book babble: putting the science into science fiction

One of the most difficult things, I think, about science fiction as a genre is balancing the science and the fiction. It’s a difficult balance to maintain; traditionalists still define sf as “speculative fiction grounded in physics, chemistry, and, to a lesser extent, biology”. In an interview with the Paris Review in 2013, Ursula K Le Guin even said that she didn’t think the term Science Fiction was a very descriptive phrase for  a wide variety of very different fiction. Le Guin said:

desconstruction

This interviewer isn’t the best interviewer, but I feel like he’s saying some important things about what people understand as science fiction. As a writer, I’m always obsessing over what genre the texts I read theoretically fit in, and I think many people believe science fiction is a lot more monolithic than it is. The science and the boundaries that science fiction explores aren’t just biology and chemistry; science fiction also poses difficult questions in the social science, but its aim is also to give us a new light in which we can think about who we are, and what we do in society. This week’s books that I’m reviewing are a great example of this. I recently finished Nexus by Ramez Naam. I am also almost finished with The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu.

Nexus and The Three Body Problem were two very science heavy science fiction novels.

I honestly am not even done with TTBP despite reading it since Christmas because the book is incredibly exhausting in a good way? It’s scientific in a way a book hasn’t been scientific in ages: I am constantly questioning whether or not the science is real. I know, this may be because my physics knowledge all stems from my freshman roommate (an honors math and physics major) but it’s also because the world building is so solid.

The blurb of the book sells it as a book that is:

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision

As someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with Chinese fiction other than my interactions with movies like Red Cliff, I do wonder how much some of the things I find alienating about the book are just narrative conventions I am not familiar with. The lack of three dimensional characters, for example, just made it a more difficult book for me to read. I’m honestly a character girl through and through, and so not having any concrete characters on which I could focus on, or even root for, really confused me.

Main pro: everything about the book felt fresh and new to me, even though First Contact stories are far from fresh and new.

Main con: ALL THE SCIENCE.

 Nexus, on the other hand, gave me the three dimensional characters that I lacked. Amazon explains it as:

In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link humans together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.

When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage – for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.

From the halls of academe to the halls of power; from the headquarters of an elite agency in Washington DC to a secret lab beneath Shanghai; from the underground parties of San Francisco to the illegal biotech markets of Bangkok; from an international neuroscience conference to a remote monastery in the mountains of Thailand – Nexus is a thrill ride through a future on the brink of explosion.

A book I wanted to recommend to every friend I have who studies chemistry or biology, Naam is clearly very involved in the scientific establishment of this book. I felt like the elements of his worldbuilding, right down to his science, was wonderful. The biggest problem I had with the book was the casting of the female character. The main female character was given a dark and angsty backstory centered around the abuse she suffered and the rapes she endured. Although the book doesn’t do anything weird with this caveat, I was really annoyed that the book gave me a Strong Female Character, only to quickly explain to me that she was a “damaged” woman who stopped herself from having any emotional depth because it “hurt too much.” I dream of the day when I can have a female character who we can just leave the fuck alone.

In the end though, Nexus was a perfectly good science fiction thriller. I really like thrillers in which the events spiral in such a way that you, the reader, would not have done anything differently from what the protagonist does. The main character of this book is constantly faced with moral conundrums, and he almost always chooses the exact same compromise I would have chosen in the same situation. His decisions have far reaching consequences, and I really like how quickly

I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel.

Main pro: not Euro-centric, really cool fight scenes, awesome psudo-science

Main con: almost all the female characters felt like set pieces in the main protag’s developement, and although I was happy a wide variety of women were included, the amount of “women dying or sacrificing themselves for one white boy” was a little disarming.

 

In conclusion, both these book used science to pose fascinating questions, and ultimately this lead to a far more international and more universal book than many other science fiction authors. I really liked both these books.

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link round up 5

“Hey, Elisabeth, I noticed that you missed a week on the link round up. Why was that?” asked the thirsty crowd of followers. Friends, let me tell you something. I adopted a perfect puppy from a shelter. Puppy here is a misleading term: she’s a full grown border collie/st bernard mix, so she’s heavy, big, and very smart. I am in love with her and she’s perfect. I was busy adoring her, and thus was unable to have the link round up ready, but don’t worry, I’m here to catch you up! With a LOT of stuff! First though, my dog:

This last fortnight has been really fun! I don’t know whether that’s been because I, a mentally ill mess, have been less of a mess, or whether it’s because my perfect dog is perfect, but it’s been really awesome. There has been a lot of discussion of PoCs in sf and fantasy literature which I have found super awesome, as well as some classic call-out posts when writers have been shitty.

