My Schedule for Readercon 26

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Yay, Readercon is this coming weekend!

Without further ado, my schedule:

Thursday, July 10, 9 pm

What Don’t We Read—and Why? Scott Edelman, Stacey Friedberg, Natalie Luhrs, Sarah Smith (leader), Patty Templeton. If all of the signals—the reviews, the blurbs, the cover, the author, the publisher—suggest you’d hate a particular book, is that sufficient reason to pass on it? Have you ever tried to read something you thought you’d despise and realized that you loved it? Do you give every book a certain number of pages to win you over, or feel obligated to finish any book you start? If a certain critic praises something, does that make you want to run the other way? We’ll discuss these and many other ways not to read a book.

Friday, July 11, 7 pm

Modern Gods. Amal El-Mohtar (leader), Natalie Luhrs, Romie Stott, Ian Randal Strock. Corporations, multinationals, and governments (or seats of office) can be like modern gods: they exist solely because people believe in them and build up rituals to affirm and perpetuate that belief. Non-governmental entities often have political power, and they can theoretically live forever if they can find ways to remain relevant. They fight with other “gods” and may be broken into multiple demi-gods, a place from which they rise again or simply fade away. How do portrayals of gods reflect our interactions with the godlike legal and corporate entities of the modern world? When works such as Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings, Max Gladstone’s Craft sequence, and Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and the Coin series explicitly address corporations, systems of government, and economic systems in fantastical settings, how do those stories resemble or diverge from folklore and fantasy about more literal gods?

Saturday, July 12, 2 pm

Imagining the Author. John Crowley, Natalie Luhrs, Kate Marayuma, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Diane Weinstein. Is it possible to read a piece of fiction without keeping in mind that the author has a gender, an age, a profession, an ethnic identification, a height, a weight, or a race? And if it is possible to truly do away with assumptions, without inserting one’s own characteristics as a supposed neutral state, is it a good idea? How does assuming that the author is like or unlike the reader influence the reader’s experience of a piece, or a critic’s analysis of it? Is imagining the author a necessary starting point for any deep read or critique, or is this all ultimately a distraction from addressing the work itself?

And, as always: if I’m in a public area of the convention, I am happy for people to come and talk to me if they would like. I like meeting new people and am not always good at introducing myself because people are hard sometimes (often).

Podcast Goodness!

If you’re podcast inclined, you can find me on two different podcasts this week:

  • Rocket Talk Episode 40: Amal El-Mohtar and Natalie Luhrs Where me and Amal, along with Justin Landon, talk a whole lot about ETHICS IN LITERARY JOURNALISM. This was a huge amount of fun to record–I think we talked for around two hours with many, many digressions that Justin heroically edited out. But we do say penis a lot, if that’s an incentive for you.
  • Introductions: Our Theme and Our Most Anticipated Things in 2015 w/ Renay and Natalie Luhrs In which me and Renay were invited to come hang out with the Skiffy and Fanty crew and talk about what books by women and non-binary people we were looking forward to reading this year.  There may have been an argument over who got to have Fran Wilde’s Updraft on their list.

Just for reference, here’s my long list for Skiffy and Fanty with a few things I thought of later stuck on the end–not all of these are 2015 releases because I am so incredibly behind on my reading:

  • Sunny Moraine, Labyrinthian 
  • Fran Wilde, Updraft
  • Rose Lemberg, editor, An Alphabet of Embers
  • Nnedi Okorafor, The Book of Phoenix and Lagoon
  • N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
  • A.C. Wise, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again (possibly the best collection title EVER)
  • Jaime Lee Moyer, Delia’s Shadow
  • Beth Bernobich, The Time Roads
  • Tina Connolly, Copperhead and Silverblind 
  • Jo Walton, The Just City and The Philosopher Kings
  • Genevieve Valentine, Persona 
  • Elizabeth Bear, Karen Memory
  • Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy
  • Maria Dahvana Headley, Magonia

What are you looking forward to reading this year?

Changes: Pretty Terrible

You may have noticed an address change: Pretty Terrible.

Increasingly, the Radish Reviews domain name hadn’t been working for me–lots of reasons, but mainly because I didn’t feel comfortable using the site for content that wasn’t at least kinda sorta related to genre books and issues. Like most people, I have a lot more going on in my life: I watch a fair bit of television and I have an ongoing fascination with various activities involving wool, spinning wheels, and knitting needles. Not to mention my attempts at visual art (anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram is likely well aware of the visual art thing #sorrynotsorry).

