caitri: (books)
Crossposted at The Future Fire.

Interview with Ada Palmer

Interview by Cait Coker.

Ada Palmer is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. Her first science fiction novel, Too Like the Lightning, was released in June, and describes the future of humanity in the Twenty-Fifth Century in terms that are as familiar and foreign as the period of the Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment is to us.

Cait: I find it fascinating that you’re a historian by day and science-fiction author by night (and more day). You clearly drew upon a deep knowledge of the politics and philosophy of the Enlightenment in writing your book. Can you tell me what first made the connections between past and future for you in writing Too Like the Lightning?

Ada: If you think about it, there’s nothing more similar to the future than the past: both are long blocks of time during which human societies change and evolve, and are affected by crises and gradual transformations. I think being a historian is immensely useful for SF because it gives me a world of examples and test cases to compare to when I want to answer questions about things that might change a society, “What if the transportation system suddenly got faster?” (Look at the spread of railroads). “What if the dominantly-English origins of the internet mean that English comes to be a sort of universal second language?” (Look at Greek in the Roman Empire). “How will space colonies separate culturally from Earth?” (Figure out the travel time, then look at Earth’s many past diasporas and migrations.) In Too Like the Lightning I wanted to imagine Earth’s future in a few hundred years, and it seemed natural to answer my questions by looking at the past and using it for comparison.

I’m going to geek out for a minute: Your knowledge of the period really materializes itself in the book as object, and how it relies on typography and the use of graphs as part of the story. In SFF we talk a lot about how genre texts have influenced scientific and technological developments, but this was history influencing a genre text. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

I love the double-take people often do opening the cover, with its illustration of flying cars and its super-modernist sans serif font, to find that period title page with 18th century fonts, woodblock ornaments, and even 18th century censorship permissions on the front. When the book was in its last stages I sent an eleven page letter to the typography team talking about different eighteenth-century period book layout things I hoped they’d do, and special things I was doing with punctuation, and such. I was overjoyed when I saw how much they’d done with the final version, period-feeling fonts, the little wood block type ornaments on the title page and in the headers. I wanted those small touches because the book intentionally puts the reader in a strange position in terms of time. The narrator is writing a history of the 25th century, so the narrator expects a reader from his future, with sensibilities advanced beyond his own day, “enlightened” compared to the 25th century. But the real reader is from the 21st century, so when the narrator does things like explain how “he” and “she” work because the narrator expects they’ve dropped out of use like “thee” and “thou,” suddenly the real 21st century reader has to wrestle with three time periods at once, the 21st century, the 25th century, and the narrator’s imagined future past the 25th century. Except the narrator is also trying to write in an 18th century style (trying with middling success, as we try with middling success to act like Renaissance people at a Renn Fest), so a fourth moment in time is also involved. In effect, there is no point at time at which this book would be at home, it’s an object out of time, written in the future in the style of the past for an imagined farther future which may or may not ever come to be. People have found the layering of all those time periods delightfully mind-bending, and effective at raising questions about how the future will view the past. So by having period typography the book physically reminds you of its object-out-of-time-ness, making the reading experience more immersive, though the immersion isn’t in the world of 2454, it’s in the book object itself as an object self-consciously out of time. And 18th century fonts are really beautiful. Have you seen the capital Q in the page header of the chapter “The Interlude in Martin Guildbreaker Pursues the Question...”? Most beautiful Q in the world!

What attracted you to speculative fiction in the first place?

I’ve loved F&SF since I was tiny. I remember when it started: one of my oldest memories was going to the public library, and going to the kids’ section as usual to look for a new Doctor Seuss book, and someone had misshelved a big hardcover copy of The Hobbit there, with a *huge* red dragon on the cover. It was one of the heaviest things I’d ever lifted, but I asked Dad if he would read it to me, and we checked it out (though he already had two copies at home, but explaining that books have multiple editions is a little advanced for theOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Dragon, Two Towers phase of reading.) I made up stories as a kid, started writing them down in elementary school, and kept it up. So it’s my natural genre, the one I grew up with, the one in which my ideas naturally manifest.

And history?

History was a later fascination. I enjoyed all kinds of documentaries as a kid, and expected to go into science since I was great in all my science classes. But when I started at Simon’s Rock College we had a required Great Books reading course. I remember reading inCivilization and its Discontents about Freud’s “Death instinct” and I remembered about a documentary I had watched about WWI, and it felt to me like Freud wouldn’t have had that idea before the war. So I went to the library to his complete works and looked through pre-war pieces and found places where certainly would have mentioned it if he’d had that concept but it wasn’t there. It was the first time I realized that historical events shape ideas, that even the greatest philosophical concepts don’t come from the raw stuff of people’s heads but come into being because people live through changes in the real world. I became fascinated by the history of ideas, how the range of concepts available to us expands over time, and how one era’s heresy might be another era’s truism. If every other subject involves studying what we think is true, then the history of ideas is studying why we think those things are true, how our culture decided on those ideas and not others, when they started, and what other things we might have believed had we been born at different points in time and space.

We often ask how has geography (including place, culture, economics) influences an author’s work. In this case your books, fiction and nonfiction (Lucretius in the Renaissance) have drawn heavily from Renaissance and Enlightenment Italy. What fascinates you the most about that place and time?

Most of the overt historical references in the book are French Enlightenment—Voltaire, Diderot, de Sade, the looming specter of Thomas Hobbes—but the Renaissance comes into it, not in the references, but in the relationship of this world to its past. One important part of every culture is how it describes, chops up, and values its own past. What past eras were there? Which were good or bad? These ideas aren’t defaults, they change over time. In the 1430s the Florentine Leonardo Bruni invented the “Dark Ages” and suddenly history had three parts (ancient (good), dark ages (bad), “modern” i.e. Renaissance (trying to be good again)), whereas before that it had two (before Christ (bad), after Christ (good)), and before that in antiquity, the Greeks and Romans’ imagined history had three or four parts (golden age, silver age, bronze age, iron age). Ours has different parts too, and we idealize some and criticize others. The world I designed in 2454 has a very similar relationship to its past to what the Renaissance had, which is to say that, like the Renaissance, 2454 is having a big revival of the ideas of an earlier era (in its case Enlightenment; in the Renaissance’s case antiquity), and that revival is causing big cultural and political transformations. In both cases it’s not the first revival of such things (antiquity had an earlier revival in the Carolingian period, and my imagined future had a small Enlightenment revival in the 22nd century but is having a bigger one in the 25th). It’s a different kind of cause of change than I think most SF authors think about. When depicting a science fictional world having an upheaval, we usually think of a technological cause (sudden light speed travel! cloning! immortality serum!), or a circumstantial one (out of fuel! overcrowded! incoming asteroid!), or a big discovery (new planet! new aliens!). But big uphevals can also be caused by purely cultural changes, in the case of the Renaissance the impulse to revive antiquity, which was a response to a bunch of other changes but itself became the big transformer. Studying that gave me the idea that the transformation of my 25th century could have a similarly cultural root.

