Warning: spoilers, some talk of rape.
This week, despite knowing absolutely nothing about the plot, I bought Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, for three reasons: one, I was on holiday, and no holiday is counted as such until I’ve gone bookbuying; two, as part of the Great Literary Circle of Life wherein I invariably spend all the money I earn through writing stories on acquiring stories; and three, because I remembered seeing the covering image online a while back, and it’s damned arresting. Seriously: look at this beautiful artwork!
Horns! Wings! Guns! Swords! An awesome-looking WOC exuding badassery as she openly breastfeeds her baby! There are zero things about this image that don’t make me want to read onwards. So when I say I didn’t know anything about the plot at the outset, that’s really only half-true: having seen the cover, I could identify various likely themes, but without knowing how they all fit together.
Haphazardly, is the answer. There’s a lot to like in Saga, but it’s also loaded down with a seriously unnecessary amount of problematic language – and yet, the artwork! The premise! The promise of the premise, when Vaughan isn’t busy screwing it up! The characters, sort of, for reasons that will hopefully become clear! And so on, and so forth, to the point where I have no idea whatsoever whether I’ll ignore the second volume or leap on it with greedy fingers, should I encounter it in my travels.
Allow me to explain why:
Imagine you’re picnicking at the beach, and you’ve made yourself a sandwich. All the ingredients are things you like, you’re meticulous in your assemblage, but despite all the time and care you took, the whole thing’s riddled with sand. But does that mean your lunch is ruined? Have you actually made a bad sandwich, or was its goodness simply compromised by proximity to a pervasive, gritty substance?
In this metaphor, stories I want to like are the sandwich. The beach is our culture.
The sand is white patriarchy.
And man, does it get into everything.
Chapter 1 of Saga opens as Alana – our green-winged, blue-haired WOC protagonist – gives birth in a garage. She and her husband, Marko, are on the lam: their respective peoples are in the middle of all-out galactic war, and both are wanted as traitors. They met, we soon learn, when Alana was guarding Marko in military prison (he surrendered after his first battle, declaring himself a conscientious objector), and within the space of twelve hours found enough common ground to escape and desert, respectively, together. But all that detail is yet to come: right now, we’re watching Alana in the final stages of labour, and straight away, I have two problems with the portrayal of said event. Granted, they aren’t massive problems, but seeing as how the whole giving-birth thing is something I did myself a few months ago, the specifics are still on my mind. Thus, I have two questions: where the fuck is the placenta, and why is Alana aroused by childbirth?
I’ll freely admit that the first is a personal bugbear. I mean, hell: it’s not like I’m asking to see a closeup of the damn thing – it’s just that, once the baby arrives, Alana’s labour pretty much stops, and even though we see Marko severing the umbilical cord (with his teeth, which is played for laughs, but still, yeah, no), the perspective of the drawing implies it’s attached, first to Alana herself, and then to nothing, which kinda suggests that Vaughan just… forgot about it. But, whatever: that’s the least of my issues. Because even though it’s been reported that a small number of women achieve orgasm while giving birth (no, really), the casual insertion of the phenomenon in such a way as to sexualise a WOC while she’s in labour – and by sexualise, I mean we see Alana biting her lip and groaning with pleasure – felt really skeevy to me, especially given the fact that the writer, Vaughan, is a straight white dude.
This assessment is further complicated when, several pages later, we’re given Alana and Marko’s backstory, during the course of which one Special Agent Gale – a white guy – describes Alana as “dim, impulsive, kind of a slut”. And, OK. I get that Gale is meant to be a Bad Guy here, which naturally colours his assessment of Alana. But that doesn’t justify the random slutshaming; in fact, it sits weirdly with the larger narrative. Vaughan has written a universe where women are soldiers, bountyhunters and revolutionaries – that is, actively taking on traditionally male roles without anyone questioning it – which, at least superficially, would seem to suggest the existence of some species of gender equality. Yet the language of the other characters not only fails to back this up, but actively suggests the opposite: that familiar, real-world sexism is so widespread in the setting as to seriously undermine the concept of female warriors. In Chapter 2, for instance, another female soldier, Lance Corporal McHenry, is asked about Alana’s reading habits. Her response? “Just stupid romances, the kind housewives buy at the supermarket. Half-naked dudes on the cover, you know.”
Actually, no, Mr Vaughan: I don’t. Because even if I set aside the teeth-grindingly unnecessary sexism of this statement – not to mention the veiled implication, when the romance novel in question is later produced, that Alana’s decision to abandon her duty and run off with Marko was in some way caused by her choice of reading material – it’s also deeply, stupidly, pointlessly anachronistic. I mean, here we have a setting where robots can get pregnant (more of which later, because WHAT), mythic-looking humans in space wield magic alongside guns, and where wooden, sentient rocketships grow in forests, and you’re still talking about HOUSEWIVES BUYING PAPERBACK ROMANCE NOVELS AT THE SUPERMARKET. (Oh, yeah. It’s a paperback.) Fucking seriously?
This is arguably the most glaring example, but it’s far from being the only such on offer. Earlier, Special Agent Gale complains that “this app was trying to auto-update and now my whole thing is frozen” while playing with what looks suspiciously like an iPhone; and later on, we have Izabel, the ghost of a teenage girl – or at least, the torso of a teenage girl; her apparition ends at her visible intestines – using words like “whatevs” and “suck-ass” and telling people to “chill” in almost the same breath as she refers to an unknown woman as “some other broad”, which is such a random and jarring mishmash of slang, I cannot even. Throw in the fact that the obligatory Planet of Hookers (you knew there’d be one) is literally, actually called Sextillion, and I’m starting to think that not only doesn’t Vaughan know how to worldbuild the details, he isn’t even trying.
But back to the sexism – and also, unfortunately, to the racism. Because as much as I resent the unnecessary sexualisation of The Stalk – a female bountyhunter best described as an armless human torso atop a spider’s thorax, whose skill as a mercenary is apparently such that she doesn’t need to wear armour, clothes, or even a bra, instead content to gallivant around bare-breasted Because Free Boobies – and the fact that Prince Robot IV condescends to McHenry by telling her to “be a dear”, at least these offences are obvious as such. The racial problems, by contrast, are all the more insidious for being subtle. The first time Alana meets Izabel and her fellow ghosts, for instance, she calls them the Horrors – the threatening name by which they’re known because of their awful deeds (though apparently, it’s all just mental projections to scare people off). To which Izabel responds, “Is that seriously what you guys call indigenous peoples? That’s kind of racist, don’t you think?”
Which is clearly meant to be played for laughs – a part of her quirky dead-teen persona. Only, here’s the thing: Izabel is white. Even though she’s drawn in shades of pink and red to mark her as a ghost, we know she’s white, because one of her fellow disembodied spirits is clearly depicted as having black hair and dark skin, so that when the two of them stand side by side, it’s visually obvious that in life, Izabel was pale. So even though it’s technically true that Izabel is a native inhabitant of the planet in question, while Alana and Marko are both offworlders, what we have here is a white girl accusing a WOC of racism while comically defending her own status as an indigenous person – and whatever justification might exist for why that’s OK in the world of Saga, the audience still consists exclusively of modern-day Earthlings for whom such encounters and language are deeply, if not always obviously, political. Worse is yet to come, however: over on planet Sextillion (seriously: why does this trope keep happening?), another bounyhunter, The Will, is looking for a good time. Having first encountered some – I don’t know what to call them, as it’s not clear whether they belong to an actual species or are manufactured products of the planet in question; visually, though, they’re a pairpf massive female heads on slender, fishnet-and-heel-clad legs; so let’s just call them ladies and move on – The Will finds himself bored by all the sex possibilities Sextillion has to offer, and so winds up in conversation with a pimp, whose pitch begins thusly: “No offence, but I can see what your last bitch did to you. It’s all over your face, my brother. Let me guess, was she a “strong woman”?”
