It has been a quiet week for femslash fans; our best and brightest are at the f/f convention in California, leaving the rest of us alone. It was, however, International Fan Works Day on February 15th, thus prompting a variety of articles about fandoms. Also, a bunch of important things happened in sf! So, let’s look at that!
ONE The Nebula shortlist was announced! I like using the Nebula shortlist to try and see what stories and books will be on the the radar for the Hugos. This is specifically prevalent for the Novella, Novellette and Short story category, and thanks to SF Signal, we have a complete list with links for all the stories that aren’t behind a paywall. I’m particularly excited that Binti and “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn“ were nominated, since those two were some of my favorites.
TWO Thanks to the Rec Center, I revisited this article about fandom, and it’s creation of several really cool fan spaces! The article, which describes fans as tool using animals, is honestly a really cool discussion of fandom’s creative energy and its effect on tech. He talks about doing things like asking fans for advice on his website, which lead to this:
For three days, I watched this collaborative Google docgrow and grow before my eyes. It ended up being fifty-two pages long. I want to show you some of the highlights.
At times, there were so many people editing the document at that it tucked its tail between its legs and went into a panicked ‘read only’ mode. Even the mighty engineers at Google couldn’t cope with the sustained attention of fandom.
THREE fanfiction, a legal battle http://reporter.rit.edu/views/fanfiction-legal-battle-creativity
FOUR DestationToast analyzed the femslash fandom for femslash feburary, and it was really great! My favorite part of the analysis was when Toasty pointed out that f/f on the whole is strongly on the rise, which would, once again, call on more fan reporters and general fandom archivists to stop ignoring f/f.
The first couple slides, wherein I look at the amount of F/F on AO3, were inspired in part by a quirk that readers pointed out in my 2015 Year in Fandom post. Folks noticed that all of the top F/F ships had produced over 50% of their works in 2015 and wondered why that was true for F/F and not for the other categories. Based on the first two slides here, I’d say that’s because F/F as a whole is strongly on the rise! (Whereas the other categories are less so.) You can also read more of my past shipping stats(including a detailed relationship category breakdown from 2013 for comparison) if so you’re interested.
FIVE Longtime fan Casey Fiesler wrote an essay about Archive of Our Own, citing the website “a cool example of two things: (1) an amazingly successful open source project designed and built mostly by women; and (2) thoughtful incorporation of existing community norms into design.” She continues to say:
The blog post that sparked the whole thing points out: “I know we have project managers in our community – and coders and designers – can’t we do this? Seriously – we can come up with a site that would be miles better and more attractive to fanfic writers/readers than anything else out there, guys, because we actually USE the stuff.” The rallying cry became “we own the servers!” But this “archive of their own” also meant that they could design it to precisely fit the needs and values of their community. How successful has it been? Well, just in the time since this paper was submitted (August) and when I finalized the camera-ready version (January) I had to change “over 650k users and nearly 2 million works” to “nearly 750k users and over 2 million works.”
SIX The debate about low/high brow art in reference to genre is always a heated discussion, and this week my twitter was alive with dicussions about the romance genre (in response to an article on booksmugglers, for those interested). I’m not linking that, though; instead I’m linking an article on the New Yorker about how really “high art” artist TS Eliot loved “low art” Detective Fiction.
SEVEN Laurie Penny, a wonderful queer writer, on utopias
Utopian stories existed long before the word was coined by Thomas More in the 16th century to mean an ideal society, or “no-place”. Plato’s Republic has some claim to being the first but there are as many utopias as there have been communities that dreamed of a better life. It is no accident that the early 21st century is a great age of dystopian fiction. The ideology of late-capitalist patriarchy has become so all-encompassing that it no longer looks like ideology. Fredric Jameson observed, “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism” – and the reason for that is not that capitalism is the inevitable destiny of humankind but that we have spent our lives being told that even thinking about any other future makes us ridiculous.
EIGHT Penny’s article brings me to an older article by Jemisin, in which she talks about the fact that while we have a Black History month, we also kind of need a Black future month
Then I began to realize that the exclusions I’d noticed were not just a matter of benign neglect. Robert E. Howard wrote endless pulp stories set in fantastical Africa and Asia — and centered all of them on white men. Nebula- and Hugo-award-winning author Samuel Delany, in his 1998 essay “Racism in Science Fiction”, shares his experience of having a story rejected by one of the most celebrated editors in the genre solely because the protagonist was black. These were conscious choices on the part of the genre’s gatekeepers. This was deliberate, ahistorical, scientifically nonsensical, exclusion. Worse, the fans tacitly supported the gatekeepers in this. A published story containing a single error of theoretical physics might elicit pages-long rage-filled letters to the editor, but if a story depicted black men as white-woman-raping cannibals incapable of sophisticated thought, the response was resounding silence.
NINE And while we’re discussing diversity, the New York Times posted a fascinating article about what the Academy values in Black performances:
All 10 performances for which black women have received best-actress nominations involve poor or lower-income characters, and half of those are penniless mothers. Two of the portrayals — Diana Ross’s incarnation of Billie Holiday in “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972) and Angela Bassett’s depiction of Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It” (1993) — are of singers who enjoy a measure of wealth at some point. But Holiday begins broke, and viewers know she’ll end up that way, while Tina Turner doesn’t have money of her own until the film’s last five minutes. The remaining characters are maids, sharecroppers, criminal-drifter types, impoverished housewives and destitute girls.
TEN Honestly, this project sounds like the best and I want to do it right now:
This project is the fucking best and I highly recommend it. I relish the experience of obstinately refusing to watch something because there is a man on the cover. I relish how difficult it is to find things to watch, let alone things to watch that I actually think I’ll like. I relish the incredulity on people’s faces, their struggle to articulate why they think the project is sexist (lol), in the face of such an easy demonstration of inequity in the world. I relish the smart and funny and joyful productions I’ve enjoyed as a result of really having to search for entertainment. I relish the new characters I’ve identified with, the worlds I’ve gotten to inhabit, the thrill of asking my coven for help with my quest, and getting to recommend shows to the people I love. I relish what an insignificant and arbitrary rule it is and what a huge difference it’s made in my life.
TWELVE This had never even occurred to me? But the representation of pregnancy in media does matter, I suppose.
Largely, though, starlets allow the paparazzi to intimidate them into a digital version of what used to be called “confinement,” rather than challenge Hollywood’s idea of what pregnant women should look like. Why does it matter? Well, fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. Similarly, fear of how a thing actually looks increases fear of the thing itself. Pregnant bodies are not stick figures with cute bumps in the front. They are large, they contain multitudes. They take up space and for excellent reason. Even if we can’t get to point as a society where we celebrate that, we should at least be able to acknowledge it.
THIRTEEN This has been a week for DC bashing by people (rightfully so), but while we all discuss how much fuckery there is going on in the comics, let’s remember that DC is race bending famous characters and hiring female directors left and right:
Lexi Alexander: I have, but when Greg Berlanti gave Andrew the marching order, he really did his homework and found more female directors than I even knew. Besides hiring myself, he hired Rachel Talalay, who’d directed Doctor Who, instantly for The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. And I know Rachel, but he also hired Alice Troughton, who directed the famous bottle episode ofDoctor Who (the episode “Midnight”), and other women he approached (Wendey Stanzler, Hanelle M. Culpepper, Bethany Rooney, and Charlotte Brandstrom have all directed on the Arrow-Flash-Legends series). Andrew really did his homework.
FOURTEEN Also!!!! Wonder Woman behind the scene images!!!