Today’s link round up could be labeled as “sjw”-y if you use that term, and its mainly because I’ve been feeling frustrated with femslash media, femslash fandom and myself recently. As we work furiously to create a space for ourselves as women who love women, we often embrace media that can alienate and other women of color. I am specifically at fault here too: I watch problematic shows like the 100 and Supergirl because I am so grateful to have myself even the tiniest bit represented, but I am also disappointed in myself that I take that bait. Supergirl recently included its first woman of colour, only to immediately demonize her, and I got so mad.

Anyway, I’m starting my link round up off with an article by Liz Bourke over on Tor.com entitled “There’s a Counter in My Head,” which I think describes the plight of any aware person when consuming popular media. I loved every element of this article, but what struck me especially hard was that if Liz Burke and I, two white women, felt this way, then I wonder how queer wocs must feel. The anger and betrayal we feel is incomparable to their exclusion from popular media.

There’s a counter in my head, and I can’t turn it off.

It counts women present in a narrative. It counts people who aren’t men. It counts queer representation. It counts—although somewhat less strictly, due to the blinkers of its upbringing—the presence of people who aren’t white, or who aren’t able-bodied. It counts up roles. It compares and contrasts roles. It counts incidences where things follow a trend, and where they diverge. It recognises patterns. Dead women. Sexual objects. Motivating objects. Objectified. Tragic queerness. Queerness-as-a-phase. Women sidelined. Elided. Present but only significant for how they relate to a white able-bodied cisgender man.

Talking about counters, Black Nerd Girls pointed out how Arrow once again failed its women of colour, this time with their treatment of Amanda Waller.

Back to the character at hand, there are those that will say it was okay to kill Amanda off. Her presence in the Suicide Squad movie is more important. While this may be true, we have to look more closely at the situation. Waller kept villains such as Slade Wilson’s Deathstroke, Digger Harkness’ Boomerang, and the deadly Suicide Squad members within the confounds of her control. Being shot in the head at point blank range without so much as a nod any of her accomplishments was unbelievably disrespectful. Arrow is a show that gave Deadshot an honorable death. Remember Moira Queen?  Though her death was brutal, she was afforded an honorable death in the protection of her children.

So, while I think about this, I donate to projects like Lightspeed, whose Kickstarter fund raiser for “PoCs Destroy Science Fiction” is going strong. There are some really awesome essays that are available for free right now. Here are all of the personal essays, though I really loved SL Huang’s essay (she wrote a short story I will be nominating for the Hugos):

The Asian-American community has a long tradition of trading our own creativity and culture for “success.” A devil’s bargain: all the success you could ask for, and all it costs is your soul.

This isn’t true for all Asian-Americans, of course. But to some degree, at least, it’s true for me.

I wonder if I don’t write more Chinese characters because my father achieved his goal too well. Despite all my best efforts to reclaim my heritage, maybe all I have is an empty space I’ll always be chasing, like a gerbil spinning on a wheel.

Or maybe, despite all my anger, I myself am subconsciously following the very same path I’ve criticized my father for laying down: ducking my head and not being too Asian, because I want to be seen as a Real American Writer.

Suyi Davies Okungbowa also has an amazing post about everything being ‘default’ white, which I think is really interesting, since it ties in with something I find fascinating: just saying “my character is black” doesn’t make your writing truer; you can write a character with black skin, but because you didn’t critically think about what you’re trying to write, you write a “white character.” I think this is why “colour-blind” sf writing really squicks me, and I think Suyi Davies Okungbowa talks about it way better than I can:

This is what happens to us.

We’re reading this blog post where a middle-aged white American dude gets fed up with SF book covers splashed over with Caucasian faces, lugs it to the nearest Barnes & Noble, and takes stock of the split between white faces versus people of colour on book covers.

The results aren’t pretty.

Scrolling through responses to said blog, we come upon a commenter who talks about how white people often don’t learn to identify or empathize with people of other races, and how people of colour are a lot more used to buying stuff with white people on them than the reverse. According to her, this prevails because both parties have had a lot of practice at it.