To which I say: NO. A THOUSAND TIMES NO. The pimp then tells The Will that what he needs is a slave girl. Only, when they arrive at the pimp’s quarters, the girl in question? Is literally a girl. By which I mean, she is six fucking years old, and did I mention the fact that The Will is white and the slave girl is strongly implied to be Asian, not only in terms of her clothes and colouration, but because her home world – or home comet, rather – is called Phang? And then The Will tries to rescue her, but of course he can’t, but the girl doesn’t really mind, because the important thing is that he tried, and off she goes back to her owner (to whom she was sold by her uncle, of course) and SERIOUSLY? It wasn’t enough to casually mention that Marko’s people apparently keep “rape camps” without considering this information to be materially relevant to Alana’s decision to run off with him, and it wasn’t enough to have the now-dead pimp state openly that many of his whores are refugees strongly implied to be there against their will; you have to sneak some Asian child sex-slavery into a world where Asia doesn’t even exist? Capping off all this awfulness is a truly vile conversation between The Will and Mama Sun, the slave girl’s owner, who responds to the apparent contradiction of his profession and actions by asking: “So it’s morally acceptable to execute people of any age, but only to make love to a select few?”
And I just. I do not even know where to BEGIN with this bullshit. Because, look: even though this comment is clearly flagged as reprehensible in the narrative thanks to The Will’s response - “If I gotta explain the difference, you’re too far gone to follow” – this still sits way too close to the endlessly-perpetuated argument that there’s no moral difference between rape and murder, so therefore sexualising and brutalising women in video games and other cultural output is OK, for me to be in any way, shape or form comfortable with its being there unanalysed, and doubly especially when the person saying it not only goes on to explain how the slave girl – whose name we never find out – is really better off under her care, because of how she gets food and shelter and income, but walks away with the child still in her custody.
And then we’re back to the sexism again: Alana calling The Stalk a cunt, The Stalk calling Alana a bitch; The Will’s muttered complaint about “women” when he first arrives at Sextillion, followed by the leggy ladyfaces offering him “livestock to copulate with”; Alana arguing with Izabel about how best to care for her baby, which exchange involves Izabel calling her “hormonal” and criticizing her breastfeeding technique and Alana mocking Izabel for “missing her vagina”; Marko comparing Alana to his former fiancée, Gwendolyn, by saying the latter had “boyish hips” that weren’t “womanly” like Alana’s; every bite of the sandwich filled with grit. And then there’s the issue of the robots, who are inexplicably human – even, apparently, at a biological level – except for having TV screens for heads, and who therefore seem the perfect personification of the problems with Vaughan’s script. The first time we see Prince Robot IV and his Princess, they’re having sex; later, we see the Prince on the toilet, and are told that the Princess is pregnant. How and why is never explained – like the anachronisms mentioned earlier, the worldbuilding detail just isn’t there – but when the pregnancy is announced, the Princess tellingly says that she and the Prince will be happy with anything – “even a girl”. And honestly? For all that Vaughan’s apparent plan with the robots is a sort of visual irony derived from the idea of a race of machines with all the biological and ceremonial trappings of humanity, right down to male primogeniture and a hereditary monarchy, the idea of a robot society with entrenched sexism is just… I mean, do I even need to explain this? THEY’RE ROBOTS. Even with the addition of biological components, like fertility and the need to shit, we’re talking about metal creatures who, at a base level, all possess the same physical and mental capabilities – so even if future volumes include a social explanation for robot gender bias (such as, for instance, the sexism of their original creators, or a cultural adherence to specific and highly stereotyped gender identities as compensation for being otherwise compositionally identical), the decision to include sexism within a culture where its presence makes no logical sense is still an incredibly worrying one.
But perhaps the most annoying thing of all his how unnecessary all these problems are. The vast majority are the result of throwaway lines of dialogue, and the rest – the slave girl, the sexualisation of The Stalk – could be very easily fixed at no cost to the main plot. This is what I mean when I say that white partirachy gets everywhere: for all that I don’t doubt that Vaughan’s intentions were good – the narrative might not question this stuff, but that doesn’t mean it portrays it in a positive light – the fact remains that none of it needed to be there at all, and especially not when you consider that otherwise, he’s created a world where men and women fight side by side. And as much as I’d have loved a deeper political dimension on the pro-equality side (because I pretty much always do), it didn’t need to be there, either, in order to make things work: Vaughan simply had keep real-world sexism and racism from influencing his portrayals of the characters, or else introduce a convincing reason for those issues to be there that wasn’t at odds with the rest of the story. Had he done so, then I’d be well on the way to rating Saga as one of my favourite series ever, even with the random anachronisms. Because for all these problems, Saga Volume 1 has a lot to offer: the artwork is gorgeous, the emotional component is generally compelling, there’s a real sense of scope and grandeur and original SFFnal adventure, and enough interesting elements have been put in play that I really do want to see what happens next. But if the problematic aspects aren’t resolved or addressed, then the series will only make me angrier the longer it goes on, and I’ll end up feeling cheated and exhausted – and very much in the mood for a different sort of sandwich altogether.
Incidentally, I saw Joss Whedon's Much Ado... on Monday with kalypso at the Cornerhouse (I cannot get my head around Mark Kermode's insistence that like MCC and Albany, it does not take the definite article, though I agree this is true of the visible branding on the place and its literature.)
Greatly enjoyed, and definitely agree with Philip French's review in the Guardian that everyone's terrible decision-making, hair-trigger tempers and impulsiveness is made much more explicable where, as here, the entire cast is permanently semi-sloshed (were one to ask one of the characters what they wanted for breakfast in this production, the answer would appear to be "a tequila slammer")
The standout performance is Nathan Fillion as Dogberry, someone I'd previously thought of as "one of those ghastly unfunny Shakespearean comic characters" but Beatrice and Benedick are very good, too; there's a scene where Beatrice is trying to shake off a guy who insists on pawing her bare arm and shoulder at a party which is brilliantly observed, and helps point out that for all her verbal freedom she's stuck in a world where women have no real power and they're constantly walking a tightrope between seen as loose or uptight.
In which regard, I don't have the problems other reviewers seem to have about the modern-dress setting and the actions of - in particular - Beatrice and Margaret compared to the "Hero has to be a virgin" McGuffin; Claudio (in particular) is established as an unbalanced obsessive with a nasty streak at an early stage, in his sudden conclusion that the Duke was after Hero on his own behalf (again, a brilliant scene).
In fact, it occurred to me (and I don't know if anyone's actually directed it this way; there were, I'd say, veiled hints in this production) that everyone's motivations would be a great deal more explicable if we assume that Don Pedro and Claudio have just started an affair, Don Pedro is a politician with a very conservative, family-values power-base, and Hero serves as a convenient beard for both of them, with her dowry (which was definitely emphasised in this production. Twice) coming in handy as a campaign war-chest.
It would explain Don John, if he's hoping to use the attack on the Hero marriage as a way of provoking something even juicier to come out.
1) Donate to the ACLU, the EFF, or Lambda Legal.
2) Submit a story to Long Hidden.
3) Tell me about something beautiful.
4) Support someone in your life who's having a hard time.
5) Get CPR (re-)certified.
6) Do something good for yourself, something indulgent and delicious or quietly happy-making.
7) Question the dominant paradigm. Ask "why?". Explore the roots of customs you take for granted.
8) Ask someone you know to teach you something that's new to you.
If you do any of these things, I'd love to know about it. Please leave me a comment or drop me a note.
I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like to be 35. Thanks for keeping me company along the way. <3
Picked up in print from Third Place Books:
- Bronze Gods, by A.A. Aguirre. Looks like steampunky/alt-history mystery, and grabbing this because of general support of Ann Aguirre.
- Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik. Already owned this electronically but Novik’s one of my “must buy in both formats” authors, and I didn’t have a paperback copy of this yet!
- Bell, Book, and Murder: The Bast Mysteries, by Rosemary Edghill. This is Edghill’s omnibus edition of her Bast mysteries, the only way I could really get a hold of the third book of the series.
Picked up electronically from Smashwords:
- Unseelie, by Meredith Spies. This is the re-isssued self-pub edition of a book previously released by Drollerie, under the author’s other name of Meredith Holmes. Did this purchase to support her.
Picked up electronically from B&N:
- The Honey Month, by Amal El-Mohtar. Not normally a poetry or short story person, but after seeing Amal El-Mohtar’s name in recent SFWA-related posts, I wanted to find something by her and buy it to show my support. This was what I found. And hey, broadening my reading horizons with a bit of honey-themed poetry and short stories might be awesome.
- Worldsoul, by Liz Williams. Because Liz Williams has been categorically awesome in everything I’ve read of hers, and I didn’t have this yet.