Do you think writing for an audience of historians is different than for an audience of SFF readers?

It’s the reading mode that is different, more than the people. Many academics read and enjoy SFF, including myself, but we read a history in different ways from how we read a science fiction novel. F&SF readers in particular have a certain way of learning about an unfamiliar setting, which is different from how we do it in a history. Histories—both academic histories and popular histories—explain their subjects and settings directly; when a new unfamiliar thing is introduced it’s explained and connected to other things, systematically. A well-crafted history will introduce many new facts and details, planning the order of them carefully so they all fit together, each connecting to the next in order, because connections form long-term arguments, and connections also help us remember things. Reading genre fiction (including historical fiction) we learn new world details a different way. We expect that there will be small references to unfamiliar elements peppering the book constantly, and we know to collect these like puzzle pieces, setting them aside in our memory, trusting that the author will make them fit together later to form a more complete picture. SFF readers do it naturally, but it’s genuinely a learned skill, and very intelligent readers with no experience of genre fiction reading sometimes struggle with SFF because they come to the first unfamiliar thing and stop, puzzling it over, trying to figure it out at that moment, expecting it to be explained at the time, and that if it doesn’t make sense yet they must have missed something. If puzzling and rereading doesn’t solve it, such a reader usually moves on, forgetting the detail, because there’s nothing to connect it to, so it’s hard to remember. In a sense, history means giving the puzzle pieces in order, each followed by the ones it connects to, so they gradually, logically reveal an image; genre fiction means giving the reader scattered puzzle pieces that don’t connect, so fragments of a mysterious image form until it’s partly visible, and the reader is excited by the hints and clues offered by the partial glimpses, and the process of trying to guess what the big picture is before the last pieces are revealed.

The other thing that really struck me about Too Like the Lightning was how it felt like a manga or anime as it would have been produced in the Eighteenth Century. It was incredibly vivid and visual, and I know you’re a fan of those forms as well. Can you tell me how you think genre and format influence each other?

Interesting question. It’s possible that my ways of pacing how I describe facial expressions between dialog is influenced by the pacing of conversation and expression work in anime, though if so I’m not conscious of it; my styles of visual description in the books are consciously based on the way Robert Fagles renders Homer, and the way Arthur Conan Doyle in the Holmes short stories uses descriptions of architecture and atmosphere to control the pacing of revelation in a dialog scene. I would say the main influence that anime and manga have had on Terra Ignota is that, unlike a lot of SF authors, I’m responding to Japanese conversations about science fiction in addition to Anglophone ones. Throughout the 20th century American SF was translated into Japanese, and Japan has had a lot of authors, many working in anime/manga media, who have responded to classic SF concepts and developed them in different ways from how they were developed in the US and UK. To give one example, while US & UK SF authors have been having a conversation about AIs and robotics, and developed certain conventions, default expected developments, and big questions that we’re all familiar with, like Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, but over the same years Japan has had its own conversation about robots, AIs, robot laws and ethics, responding to Western ones but contributing lots of new original ideas. I talk about SF as a conversation, and when the golden age proposed ideas, Japan responded. Recent readers ofThe Three Body Problem have had a taste of a similar phenomenon, seeing how a Chinese author who read classic Western SF responded, but from a different direction, contributing excitingly different new ideas. Because anime and manga are easy to find in English and French, Japan is one of the easiest other science fiction traditions to access, and I really enjoy great works of Japanese SF, like Phoenix, Pluto, They Were 11, or Gunbuster, not because they’re in anime/manga form, but because they’re full of fascinating and original SF ideas and questions. A lot of Western SF authors and readers haven’t accessed what Japan has been doing, so sometimes I’ll see an American SF work that’s dealing with robots and think to myself, “Wow, this author clearly doesn’t know what Japan has done with this concept, but I sure wish he did because his response would be awesome!” Thus Too Like the Lightning isn’t consciously responding anime/manga as media, but it is consciously responding to some of the big SF questions that Japan has explored using those media.

And finally, a very serious question to close: Do you write with a lucky pen or pencil?

No. After so much typing, my wrists are in such bad shape that writing by hand is very challenging, though physical therapy is helping me make great strides. But I do have a favorite pencil—it was a present from my Dad, and is black with a little Greek helmet on the eraser end, and a quotation of one of my favorite lines from the Iliad (Fagles translation of course!): “The God of War is impartial, he hands out death to the man who hands out death.”

Ada Palmer’s next book in the Terra Ignota sequence, Seven Surrenders, will be released in February 2017.
caitri: (Charles mouse)
So all I could think of while watching the livestream was Love>Hate. This was fandom bonding together over our love of genre and belief in the actual literature of ideas and of believing in the best of each other, even despite of each other.

NGL, I damn near cried a few times. I *definitely* shrieked with delight several times. But I am happy and proud to be an SFF fan.
caitri: (Gamora)
"Helen Cho, Age of Ultron, and Representation Feels" by Nicole Soojong Callahan

With Helen Cho in Age of Ultron, we get an Asian woman in a big-budget major motion picture who:

1) has a name,

2) gets more than thirty seconds of screen time,

3) does not die immediately after being introduced,

4) has no apparent martial arts skills,

5) is neither a math tutor nor a geisha,

6) gets to talk and say smart things — even in a roomful of white characters, who actually shut up for a minute and listen to her when she is explaining her science and why she’s a boss,

7) does not exist solely to give some white lady no one cares about questionable relationship advice, and

8) is not a crime lord and/or running a shady as fuck business out of a big scary warehouse. ...

