- The Curious Case of the Twittersilence
- Creator of xkcd Reveals Secret Backstory of His Epic 3,099-Panel Comic
- What public female opinion about Huma Abedin betrays about sexism, orientalism, and feminism.
- How to Whitewash a Plague (via)
- On Righteous Indignation There’s some pretty nasty pictures of an apartment in disrepair/filth; the link is about an immigrant family that was being treated badly by an apartment complex and how it took the advocacy of a white woman (the post’s author–she is aware of her privilege in this situation) to partially rectify it.
- The Limits of Wonder and Defining Speculative Fiction
- Are You A Real Writer? A Handy (And Hasty) Flowchart! Inspired by this utterly arbitrary and privilege-laden article.
- I’m Sick of Talking About Sexual Harassment
- Ben Radford Accused of Sexual Harassment
- The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In Couple of things. First, apparently it’s not possible to actually make the right decision, ever, if you are a woman. Second, the first woman re-profiled in this article is making a salary of $100,000/year. It may only be a fifth of what she was making pre-opt out, but it’s not chump change, either. Even in the DC metro area.
- A Softer World: 1000 Beautiful and wrenching in all the right ways. Be sure to read the upside down text under each strip, too.
- The Quiet Carriage Proficiency Test Works for the quiet car on Amtrak, too! (I adore the quiet car.)
- The World’s Most Obvious Serial Killer
- Gabourey Sidibe’s Recent Harper’s Bazaar Photoshoot Proves How Far We Still Have To Go In Promoting Diversity In Fashion
- Jenny Hatch wins (eventual) custody of herself. I hate this article’s actual title–because this is a case of a woman with a cognitive disability being able to make her own decisions about her life. This one’s a bit better: Jenny Hatch in her new life.
- Algeria’s tattoos: Myths and truths
- Crazy Pills “Science is a journey, but commerce turns it into a destination. Science works by making mistakes and building off those mistakes to make new mistakes and new discoveries. Commerce hates mistakes; mistakes involve liability. A new miracle drug is found and heralded and defended until it destroys enough lives to make it economically inconvenient to those who created it.”
- Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany
- In Which Steven Pinker Is A Total Ignoramus (via)
- Science fiction’s invisible women And, of course, they used a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch to go with this–on the reasoning, I assume, that it’s from a production of Frankenstein. What, were there no pictures of lady actors doing science fictional or fantastical things available?
- Fantasy Art, Fishnets, and Red Sonja’s Chainmail Bikini “As a teenage girl learning about the genre largely through secondhand books, I found many of those covers profoundly embarrassing — and it only took one Gor novel to teach me that however bad it is when a perfectly sensible female character is drawn as a metal bikini model on the front cover, it’s SO MUCH MORE DISTURBING when the sex slave covers actually reflect the contents of the book inside with some accuracy.”
- Barbara Mertz has died. Better known as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, she’s one of my favorite writers. I am so incredibly sad about this–she’s the only author to whom I ever wrote a paper fan letter and she actually answered me personally. It was such a thrill to hear back from her–and she had lovely handwriting. For the record, I asked her whether or not Sir John Smythe was based on Lord Peter Wimsey–and the answer was that there was a connection there, to make the handsome and charming aristocrat (or “aristocrat”) a jewel thief. If you read the Vicky Bliss books, there are bits of descriptions of Sir John that echo Sayers. There’s even a diving scene! Although not into a fountain.
Okay, then there’s this sequence of links and they all feel interrelated somehow (a couple of them are directly in response to each other) but I’m not sure I can articulate why. But I’m going to try!
First, Justin Landon wrote a post about conventions and how he doesn’t find them particularly interesting because he doesn’t think the panels are particularly good due to the preponderance of aspiring writers in the community. He seems to be advocating that conventions be more selective at who they invite to be on programming and limit themselves to people with solid publication histories. From my perspective, that’s a great way to ensure that a lot of fascinating people are never heard.
Landon also doesn’t seem to think that blogging is writing–I disagree. What I do here is writing. And what he does is writing, too. Commentary and criticism are important–there’s more to talk about than just how to craft stories that people want to read. Often people who read the genre but who do not write in it are in a better place to see larger trends or problems than people who are immersed in the trend or problem.
He also takes a few cheap shots at short fiction venues, which he claims are a dying breed. If he means in print, then I’ll possibly concede the point–but there are many online short fiction markets and it is there, I would argue, that the most interesting work being done in speculative fiction is happening in many of these markets. Ultimately, Landon seems to be arguing that a minimum standard should be created and applied to convention programming and I’m afraid I simply can’t agree. I’m not saying that there should be no discretion when it comes to panelists, but I think creating a standard for eligibility that is anything but “Will this person be a good person to have on programming?” is ill-advised.
Jonathan McCalmont has a really interesting response to Landon’s post and I especially would like to highlight the second half in which he discusses the problems of reviewing and how the word “fan” carries a fairly heavy load these days, especially in speculative fiction fandom, as spec fic fans are among the worst when it comes to status checking and gatekeeping. It also has the wonderfully alliterative phrase “This plague of professional positivity is profoundly problematic,” too.
In fact, this gatekeeping has, perhaps, reached a new low: there is going to be a proposal put forth at the 2013 Worldcon Business Meeting to remove the Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer, and Best Fan Artist Hugo categories from the WSFS Constitution. The reasoning for this is simultaneously laughable and infuriating: essentially, a small group of people who have particular ideas about what a fan work is and are upset that “traditional” fan works and writers aren’t winning all of these Hugos anymore and don’t think anyone else should, either. In other words: those people who do their writing online are fundamentally different from those who use a photocopier and the postal service–or who publish as PDF and email out.
This is nonsense. Is it really so awful when someone who isn’t a traditionally published novelist is on convention programming? And does it really matter the way in which the fan publishes when it comes to the fan Hugos?
Both of these issues trouble me, especially in light of all the recent discussions about sexism and racism in the speculative fiction field–do we really want to, as a community, put up more barriers to participation and recognition than there already are?
And finally, here’s a wonderful short animated film. Many, many thanks to Brie for alerting me to it.