- Reforming Lord Ragsdale, by Carla Kelly. Historical romance. Recommended on the Smart Bitches site.
And, picked up electronically from Kobo:
- The Killing Moon, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods, and The Shadowed Sun, by N.K. Jemisin. All in the general theme of “why yes, I WILL support her with buying as many of her books as possible.”
- Swan’s Braid & Other Tales of Terizan, and The Silvered by Tanya Huff. Because TANYA HUFF. Two of hers I didn’t have yet.
- Karma’s a Bitch, by Shannon Esposito. Cozy mystery. This is by one of the authors on the Paranormal Mystery list I’m on, and I thought it sounded cute and fluffy, and certainly the cover holds that up. Book 1 of the author’s Pet Psychic series.
- The Death of the Necromancer, by Martha Wells. Ebook release of one of Wells’ older fantasy novels.
- Daughter of the Sword, by Steve Bein. Urban fantasy set in Tokyo, and came highly recommended by at least one friend.
- Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson. Which also came highly recommended.
- BioShock: Rapture, by John Shirley. Tie-in novelization of the backstory of the BioShock video games. I’m not a console gamer but my housemate is, and I did enjoy what I saw of the storyline in those games. This novel takes elements from the first two games and ties them together to make a cohesive narrative about the founding of Rapture and its eventual slide into chaos. The story runs up to right before the first game starts.
109 for the year.
Mirrored from angelahighland.com.
Content note: Some discussion of rape, murder, and mutilation.
This is a hard book to review because my reaction to it is basically, "Eh."
It's not a terrible book, it's not a great book, it's not off-putting, it's not absorbing. Typically, my rule for deciding if I want to watch a TV show is, "Is this more fun than reading a book?" For this book, I would much rather have been watching TV.
Euripides wrote the version of Medea best known to modern audiences: the princess of Colchis falls in love with the adventurer Jason and betrays her family -- to the point of murdering her brother -- to help Jason steal the Golden Fleece. She then has a checkered career murdering people for Jason's advancement, which ultimately leads to him becoming king of Corinth. Eventually, Jason decides to abandon her in favor of another princess. (I am not sure I have ever read a single version of this myth in which Jason is not a total schmuck.) In revenge, Medea kills the other woman and her own children. In earlier versions, Medea kills the children by accident or the children are killed by the citizens of Corinth.
In most versions, there is yet more wandering and killing and attempted killing. Most notably Medea marries Aegeus and then tries to poison Theseus when he comes to claim his birthright. (This is included in The King Must Die, because sadly Mary Renault does not seem to have ever encountered a misogynistic trope she didn't like.) Medea is often said to have escaped from both Corinth and Athens in a chariot drawn by dragons. I wonder where she stabled and fed the dragons in between witchy midnight escapes. Possibly she just borrowed them from Hekate in her times of need.
Most versions of Medea's history end with her returning to Colchis and killing her uncle to restore her father to the throne. Presumably her father felt that this made up for that one time she murdered her brother and chopped his body into little pieces to scatter in the sea.
( Mildly spoilery, but you already know most of this. )
- Open Mic: The Field Glass Ceiling | ABA Blog: In hobby science as well as professional science, women get the short end of the stick.
- E3 Inspires Woman-Bashing On Twitter | Forbes: “Misogynist gamers are at it again, attacking Anita Saarkesian for making a simple observation.”
- [Trigger Warning] Why “Just let it happen, it’ll be over soon” is a rape joke, and extremely problematic | Gamers Against Bigotry: “Let me help: “just let it happen, it’ll be over soon” absolutely is a rape joke, and it is normal trash talk, and that is the problem.”
- Gaming the System | Bitch Media: “The syllogism often runs: Games are played by men, men only want to play as other men, therefore all games should be about men. Not only does this ignore women gamers, it lends fire and fuel to stereotypes that make men more resistant to identifying with women—squandering the unique power of a medium based on interactivity and virtual embodiment, and contributing to an empathy gap between men and women.”
- “Where Am I?” – a brief, personal look at LGBT in geek culture | Ms. In The Biz: “What if, in each thing all of us made, we did one thing that broke a prejudice barrier?”
- Joss Whedon Is Pissed That There Aren’t More Superheroine Movies: “even if you’re not one of the Whedon faithful, you’ll probably love how, during a Daily Beast interview, he expressed his personal frustration with the lack of female superheroes on film.”
- Meet the Teen Girl Superhero Squad Who Fight Racism and “Nerd Discrimination” | Bitch Media: “This teen girl squad collaboration was facilitated by a community art program in Winnipeg that matched artist Jennie O with an after-school “Grrlz Club” to work on an art project that focused on community identity.”
- Slut-Shaming and Concern Trolling in Geek Culture | io9: “Last month, science geek and costumer Emily Finke attended a sci fi convention dressed in a screen-accurate uniform from Star Trek: TOS, where she was met with microaggression, mock-concern and men intent on outing her as a Fake Geek Girl. So she decided to write something, “because I haven’t caused enough flame wars on the internet this week.”"
- Kickstarter for All-Female Gaming Miniatures Reaches Goal in 30 Seconds | The Mary Sue: Could do without the armored bikinis, personally, but there are still some great non-bikini designs here.
- The Geography of Hate | floating sheep: “Ultimately, some of the slurs included in our analysis might not have particularly revealing spatial distributions. But, unfortunately, they show the significant persistence of hatred in the United States and the ways that the open platforms of social media have been adopted and appropriated to allow for these ideas to be propagated.”
- Silicon Valley’s Awful Race and Gender Problem in 3 Mind-Blowing Charts | Mother Jones: “What struck Bracy about the tech-crazed Bay Area, she recounted Thursday in a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum tech conference, was the jarring inequality visible everywhere in Silicon Valley—between rich and poor, between men and women, between white people and, well, everyone else.”
- Depends on, well, you know. | Indexed
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Whew. It’s been a busy year so far, but the good news is that health-wise I am really starting to bounce back. tl:dr, last year I was severely anemic, was finally diagnosed in November, by December my iron levels were back up but I still have occasional crashes. This month is the first time I’ve really felt mostly like myself in close to two years!
Having more energy means I’m keeping up with my writing commitments better. I’m in the middle of writing the third book in a BDSM billionaire romance trilogy for Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever, the Struck by Lightning trilogy. The first book, Slow Surrender, is out in ebook now and the paperback comes August 5th!
Speaking of which, there’s a Goodreads giveaway for the book going on right now. If you’re on Goodreads, check it out here: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/5
They’re giving away 10 copies of the book.
Meanwhile, I’m writing book 3, Slow Satisfaction( Read the rest of this entry » )
Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.
( Sewing stuff )
Between researching for my survival at DCon and chucking a large portion of my makeup collection, I've been on an anti-gluten anxious rampage for a few days. ( Ebil, ebil gluten )
Sadly, Ima back to normal brain fog levels today. Not sure why. Maybe the starchy carbs aren't working anymore, maybe its the suddenly-storm weather going on in NYC today and tomorrow. Or b/c I accidentally got shampoo in my mouth last night, cuz I ain't perfect.
I also had hummus on Friday and Saturday, for the first time since ... September? Are chickpeas giving me hangovers now? Ugh, I hope not.
Today is begrudgingly my 2 year anniversary of "Noticing I Might Have CFS" so... um... yay? Also, I think it was early July that I had the migraine from hell that got my old doctor to send me for an MRI. Fun.
I think it was June of 2012 where I freaked out on how horrible I felt overall, and finally exclaimed 'FINE SEND IN THE FAITH HEALERS WAAAARGH.' Instead I got into acupuncture, and the needler, and then my new doctor, both recommended I try the (badly named) Paleo Diet to see if I had any food sensitivities. Which I did. And I started to feel better, tho in stops and starts, until I crashed again around January. More stops and starts, and I'm mostly sure that today I'm better than I was last June, so that's good. I'm not great, but I'm better than I was.
( Weight & Body Image )
Tho also b/c of that discussion online and in my head, I realized I had weeks of food tracking data written down in my notepad that I could plug into an online calorie counter to see what's up. I've been tracking food by weight, more for financial than health reasons, b/c of wanting to try and stay on a grocery budget. And also in case individual foods cause weird flareups/reactions. And to see what happened. Counting calories is just too abstract for me, and requires too much work to track and count everything via internets. For weight I just use my kitchen scale.