Hold that thought.

Here’s the thing about being African SF lovers (writers, readers, fans) living on the continent. We prowl the biggest bookshops in Lagos, Nigeria, searching for the latest SF titles from around the world. In almost all the bookshops we visit (there’re only a few good ones), there’s a section for SF. However, one thing strikes us. This SF does not include African writers.

All African narratives, SF&F or otherwise, are shelved in the “African Fiction” section.

All this kickstarter stuff actually reminded me of an older article that the Rec Centre recently dug up, namely this article entitled “the unbearable solitude of being an African fan girl” . This article reminded me of a lot of the conversations I have with my poc friends looking for good femslash fandoms – it’s embarrassing that femslash seems to be a predominantly white space, and we have the responsibility to make it a better space for wocs, honestly. Wocs femslash shippers exist, and I think we need to work harder @ giving them a space in which they can exist comfortably. Bc the worst thing is, as Chinelo Onwualu points out, is that fandom is already a “not mainstream space,” so being fringe in a fringe group is twice as hard, and I think its our responsibility as a fandom to ensure that these girls can feel comfortable.

After all, you have always existed in isolation. Your favourite books were not ones you could discuss with your friends who always gave those puzzled, pitying looks when you mentioned them. You watched your favourite shows in your bedroom, laughing into the silence while your family avidly discussed the latest Nollywood film in the next room. You go to see your favourite superhero summer blockbusters by yourself, aware that you may be the only woman in the audience who has actually read the comic book that the movie is loosely based on.

Onto other things! Natalie Luhrs did a really important analysis of all the Locus Recommend Reading lists, and it was honestly very disturbing.

Lastly, here are some books to read if you found the first episode of the X Files revival hilaribad (which, honestly, is the only way to appreciate Chris Carter @ his worst)

The only article about the Best Picture Nominees I will read.

I, a fake geek girl, only just discovered this tumblr, but I love it? It’s so perfect? I especially like the header:

nice

While we’re talking about comics, did you see that my two favorite whimsical comic book shows are going to have a crossover? I hope Cat Grant likes Iris West as much as I love Iris West.

Honestly, the sf community that I follow was really upset this weekend because a sf website I follow, sf signal, posted an essay in which the author identified herself as “disabled” because she was “too empathetic” (honestly, I’m not even going to cite the original article it’s that embarrassing). Thank god Foz Meadows tore her down.

Let me put this bluntly: empathy is not a disability. Even if I take Sterling-Casil at her notably unsourced word and accept her premise here – that empathy, as a specifically defined condition, is a direct, causative (rather than correlative) factor in the suicide and/or death by misadventure of young people – that does not make it a disability. Depression, along with various other mental health conditions and disorders, can be a form of disability, but whether we define it as such depends largely on who “we” are and our reasons for doing so.

Last but not least! Half A Moon Challenge is currently running, and as always, I love promoting lady-centric and f/f challenges!

Half a Moon is a fourteen day challenge celebrating female characters in fandom, which will run from February 1 through Valentine’s Day. Fanfiction, vids, recs, art, picspam, icons, meta, fanmixes, and outside links to content fitting the theme of this community are all welcome–the only rule is that the primary focus must be on a female character or characters.

and to finish the link round up today, I leave you with one (1) image of my dog

callisto10

and of my favorite tweets:

Podcast #2 Notes: Anya and Ancillary Justice

nice
the original cover art for the three books

My guest this week was Anya! We talked about Space, Race and …something that rhymes with those two.

Good reviews of Ancilliary Justice!

Elisabeth’s recs: Red Cliff and Carol Soundtrack

Anya’s rec: Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

link round up 4

IMG_20160124_123244Honestly, the whole #oscarssowhite thing has just been EMBARRASSING and I really wish, as a white person, that all white people would stop talking (especially these two). At least the Academy is trying, though honestly I am so embarrassed.

ONTO BRIGHTER THINGS!! This week was the week that DC really cranked up its game. Not only is Supergirl continuing to brighten our lives, but THE WONDER WOMAN SPECIAL AIRED. Do you want a scene by scene analysis for a Wonder Woman nerd? I do.