It shouldn’t feel like such a big deal, and I wish I didn’t have to feel so excited about a character like hers. I wish I could be neutral and reasonable and blasé about media featuring Asian characters who don’t seem like tokens or play to obvious stereotypes, but it’s so rare that I can’t be. Is it getting better? I believe it is — there are certainly more Asians on TV. But after going to see Age of Ultron, I tried to think of other American movies with Asian or Asian American characters that meet all the criteria I mentioned above, and I had a very hard time. It was especially difficult thinking of Asian women whose film characters could pass the test. ...

If this is frustrating for me, just a casual viewer/fan fielding awkward questions from her kid, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for Asian actors and artists trying to make a living. As great as it was to see Claudia Kim in Age of Ultron, we shouldn’t have to feel so grateful for one role in one movie.
caitri: (books)
"The Great Internet Debate Over Not Reading White Men" by Saladin Ahmed

'Bestselling author' is, functionally, a job. And nearly every single one of those jobs goes to a white person (quite often a white man). When women still make only seventy five cents for every dollar that men make, and 98% of the New York Times bestseller list is composed of white authors, anyone who reads primarily white male authors is contributing, quite directly, to the economic inequalities that pervade our culture. Now, some readers — particularly those of a politically conservative or libertarian sensibility — don't give a shit about this. Indeed, they may be actively hostile to the very notion of egalitarianism. The market, in their view, is a pure meritocracy. But many other book buyers believe, as I do, that the market itself is racist and sexist in all sorts of unseen ways. Choosing to buy and read books by women and people of color is one small way to address this.

More selfishly, though, seeking out the voices of women, people of color, and LGBT folks will lead you to wonderful books you might not have found otherwise. Indeed, there are a great many wonderful books that you are likely to miss unless you are consciously choosing to privilege those voices.

This is not simply because, as one commenter on Scalzi's response to the debate put it, "humans tend to default" to what they know. It's because, despite the heroic efforts of many agents, editors, and publicists, publishing's marketing machine is a long way from treating all authors equally. It is my sincere belief that most readers don't know just how slanted the publishing industry is toward a narrow sliver of voices. Unless one deliberately seeks out fiction by marginalized writers, the vast, vast majority of books that cross one's radar via TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, and, yes, the internet, are going to be by white people — and most of those white people are going to be straight men.
caitri: (charles write)
"Shiva and Octavia" by Sam J. Miller

I think it’s difficult for writers and readers who carry privilege, whether of class, race, gender, or sexuality, to understand just how crippling it is to look around at the books and magazines that you love, and not see yourself there. How deep the internalized wounds can go, when everyone around you from high school on up is holding up a book that looks nothing like you, and saying “THIS IS GREAT LITERATURE. THIS IS A STORY WORTH TELLING.” Every writer faces an uphill battle getting their words in print--my hero Octavia Butler said “everyone who tries to write experiences savage rejection, and it just goes on and on until finally you begin to break through”--but the savagery is compounded when you add in the external obstacles outsider writers face when their stories feature experiences and arcs that white straight middle class college-educated editors have no personal experience of ... and the staggering, sometimes crippling, internalized obstacles: the self-doubt and the self-rejection. Brilliant writer of color Lisa Bolekaja tweeted about facing the need to “work through shit just 2 feel comfortable putting sentences on paper. Somedays 1 sentence is a miracle.”

This is why queers need to destroy science fiction. It’s why women--and people of color--and writers working in languages other than English--and other marginalized communities need to destroy science fiction. We need to undermine the Straight White American Male Underpinnings of the genre.
caitri: (books)
The Trickle-Down Effect of Genre Bookselling by Andrew Liptak

Paperback novels, largely denied a place in “proper” bookstores, had found their ways into consumers’ hands by going through magazine channels, which distributed books to department and grocery stores, as well as newsstands. In 1961, the first bookstore opened that sold paperback novels and bookstobookselling 1res slowly began to stock them on their shelves. Miller notes the stark differences between buyers and the stores they frequented: “The drugstores, the discount stores, and the newsstands were the outlets geared toward the growing mass of working-class readers. Bookstores, on the other hand, cultivated the “carriage trade”—a more affluent, educated group of patrons. Thus, bookshop owners did little to counter their growing reputation among the public for being intimidating figures with minimal patience for customers who were not appropriately bookish.”

While this was happening, genre paperback publishing hit its stride. David G. Hartwell noted that when he entered the science-fiction publishing industry as a young editor at Signet Books in 1971, the genre publishing field became "unknowable: the total number of books published per month was 32 in hardcover and paperback," a number that exceeded what anyone could realistically read, between the books and magazines. Throughout the 1960s, Hartwell noted, "the biggest money you could make in SF was a serial to the major could make more money serializing your story in Analog" than one could by selling the rights to a paperback publisher. By the 1970s, that point had tipped, and paperback publishers began to pay above the serialization rate that the magazines paid.

This is owed in part to the number of science-fiction paperback publishing lines out there: 12 in all. Competition between the various paperback lines increased, and science fiction authors found themselves in more demand. An author could typically expect an advance of around $5,000 (just under $30,000 in 2014 dollars) for a three-book contract with a paperback publisher, with some advances going as high as $100,000 (almost $600,000 now).

Fascinating nuggets in this article that will make one happy AND sad. For one thing, genre numbers are up right now--I think I saw at SFSignal that 350 SFF books are going to be published this month. On the other hand, we only have, what, five big genre publishers right now and a number of smaller publishers that go in and out of business seemingly at the drop of hats. Also, those advance numbers--I think right now the average-ish is something like $2-5k in today dollars, with a $30k advance if you've become a steady seller, so... yeah. Fascinating look at the history of the industry though.
caitri: (The World is a Mess)
Snowpiercer is a movie that lives up to its (by now considerable) hype. It is gorgeous, so I highly recommend watching it in the cinema if you can; lots of work went into the details and they need to be enjoyed.

It is also dark, and fairly violent in spots (I closed my eyes in parts, and I am not typically squeamish). But that said, one thing I find particularly noteworthy after the fact is that the violence isn't gendered--unlike many (most) films there's never a point where a villain threatens a woman to appeal to the hero, etc. etc. Similarly, there is no romantic component, though there are plenty of women characters. There are also plenty of POC.