Why “Pretty Terrible”? I’d been trying to think of a new domain for quite some time and last week I drew this:

Pretty Terrible ATC

pretty terrible inspiration

I wasn’t very happy with it–there’s an imprecise blobbiness to the line work I dislike and the combination of watercolors I decided to use to fill in the background really didn’t work, either. I wrote on the back of it, “pretty terrible”. And said to myself, “Hey, wait a minute.” So I went off to see if the domain was available and lo, it was. And now it’s mine.

I will say that I’m incredibly happy with how the painting I made for the header image turned out.  It came together fairly randomly and built on some of what I’ve been doodling over the last couple of weeks. I generally work on artist trading cards (ATCs), which are pretty small. I usually start with ink and then fill in with paint or, more recently, marker.  This painting is a bit larger at 4″ x 6″ but still not tremendously large. I started with watercolor for the background, then drew the thingamabob with ink and then colored it in with watercolor pencils. The problem with having so many art supplies around is that I tend to want to use them all. Which is not always a great idea.

I am particularly obsessed with bright colors. Although my scanner seems to make them even brighter than they actually are–and as I don’t know diddly about color correction, that’s going to be interesting until I figure it out.

Pretty Terrible

Pretty Terrible

greencircles persevere

This is where I want to say something philosophical, but I don’t have anything. I just wanted a change and an opportunity to widen my scope and here we are.

Capclave 2014 Schedule

capclave-dodo

Hey so this weekend is Capclave. This is this closest thing I have to a home convention, so I’m pretty excited to be on programming there this year.  It’ll be a fun time.

Here’s my schedule (subject to change, but it’s been this for the last couple of weeks, so I think it’s good):

Friday 8:00 pm: No Means No
Panelists: Inge Heyer, Natalie Luhrs, Emmie Mears, Jon Skovron, Jean Marie Ward (M)
There is a great disturbance in science fiction and fantasy. As fans and writers you have the right to expect respect.

Saturday 5:00 pm: I Hate His/Her Politics But I Love His/Her Books
Panelists: Day Al-Mohamed, Paolo Bacigalupi, David G. Hartwell, Larry Hodges, Natalie Luhrs, Sunny Moraine (M)
Should a personal evaluation of an author be separated from how you view his/her politics? Many people refused to see the movie Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s statements on homosexuality and other writers charge that political views influence award nominations and who is picked for con programming. Is this true and if so, is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Saturday 6:00 pm: The Suck Fairy and Feet of Clay
Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff (M), Natalie Luhrs, James Maxey, Sunny Moraine
What do you do when you reread your beloved childhood classics and find they have been visited by the suck fairy and are now sexist, racist, etc? What do you do when you find out that that author that got you through junior high turns out to have giant size 30 clod-hopping feet of clay or was actually kind of evil? How do we deal with problematic works and authors?

Sunday 11:00 am: Romance and SF/F
Panelists: Victoria Janssen (M), Pamela K. Kinney, Natalie Luhrs, Sunny Moraine
A significant number of science fiction and fantasy books are reviewed in publications such as Romance Times and nominated for awards in the romance genre. Were the genre line distinctions always artificial? What are romance readers’ expectations with respect to the plot and its resolution? HEA vs. the tragic romance. Is romance handled better or worse in YA SF/F? Are certain types of romance plots (such as first love) more likely to show up in YA?

Sunday 3:00 pm: Reviews vs Literary Criticism
Panelists: D. Douglas Fratz, David G. Hartwell, Natalie Luhrs, Darrell Schweitzer, Gayle Surrette (M)
There are many different levels of reviewing. Publications such as Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times typically want only a couple hundred words, in SFRevu 500-1000 words is pretty standard, and the New York Review of Science Fiction publishes 3000+ word reviews. There are reviews that exist primarily to give readers a general idea as to whether they want to buy the newly published book without spoiling the book, and there are longer more academically oriented reviews which attempt to engage with the novel in a broader context to put the book in its place within the genre and which generally assume the reader of the review has already read the book. Do you write the review from the head or from the heart? How much of the plot should you discuss?

As always–if I’m in the public space of the convention hotel, that means I’m willing and happy to chat with people as I can. If I’m feeling anti-social, I’ll be in my room. Alone.

Rocket Talk!

Hey, check it out!  I’m on Rocket Talk!

This was a lot of fun to record–so great to chat with both Jenny and Justin about the really strong slate of short stories nominated for this year’s Hugo.

For reference, here are the nominated stories:

In other news, I was hoping to have time to compile a links post to go up while I’m at Readercon–I don’t think that’s going to happen as I seem to be running out of time.

But I will mention that Elise Matthesen has some gorgeous shinies up for sale. “Everything I Know” is coming to live with me but I was also quite tempted by “Bring Me the Heart of Edward Cullen”, too.