We got some insight into how they’re approaching the character as well. Her film is going to be an origin story, though we didn’t get information about which one; rumours are it will be her New 52 origin, but everyone was vague. Gal Gadot said of the film, “We’re gonna see her coming of age, the entire history, what’s her mission,” so it should establish her roots pretty solidly, whatever they may be in this incarnation.

Lightspeed Magazine is a Hugo Winning science fiction magazine that has been working on pushing marginalized voices into mainstream science fiction! Their newest project is PCS Destroy Science Fiction. They have only PoC writers and editors to do this, and it’s actually really awesome! People of Colour! Good Founding! I love it.

Now that we have a confirmed S2 for Jessica Jones, a lot of people are speculating excitedly where the show could go. Obviously, I want the next season to have a Hellcat origin story, and ComicsAlliance seems to indicated that that might happen. Honestly, I am less interested in Jessica’s childhood and her Stark connection, and more interested in the potentially connection with Marvel’s Agents of Shield (yes, i still love this goofy MARVEL show, no I am not ashamed of it).

While Jean Grey is never going to show up, an Avengers cameo is not entirely off the table — but Jessica Jones would probably have an easier time connecting to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She briefly had a relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain, who conveniently does not appear on the ABC series. The Netflix series could either introduce Clay or a similar character, which would establish a connection to the MCU and Agents, or they could have a more direct crossover with Agents via an established character from the ABC series — the former seems more likely.

Read More: Where ‘Jessica Jones’ Could Go in Season 2

Sometimes when I feel like a bad writer, I read a short story, because the short and quick writing lets me be immersed in a world quickly and comfortably. As a result, this weeks link-round up is repping some free short stories. One is from Lightspeed magazine, and the other two are from the small publishers BookSmugglers. I really loved the two short stories, one of which weaves in a lot of Indian mythology and cultural references, and the other which has middle-aged wlw as well as a wonderfully complex examination of fairytale tropes, so I was very pleased. Those are the only ones that I have read this week, but you can read a ton of awesome diverse fantasy short stories on the booksmugglers website! It’s actually a great resource if you are looking for short stories!

There was a really awesome interview with the Carol screenwriter on Fresh Air!

On the elements of Highsmith’s novel that Nagy most wanted to keep in the screen adaptation

Nagy: Two things. One was the radical way in which Patricia Highsmith addressed the sexuality of the protagonists in the novel as natural, as breathing — no particular thought given to what sexuality means to these women — but also an insistence on ignoring, more or less, the naysayers, which was another aspect of the novel that was profoundly radical. The second part of the things that I think makes the novel really resonate even today is Highsmith’s particular view of motherhood and what makes a good mother.

Oh you’re over Carol?? SOME OF US ARE NOT. (Read the article, if only for the ADORABLE PICTURES OF THE ACTRESSES ON SET)

The film includes a three-minute love scene between two A-list female stars, and yet what industry insiders (and audiences who made Carol the third-biggest opening of 2015 in terms of theater averages; it has grossed $8 million in limited run) have been buzzing about are the cinematography (Ed Lachman shot it on grainy 16mm) and striking sets (production designer Judy Becker worked with a limited palette of dusty pinks and acid greens). The characters in Carol exist in a time of deep sexual repression, but the climate today, in 2015, is so gay friendly (at least in Hollywood) that what was once taboo is now ordinary. “Those things are always awkward,” a blase-sounding Mara, 30, says of the on-camera tryst. “But it wasn’t any more challenging than any other love scene I’ve done, I’ll tell you that.”

This week showed a lot of discussion around the idea of people’s own stories (this week it was hashtagged as #ownstories) which reminded me of a super interesting conversation about the popularity of m/m, the fetishization of it, and the rejection of f/f as a result in YA fiction:

fave part

this links neatly to author Rose Lemberg’s tweets from this weekend (read the whole feed, since she makes some really awesome points):

 

I know Maddie and I are PSYCHED about the return of The X-Files, and so should you, and not just because there are eight tropes on tvtropes named after things in the X-Files:

“The X-Files” was a show about a certain mode of fear and style of conspiracy, and in the 14 years since it ended our culture has been overtaken by a new, more grim, more literal sense of fear. (The last season started on Nov. 11, 2001.) In the opening episode, the extended U.F.O. history lesson feels like a wrongheaded attempt to explain what all the excitement used to be about. In the exponentially better second and third episodes, the writers mostly ignore the time lapse, except to poke fun at Mulder’s incompetence with personal electronics. They’re confident that the show’s structure still stands up.