And Chris Evans. OH MY GOD. He has a long monologue towards the end and its just--it's horrifying and beautiful and real. He is such a fucking great actor and that scene just shows what he's capable of, and it breaks my heart he wants to leave acting when he can do stuff like that.

The writing. Just. This is one of those movies that so aptly demonstrates what SF as a genre can do that no other genre can. It's provocative and I can't stop thinking about it. Just. Wow.

Basically you should all go see this movie, the end.
caitri: (The World is a Mess)
I've been mulling over what to post on this topic for a while. In case you missed it:

Marion Zimmer Bradley: It's Worse Than I Knew

In which Bradley's daughter came forward about her mother's abuse.

Rape, Abuse, and Marion Zimmer Bradley

In which Jim Hines rounds up links and points out that we cannot silence the voices of the abused no matter how famous or popular the abuser is.

SFF community reeling after Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter accuses her of abuse

In which mainstream media takes note.


I want to preface this by saying I was/am a fan of MZB; I've spent years and years reading and collecting her work and the works about her work; I've written academic essays and gone to cons to talk about her; at one point I wanted nothing more than to write her biography and met with numerous people who knew her towards that end. In short, this is all from the perspective of someone who was invested in her as a person and figure of import.

I am not shattered by these revelations. I'm not going to throw out her books. I'm not going to read them with the same amount of enjoyment, either. I do want to think about what happened then and what is happening now means.

I know from conversations with people that MZB grew up in an abusive situation; how abusive and whether that too was sexual, I do not know. One BNF I spoke with at DarkoverCon a few years ago told me how she herself was a victim of sexual abuse, and how MZB helped her heal and also come out of the closet.

MZB did good in this world, even as she did evil. It's difficult to reconcile these things, but this too is true.

I also know that Bradley's generation is dying off; one of her friends and protegees, who mentored me in turn, passed away this Fall. I do not think it is an accident that Greyland chose to come forth in a time of relative safety, when MZB's greatest defenders are gone or quiet, when her popularity is on the wane. In some ways, I think this is a smart decision, because it means people are LISTENING: decades ago, they wouldn't have done, not only because of MZB but because of society's own attitudes towards abuse (and let's face it: we STILL have a long way to go before we can end the whole "blame the victim" mentality).

At Darkovercon, people were matter of fact about Breen and his evil; it was an open secret, if you will. People took care to monitor their children even as there was very much a mentality of "protect Marion." This comes up in The Great Breen Boondoggle, in which the author opines that someone should "warn" Marion about the man she was marrying. You can read the depositions of Marion as knowing accomplice; from conversations I've had, you can also read them as a clueless woman trying to protect those she loved and failing miserably.

MZB was truly a cult figure with all that entails: charisma enough to garner followers and protectors; keep in mind, the same people who wanted to protect her reputation regarding Walter are the same ones who wanted to protect her writing reputation, up to and including how she would pay (or not) fans/followers and pass off their work as her own; not quite plagiarism, not quite ghostwriting. The last books to bear her name have very little of her own writing in it; for instance, the Exile's Song trilogy was written by Adrienne Martine-Barnes, who wrote from MZB's notes; MZB hated that Barnes killed off Regis and summarily packed her off. The Trillium books MZB co-authored had Elisabeth Waters writing for Marion, etc.

MZB's history has also been rewritten after her death. Waters, who is in charge of Bradley's estate, has worked tirelessly to make a clean narrative. For instance, Bradley was an open pagan who wrote articles for The Green Egg amongst other spiritual zines, including pieces on how to set up a Wiccan altar in one's own home, etc. Her Literary Works Trust site maintains that she was a lifelong Christian. There's also very little [nothing] there about Bradley's life as an open lesbian (who happened to marry men, twice, and have children with them both) (we could probably talk here about bi-erasure, but "lesbian" was also the term MZB preferred, so.).

In her own life, MZB took pains to rewrite her history, changing narratives as necessary to make her work more heroic. There's an interesting essay she wrote about being a lone woman in SF in the 50s, and never mind that she sold her early stories to a woman editor. (Woman's inhumanity to woman, etc.)

We can also talk about the cultures of silence in the 50s-90s, especially about abuse. In several of her stories--I'm thinking of "Knives" here, MZB wrote sympathetically of characters who were abused, raped, etc. and who overcame those traumas. Now we know that MZB was both abuser and abused. Another blogger wrote about the underaged/coerced sex of The Mists of Avalon and how it's difficult to reread in light of what we know. I'm thinking of her character Dyan Ardais from the Darkover books; a villain who is and is not sympathetic (not unlike Marion herself); who on the one hand abuses boys and on the other is a "good" man protecting his planet. That character had a significant following; somewhere I have a fanzine devoted to stories only about him. I can't help but feel now that Dyan Ardais was a version of Marion, and the mystique of that character was her mystique too.

This got long and went nowhere fast. To conclude: We cannot separate the art from the artist. We cannot separate the artist from the person. People aren't pies--you can't slice them up and just take the bits you want. It's all mixed up together. Was Marion a great writer and important to SF? Yes. Did she at the least aid and abet in crimes, and probably commit them herself? Yes. Did she help and comfort the abused? Yes, that too. Do her works remain important to genre history? Yes. Can we separate anything out to make a clean narrative of any kind?

No. No, we cannot.
caitri: (books)
Previously I had a long and rambly post about women's writing that I want to bring up again because I found a lovely nugget in Joad Raymond's Pamphlets and Pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain. He reprints a comic poem by John Taylor (cited in The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509-1659, selected by Norbrook, ed. Woudhuysen (1982), p. 740) that talks about pamphlets, which was also apparently yet another word for prostitute:

For like a Whore by day-light or by candle,
'Tis even free for every knave to handle:
And as a new whore is belov'd and sought,
So is a new Booke in request and bought.
When whores wax old and stale, they're out of date,
Old Pamphlets are most subject to such fate.
As whores have Panders to emblazon their worth,
So these have Stationers to set them forth.
And as an old whore may be painted new
With borrowed beauty, faire unto the view,
Whereby shee for a fine fresh whore may passe,
Yet is shee but the rotten whore she was.
So Stationers, their old cast Bookes can grace,
And by new Titles paint a-fresh their face.
Whereby for currant they are past away,
As if they had come forth but yesterday.