It looks like I've been bobbing around 1800 calories per day pretty steadily, usually with 2-2.25 lbs per day. A bit low on carbs, but fat and protein in normie ranges, and the low side of normal for fiber (but too much of that messes me up in unhappy ways). On the other hand, that was just last week, when I was reintroducing starchy corn chips. Will work on earlier data later.
Am still unsure of what was going on with last week's energy spike. If it was the starchy carbs, will that help me indefinitely, or just for a little while before I crash out again? Am I just re-contributing to a chronic/adrenal fatigue relapse? Maybe I just need something a bit easier to digest, and thus 'processed', b/c I'm still healing off years of gluten/dairy abuse on my insides, and 5oz of rice at lunch + 1oz ricecakes at dinner wasn't enough.
I think I might also take a break from acupuncture in July, just to see what happens. I felt better last week (maybe?) without a needle appointment, and I continued to feel awful from winter thru spring with regular appointments. If I hit another "OH DEAR GODS HELP ME" point I can always call them and make the earliest available appointment, having learned my lesson.
Take a minute, think about this.
Now imagine that you can do anything in this life that you do now and more. You can walk underwater, without scuba gear, and not drown. You can fly. You can change the size, shape and color of your body at any time, change your gender, change your species. Your world is large; it has at least 40,000 places to go, many of which include a variety of smaller sites. You can travel to them by teleporting; you can travel within them by boat or plane or helicopter or train or trolley or car or horse or bicycle or paper airplane or anything else that flies. It is international; the population varies with the clock, so that the Europeans are getting offline just as the Midwesterners are getting busy, and the Asian crowd keeps a different schedule altogether. Some sites are private; some are group owned; some are entirely public. Some are dedicated to specific purposes, and some have many purposes.
No illness. No AIDS. No allergies, broken bones, head colds, flu. No need for wheelchairs, or glasses, unless you choose to have and use them.
The learning curve is not gentle; it is alpine -- and at times it can feel like walking up an Olympic ski jump in the first few weeks. But there are places that can teach you what you need to learn -- and there are classes in a wide variety of areas, in many places, and they are all free. You can, if you want, learn to find everything you need for free. You can learn how to have a business there to make money, if you want. You can learn to build houses, make clothes, create movies, compose or write dances or plays. You can go to festivals, dances, parties, live radio broadcasts, theatrical productions, races, pubs, fishing competitions and more. You can choose to live in a society that reflects the past, sometimes the ancient past, or the future, or the present, or something that is none of the above.
What would you do with that life? If you're wise, you'd follow the greatest goal: to find something that makes you happy and do it. You'd meet other people who are also doing this, and some of them might become good friends. You might create a living society of people who meet in that life to enjoy each other's company, to raise money for good causes, to create things that nobody has ever seen before, to celebrate living in any way that is possible.
Doesn't sound like just a game, does it? Life is open-ended. Anything is possible. The goals are what you choose them to be. If you want to put restrictions on yourself, nobody will stop you; you have free will. The only restrictions you would face are those you choose.
This is what I see in Second Life: a chance to do anything and everything, free from fear.
Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.
When there were only six days left before Ziggy’s thirty were up, Remo’s phone rang and I answered it, figuring it was the pool cleaning crew or something. But no, it was Michael Chernwick asking me if I could “show my face” at a meeting that afternoon. It took me a minute to remember Chernwick was the producer at the party from the other night. I said, “sure” because it wasn’t like I had something better to do.
I took a shower and got dressed in rock star standard and told J. I was going to a meeting.( Read the rest of this entry » )
Maureen McHugh, Nekropolis
Rebecca Ore, Outlaw School
Rebecca Ore, Time's Child
I'm not sure I've read either of those particular books by Ore, but in general she is an interesting, cantankerous, knotty writer, with a lot more attention to class and the structures of capitalism than is typical for USian writers. My favorite of her books is Slow Funeral, recently republished by Aqueduct, which is about a witch in rural Appalachia.
McHugh's Nekropolis' deals with indentured servitude and artificial chemical imprinting in kind of scary ways. Hariba's been "jessed" to be subservient to her master, in return for food, shelter, and minimal wages, and is stirred to rebellion by the presence of a hami, a technoorganic hybrid who is bound to serve the emotional needs of its masters. McHugh is unsparing about the way the technological and social constraints affect perception (how Hariba perceives her master after being released is very different from how she perceives him before). And the take on the perfect robot boyfriend trope a la The Silver Metal Lover is just chilling. The near future Morocco didn't seem exoticized to me, but I'm not the best judge. [eta: zahrawithaz has significant reservations.]
Given the recent discussion of whether women write sf in particular, it's nice to remember that yes, they do, and yes, they have been for quite some time.
Below the cut I'll be complaining about Stuart Hall's sentence of 15 months for a series of child sexual assaults spreading over the period 1967-1986. One of the principal things I'll be complaining about is people mansplaining the reasons for the low sentence and directing everyone who objects to the judge's sentencing remarks with the assumption that reading the sentencing remarks is the sort of thing that only Proper Serious (Male) Lawyers would dream of doing before going on the record to say "the 15-month term "surely cannot be strong enough for the seriousness and circumstances of the crime"*
( Read more... )
I'm not saying the judge didn't have a difficult job, and I'm sure he did weigh everything very carefully. But that's no reason for assuming people looking at the situation and going, "That's wrong on every sense of the word wrong" must necessarily be doing so from a position of unbalanced ignorance either. And I can't help noting there's been a very strong gender split on the comments. For which I blame Hall's role as a sports commentator, to be honest.
Unlike the other area of annoyance today, Nigella Lawson and the assault****on her by her husband, where there seems to have been equal opportunity idiocy, with Nick Griffen and Cristina Odone more-or-less tied in first place.
EVERYONE is wrong on the Internet!
*Comment from Silly Gurly (Female) Shadow Attorney-General Emily Thornberry and hence to be Diskarded Uterly
** When I did criminal law, one of the points I noted with a combination of bemusement and horror was that the maximum sentence for sexual assault on a female was 2 years and on a male 10 years.
*** The event which, according to Tom Lehrer, inspired him to give up satire
****Anyone wishing to get smart-alecky, that's what Saatchi accepted a caution for. ETA Really, if one has just been caught in a act of domestic violence - and yes, other idiot on the internet, just because it happens outside an expensive Mayfair restaurant doesn't stop it being "domestic" - comments like this don't make you sound less control-freaky: "The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled."
150 grams of chocolate (usually dark), chopped
400 grams condensed milk
100 grams white marshmallows, diced into small bits
Microwave the chocolate for 1 min on medium & stir. Add condensed milk. Zap for another minute & stir. Add marshmallows. Continue zapping & stirring until it's all smooth.
Now, recipe says to serve hot or cold on ice-cream. I usually (read: at parties in my teens) serve with marshmallows and fruit, as a fondue or dipping sauce.
They will send a sample of the book you are contemplating for you to read directly on your Kindle. I would presume this is much the same as the "Read Inside" feature, but instead of reading off your computer screen, you can decamp with your device to somewhere more comfortable.
Very clever. I approve of anything that helps books sell on content instead of (or at least, in addition to) packaging.
It's in a box over on the right-hand side, just below the buy-with-a-click box, ferex:
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on June, 18
"Downpour Deals", they are calling it. Pretty good deal, sounds like.
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on June, 18
There are two ways I could describe the trip that xtina and I took this past weekend, to New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend.
( The glum version )
( The happy version )
Both versions are true, of course.
The reason that version #2 feels more true to me is that traveling with X turns out to be just plain wonderful. We'd never taken a trip like this before, and it was very much a trial run for next year's London/Paris trip around Worldcon, so there was a bit of pressure on us to Do It Right. X has frequently been known to say "I hate travel!" and we're both anxious types, so I was worried we would just stress each other out. But no, we're totally compatible, we relax each other, we want the same things out of a trip, we like the same mix of scheduling and spontaneity. X soothed me through bumpy flights and I supported X through a massive social situation full of strangers. Our good cheer barely faltered throughout the entire weekend. It's a cliché, I know, but as long as we were together we really didn't much care whether we were in Miami or New Orleans. We joked around and loved each other and relaxed, and came home full of affection and gratitude for each other. Despite everything, it was in some ways one of the best vacations I've ever taken.