Hollywood is sexist? That sexism is damaging, and spawns more sexism? Weird. Didn’t know. I’m so happy graphs were created to prove it to me.

Adding further fuel to hopefully inspire serious change are new interactive graphs and charts that shine a damaging spotlight on Hollywood’s gender divide and its effects on films. Created by Lyle Friedman, Matt Daniels and Ilia Blinderman of Polygraph, an online publication that explores popular culture with data and visual storytelling, these impressive charts use data consolidated by the Bechdel Test website to visually show how the gender discrepancy in writers, directors and creators lead Hollywood films to fail the Bechdel test time and time again.

honestly, my only problem with people saying The Flash is Very Different and Much Better than Supergirl is that it smells like misogyny 2 me, especially when they do sketchy things like refer to Supergirl as “a romantic dramadey” and The Flash as “fun”…… (i’m linking this for you to share my embarrassment with me)

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, Ann Leckie, the woman who wrote our book of the month, made a wonderful post about the poetics of sf, which reminded me of my wonderful producer, who is also a linguistics student. I actually love close reading of “pulp” and I think that her conclusion that the dismissal of the word choices can be very damaging to be amazing.

book babble: femslash fantasy

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I also spent the weekend in London, crying @ the nerd shop Forbidden Planet bc I couldn’t buy everything

This has been a fortnight of femslash fantasy for me (look at all that alliteration!). I read Malinda Lo’s Ash, and was so enchanted by it that I moved on to Huntress. Although I also bought Malinda Lo’s other two books which are a lot more scifi-y, I decided to stick to fantasy, and as a result I read the first book of the When Women Were Warriors series. Honestly, all three of these books were wonderful. I’m going to review them in dialog with each other, but I quickly want to clarify that after I finished reading each of these books I recommended them to at least one friend and gave them a 5 star review on Amazon. So, you should buy them. I’m just interested in entering a critical dialog with these books, which sometimes means I focus on some of the more negative aspects. I repeat though: buy these books. They are gay, they are cute, and they are exactly what I needed. I rated them all above 3 stars.

When I was young, I read a lot of fantasy. As a child I disliked space and alien heavy science fiction and instead gobbled up all the fantasy as I could get my tiny hands on. The more obscure the world-building, the more complicated the concepts, the more I was there for it. I look at my shelves of books from Middle and High school, and they are full of familiar names like Anne Bishop, Robin Hobb, Garth Nix, William Nicholson and Ursula Le Guin. But then I grew up. Most of the adult fantasy I was given was very different from the YA fantasy and more female orientated fantasy I was given. Graduating to adult fantasy, and trying to join adult fantasy book clubs means I was suddenly burdened with 15,000 books about men discovering a male-dominated landscape. The stories became less interested in the mystical and the magical, and more interested in the protagonist. The authorial voices became more cloying, and I gave up on fantasy. I wanted to read stories about women dominating or exploring a landscape named explicitly after them, but I couldn’t find it in this genre, so I left. I left fantasy for science fiction, copying Ursala Le Guin’s movement from the Wizard of Earthsea Quartet to The Left Hand of Darkness. I started reading science fiction because I realized that even in male dominated space stories like Star Trek, a woman is allowed to exist.

In the end, I think this is why I loved this month’s reading so much. All three of those books were books that the young Elisabeth yearned for. They were magical, whimsical, and serious fantasy all together, and, most of all, they represented me within their pages.

I started off with reading Ash. I bought it because I felt lonely and frustrated in Germany, and living at home can be alienating, and this book made me feel better. Moreover, it allowed me to connect with people; my excitement at Ash was responded to with their excitement. It seems many queer ladies, like me, fell in love with this book through complicated paths. The book was by no means perfect, and it was very clearly limited by its genre (YA) and the nature of it (it was Malinda Lo’s debut novel). The book is a retelling of the fairy tale of Cinderella, but it complicates and nuances the story in interesting and unpredictable ways. The book is clearly interested in stories, however; who told them, who read them, and who understood them. This theme in particularly struck a chord with me, and I was interested to see that it was repeated in interesting variations in both Huntress and When Women Were Warriors.