*NB. All italics are represented as in the text, as they were presumably printed in the 16th c. Also, "Stationers" is a catch-all term for those in the booktrades, so printers, engravers, binders, and even booksellers.

I'm finding it increasingly fascinating and creepy how there is a consistent language connecting women's writing with women's bodies, especially with regards to being read and consumed. I suppose an analog is the "Biblical" (can someone correct me here--I'm thinking this is KJV and therefore 1611 language) phrase "to know" someone ie. "to have sex with them," knowledge/"carnal knowledge" etc.


Other interesting things:

Genre Wars: SFF at the AWP Conference

Both women fielded questions about breaking into science fiction as a male-dominated field. Le Guin’s response—that she “didn’t care what men were doing,” that it wasn’t a feminist movement, but “just taking over,” was patently great. Gloss was quick to point out, though that the question had disregarded the masculinity of the literary canon. Their “take-over” was not of an inherently misogynist genre, but of a larger, male-dominated publishing industry and culture.


Mamatas went a slightly different route, tracing the history of publishing to highlight its economic divisions. The pulps, produced for and by the working class, and the “slicks,” which paid their authors and were only accessible to the middle and upper class, is just one example of this phenomenon. If the middle class is in charge of schools, he said, the schools will work in the mode of the middle class. Like Wonders and Kanaka, though, Mamatas spoke in terms of the larger picture—it’s high time that we stop pretending that the literary world’s dialogue about genre has anything at all to do with “bad writing” alone. Surprisingly, art doesn’t exist in a vacuum—economic or otherwise.

The article also references a panel on teaching SFF in creative writing classes, but doesn't discuss the panel in depth, which is too bad. Of the six university-level creative writing courses I've had in my life, not one taught SFF, and not one of the teachers was prepared to provide feedback on SFF material. I say this with the nota bene that I was always told I could write SFF but the profs couldn't help me with it--which, fair enough, but how is it that genre does not seem to come up at all as a topic of discussion in writing courses?

Smuggler’s Ponderings: History, Fandom and Masters of Science Fiction

It seems to me that there’s this idea that Science Fiction – as genre and as fandom – has a “history.” And that (real) fans should know this particular history.

My main question when hearing this argument is: “history” as perceived by whom? As defined by whom?

Why is it that this early history of Science Fiction fandom is presented as “idyllic” when we know for a fact that large groups of people stood outside looking in? Isn’t that history being rewritten in front of our very eyes? Try this: when you Google “best Science Fiction of all time” or “essential Science Fiction novels,” you almost invariably get lists featuring works by the same group of people. Very few contain writers who are not white and male. The narrative that chooses this subset of people as the only worthy “masters” of the genre? Isn’t that, too, rewriting history in front of our very eyes?

It is obvious to me that this idyllic period of Science Fiction “history” is told largely from an American, white, male perspective. It might be an important part of a historical narrative, but it is not the whole narrative. Surely, it can’t be. If we choose to brand only those works “masterful” and “classic” and “essential”, what are we saying?

This article connects a few different dots in recent goings-on, including the Ross-Hugo flap and by Baen editor Toni Weisskopf's piece on "true" fandom/SFF readers.

How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist

In Philadelphia, the Lantern Theater Company is currently wrapping up the run of its annual Shakespearean offering, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. This time, they've put a twist on the great tragedy by changing up the Roman Republic and setting the play in medieval Japan. That's great, except there isn't a whole lot in this production that's legitimately Japanese -- most notably, a glaring lack of Japanese actors.

Dance theater artist (and actual Japanese person) Makoto Hirano saw the play, and it did not sit well with him. So he drafted a letter to the Lantern Theater Company outlining some "friendly unsolicited pointers" on How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist. PROTIP: "DON'T say you were inspired by feudal Japan and then not cast any Japanese actors." Seems like that should have been a big one.

His full, gorgeous letter is reproduced in toto at the link.
caitri: (books)
I wanted to write a long post talking about all of these things in a thoughtful manner, then my brain popped. So here. HAVE ALL THE THINGS.

On Race and History:

It's Time to Talk About Black Tudors

One of the examples of Africans found in important jobs at the time is a man named Fortunatus, who was in the employ of Robert Cecil, a member of Queen Elizabeth I’s Privy Council, proving that blacks in Tudor times were not always confined to the lower classes. Black representation in 16th and 17th Century art and literature was not unusual. Juriaen Van Streeck (1632-1687)’s painting “A Still Life with a Moorish Servant” depicts a Black man. Jan Brueghel, a prominent Flemish artist also has paintings of Black subjects.

With well-cited facts, records and other documents, credibility is lent to an under-researched and generally unpopular area. Onyeka Nubia acknowledges the challenges of working on such a neglected topic and stresses the history of the African diaspora be “taken more seriously.” Nubia carefully details the problems faced when researching the historical data of blacks — it begs the question, why are modern historians so uncomfortable with discussing the historical Black presence in Renaissance Europe? This is an area of history that hegemonic historians ignore.

Tudor Africans: What's in a Name?

It appears, then, that descriptions of Africans as Blackamoores, Moors, Negroes and Ethiopians in documents, parish records, books and letters from the 16th to the early 17th centuries could be used interchangeably. Of course this does not resolve all the issues related to these meanings. Did Africans choose the various terms that were used in parish records to describe them or were they imposed on them? Did the terms Blackamoore, Moor and Negro really ‘smell as sweet,’ investing those described thus with status and respect or did they have pejorative connotations that reflected perceptions of Africans as dejected strangers, immigrants and perpetual slaves? The evidence uncovered so far suggests that at least some Africans had a sense of their own ethnic identity and not all were slaves.

As the English merchant and trader Thomas Sherley says in 1600: ‘All the Blackamoores in England are regarded but only for the strangeness of their nation and not for service to the Queen.’ But the evidence uncovered so far suggests that his view is not reflective of how most people felt in Tudor England.

On Fandom:

Johnlocked: Sherlock, Slash Fiction and the Shaming of Female Fans

The gendered stereotyping of female fans has a long history: Horton and Wohl, in 1956, described fandom as a surrogate relationship and focused on "para-social interactions": the illusory relationships fans form with celebrities[2]. Joli Jenson noted that literature on fandom argues that fans "suffer from psychological inadequacy, and [...] seek contact with famous people in order to compensate for their own inadequate lives"[3]. More recently Melissa A. Click, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz note that public commentary on Twilight "positions girls and women as unexpected and unwelcome media fans, and denies the long and rich history of the relationships female fans have had with media texts and personalities"[4], and the publication of E L James's Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy in 2012 resulted in hundreds of articles about the emergence of female sexuality and erotica – their authors apparently unaware that women have been consuming porn for years.