I mean, yes, it would be nice if the next vacation we take together involves neither illness nor flight mishaps. But now we know that if those things come up, we can handle it just fine and still find ways to have a good time.
I've been stumbling across the UK, although mostly in and out of the BBC. I spent a day at the Guardian offices, editing their book website. (Here's a video: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/video/20
My favourite thing was talking about Richard Dadd's painting, The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, with Mark Lawson for Radio 4's Cultural Exchange. Check it all out at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016p5mb/p
(The BBC have put up some wonderful stuff to go with it, ranging from Angela Carter to Freddie Mercury.)
You can also just click here:
One reason I picked the Dadd was that I'd just been spending time at the Tate in company with the painting, for Intelligent Life magazine.
You can read what I wrote at http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/a
There's a great feature by Lev Grossman in this week's TIME Magazine. It's only for subscribers: Here's the opening: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/articl
Today THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE comes out officially. I will get up in a few hours and fly to New York for the Brooklyn signing.
(You can come and see me, listen to me talk and do a reading, possibly with some special guests, and you can say hello and get a book signed at 7 p.m., Howard Gilman Opera House, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, at Ashland Place, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, (718) 636-4100, bam.org;greenlightbookstore.com; $45 and $55, which includes a copy of the book.)
We have so many articles out there, and so many reviews:
Here's the Washington Post:
Laura Miller at Salon.com
Carole Barrowman at the Journal Sentinel
James Lovegrove at the Financial Times http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fa4ffac4-d28a-1
The Atlantic Monthly
and a really lovely but slightly spoilery NPR review: http://www.npr.org/2013/06/17/191346480/a-d
Here's the LA Times
with a longer story at http://www.latimes.com/features/books/ja
I have cleared out the pending queue of payments, so that we shouldn't have charged for anything in the past 24 hours, and that should mean there are no doubled (or more) payments. Please, of course, let us know if that's the case though, and we'll take care of it!
Sorry for the trouble!
If you wind up getting multiple charges when it comes back up (for instance, if you re-submitted the form, thinking that your internet connection was to blame) you can open a support request (in the Account Payments category) after the payment is processed and I'll issue a refund to your card for the extra charges.
We're really sorry about the downtime!
Possibly one of my favorite things is that Sidekicked doesn't take itself too seriously, while taking the genre itself seriously. Every speculative fiction fan knows there are aspects of their genre or subgenre that are laughable out of context, and sometimes even in context. The best works are like, Yes, this is actually ridiculous, but work with us here--what if? Sidekicked does this marvelously without going too over-the-top or disrespecting its origins.
Also, it has really good superhero and supervillain names, which is a feat. I was impressed.
PART THE SECOND: Recommendations!
The story behind this bit is that I recently attempted to read another superhero novel aimed at the same age group and had to put it down after forcing myself through the first hundred pages, hoping it would get better. I love superheroes and I love books, but I am well aware that the two usually go together like cats and cold water (and I'm not talking tigers. Housecats. Fluffy housecats). Most of the few superhero novels and even comic book novel adaptations I read in high school and college sucked. Even stuff like Hero, which was passable, weren't great. But as superheroes become more popular and we get more books, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on, looking for the good books.
So: this is my the good, the mediocre, and the don't bother list of superhero novels. I'm not making any distinctions between intended reader age, though I shall mention it, along with a brief reason why I gave a novel this ranking.
I invite discussion and suggestions of more superhero books for me to read in the comments!
( My opinions, these are )
AND that's it's so far. There's a few obvious books I haven't read, like Jennifer Estep's Karma Girl, but it's on my to-read list. If you have other recommendations, let me know in the comments!
If you disagree with me, tell me why. I'm up for spirited discussion but trolling or rudeness will be summarily deleted at the discretion of the author.
Trigger warning: in-depth discussion of attempted rape.
Despite my personal love of season 6, Seeing Red isn’t an episode I’ve watched often, for obvious reasons that are, I suspect, shared by pretty much everyone who’s either a fan of Spike and/or his relationship with Buffy. The bathroom scene is fucking difficult to watch, not only because it’s so starkly realistic, but because it pushes their already broken relationship over a seriously damning line. Attempted rape lands squarely and undeniably in the category of Things For Which No Partner Should Be Forgiven Under Any Circumstances – and in real life, that’s not a rule I’m ever going to bend, because there’s literally no excuse for it. No. Excuse. At. All. But in the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey land of SFFnal narratives, where characters can be soulless or possessed or otherwise have their terrible actions contextualised and explained (if not necessarily excused) by Magical Forces At Work – and, more to the point, where our years-long investment in a particular relationship makes us unwilling to surrender the attachment on moral grounds when we could just as easily say the writers screwed up and superimpose our preferred headcanon in order to get around it – things aren’t quite so clear-cut*.
And so, the rape scene.
You guys. I don’t know what to think.
The thing is, I’d forgotten it. Forgotten, since my last proper rewatch, the pattern of the relationship that preceded it, selectively remembering only what suited me. I’ve seen commentary to the effect that, in order for Spike to have the mental break-slash-epiphany that leads to him getting his soul back, it would’ve been enough if he’d tried to kill Buffy, drain her, or turn her – anything but an attempted rape. And on one level, I agree with that wholly. Such an alternate scene might well have lacked the horrific, oh-god-no, no factor the existing one inspires, but that’s kind of the point: did we really need to go there? Narratively, there were other options available that would’ve got the job done, and which wouldn’t have left such a deeply problematic stain on their relationship. However we might define Spike’s actions in terms of his character and personal history within the show, there’s no way to separate that narrative from a wider cultural context, and as such, we have to view his subsequent redemption accordingly. By forgiving Spike, whatever the supernatural reasons and specificities involved, we are ultimately saying either that his attack didn’t fit with our preconceptions of his character, and therefore we can ignore it, or that attempted rape is something we can pardon under the right conditions, and while there might well be some people out there who have, for reasons of their own, gone down such a route in their own lives and made it work, as a general theme to impart to your audience, it’s not a great one.
Thus: the problem with the rape scene isn’t that it’s inherently unrealistic, but that it’s portrayed as something that Spike can recover from – and when you present your audience with a choice between pardoning the unpardonable Because Magic or completely severing all emotional allegiance to something they love, the majority will probably choose the former; not because they’re bad people or because they’re trying to trivialise an extremely serious issue, but because the unreality of fiction absolves them from making the harder choice that, morally, they’d hopefully want to make in real life. By which I mean: if it turned out someone you actually knew, someone you’d joked with and liked and hung out with on a regular basis for five years suddenly tried to rape their ex, then the fallout in your social circle, however clear-cut the facts of the case, would be epic. And as a result, I think that most people in that situation who acknowledged the truth of it would wish, however fleetingly, that the rape attempt had never happened at all, not only because that would just be better, period, but because it would make things easier for them to deal with: the emotional dilemma of having to reconcile your friendly memories of someone with their hated identity as an attempted rapist would cease to exist in an instant – and that, that very understandably human but nonetheless deeply problematic temptation right there, is the reason why I dislike the presence of rape in this narrative: because no matter what arguments we make about shitty writing and sticking to headcanon, every time we duck the issue, we’re engaging in an emotional dry-run for wanting to handwave identical problems in real life. This is not a good thing; and in that sense, it would’ve been far better if the scene had never happened.
As a piece of storytelling connected to and derived from established characterisation and plot?
It makes an awful kind of sense.
(And oh, how my inner shipper wishes I hadn’t noticed this, because it makes everything so much harder now; queue a bout of the mental moral gymnastics detailed above, plus buckets of self-flagellation. But.)
There are serious fucking consent issues in Buffy and Spike’s relationship, and the rape scene is a deliberate callback to each and every one.
