Linkspam, 9/20/13 Edition

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.
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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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