That the language of twenty, thirty, and even sixty years ago is still being used to discuss female fans – and only very rarely to discuss male fans – points to the continuing way in which female responses to texts are dismissed. Steven Moffat himself has argued on more than one occasion that women only watch Sherlock because of their attraction to Benedict Cumberbatch. Female fans are held to be unable to appreciate a show’s intellectual prowess, rather they are in it for the men. That is, incidentally, one of the criticisms aimed at slash writers. Jacqueline M. Pinkowitz[5] notes how the activities of Twilight fans are still seen as culturally dismissible, and how, even with the recent publication of books like Anne Jamison’s Fic making fanfiction and slash more mainstream, slash writers are still met with suspicion.

Fifty Shades of Remix: The Intersecting Pleasures of Commercial and Fan Romances

Fifty Shades of Grey's past as a work of Twilight fan fiction has turned a spotlight onto the conversion of fan works for the commercial romance market. Fifty Shades reminds us of the increasing flow of texts, readers, and writers across these two categories of storytelling. Blurring traditional genre categories, stories like Fifty Shades represent a challenge for fan and popular romance studies. While scholars need to be attentive to medium specific contexts, the impulse to deny intersection may signal problematic assumptions and artificially segregate these storytelling forms. This paper reexamines past work on the differences between fan fiction and romance, arguing for greater attentiveness to the ways these two modes of storytelling intersect. Focusing on the importance of intertextuality and play with form in romantic storytelling, the paper argues that greater attention to these qualities offers new ways for us to study texts like Fifty Shades of Grey and may help scholars reconceptualize the relationship between fan and commercial work.

On the SFWA fracas:

Apparently, these guys don't want women to write science fiction

A conversation on a science-fiction forum this week revealed a section of the community that's teeming with indignation about recent attempts to make the genre more progressive.

Just when readers thought the dust had settled on last week’s debate about “political correctness” in sci-fi publishing, a group of highly influential writers spent the past few days lamenting the rise of increasingly vocal women and minorities in their community. The discussion happened on a list-serv thread where the participants apparently thought no one would notice them—at least until they remembered all their posts were public.

Mary Robinette Kowal: Me, as a useful representative example

So this is why I feel weird about writing about this. My impulse is to tell you all that I’m fine and that this has no material affect on my life. And that is true. But I also know that I am a useful representative sample of the abuse that happens to other women.

I know that there are a ton of women who have received similar messages — and can we stop pretending that sexism is happening because it’s SFWA? Sexism happens all the time. It’s visible in SFWA because people are actively fighting against it.

Cheap Tarts expands a bit more on the attacks on Kowal specifically (and women generally):

If Mary decided to wear a Lady Gaga meat suit to a con I don’t think that it would be much of my business. However my point is: While people talk about the freedom to have a cheesecake Red Sonja and how this is an important cause to fight for, we are busy judging what a writer wears and her personal appearance. A woman is constantly under scrutiny even in situations where you would think she would be safe of such scrutiny (at a convention and awards ceremonies, for example).

But women must put up with this stuff all the time. Dress nice, but not too nice or some dude will think you are some sort of tart and criticize you for your necklines. Be social, but not too social because then you are some kind of attention whore. Smile. Play nice. Don’t complain. I’ve been called fat, ugly, a lesbian for writing pretty mild blog posts such as this one. And not only by random trolls. Sean P. Fodera, as he likes to remind everyone in his posts, works in the publishing industry.

You can imagine the constant state of paranoia a woman can live in when casual comments on message boards treat her as insignificant, stupid, and the like. This is the kind of shit we deal with on a regular basis. And then you wonder why we worry about sexism and stuff like that? It burns. It really does.

Would you like some tits with your guild?

We make fun of romance novelists but their organization seems capable of not pasting Fabio’s ass on the cover. Meanwhile, Truesdale is fighting for your right to have a badly painted chain-mail bikini Red Sonja wannabe.

John Scalzi: Join the Insect Army

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on, during the recent unpleasantness.

Heh heh heh.

I realize, of course, that the person who wrote the comment above meant “insect” as an insult. But what do we know about insects? They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as a class, and, when they put their mind to it, absolutely unstoppable. No wonder this person seems absolutely terrified.

N.K. Jemisen: Pretty much the only comment I’ll make here on the current SFWA shenanigans

But context matters. Ethics matter. The guy initiating this petition has an extensive history of filling some of the most visible parts of the SFFsphere with his misogyny, homophobia, and other choice bigotries. He often wraps these ideas in anti-political-correctness freedom-fighting MURRICA flag-waving, but when it comes down to it, that’s what this petition is pushing for — this guy’s right to be a bigoted asshole, essentially unchallenged, in SFWA publications. Ditto a few other (mostly older, white, straight) guys’ right to do the same; this freedom to spout hate and fear and contempt for whole swaths of people is a privilege they once gleefully embraced, and they’re mad because it’s not the norm of professionalism anymore. They want it re-normalized. And by standing up not for artistic expression, but for the violent, exclusionary rhetoric that has made SFFdom such a hostile environment for many non-male non-straight non-white people, every signatory on that petition has basically laughed at the First Amendment. This has squat to do with freedom of expression. It’s about making sure the old (sorry, “The Old”) white guys get to talk how they want about the “furry pussies” and the “savages” and the “metrosexuals”, while making sure the targets of their vitriol STFU, waste energy defending their right to exist unobjectified, or leave the profession. That’s basically the opposite of what the First Amendment is supposed to do.

And yeah, I get that part of the problem here is that some of the petition’s signatories feel marginalized. Yet somehow Truesdale had a column in F&SF for years, and somehow Malzberg and Resnick had the SFWA Bulletin as a platform for years. And somehow lots of these signatories are bestsellers or former SFWA officers or have earned the highest awards in our genre, as the petition so-helpfully emphasized.