Because Buffy, thanks to a combination of self-hatred and fear of judgement, is deeply ashamed of her feelings for Spike. At the start of Tabula Rasa, when he confronts her about their kiss at the end of Once More, With Feeling, she tells him it was a one-off. But then, of course, it happens again – right at the end of the episode. As before, he confronts her at the start of Smashed; she tells him she’s disgusted with herself, and that it’s over. They argue; Buffy hits him; and when Spike hits back, he discovers his chip doesn’t work on her any more. “You came back wrong,” he tells her, and though we later find out this isn’t true in any meaningful sense, at the time, Buffy seizes on it as a justification for all her new, dark feelings: if her lust and pain and rage are all explicable by some sort of demonic influence – if she’s not really human any more - then giving full rein to her desires is not only understandable, but arguably something she’s incapable of preventing. When Spike attacks her again, she grabs him, shoves him to the wall, and kisses him – and then they keep on, quite literally, fuck-fighting. The next morning, at the start of Wrecked, Buffy regains her sense of shame and tries once more to put Spike off. “Last night was a mistake,” she says, to which he shoots back, “Bollocks. It was a bloody revelation.” And then he pulls her into his lap. She tells him to stop. She tells him no. She even hits him a couple of times – and then she kisses him again. And then she pulls away from him. And then they fight. And then she leaves.
And this sort of thing keeps happening. Not every time, but most of the time, if consent is initially refused by one, the other ignores it – and this is invariably shown to be the “correct” decision in terms of what the other person, usually Buffy, “really wants”. In Gone, when Spike comes to Buffy’s house in the morning, he feels her up despite the fact that she tells him no; but minutes later, he repeats the action (albeit while reclaiming his lighter) and her enjoyment of it is visible. But later in the same episode, the scales are reversed: Spike throws Buffy out of his crypt, but it’s strongly implied that before going, she ignores his request and goes down on him, even though he’s told her to get out. Their relationship is physically, sexually violent: both of them frequently bruise, cut and otherwise damage each other during sex that’s heavily implied to have BDSM and sub/dom qualities. In S7, for instance, Spike tells Buffy that “I’ve done things with you I can’t spell”, while earlier in S6′s Dead Things, he praises her for “the way you make it hurt in all the wrong places”. In the same scene, Spike holds up a pair of handcuffs and asks if Buffy trusts him, strongly suggesting that she’s been the one tied down, for all that she later dreams of using them on Spike – a theory supported by the fact that, when she confesses the relationship to Tara, she asks herself aloud “Why do I let Spike do those things to me?” Yet though her answer to Spike’s trust question is “Never”, it’s spoken in a tone that suggests she might be lying, if only to herself. And on three other occasions, we see Spike talk Buffy into having sex with him despite her initial reticence – once outside the Doublemeat Palace, once at the Bronze, and once in her front garden.
In S3′s Consequences, when Faith goes to Angel for moral support after accidentally killing a human, she tells him, with angry defiance, that “Safe words are for wimps.” The line is both obvious bravado and a clear symptom of her self-destructive impulses: Faith is on the precipice of making some very dark choices, and in this moment, her youth and vulnerability contrast starkly with her aggression and rage. Three seasons later, the same line could very well be repurposed as the motto of Spike and Buffy’s sexual (though not their emotional) relationship. Contextualised by the presence of a safe word and an established set of rules, their repeated decision to ignore red flags over consent while causing physical harm to each other would be a totally different ballgame. Instead, they’re doing something that’s not only fucked up, but which is materially relevant to Spike’s actions in Seeing Red. Because – and this is broken on a whole new level – not only have their sexual encounters always involved violence, but they have never established a benchmark for consent that doesn’t hinge on ignoring ‘no’ and ‘stop’. So when Spike corners Buffy in her bathroom and tries to kiss her – when she pushes him away and says no – she’s effectively doing the exact same thing that has, in all their previous encounters, been interpreted as yes. Which means that he doesn’t start out trying to rape her - not in the sense of his motivation, anyway. I mean, that’s still what he’s actually doing, because Buffy is clearly withholding consent; but from Spike’s perspective, there’s a clear, demarcating moment when his actions actively turn to assault: when he realises the “usual” approach of grabbing and kissing isn’t enough, and says, aggressively, “I’m going to make you feel it”.
But when Buffy kicks him away and stands, a look of horror crosses his face – and he stops. He says, “I didn’t mean-” but doesn’t finish the sentence. He realises what he’s done; and as he admits in S7′s Beneath You, it’s not something for which he can just apologise or ask forgiveness. It’s too big a betrayal. But in that moment in the bathroom, their whole relationship becomes a cautionary tale about the very important distinction between acknowledged, mutually agreed-upon BDSM pairings and just flat-out, fucked up, violent sex, and the absolutely vital importance of obtaining informed, enthusiastic consent on all occassions. Spike’s failure to have done so isn’t Buffy’s fault in any way, shape or form. But the fact that his assault is ultimately one big callback to their earlier lack of consent is absurdly problematic, in that it implies that his actions – at least initially – might be somewhat understandable; and that is profoundly fucking worrying, both as a thematic element and as a sign of writerly fail.
So, yeah. Regardless of whether you’re examining it in terms of action, implication, canon, context or narrative, this entire plotpoint is deeply – I’d even say irrevocably – borked. So instead of trying to pick a side, I’m just going to do what Buffy does: take things an episode at a time, and try to fight the evil where I see it.
*And that’s not necessarily a good thing, given its potential to influence our reactions to actual problematic behaviours in the real world by subconsciously priming us to forgive the people we’re predisposed to love, like, care about and/or feel invested in regardless of what they’ve done. I wrestle with this issue more or less constantly when it comes to my love of fictional characters whose actions are morally repugnant, but whose narratives continue to treat them as sympathetic figures after the fact. Which is bothersome on a different level: I acknowledge the existence of moral grey areas, I don’t insist on squeaky-clean heroes, and while I personally hold some specific crimes and criminals to be wholly irredeemable IRL, narratively speaking, redemption arcs are not only fascinating, but have the potential to ask some really interesting questions about the nature of heroism, anti-heroism, morality and forgiveness. So, yeah. It’s a bit of a mess. An interesting mess, to be sure! But a mess nonetheless, and in the absence of a hard answer, I tend to try and work things out on a case-by-case basis while regularly checking my subconscious assumptions by poking at them, always keeping in mind that because YMMV, my answers are not necessarily your answers. So, there’s that.
Also the surface is big enough to put my tv on and stack some Ikea Sortera bins beside it. I have one tall bin and one small bin, and I'm going to use them for yarn and fiber storage -- they're just around the corner from my loom, so the weaving yarns will go into the tall bin and various knitting kits will go in the small bin. I might want to get a tall Billy to put at the end for more book storage. It seems like that might be a good use of the space.
Oddly, I think I might need more furniture to get this place really organized. That's a bit weird, and will probably involve more trips to Ikea, used furniture stores, the Big Flea, and maybe Community Forklift -- I definitely need an armoire, considering how small the closets are in my apartment, a set of hooks from my hats and spindles, and probably a few more bookcases and/or storage cabinets.
One more SFWA-related post since 1) today is Father’s Day, and 2) it’s my turn to post over on the Here Be Magic blog today, so here: A Call to the Fathers of the World.
Also, I’d like to commend to your attention fellow Carina author J.L Hilton’s excellent post right over here, for those of you who didn’t see me post this to the social networks yesterday.
Mirrored from angelahighland.com.
(Secondary prompt: "Minor" Characters)
The Six-themed sixth round continues, but already signups have begun for the next in who_at_50's series of monthly fanwork-a-thons counting down to the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Five is the Doctor we're looking at this month, the boyish cricketer who thought there ought to be another, better way, but was continually reminded by the uncaring early-80s universe that there wasn't, really. And in homage to the legendary who_like_giants ficathons of years past, our secondary theme is "minor" characters; all of those one-off heroes and villains, aliens and ordinary folk, who the Doctor has crossed paths (and occasionally swords) with over the years, some of them becoming fan-favourites in their own right. If you like Doctor Who fanwork even a little bit, I urge you to take the time to look at the signup posts on the comm...and if you so desire, indicate your interest in taking part:
The Livejournal Version
The Dreamwidth Version
Remember - all fanworks of whatever form are more than welcome!
Went to a very fun wedding yesterday. It was about a two hour drive from our house, so we left early so we could have lunch at the Salt Lick Barbeque in Round Rock, which is a rare treat for us. It was in the 90s but cloudy and just cool enough to sit outside. The food was wonderful and I was so full I ended up not having any dinner last night.