In Ash, the love interest and Ash have several conversations about her favorite stories. The reoccurring question is “what’s your favorite fairy tale,” and Ash’s answer is a disturbing story about a girl who was so seduced with magic she died. At the end of the novel, Ash pushes against this narrative, and chooses to stay in reality with her girlfriend, despite her understanding of the attraction of disappearance and death. I read the novel as arguing that stories are tools: thanks to her understanding of the fairy tale, Ash was able to circumvent the story, and become something bigger.

But are stories only learning tools for us? The novel “Warriors Path”, the first book out of the When Women Were Warriors series offers us the juxtaposition between stories as learning tools, and simple learning tools. The book is interested in aphorisms and wisdom. It is a bildungsroman, after all. It is a victim of its genre, and yet, it still manages to reinvent its genre with every new lesson we as the reader are taught. The aphorisms and warrior lessons that Maara teaches Tamras each made me reflect on myself. Her lecture that allowing another person to illicit an emotion in you is a form of weakness really stuck with me. I loved that. These aphorism actually apply to real life! So many books that I have read that have aphorisms, especially in the intersecting genres of bildungsroman and fantasy, present you with generic life advice and dress it up as exotic. Phrases like ‘don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched’ are typically transformed into ‘don’t count your DRAGONS before the eggs have hatched’ and then marketed as new. No one is fooled. This book gives you interesting life advice and makes you think a lot about the nature of silence, the nature of understanding what times means.

I really liked that it taps into what Malinda Lo was recently talking about in reference to decolonizing your imagination, though in this case I am not referencing race, but rather books about lgbtq characters. A good lgbt book doesn’t need to draw attention to its character’s sexuality, but that’s difficult for the writer. Society has made us as queer women feel the need to explain and justify our emotions, but in this book Catherine M. Wilson seems to skip all that, whereas in Huntress I felt like Malinda Lo felt she needed to justify her worldbuilding. Wilson allows her characters to live and feel free in a matriarchal society without including flashing neon signs that say “THIS IS THE REVERSE IN THE REAL WORLD” or “WOMEN IN POWER ARE JUST AS BAD AS MEN”, which can sometimes happen in books that try and totally deconstruct our understandings of Matriarchal societies. Although I have never read classics such as Herland and Mist of Avalon, all of which deal with Matriarchal societies, I have read this awesome article by Sady Doyle that discusses in-depth why feminist matriarchal narratives are often considered a disappointment. Sady Doyle explains in most instance of societies dominated by women in pop culture that “these stories have usually ended with the women either voluntarily dismantling their society for boyfriends or being killed.” When that’s the legacy we are expecting, it’s no wonder that its so hard to break.

 

link round up 3

NET IS A SCARY PLACE
the ‘net is a Scary Place, Mulder. People write fanfiction about us.

HEY FRIENDS, I spent this weekend in London with my parents which meant I spent a lot of time defending the Internet and also pop culture, and a lot of the things they said reminded me of S1 Scully. Also, there was an X Files interview that makes me cry even thought I haven’t seen it yet. But basically I’m very happy also because I went to Forbidden Planet. Anyway I have lots of books now, so let’s get on with the show?

#OscarsSoWhite is embarrassing and shitty and honestly? was a very predictable outcome

Before I get into our regularly scheduled links, let’s talk about dating. It’s hard, right? Don’t worry, Mallory Ortberg made a perfect guide for us: “A Guide To Flirting With Plausible Deniability

Tease her a little bit about the fact that she is mortal and will someday die.

Let your hand brush against theirs, then visibly wipe it off on your jeans. Then anonymously pay off their student loans.

Hide yourself in an uncharted cave until someone comes looking for you. This way they’ll know that you’re independent, but also not seeing anybody else.

Now that we’ve sorted out our romantic plans, there’s another thing! Today’s link-round is queer heavy. Am I sorry? No. The Toast, my go-to website for everything ever in the world, also hosted a round-table on trans women’s discussions on lesbian and queer spaces that I thought was super important. More than anything, though, the chat is adorable and light-hearted and everyone should go and read it:

MALLORY: guys we seriously need to start a church
it will mostly be about candles
and cats

MEY: I honestly have at least a dozen la virgen candles in my house right now, plus another dozen other saint candles

GABBY: And comics

MALLORY: THE THREE C’S

BROOK: I was going to say a different C-word, but it’d have to be censored

MALLORY: Brook was the word ‘coping mechanisms’

AND now let’s get on with the regular show! Marvel has confirmed that they definitely want a show about MOCKINGBIRD, my one true love, and then some other character called (fart noise) that no one cares about. Obviously though, its all done by men and so I have low expectations. But look – Adrianne Palicki beating people up? I’m Here.

Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation is on its way to becoming a movie! I honestly loved this novel by Jeff VanderMeer and although I have no idea how they are going to adapt, I think it’s going to be interesting to watch. Moreover, these casting thoughts make me Very Happy.

TGI Femslash, a convention in California in February, is offering scholarships for interested people who are as bad as saving money as I am. In all honesty, if I wasn’t in Europe until June I would 100% go: it sounds so cool and fun that I’m mad that I’m not there. If you’re interested in femslash, you should totally apply!

fUCK y e ah i’M SO FRIKKIN EXCITED ABT THIS

NK Jemisin has a very interesting post about the classic white washing of the Shannara TV series and what that implies:

And that is precisely what we end up with, when this kind of fantastical exclusion gets layered onto the site of real historical exclusion: racist wish fulfillment fantasy. (Way to go, MTV.) Narratively, the exclusion suggests some Shit Went Down after the collapse or the plague or whatever it was that created this future world. What kind of shit? Genocide, apparently, on an epic scale. Eugenics, maybe, since apparently the orcish folks are some sort of mutant; that touches on the long, ugly history of medical experimentation in this country. So now I wonder why I should be particularly entranced by the stirring saga of a magical white supremacist utopia, or near enough to qualify. Don’t I have to deal with enough racist fantasy in real life?

Although I think sometimes the Jennifer Lawrence bashing can go too far, I also believe that she has been nominated as the media’s Darling, and this is very much at the cost of other women. Ms. Marya E. Gates, a wonderful film blogger and podcaster, recently pointed out that the celebration of Jennifer Lawrence as “younger person to ever land 4 acting noms” shifts the focus from Kate Winslet who is the youngest woman ever to have seven acting noms. We should still talk about Jennifer Lawrence, but the obsession with her has lead to the erasure of older women, which can get a little frustrating…

Honestly, friends, I can’t deal with shit like this. I am TOO WEAK for women + puppies

At the end of this week’s link-round up I quickly wanted to do a shout out to the three link round-ups that help create an influence my link round-up, and they are: the Toast, Sidetracked by LadyBusiness and the Rec Center, an email newsletter by Elizabeth Mitchell and Gav.

link round up 2

WHAT A WEEK!!!!! Our podcast officially launched, we had a launch party (with cake), all the while Elisabeth started working and Maddie got her work permit! We’re excited for a less stressful week on Monday….CYOgjnOWAAEtMQ1.jpg large

BEFORE WE BEGIN OUR NORMALLY SCHEDULED LINKS: I thought I caught all the Best Of Roundups of 2015 in the last link round up, but I came across this NPR 50 Best Things From 2015 and I thought it was quite touching and sweet. Kind of made me want to do one? Though let’s be honest, if I did, all 50 of my reasons would be women and TV shows….

TV Things

The biggest disappointment of this week has most definitively been the announcement of the cancellation of FX’s Cassius and Clay before it EVEN STARTED… like I know it was too good to be true but I’m STILL disappointed…

JJ Abrams confirmed that this will probably be the last season of Person of Interest. Person of Interest fans continue to ignore him.

Movie Things

Did you know that there is an epic 24 minute video entitled Star Wars : Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel on youtube??? It’s super cool ngl

While we’re talking about Star Wars, here is my fave drama of the week:

First came the outpouring of outraged backlash to the idea of lesbian Boba Fett, which prompted more piqued responses, analysis of the new fan theory, wiki defacing, the lesbian Boba Fett playlist, and general hilarity. Eventually, tumblr user sashayed broke down the phenomenon in a hilarious “get off my lawn” response to the outrage.

Book Things

HOPE LARSON AND BRITTNEY WILLIAMS ARE WORKING ON A NANCY DREW-ESQUE COMIC BOOK I’m so excited since it’s:

a new comic book series about 16-year-old detective-in-training Marigold “Goldie” Vance, who dreams of one day becoming the full-time in-house detective at her father’s Florida resort.

