Links: 07/17/15

Bad Life Decisions: Chapters 19 & 20

Fundraising status: $1,820/$2,000. I will note that the Author’s Note is really something special.

Continue Reading

Examine Your Priorities

Changed Priorities Ahead sign

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that all of Ernest Cline’s favorite books are by white men. After reading this review of his new book, Armada, it’s pretty clear he’s not writing for people like me. And that’s fine, not every book is for everybody.

(An aside: These two sentences say so, so, so much about gatekeeping and I really want to unpack them sometime soon:

Geek culture has long been preoccupied with trivia; the ability to recognize and make references to games, movies, and TV shows beloved within various “geeky” subcultures is often considered an in-group badge of honor, a signifier of credibility and even power. Armada is a book designed entirely around getting the reference—high-fiving the readers who recognize its shoutouts while leaving everyone else trapped behind a nerd-culture velvet rope of catchphrases and codes.

Back to my main thesis.)

But the thing is this: white men don’t require the support of women and persons of color to be successful in the field of science fiction and fantasy. But women and persons of color do need to support of white men to be successful and they often don’t get it.  I see it time and again: women writers and writers of color signal-boost widely. White male writers often do not. I haven’t been tracking this in detail (because who has that kind of time), but it’s definitely a pattern that I’ve noticed–and I’m not the only one.  Women tend to boost signals of both women and men about equally, men boost mostly other men. And it’s frustrating.

What’s also frustrating is to see a Twitter Q&A session in which someone asks a white male writer which contemporary science fiction writers he would recommend to a high school student and this is his answer:

Of those six names, three of them are dead. The three living authors all have relatively new releases (I checked). And they’re all white and male. (There also seems to be a bit of backscratching going on, as Cline recced Weir in his list and vice versa, but whatever, that happens.)

E. Catherine Tobler decided to email Andy Weir and ask him about this. This is what happened:

So, you know. Some people have the privilege of being able to claim that they don’t have to pay attention to this stuff–and interestingly enough, when they don’t pay attention to it, they only recommend things by people who look exactly like they do.

This list also doesn’t make me happy (also I think of Butler as an SF writer, not a fantasy writer) because it generally reinforces the idea that men write science fiction and women write fantasy. It also implies that the books on the list are obscure and little known–which is certainly not the case for many of them.

Some women who have written science fiction:

Joan Vinge, C.J. Cherryh, Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, Lois McMaster Bujold, Nnedi Okorafor, Athena Andreadis, Aliette de Bodard, Pat Cadigan, Elizabeth Bear, Connie Willis, M.J. Locke, Rosemary Kirstein, Kage Baker, Diane Duane, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Elizabeth Moon, Jody Lynn Nye, Julie Czerneda, Nalo Hopkinson, Nisi Shawl, Nicola Griffith, Ann Leckie, Karen Joy Fowler, Ursula K. LeGuin, E. Catherine Tobler, Margaret Atwood, James Tiptree, Jr.

…and many, many, many more. That was just off the top of my head.

I don’t know what to do about all this except to keep pointing it out when it happens.

So, hey, Andy Weir and Ernest Cline? Maybe you should diversify your reading a little bit? Maybe examine your priorities? Just a suggestion.

Edited to add these two items from S.L. Huang (another woman who writes science fiction):

My Schedule for Readercon 26

logo

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).

Bad Life Decisions: Chapters 17 & 18

Light reading schedule this week and next: I have Readercon and associated travel. I’ll pick up again next Wednesday.

Continue Reading