters all day. Time to hit the tourist trail!
My brother's the king of parties, but I'm an unprepossessing ratbag!
Dudes! Who wants to hear my twelve-book epic about original sin?!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a romantic heroine possessed of a good spirit, must be in want of an arrogant prat.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was chucking-out time at the Star and Garter.
Call me an unspellable and unpronounceable symbol, as a mark of my disdain for my publishers.
In a hole in the ground there lived an earwig.
*Or other unseemly evocations of human emotion.
Spock gets a long-lost daughter with purple eyes who's an even better doctor than McCoy and when she arrives, Kirk instantly falls in love with her and makes her captain in his place. She takes them to the planet of the Sparkle Ponies where she defeats Khan with her beauty and that of her new glittery equine friends.
Heh! But also not so much heh, because here are some good cases made in that very article and several others within the same conversation, to the effect that 'Mary Sue' has become a lazy and insidious way of dinging on female characters disliked by the reviewer - most especially, female characters written by women - in ways which are both unfair to said authors, and in danger of limiting the public supply of awesome female characters. All sorts of subtleties of the true and false Mary Sue Effects are explored in these discussions, and I highly recommend all of them. In chronological order:
You Can Stuff Your Mary Sue Where the Sun Don't Shine, by Zoë Marriot (Aug 1st 2011)
Ladies, Don't Let Anyone Tell You You're Not Awesome, by sarahtales (Aug 4th)
Ladies Ladies Ladies, by blackholly (Aug 7th)
I Know a Little Girl and Her Name Is Mary Mac: the Misuse of Mary Sue, by seanan_mcguire (Oct 11th)
What Would Mary Sue Do?, by Zoë Marriot (25th October)
Here is my head hitting the desk, repeatedly.
My only real addition to the debate concerns the case where the name's deserved. I think one good test for whether a character is a genuine Mary Sue/Marty Stu or not, is whether they have the defects proper to their virtues - or, indeed, the virtues of their defects. If what is wrong with them has nothing to do with what is right with them, except to serve as a foil for the sparkly shininess of it, this is a warning sign. And if their most salient flaw is wangst, and yet they are in no other way anything of a wanker, that is an enormous neon warning sign flashing DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER !
At the age of thirteen, I independently invented the concept of fanfic and the character - but not, alas, the concept! - of Marty Stu, as a side-effect of the dire worldwide shortage of new Pern books. To encounter him at the age of thirty as a known public nuisance was both a revelation and a sort of relief, not to mention a salutary reminder. But if his sister is now being seen more often in pieces of vaguely girl-cootied speculative fiction than the Virgin Mary has manifested in pieces of vaguely toasted bread, then it may be that the pair of them are coming to the end of their useful work as Awful Warnings.
Either that, or Marty is going to have to start pulling more of his own weight. Which one, eh?
Italicize the authors you've heard of before reading this list of authors, bold the ones you've read at least one work by, underline the ones of whose work you own at least one example of. Come up with improvements to flavour your versions.
Marcia J. Bennett
Poppy Z. Brite
Lois McMaster Bujold
Brenda W. Clough
Carole Nelson Douglas
Claudia J. Edwards
Carolyn Ives Gilman
Dorothy Heydt (AKA Katherine Blake)
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
Laurie J. Marks
Dee Morrison Meaney
Paula Helm Murray
Alis Rasmussen (AKA Kate Elliott)
Mickey Zucker Reichert
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Eluki Bes Shahar (AKA Rosemary Edghill)
Sheri S. Tepper
Prof. Mary Turzillo
Deborah Wheeler (Deborah J. Ross)
It isn't particularly rare or financially valuable, but I've been seeing references to Reliques since I was about fourteen, and never ever have I actually seen or held a copy of it.
Inside my head, I am boinging away like Zebedee off the Magic Roundabout.
The Snakeshead and the Spelldesk
A burnt-out sorcerer and a sassy
The Brighteyes and the Banespork
The mad mongoose-god is no more, but the demons of his ichneumon horde are burrowing through the corrupt souls of Noisette City into the sensual world! Can hard-boiled sorcerer Pebblefall and passionate pythoness Hiisi Fitt save their world from drowning in a tidal wave of unspeakable squick?
The Wyrdbook and the Worldwall