But you don’t get to claim marginalization when you’re at the center of a thing. You can’t endorse the efforts of bigots to establish a safe space for their bigotry, and then plausibly claim you’re not one of them. You don’t get to pretend that you’re in the demographic minority when you’re… not.

ETA: Information Just Wants To Be Free Tumblr collects "the best of" the comments thread regarding the matter on the SFWA listserv. (That Awkward Moment When Everyone Remembers This Is a Public List-serv totally deserves to be a meme.)
caitri: (books)
The official press release.

Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine, opens for Beta Testing of Phase 1 on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013.

Fifty+ Writers Sign On to provide genre-related content!

AMAZING STORIES are just one click away!TM

The Experimenter Publishing Company is pleased to announce the reintroduction of the world’s most recognizable science fiction magazine – AMAZING STORIES!

Set to relaunch with a Beta Test of its new Social Magazine Platform, Amazing Stories will feature content from 50+ bloggers, covering an enormous array of subjects of interest to genre fans.

“We’ve got authors and agents, bloggers and editors, pod casters and broadcasters; we’ve got gamers and game designers; artists and art collectors; pulpsters and indie authors; we’ve got Hugo winners, John W. Campbell Memorial Award winners, John W. Campbell Best New Writer winners, Nebula and Hugo Award winners and nominees and winners and nominees of many other awards; people who review films, people who make films; we’ve got fanboys and fangirls; we’ve got former editors of Amazing Stories, writers who’ve become synonymous with the field and writers who are just getting started; comic artists, book reviewers; traditionally published authors, self-pubbed authors and authors who’ve done it all. The response to my request for participation was phenomenal – it couldn’t be more perfect if I had set out with a list of must-haves!” said Steve Davidson, publisher.

Amazing Stories’ Social Magazine platform is designed to create an interactive environment that will be familiar to fans with blog content designed to encourage discussion and take things beyond the usual user-generated content model for social networks.

The Amazing Stories Blog Team will cover (for now – more coming!) fourteen popular topics – Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, (lit), Film, Television, Gaming, Comics and Graphic Works, the Visual Arts, the Pulps, Audio Works, Anime, the Business of Publishing, Science and Fandom itself.

At this year’s Worldcon (Chicon 7 the 70th Worldcon, Chicago), Toastmaster John Scalzi talked about what it was to be a fan and concluded by saying

“We are diverse – and we are all in this together.”

We are diverse – and we are all in this together, a sentiment that captures the very heart and soul of what it means to be a fan. Amazing Stories aims to be a vehicle through which the diversity of fandom can come together.

Amazing Stories’ relaunch will take place in two phases. Those interested in participating in the Beta Test of Phase 1 should contact the publisher at Participants will receive full access to the site with Member status and will receive on-site benefits as the project moves forward.

Phase 2 will introduce additional interactivity and user-customization to the site. Following the completion and testing of Phase 2, the magazine, featuring both new and reprint fiction, essays, photo galleries, reviews and more will begin publication. Readers who are interested in what the magazine will look like can read two Relaunch Prelaunch issues on line, or download them from the Amazing Stories store. (Additional Amazing Stories themed product is also available here.)

Experimenter Publishing is pleased to introduce the Amazing Stories Blog Team:

Cenobyte, Mike Brotherton, Ricky L. Brown, Michael A Burstein, Catherine Coker, Johne Cook, Paul Cook, Gary Dalkin, Jane Frank,

Jim Freund, Adam Gaffen, Chris Garcia, Chris Gerwel, Tommy Hancock, Liz Henderson, Samantha Henry, M. D. Jackson, Monique Jacob,

Geoffrey James, J. J. Jones, Peggy Kolm, Justin Landon, Andrew Liptak, Melissa Lowery, Barry Malzberg, C. E. Martin, Farrell J. McGovern,

Steve Miller, Matt Mitrovich, Aidan Moher, Kevin Murray, Ken Neth, Astrid Nielsch, D. Nicklin-Dunbar, John Purcell, James Rogers,

Diane Severson, Douglas Smith, Lesley Smith, Bill Spangler, Duane Spurlock, Michael J. Sullivan, G. W. Thomas, Erin Underwood,

Stephan Van Velzen, Cynthia Ward, Michael Webb, Keith West, John M. Whalen, Ann Wilkes, Karlo Yeager, Leah Zeldez


Originally published in 1926 by the father of science fiction, Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories helped to launch both the science fiction genre and its most enduring feature, science fiction fandom. The magazine is well known for its Frank R. Paul covers and for publishing the first stories by many iconic authors such as Isaac Asimov, Jack Williamson and Ursula Le Guin. Published continuously from 1926 until 1995, followed by two brief resurrections from 1998 till 2000 and again from 2004 thru 2005. In 2008 Hasbro, the then current owner, allowed the trademarks to lapse and publisher Steve Davidson applied for and eventually received them in 2011.

Additional history and background on Amazing Stories can be found at the Science Fiction Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. A complete gallery of all 609 previous issues with publication history is also available.

The Experimenter Publishing Company was created in 2012 for the purpose of returning Amazing Stories magazine to regular publication. The company shares the name of the original magazine’s publisher as homage. The trademarks for Amazing Stories were acquired by Steve Davidson in 2011, the previous owners having allowed the marks to lapse in 2008, at which time application was made for a new incarnation of the same title.


For more information regarding Amazing Stories, the Blog Team and the Beta Test of the new site, please contact Steve Davidson via email at

To contact one of the Blog Team:


Mike Brotherton

Ricky L Brown

Michael A Burstein – ,

Cait Coker

Johne Cook

Paul Cook

Gary Dalkin

Jane Frank

Jim Freund

Adam Gaffen

Chris Garcia

Chris Gerwel

Tommy Hancock ,

Liz Henderson , ,

Samantha Henry

M. D. Jackson

Monique Jacob

Geoffrey James ,

J. Jay Jones

Peggy Kolm

Justin Landon

Andrew Liptak

Meilissa Lowery , ,

Barry Malzberg

C. E. Martin ,

Farrell J. McGovern

Steve Miller ,

Matt Mitrovich

Aidan Moher

Kevin Murray ,

Ken Neth

Astrid Nielsch , , , ,

D. Nicklin-Dunbar

John Purcell

James Rogers

Diane Severson , ,

Douglas Smith

Lesley Smith

Bill Spangler

Duane Spurlock , ,

Michael J. Sullivan

G. W. Thomas

Erin Underwood

Stephan Van Velzen

Cynthia Ward – ,

Michael Webb

Keith West ,

John M Whalen

Ann Wilkes

Karlo Yeager

Leah Zeldes , ,



ME: I might have a ...problem. Saying yes to things. Doing things.... >_>
HAL: Yeah, I know what your problem is. You're INSANE.
ME: <_<
caitri: (Default)
1. Go here.

