Dude authors I like.

It’s amazing, the responses you get, when you say that you read mostly women SF/F authors. It’s almost like the SF/F community bends over backwards to mansplain that reading mostly male authors is a signpost of simply reading quality fiction, but if you’re reading mostly female authors, you are TEH ONE TRUE SEXIST!!!1!1111!!

I have switched paradigms — dude authors must do something spectacular to get my attention. I have readjusted my mental antennae to receive female-authored broadcasts. Changed the default, if you will: in which it’s not “authors” and “lady authors,” but “authors” and “dude authors.” If the latter but not the former makes you uncomfortable, I’d posit that this is a good starting place for examining prejudice.

So here are some dude authors I’ve discovered recently whose works are sufficiently impressive to tune in: Continue reading

Game of Thrones full of romance, sex, feelings.

I read this book Game of Thrones a while back and it was just so full of emotions and angst and romance that it’s icky.

It opens with this scene that clearly indicates the brutality of the culture of Westeros, in which the Stark boys — Robb, Bran, and bastard-born Jon Snow — must watch their father execute a criminal. The Stark kiddos have a lot of feelings about this. They wonder how they’ll be able to do this job in the future, and do something like empathize with both their father and the convicted criminal. At the same time! They are like, ambivalent! Emotions more complex than rage? Cannot be borne. And if that’s not bad enough, on the way home, they pick up some direwolf puppies. For fuck’s sake. Puppies? Really? Yeah dudes, it’s a signpost of what’s to come: all the fee-fees, these characters have them. Continue reading

On Wiscon’s EPIC PHAIL.

Feminism is not just an ideology. It’s a responsibility. While we all screw up, because we are all socially conditioned by patriarchy and dismantling the bad paradigms we absorb takes work, by assigning your space with the label “feminist” you are making a certain social unspoken commitment.

And part of that commitment is to not colossally screw up harassment cases.

I’m not going to go into the logistics of the fail because other people understand it far better (Natalie Luhrs has done a great job compiling the relevant information), other than to point out the fact that despite having zero connections to organized fandom I had heard of this guy and his bad behavior years ago. Instead I’m going to go over the messages sent and received.

It should be quite obvious, but in case it needs to be stated, catering in one’s rhetoric to the redemption narrative of someone who serially harasses women sends a message to harassers and potential ones that their behavior will be light on consequences, and that their comfort is more significant than that of the women they are harassing. It sends those same messages to those who have been harassed or might be.

It discourages people from reporting harassment, because once one has reported harassment one has a greater emotional stake in the results. Someone has put their ass on the line, because reporting harassment is never consequence-free — amongst other dangers, one faces the possibility of retaliation by the harasser and his or her supporters — and this particular failure added to those consequences.

When a self-declared feminist organization screws up a harassment case and follow-up this badly, including spreading dishonest victim-blaming crap that the harmed party then has to defend herself against, they add an icky layer of betrayal to an experience already, at best, highly unpleasant. And in this case, the harm caused to the reporters seems to be far greater than the consequences faced by the dude who harassed them.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. This is a reinforcement of rape culture.

LGBT lit recs.

I began this LGBT speculative fiction reading challenge a few months ago and it’s broadened my reading experience a lot. I started this and the women authors of color challenge for reasons that were political, a means to try to be an ally in one of the ways I’m most capable (i.e. reading books and talking about them a lot, something I’m well-versed in, ahem). The real boon of these challenges has been in the great books I probably never otherwise would have found; most of the time I forget the original purpose behind participating and frequently forget to mention that books feature LGBTQ protagonists when I review stuff. Hence this post. Continue reading

Schrodinger’s douchecanoe.

I’ve been making a lot of lady geek friends lately, which is turning out great so far. For the foreseeable future I am just Not That Interested in making friends with male geeks. I’ve made a couple of dudely acquaintances, but for the most part I’m just going to keep the other half at a bit of a distance, at least until I can figure about a better strategy. Why, you ask? WELL.

Somehow I keep ending up in this situation in which some dude, like, decides I am to play the love interest in his plot, or the damsel in his knighthood story, or whatever the hell RPG he’s got playing in his brain that I haven’t the faintest clue or damn about, or whatever. Or maybe he’s a status-conscious guy that perceives his connection to me in terms of how it reflects his ego, or likes to verbally “spar” so he can attempt to prove the delusory notion that he’s the smartest person in the room, or whatever.