A super interesting article about what we use reviews and criticism for by Leila Roy! I think she draws a lot of different reasons (trigger-y subjects, searching for diversity, looking for specific comparison), and I honestly totally agree with her: it’s why I have vowed to review more books on goodreads! I love books, and as someone who wants to pay tribute to the hard work of the authors, I feel like reviewing them is the best that I can do for them.

I see criticism as a way of treating stories, regardless of format, regardless of genre, regardless of intended audience, with respect. In looking closely at them, we are saying that they DESERVE to be looked at closely—how can we expect the larger reading community to take YA, middle grade, comic books, romance, or any other marginalized category seriously if we don’t do that ourselves?

Olivia Cole wrote a really cool article for Huffington Post drawing attention to post-apocalyptic books by and about people of colour; I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not read any, though the Octavia Butler book is on my list…

It’s been written about before: the problem with mainstream post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction and its absence of people of color. In the imaginations of so many writers of these genres, people of color don’t ever seem to survive the apocalypse, or somehow the series of events that led to the dystopian society that has banned smiling (or dreaming, or whatever the big “gasp” factor is) wiped out people of color along the way.

I am actually in love with Jia Tolentino, not only because her perfect dog is perfect, but also because she writers amazing things like this:

In other words, I get why you’d avoid reading 10:04 or what have you; I don’t understand why it’s ever more productive to say so than just to read something else and (omitting the part about your commitment to social justice) talk about that. Justification for obviously rewarding acts is always unnecessary, and in the case of reading “diverse” writers, the reward can be meaningfully deflated by the announcement of the act itself. The people most excited to say, “Uh, I’ve actually been reading a lot of Nigerian writers lately?” tend to be white people; the space taken up by being interested in one’s own Here’s Why I’m Only Reading X Minority Group project is often counterproductive to the point.

Anyway, right after I say that, I include this challange (thought to be honest, I think this challenge is the type of thing that Jia was talking about predominantly). Renay, over at LadyBusiness, has decided: “one of my resolutions this year is to read 100 new-to-me women writers. However, it’s not an exclusive challenge, so I can still read white men, but also non-binary authors, too.” I honestly love this challange! It’s not only going to help keep my reading diverse, but it will also allow me to discover new voices! My favorite element of this challenge is that “Once an author has been read, no further work will count for the challenge although if I like them feel free to consume their back list.” I feel like this is so awesome? So anyway, I think I’m going to participate in this with Renay!

Tumblr user evelynatthecircus wrote an excellent meta about Ancillary Justice and naming, but beware of spoilers if you’re still reading the book!

I read Ash by Malinda Lo yesterday and I loved it. Honestly, it was amazing.

Fandom Things

Femsplaining podcasters are launching a tinyletter in which they promote fic! I’m tentatively excited! I love Elizabeth Minkle, so let’s see what happens!

Don’t you love it when celebrities add to their own fandoms?

A super interesting article about “how the internet picks its boyfriends,” specifically about Oscar Isaac:

Usually it’s a man with enough mystery to keep these projections of desire from puncturing, but enough charm that his popularity was merely a matter of timing. Usually it’s a man in his early or mid-30s, old enough that a teenager will find him refreshingly mature and a grown-up can lust after him with impunity. And usually it’s someone surrounded by an aura of authenticity. There must be a conception (whether it’s true is moot) that he earned his current position through hard work rather than dumb luck. There’s often some flaw or idealized vulnerability attached to him or his character — Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t think he was handsome, and plays a character with the emotional intelligence of “a high-functioning sociopath.” Sebastian Stan was an immigrant from a communist nation and plays a character used by the government. Oscar Isaac, Rami Malek, and Idris Elba have all spoken about their worries about being typecast because of their race. Tom Hardy plays a man broken by a dystopian hellscape.

The most interesting thing about this article, and about the analysis, is that it’s not at all applicable as to how the internet (femslash fandom, that is) picks its girlfriends. What makes us so different? What do we look for that these fangirls don’t? I think it’s an interesting comparison tbqh.

tweet of the week:

Podcasting: Episode 1: Person of Interest

AND HERE IT IS; THE FIRST EPISODE OF GALHALLA PODCAST

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host Elisabeth and special guest Max after the premier of Star Wars