Linkspam, 9/20/13 Edition

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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September 20, 2013

In sixty million years aliens will know humans only by a fuzzy clip of a woman in an Axe commercial.

XKCD: Bee Orchid

And then there was a lot more discussion about the author/reviewer issue. If you’re suffering kerfuffle-fatigue, I recommend distracting yourself with these outtakes from Serenity. Or some restorative pork jelly. This list is by no means complete; I ran out of steam around Wednesday.

Authors are not an oppressed class. And neither are reviewers. This is a worthwhile and good discussion to have and one that must be had.

Which leads to this 5,000 word essay from Hal Duncan.

Here’s a quick list of some of what I thought was interesting and what I thought was problematic – because I don’t have the energy to pick this apart piece-by-piece. So: Not Definitive.

  • Interesting: the inversion of Renay’s thesis around the fourth wall; Duncan posits that it’s not so much that industry has been encroaching but that previously closed fan communities are opening up.
  • Interesting: the call for critics to be open to criticism of their interpretations–a call for mutuality. Which raises the question of how much overlap there is between criticism and reviewing–and what the audiences for each are.
  • Interesting: the idea that fan fiction in and of itself is a form of criticism and interpretation and that authors have a moral obligation to object to fetishistic or problematic uses of their characters and worlds in fan work. I’d also argue that the fan community has a moral obligation on this front as well.
  • Problematic: eliding all fan fic writers into a heterogeneous mass of white straight cis women.
  • Problematic: playing oppression olympics with dead gay kids.
  • Problematic: Duncan only cited white male SF critics. What about Brit Mandelo and Foz Meadows?
  • Interesting and problematic: Duncan’s two categories of blogs (personal vs. public) and the obligations of each to allow or not allow certain types of discourse while presuming that there are decisions around this which can de-legitimize the conversation on the part of the latter category. Not all book blogs are created equal–some are more personal spaces than others.

As noted, Duncan makes interesting points but they’re hard to get at due to his signature style and casual misogyny. This is not good writing if you’re trying to persuade people to your point of view; I think this subject called for a sparer and less hyperbolic approach. There’s also some structural issues–there are two main arguments (the inversion of Renay’s thesis and the fan fiction as crit/interpretation) that I think would have made for a stronger piece if they’d been reversed. Also the extended dog metaphor really, really, really did not work for me.

I still don’t think authors should enter into discussions of their work without a lot of thought beforehand or an explicit invitation. Before coming into any space as a newcomer, it’s important to get the lay of the land.

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  1. Andrea @ The Busy Bibliophile

    When I read your emails, I click the links that look interesting, then go back to the email and continue reading, Then, I go back and read the stories 1 at a time. Thanks to you, I currently have 19 browser tabs open, waiting to be read. And that doesn’t even count for the ones that lead to other articles. I feel so smart and wordly after I’m done with your links!

  2. Mely

    I was hoping you’d do a roundup of the author/reviewer thing, but afraid you were too disgusted by the mess to bother. So thank you for bothering. 🙂

  3. Natalie Luhrs

    @Andrea @ The Busy Bibliophile: That’s what my browser at home looks like all the time! And then it crashes and I’m sad (I compile the links into a master list using a browser extension, so luckily usually don’t lose anything).

    @Mely: You’re welcome! I want to make a website that says, “It has been ## days since the last SFF slapfight” because, yo, so tired of this nonsense. I’d like to go more than a week or two between arguments.

  4. jennygadget

    * blinks *

    That photo from The New Yorker article… what the hell was that?

  5. Selki

    Interesting Dredd-Austen and Chicano-Lonestarcon articles. I made it through the Duncan article and agree it had its points but would have been more persuasive w’out such length and problematic aspects.
    I just read some book where a char tells someone else “You are my Valmont” (I’ll always remember you) — Oh yeah, *The Emperor’s Agent* by Jo Graham, have you been reading her Napoleonic spy (on Napoleon’s side for once, not British) series?

  6. Selki

    Hey, I forgot to mention, I had come across the rat comic before, but not the article which gives a little more background and perspective on it. Thanks.


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