And then because I don’t care (or even know), I go off-script. And then, of course, the rapidity with which I turn from love interest/damsel/ego satellite to villainess gives me whiplash. Continue reading

Reading update.

Right now I’m reading an anthology called Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, which is introducing me to lots of great newer writers. It will probably (hopefully!) be the first review I post elseweb, so here I will just say: this is a book that demands your attention. I’ve read a lot of anthologies and collections. I can say virtually without doubt that this is at least among the two tied for best I’ve read (the other being The Other Half of the Sky, which is kind of its science fiction twin).

Within it I discovered a dude author whose novels are now happily lodged in the TBR pile, Benjamin Parzybok. Newest novel to be released later this year is Sherwood Nation, a post-apocalyptic Robin Hood retelling, and his last was Couch, which looks like one of those too-rare books that really push the boundaries of spec fic.

Books I’ve read and loved recently that I haven’t had the time to write reviews for: Sarah Lotz’ The Three, horror/apocalyptic fiction; Mary Doria Russell’s Children of God, which was perhaps even better than its predecessor The Sparrow; and Caitlin Kiernan’s The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories, which includes a story about a sentient black hole. That LGBT reading challenge I started? Kiernan is just taking mine over.

That is all. I’ve got books to read.

Review – Who Fears Death?

no_whofearsWho Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor’s 2010 winner of the World Fantasy Award and the Carl Brandon Society Kindred Award, shares many of the bones of the prototypical epic fantasy novel — the singular birth of the main character and a prophecy concerning her destiny; a quest fraught with danger and mythical creatures; a circle of close companions who choose to share her burden. Only it’s set in a future East Africa, includes hand-held computers alongside talking camels, and Onyesonwu is not a reluctant heroine but one filled with rage. Continue reading

Feminist thought of the day.

To elaborate on why this week (month, year) hasn’t been so great: my mother has recently broken into my email and FaceBook accounts, as well as rummaged through old phone records to find the phone numbers of my friends in order to call them and gossip about me. She’s sown a lot of discord and started many fires. My response was to terminate my relationship with her, and as she kept sending me weird creepy emails, to filter her messages to auto-delete. She found my old livejournal somehow; it’s only a matter of time before she finds this place.

This got me thinking about boundaries and how difficult it is to learn how to set them, particularly given as poor of models as mine, and how even upon learning, they are so often ignored or treated with contempt. Most discussions about this subject seem to take place around rape culture, and while the connection between the two can’t be denied, it’s really a life-encompassing problem, as this example from my own life clearly illustrates. It’s hard enough as a woman — at least, it is for me — to constantly negotiate the balance between being a doormat and a bully to arrive at “assertive.” How much worse is it when assertiveness does not result in expected outcomes?

The truth is, the world doesn’t like self-ownership in women, whether we’re talking about female sexuality and the fear of it and perceived need to control it or asking the boss for a raise. In such an environment, in which women aren’t heard even while screaming, how easy must it be to simply give up? To simply stop trying? Or to, like my mother, relentlessly steamroll over everyone else’s autonomy just to justify your own?

I’m not lying down, though. And I hope that the more these sorts of things are talked about, the more individual women learn to assert themselves and self-actualize, so that the world finally gets used to it.

So I’ve had an awful week, except…

I just discovered this short fiction magazine which is my favorite thing at the moment. The stories in it contain cool but unpretentious literary devices such as second person point-of-view and unreliable narrators, and they’re usually dark fantasy, often secondary-world. I delight when all these things fall in love and make babies.

Recent issues of Beneath Ceaseless Skies feature stories by Cat Rambo, Richard Parks, Vylar Kaftan, Aliette de Bodard, and Alex Dally MacFarlane, among others. I’ll be doing an actual review/spotlight at a later date, probably at another site. For now, I urge you check out this magazine. I’m about to go hide under the covers, where I’ll be reading another issue and pretending that this week never happened.

Review: Unexpected Stories

ob_unexpecUnexpected Stories, posthumously-discovered short fiction by Octavia Butler, was released this week just two days after what would have been her 67th birthday. Walter Mosley writes in the foreword that reading this novella and short story is a bit like encountering the ghost of a friend. Being a relatively new but huge Butler fan, I don’t disagree with the simile. But the more cynical part of me had wondered if perhaps these were shelved because the author decided to trunk them — in other words, if they went unpublished for good reason.

Nope. These stories left me awestruck; they are quintessential Butler in their themes but departures in the usual subjects. Continue reading