Second photo is a friend who was cosplaying Clark Kent at the wedding. You can’t see them but he’s also wearing awesome Superman cufflinks.
* Part three of The Death of the Necromancer should be posted on Black Gate Magazine this evening.
Part One is here and Part Two is here.
I'm not a member of SFWA anymore (I dropped out a few years ago when I couldn't afford the dues), but if you are, you should read this link: Calling for the expulsion of a SFWA Member
Books I'm looking forward to:
* Cold Steel by Kate Elliott will be coming out on June 25. This is the end of her Cold Magic trilogy and I've really been looking forward to it.
* Catriona McPherson has a new Dandy Gilver mystery coming out on July 4. I'm not sure when it's out in the US, but it's available from Book Depository UK, which has free shipping.
* The new book in Ben Aaronovitch's excellent fantasy/mystery series is coming out in the UK in July, but the US edition has changed publishers and will be pushed back to next year. But it looks like the British hardcover should be available again through Book Depository UK on July 25: Broken Homes. I'm going to order it as soon as possible because I CAN'T WAIT.
This seems wrong, so I'm signing up as a backer.
Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.
Someone asked me the other day how long I planned DGC to be. The truth is I don’t know how long it will be. I have various events in the plot planned out, but my estimates of length I’ve tried to make so far have always been wrong.
I certainly never expected that the two months of the “1989″ tour would take two YEARS of the serial to tell, and over a quarter million words! If we count the end of the tour as the end of the fifth ebook volume, then here are the word counts so far:
Vol One: 46,068
Vol Two: 104,577
Vol Three: 83,891
Vol Four: 148,069
Vol Five: 108,608
Add all five together and you get just under 500,000 words. (491,213 if you want to be exact about it.)
For comparison, the seven volumes of the Harry Potter series total to 1,084,170 words (according to the Internet. I didn’t count them myself.) So by the time Ziggy gets out of rehab… the boys will be halfway to defeating Voldemort!( Read the rest of this entry » )
B&N dot com:
iTunes/iPad (this one also includes audiobooks):
iTunes, for some reason, seems to be especially hard to search.
Coming soon to Amazon UK, at long last; the first two Chalion e-books, which are in process even as I type -- we were just working on the e-cover for The Curse of Chalion today. Paladin of Souls is next in the queue.
(Readers for all the other country Amazons, proliferating out there in a fascinating manner, are left to their own devices in their own languages for now, sorry.)
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on June, 17
I have a post on the Here Be Magic blog coming up soon, and I was going to save this for that, but fuck it, I want to post this now.
So yeah, as y’all can tell if you regularly read me, I’ve been keeping up with the recent SFWA explosions. However, on one of the posts I was monitoring, a generally reasonable discussion about the controversies at hand, somebody surfaced this morning to not only whinge about the dangers of OHNOEZ CENSORSHIP if people (read: women) complain about art involving absurd chainmail bikinis, but also to take a potshot at the romance genre. Which he described using the words ‘emotional porn’.
I promptly unsubscribed from the thread on the general principle of oh fuck you. But I’ve been seeing red about this all day as a result.
Because you guys, I am sick and goddamn tired of genre readers snarking on each other’s tastes. Especially when the snark flows in the SF/F->romance direction, because c’mon, people, we know how it feels to have our reading tastes belittled. To be bullied and mocked because we like reading stuff with spaceships and robots and magic swords and unicorns and elves. To have our reading material derided as “not REAL literature”, to be dismissed as socially inept losers. And if we happen to be women, to have the added slam of being “fake geek girls” thrown at us, and to have our worthiness to be reading and enjoying these books, comics, movies, TV shows, etc., constantly assaulted and challenged.
Yet a lot of us keep turning around and leveling the exact same bullshit over at the romance readers.
A lot of it is sexist, for the reasons romance readers have been getting hammered with for years: patriarchal dismissal of stories primarily written by and for women, and therefore unworthy of standing on the same level as anything written by and for men. Though a lot of that isn’t even exclusively coming from men–I’ve seen this shit coming from women, too.
But a lot of it is also just general bullshit, on the grounds that certainly in the vast majority of SF/F I’ve ever read, y’know what’s front and center with the spaceships, robots, magic swords, unicorns, and elves? Yeah, that’s right, epic love stories. To name three out of Tolkien alone: Arwen and Aragorn, Lúthien and Beren, and Éowyn and Faramir. Here are a few more: Tarzan and Jane, Superman and Lois Lane, Han Solo and Princess Leia, Leetah and Cutter, Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood, and Buffy and Angel.
The same applies if you go back and dig into mythologies and fairy tales from any corner of the world you care to name. Hell, you can’t swing a stick in Greek mythology without hitting a story involving a relationship of some kind–often highly screwed up, because the Greek gods were after all a pantheon of raging asshats for the most part. Ditto for the classic fairy tales, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. At the core of almost all of them you’ll find a love story of some kind.
The point is, love stories are a fundamental part of just about every story ever told, because love is a fundamental part of human existence.
So why the hell, SF/F readers, do you keep snarking on romance?
Because if you’re doing it because we think that every romance novel is a bodice ripper full of prose so purple that it’s practically ultraviolet, I have three words for you: Eye of Argon.
If you’re doing it because we’re dismissing stories that focus on love, again I say: have you actually read your genre?
If you’re doing it because you’re dismissing novels with a lot of sex in them, because yes, a lot of romance novels do have sex in them, yet again I say: have you actually read your genre? Why is it okay to have fantasy novels wherein practically ever single female character gets raped at some point, but it’s not okay to have novels where the heroine and hero tear each other’s clothes off because they both want to?
If you’re doing it because your only conception of a romance novel is Twilight or 50 Shades, I challenge you to remember that those are the outliers in the genre, and no, actually, they’re not representational of the genre as a whole. No more than Harry Potter is representational of all children’s books in the world, or Tolkien is representative of all fantasy, or Star Wars is representational of all science fiction. I challenge you to find the authors that the regular readers of the genre are reading, so you can see what the current state of the genre is like. I will be happy to provide recommendations, or to point you right over to Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Like it says on the tin over there, “all of the romance, none of the bullshit”. And as you might guess, I do like my reading bullshit-free.
There. Now maybe I can let my blood pressure go back down for the weekend, hmm?
Mirrored from angelahighland.com.
( A special kind of stupid )
And after four days of feeling suprisingly really good this week, full of getting things done and talking to ppl I actually like, today I'm a brain fried wreck. B/c some stupid, thoughtless, senile old woman decided to call a number she knew was wrong three days ago at 1am in the morning. And not for any kind of emergency either, just to bother her kid at a time when he would also probably be sleeping.
It is bringing up things that don't work in my head, so that's interesting. I can't stand stupid moms, people that don't listen to me, people who make me suffer via their own selfishness or stupidity, or senseless intrusions into my privacy (phone roach?). However, given my chosen profession I should really work on getting over these issues. Or its ulcers forever.
I'm also really unhappy that *one* sleep interruption, relatively early in my sleep cycle, can completely f#$% me the next day. Even if I get back to sleep (eventually, I was really pissed). After four days of increased energy and decreased brainfog. I really don't want to be this sensitive.
On the other hand, now I know that while I do want to be more social this summer, I should NOT sacrifice my sleep for it. Because it will f#$% me up real good and leave me unable to function later, even if I only lose a tiny bit. Time to start applying my budget skills to my time, if I ever have enough energy for socializing again. Right now it doesn't feel like it :-P
Read this review on Rena's Hub of Random.
This was distinct from the project to rename and publicize the Wiscon Member Assistance Fund, open to requests for anyone who needs financial assistance to attend Wiscon.
There is an interview with the author in the paratext of my edition, by Gregory Maguire (he of another well-received rewrite), who asks, basically, how she gathered up the nerve to rewrite Homer.
The last paragraph of her answer:
"I will say that at some point a friend of mine--let's be honest, an ex-boyfriend--referred to the story as 'Homeric fan fiction." That was fairly dampening. But I decided: so be it. If it's fan fiction, it's fan fiction. I'm still going to write it."
I kind of just want to pat her on the head and say, "It's okay honey. You're in really good company."
In related news, I'm writing the Vergil chapter right now. Back to it!
It’s still subject to change, but I’m so excited about the items I’m currently signed up to do at Readercon that I wanted to post them right away! *muppetflail*
Readercon is July 11-14 in Burlington, MA (just north of Boston).
