Thursday, March 10, 2016

Four Bully Stories by Sarah Hoyt

At some point last mumble, I decided to see how my reviews matched up with the Kindle Unlimited books published by contributors to the Mad Genius Club and the assorted hangers-on.  The answer is:

Not very well.

The main reason for the discrepancy between what they have written and what I have reviewed (I think) is that Sarah recently made a lot of her work available through KU. Second reason: there were also a number of works I had read long ago through Baen, and those didn't get automatically routed into an Amazon review.  Third reason: sometimes I mumble do other mumble things. I have a LOT of work to do before I am caught up again.  I am working on it, I PROMISE you I'm working on it, but THIS weekend I am taking my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after, trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grand-mother of Woodstock, Georgia, off to the mountains for a well-deserved get-away.  And that's all I have to say about that.

I have written an Amazon review for each of these short stories (The Littlest Nightmare,The Sacrifice, Where Horse And Hero Fell, Created He Them), but the added value in this particular Ramble addresses something that was discussed in yesterday's According To Hoyt: bullying.

/begin review commercial
But before I get into that: if you want to read my reviews, click on the link in the paragraph above.  And, if you find it helpful, then click on the "helpful" button at the end of the review.  I've explained before how this ultimately benefits the author because it increases the weight of my reviews, but follow your conscience in all things.
/end review commercial

Bullying: it's something I happen to know a lot about.  My last career, lasting 16 years, was being a counselor in a middle school.  I saw bullying in every form you can imagine, and students didn't have to die in order for it to be horrifying, although two of them did.  I was gratified when our state legislature passed an anti-bullying law, but it was hamstrung by limiting the definition to threats of a physical assault, and made no provision for the restructuring of a school environment, but was strictly punitive in nature.  And it totally ignored relationship aggression, which is how bullying typically manifests with schoolgirls, as well as bullying directed toward students by teachers and administration.

I'll have some specific points to make about school age bullying at the end, but first, let me make some more or less tongue-in-cheek observations about the presence of bullying in each of the four short stories.  (I'll have to repeat some material from the Amazon review, but you still have to read them.) 

The Littlest Nightmare

Jack, a socially incompetent young man, can't get a job, even in a fast-food restaurant. A purple monster appears in his apartment, and explains that her name is Hilda, she's his personal nightmare,and she's in love with him. In a horrifying example of quid pro quo sexual harassment, Jack agrees to be her boyfriend if she will help him in his career.

The Sacrifice
The Sacrifice is a retelling of the story of Hannibal. The goddess Tanit appears to Hannibal as a youth and promises him eternal fame if he will promise to always lead Carthage against Rome.  This is a classic example of a charismatic leader who exploits his position for personal gain; thus, Hannibal is a bully, and Carthage is the victim.

Where Horse And Hero Fell

George is a computer nerd falls in love with Gwen, a beautiful red-haired witch.  George uses force to overcome resistance by his own side, threatening the lives and livelihood of political and military leaders if they fail to support him in his quest to rescue Gwen by force from her captors.

Created He Them

The end of the world as we know it is happening. Humans have no choice in their destiny; they are being tossed out of the game, despite not knowing they were in a game at all.

And now, very briefly, let me touch on three truths of school-age bullying:

One.  It's at your school, too; bullying takes place universally.  Usually, though, students don't talk about it, because they don't believe the adults will do anything about it, and they're almost always right.  MOST of the time, that's not because the adults are evil, it's because they don't know what to do.

Two.  Most bullying does not involve a violent attack.  Among schoolgirls, it almost never does.  As a general rule, social relationships are more important to schoolgirls than to school boys; therefore, they rarely take the risk of a open physical conflict.  Instead, they use a covert social network to exclude and isolate those they see as competition or enemies.

Three.  It all comes down from the top.  A building level supervisor, such as the principal or assistant principal, will determine the school climate.  If they tend to rule by intimidation and suppression of problems, teachers and students will learn those same tactics.  Bullying will become pervasive, and the evidence of it will be hidden.  This is the exception to the rule in truth number one, that most of the time adults who fail to manage the problem of bullying are not doing so because they are evil.  If the building level supervisor is a bully, then they are evil.

Well, that was pleasant, wasn't it?  Tune in again tomorrow…  for what ever happens then…


  1. Three, in spades when my younger kid was bullied. The school decided he was bad, these girls (who were children of administrators) started making bogus claims of being scared of him/having threats made (while THEY followed him home, yelling abuse and throwing a stones -- as I observed when I decided to watch from hiding) and the school escalated, and-- But the middle school had the "feel" of a prisoner camp. And that was where the problem started.

    1. It's HARD to combat that sort of thing when almost all 'accountability' means is 'high test scores.' If enough of the community complains long and loud, sometimes things change. But that's HARD to make happen, since it requires organization, and nobody has independent oversight.

  2. Yeah, it happens at all levels. My wife came home yesterday with an example of bullying, teacher on teacher. One teacher asked another for extra copies of a particular book in the morning and was rebuffed. In the afternoon teacher one walked into teacher two's classroom while teacher two was out dealing with a problem child and started going through her shelves. T-two has a student teacher who happened to still be in the room and was unseen by t-one until she asked him if she could help. T-one blustered about looking for the book asked for earlier, at about which time t-two walked in and told t-one yet again that she didn't have any extras. T-one then asked about extra copies of a different book, to which T-two replied that he already had them as he hadn't returned her copies that he had borrowed previously. Apparently T-one has quite the reputation of just walking in and appropriating things without asking. Hopefully the new principal takes care of this problem.