Review: The Beauty by Aliya Whitely

The Beauty, a 2014 novella by Aliya Whitely, takes place in a near-future in which a fungal disease killed off all women a few years prior. The characters are an isolated, self-sufficient enclave of men, and the nearby cemetery in which their wives, mothers, and daughters rest is being overtaken by this same fungus; the plot begins when a few, against their better judgment, decide to investigate, and the resultant change that comes to their world shatters the group’s cohesion.  Continue reading

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SFnal Linkspam

A selection of SFnal essays, reviews, and book recommendation lists that I’ve read recently and found poignant and interesting. (As well as one by me elseweb that is less “poignant” than typical “my-ass-is-so-chapped-that-I-must-rant” that I forgot to ever link here.) Subjects include Caribbean literature, Afrofuturism, investigations into this category as well as that of “fantasy,” and feminist resistance.  Continue reading

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Review: Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher

…Maybe less a review than a calling attention to as I read this short novel weeks ago, and given the scarcity of my patience to focus on novels for the last several months, a book that I read in a single afternoon deserves remarking upon. Bryony and Roses, a 2015 retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” by T. Kingfisher (also known as Ursula Vernon), is a rather ephemeral sort of book, one that isn’t likely to inspire Deep Thoughts but rather perfect for a comfort read to get you out of a funk — this fun, whimsical story stands out amidst all the, shall we say, sad bastard SF/F.  Continue reading

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Two Novelettes

I read two novelettes last week. “Fabulous Beasts” by Priya Sharma is a grim fairy tale about a snake-girl held captive in generational violent entrapment; Andrea Hairston’s “Saltwater Railroad” is a Caribbean historical fantasy about the matriarch of a community of people who have fled slavery and other forms of violence. Both develop a fairly large handful of characters with depth as well as a really fucked-up family system (the former), with all its attendant relationships, and a community (the latter), with all its attendant relationships. And these are not just direct relationships between characters, but, for example, the internal mythology of a family and the local folklore about a community of escapees.

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Short Fiction Second Quarterly Survey + Roundup

Vote for your favorite short fiction of April, May, and June here. The deadline is Monday, August 17 — which means that if you would like to catch up with issues of zines you missed, you’ve still got a bit of time to do it! And while my ability to write up monthly story roundups is on (hopefully temporary) hiatus, here’s a quarterly roundup of some personal favorites in case you need a place to start looking.  Continue reading

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Sexual Violence in Epic Fantasy Follow-up & Linkspam: Sansa Stark

My reaction to the Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” is very personal and very meta. And I didn’t even watch it because similar problems rendered me unable to watch that show long ago, but witnessed my Twitter feed explode on the night that the episode aired and read the devastating news: Continue reading

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Belated But Obligatory Reaction Post: Hugomaggedon

Well… maybe not so obligatory. I’m going to skip over the summary and the bits that are probably obvious (e.g., that No Award will likely overwhelm my ballot) to address a few points along with my personal response. Going to go ahead and warn up-front that this is only my second year of organized fandom and my first year voting in the Hugos, which flavors my reaction; I’m probably not as upset as many. And I haven’t kept up with all the various posts and counter-posts, because that is boring. But I am ass-chapped enough for a post with headings.

This post assumes that you are familiar with the arguments of Brad Torgersen — who I had not heard of before the Melancholy Canine debacle, but who has convinced me very thoroughly that I ought not read any of his books; reasoning follows. Reasoning, that is, besides the whiny entitlement of manbabies throwing a shitfit at not seeing themselves and their own views reflected in the narrative every single time. The rest of us had to get over that as children. Continue reading

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Sekrit Project Announced: Quarterly Short Fiction Survey

The plan, in a nutshell:

Renay and Jodie of Lady Business, Jonah Sutton-Morse of Yelling At My Bookshelf, and I will be aggregating the responses to this quarterly short fiction survey — in which you can name up to five favorite short stories, novelettes, and novellas — over the next three weeks, after which we’ll produce a PDF of the entirety and a list of the top ten or so results.

The idea is a sort of grassroots, organic recommendation engine for short fiction in which everyone in fandom can participate.

Signal boosts appreciated!

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Sexual Violence in Epic Fantasy (TW)

Illuminating conversation on Twitter yesterday about sexual violence in epic fantasy and the narrative choices around it. Also, CG of Black Girl in Media poses a question of whether there’s been an increase of violence against women in media depictions in part due to backlash over feminism, and if in part it rests against a need to punish the “strong female character” trope.

I’m interested in how these two ideas may intersect, and ponder how much gratuitous depictions of sexual violence in epic fantasy are used not just to titillate but to punish female characters for being too strong, too powerful, too subversive. It’s pretty familiar territory and there’s a lot of conversation around it, so I shall piggyback with A Song of Ice and Fire and some deeply problematic ways in which it portrays sexual violence (apart from: a lot). Continue reading

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Stuff I’m Up To

My February short fiction post is up at Skiffy and Fanty. Some powerfully emotionally evocative ones this month.

I also decided to start trying to cover at least one novella a month, because if there aren’t enough sources to filter and discover short stories, holy shit is the situation critical for novellas and novelettes. So in the column thus far are reviews of Genevieve Valentine’s Dream Houses and N.K. Jemisin’s The Awakened Kingdom. I liked the first one a lot, loved the second (and wow is my ass chapped it hasn’t shown up on any award short lists so far; if you are looking to fill out that section of your Hugo ballot and only have time for one, make it this one).  Continue reading

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