I missed Readercon last year because I was spending that weekend in robes at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for a special event and Potter convention, so I’m really excited to be back.
I’m currently assigned to three panels (with kaffeeklatsch/autographing still TBD):
Details below the cut!( Read the rest of this entry » )
Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.
Most of the publication-hungry folks I've ever met have struck me as honest, receptive, and realistic, but there’s always a tiny minority I can spot by the nature of the questions they ask and the statements they fixate on. They’re not interested in hearing about hard work, study, or self-improvement. Their eyes glaze over when I talk about concepts like effort or practice. They want nothing to do with developing actual skills, and in a few cases they don't even want a damn thing to do with me or my work. They just want me to tell them how to duck under that imaginary velvet rope.
There are a lot of bits I want to quote but I'm going to stop with just one more:
Look, read this next bit very carefully: Famous useless idiots get book contracts all the time. Let us assume that we are not famous useless idiots, you and I. Therefore their situation is not germane to ours. Terrible, terrible writers also get book contracts all the time; this is because there’s no accounting for taste and because there is no accounting for taste and because, if you dig, there is no fucking accounting for taste. I can’t teach you how to get hit by a meteorite; I can only tell you about the "actively try to not be a terrible writer" approach, because it's how me and most of my peers end up on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. This situation, which is my situation and, not to put too fine a point on it, YOUR situation if you’re unpublished and want to kill that 'un-,' is defined by the following equation:
Hard work + self-awareness + perseverance = MAYBE
What he said. And you can also look at Jim Hines' First Novel Survey, which collected data about how writers sold their first novel, how long it took them, and dealt with myths about the process.
And I wanted to add this:
One of the things I liked about the DFW Writers Conference I went to in May was how many of the attendees already seemed to get these points. The goal of the conference for most people is to sign up for pitch sessions with the attending agents or consultations with the editors there. But while all this is going on, the pro writers, agents, and editors are teaching classes and giving seminars, and there are opportunities to ask questions and get information on not only the craft of writing (one of the classes I taught was Dialogue Basics, the other was worldbuilding) but also the publishing process and how the industry works.
Once you put in the ten years give or take of hard work to develop your writing skills, knowing how the industry works is kind of important. Scott touches on this in his post, but if you knew someone who said they wanted to be a doctor, but they didn't know they had to go to medical school first, that would be weird, right? Or if they knew being a doctor involved curing people, but they didn't know what the process was for doing that? Or if they rented an office and got a stethoscope and a lab coat, and thought that was all they needed? That wouldn't be rational. Especially as all the information about the process for becoming a doctor is readily available online. It's kind of like that for publishing.
If you want to be a pro writer, knowing as much as you can about publishing is important. Really important. And it's more important now to stay up to date, since the publishing industry is going through so many fast changes. And in a lot of ways, I think it's even more vital for people who are committed to self-publishing. If you're self-publishing, there's no agent to explain contracts or tell you what a distributor is and how distribution works (yeah, it's important to know that), no editor or editor's assistant to answer questions or explain what things mean, and to tell you what you need to do and what you don't. You're on your own, and there's a whole cottage industry out there who make a lot of money off people who want to self-publish, by selling them things they don't actually need and telling them stuff that isn't true.
If you want to sell your writing, you have to approach it like a job, because it is a job. You have to work on refining your craft and your abilities in the way that works best for you. You have to research how the industry works and what to expect. You have to stay up to date on that information. You should behave like a professional, whether you're selling work to publishers or self-publishing.
(Seriously, if you save your professional behavior for your day job, and behave like a giant entitled badly-raised baby in the writing world, it doesn't say good things about your commitment to your career. Would you want to work with someone at a day job who was a giant entitled badly-raised baby? No, people who work in publishing don't want to do that either.)
(I think about this when I watch Top Chef or Project Runway, and see people who are clearly making life a miserable hell for the other contestants and the production staff and treating the clients like dirt and skirting as close to the edge of cheating as they can without getting caught, and then somehow think this won't effect the way future employers perceive them.)
Anyway, information is your friend. I have a list of links on my web site Publishing Information for Beginning Writers which I hope is a good starting point.
Summary for Twixt: You wake upon the cold ground. As you struggle to rise, as your breath exhales like a ghost, you know only two things: You can’t remember who you are. And you’re being hunted.
No one sleeps in Abeo City. The lost souls gather indoors at night as Snatchers tear through the sky on black-feathered wings, stalking them. But inside the rotting walls of the Safe Houses comes a quieter, creeping danger. The people of Abeo City have forgotten their pasts, and they can trade locks of their hair to sinister women known only as the Sixers for an addictive drug. Nox will give you back a single memory--for a price.
Like the other lost souls, Lottie wakens in this harsh landscape and runs in terror from the Snatchers. But she soon comes to realize that she is not at all like the people of Abeo City. When she takes Nox, her memories remain a mystery, and the monsters who fill the sky at night refuse to snatch her. Trying to understand who she is, and how she ended up in such a hopeless place, Lottie bands together with other outcasts, including a brave and lovely girl named Charlie. In the darkness, and despite the threat of a monstrous end, love begins to grow. But as Lottie and Charlie plot their escape from Abeo City, Lottie’s dark secrets begin to surface, along with the disturbing truth about Twixt: a truth that could cost her everything.
Summary for Loki's Wolves: In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.
The gods died a long time ago.
Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.
However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
- Roundup of Some “Anonymous Protesters” (#SFWA Bulletin Links) | Jim C. Hines: Linkspam of reactions to a grossly sexist article in the SFWA Bulletin.
- It’s Time | Slice of SciFi: “Welcome to this month’s installment of Galaxy Quest, or “How We’re Trying So Hard to Pretend it’s 1953 Over in Science Fiction Land.”"
- [Trigger Warning] On Sexism in Publishing, or Why I’m Writing this Now Instead of Two Days Ago | delilah s. dawson: “I’m no longer going to shut my mouth.” on sexism in publishing and SFF culture.
- Beyond ‘Game of Thrones’: Exploring diversity in speculative fiction | Hero Complex – Los Angeles Times: ““I’m not drawing the George R.R. Martin fans, I’m not drawing the Brandon Sanderson fans, but I am drawing people who say in their Goodreads or Amazon reviews that ‘I had stopped reading fantasy and then somebody gave me this,’” said Jemisin, whose most recent effort, “The Killing Moon,” was nominated for a Nebula Award for best novel.”
- Continuum GoH Speech | N.K. Jemisin: Great call for reconciliation in SF/F. Time to acknowledge and credit diversity.
- The East Interviews Marling, Page, Skarsgard, Batmanglij | The Mary Sue: “The Mary Sue was invited to a roundtable discussion with the actors and the director recently, and spoke with them about whether or not this is a political film, women in Hollywood, and what it was like living without entertainment and soap.”
- The Unfair Business of Being a Woman Director in the Boys Club of Horror Filmmaking | Complex: “Visit any horror-centric film festival or convention and the truth is unavoidable: For every one women director or producer, there are dozens of male ones. It’s a harsh reality that’s inspired such pro-female initiatives like Hollywood’s Viscera Film Festival, Australia’s Stranger With My Face festival, and Women in Horror Month, held every February and aimed at motivating women horror filmmakers to unite and stage local screenings, readings, and networking events.”
- Of White Knights, trolls and good conversation | Stranger With My Face: “The point is that this troll-ish fellow claims to care deeply about film, and yet drives away intelligent discussion by adopting a bigoted online persona. I would hope that it is only a persona, but, even so, it brings up an interesting point. Why? There are evidently individuals in this scene – as in video game circles, as in numerous other scenes – who value anti-female rhetoric and are protective of the ‘male space’ they believe their area of fandom is and should remain.”
- Staying True to Merida: Why this fight matters | Brenda Chapman: “The message Disney sends to the public in changing Merida is that she is not good enough the way she is. In doing that, they are making the same statement to all the young girls out there.”
- Announcing the release of Rated R for Rapist: “The Irregular Gentlewomen are proud to announce the 1.0 release of Rated R for Rapist! This is an open-source app created to provide information about whether a movie has been made in part by people who have chosen to collaborate with or otherwise support Roman Polanski.”
You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so). Thanks to everyone who suggested links.