2. Donate $5 or more, or less, to fight Lupus.

3. Download Clash of the Geeks, with stories by Wil Wheaton, Patrick Rothfuss, Catherynne M. Valente, and more.


caitri: (academia)
Sooo I just got my first box with my name on it as the Scifi Curator at work.

And it hit me: I'm the Scifi Girl now.


I mean, I'm looking at the bookcases filled with stuff Hal passed to me, and I have a load of boxes of stuff to process and file away and I have a student working on sleeving pulps right now, and I got a call from a guy asking about a donation yesterday and my boss is talking to me about finding "jewels" and manuscripts for the collection, and--yeah.

(At the risk of sounding like Keanu:) Whoa.


Going to meet with my mentor next week to talk about going up for tenure and pursuing the phd. I've been contemplating working on a phd for a while and if I take two classes at a time I could get it out of the way in five years, -ish, and could probably recycle term papers for articles at the same time. In my subfield the extra credential is really nice, so we'll see.
caitri: (Default)
Since this whole summer has been absolutely NUTS, I'm using today as a vacation day. Considering I stayed up until 2 last night writing, it is off to a promising start. Hopefully I can get some serious fic-writing done. *she said as she held onto her coffee cup, blinking*

Anyhow. I was checking my mail and came across this via the SFRA listserv:

IDEK but the song is catchy.

Anyone know if Ray has the Internet? Cos my day perked up imagining his WTF reaction.
caitri: (Default)
Me: Hey! Martha Wells blogged about the exhibit! And she put the Star Trek case first!

Andrew: Oh that's beautiful. I think I'm getting a stiffie just looking at it.

Cait: Pause. HOWL with laughter for ages.
caitri: (Default)
I'm still on an adrenaline/caffeine/sugar/ye gad high, so I thought I'd immortalize today in song.

FILK song, that is.

So I present to you:

The Twelve Days of the SciFi Exhibit.

(Share at will.)

On the first day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the second day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
two Grand Masters signing!
And a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the third day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
three SF mix CDs!
Two Grand Masters signing
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the fourth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
Four exhibit catalogs!
Three SF mix CDs,
two Grand Masters signing
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the fifth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
five costumed staff!
Four exhibit catalogs,
three SF mix CDs,
two Grand Masters signing
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the sixth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
six typed letters signed!
Five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three SF mix CDs,
two Grand Masters signing
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the seventh day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
seven Klingonese dictionaries!
Six TLSes,
five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three SF mix CDs,
two Grand Masters signing
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the eighth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
eight babbling toasts!
Seven Klingon dictionaries,
six TLSes,
five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three SF mix CDs,
two Grand Masters signing
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the ninth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
nine white mochas!
Eight babbling toasts,
seven Klingon dictionaries,
six TLSes,
five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three mix CDs,
two SF Grand Masters,
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the tenth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
ten exhibit panels!
Nine white mochas,
eight babbling toasts,
seven Klingon dictionaries,
six TLSes,
five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three mix CDs,
two SF Grand Masters,
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the eleventh day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
eleven Cepheids whooping!
Ten exhibit panels,
nine white mochas,
eight babbling toasts,
seven Klingon dictionaries,
six TLSes,
five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three mix CDs,
two SF Grand Masters,
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!

On the twelfth day of the SF exhibit my curator gave to me
twelve letterpress calling cards printing,
eleven Cepheids whooping,
ten exhibit panels,
nine white mochas,
eight babbling toasts,
seven Klingon dictionaries,
six TLSes,
five costumed staff,
four exhibit catalogs,
three mix CDs,
two SF Grand Masters,
and a pair of Spock ears for the Dean!
caitri: (Default)
Exhibit opened. 130+ people attended. Michael Moorcock, James Gunn, Elizabeth Moon, and Martha Wells are all incredibly nice interesting people.

Gratuitous pictures (more to come next week undoubtedly):

Professor Victor Frankenstein, the Professor's Assistant, Nell of the Diamond Age, (Genderswap!)Wash, Princess Mononoke, and (Young!) Wolverine.

In other words, Todd, Julie, me, Cassie, Jenni, Lyndsey, and Michael R.

I work with the coolest people in the known universe.
caitri: (Default)
This was our conversation as we left the theater a little while ago:

Scott: That was an awesome movie! But why did they set it in South Africa?
Me: Um, because it was a South African film about frikkin' apartheid???
Scott: ...Ohhhh.

That's my llama. Seriously though, THIS is why I love science fiction. Because you can have fucked up racist people doing the wrong thing every damn time. Because some times, just some times, people start to realize that everything is fucked up, and they do the right thing almost despite themselves. And the only way you can ever say that properly is, frankly, using bugs and UFOs.

So go see this film. But maybe see it before Ponyo, because you'll need an upper after.
caitri: (Default)
So Browncoat Ball was pretty fun. There were maybe a hundred people at the whole event. Scott and I went to the programs on tai chi, filk circle, and fight choreography.

In fight choreography everyone got to pick up a wooden sword or hatchet and learn a set of basic moves. The instructors were really awesome guys and were very good with everyone, which was amazing as they had everyone there from people who just wanted to have fun but were pretty nervous (like me) about hitting other people to the people who just wanted to "win"--even when there was nothing to win. They apparently train actors for local theater and choreograph fight sequences for plays and the like, so they really knew what they were doing.

My favorite event was the filk circle with the Bedlam Bards. A few people also brought instruments and everyone got to sing.

At the actual shindig it was interesting to see who went western versus eastern. Interestingly most people went with Western, even though most attendees weren't local. Everyone really went all out and so many of the costumes were just dead-on Firefly outfits. We left early because we were bored--saris aren't really friendly to fast line dances which was what they were mostly doing, and Scott was bored because we didn't have anyone else to talk to.

One thing that did surprise me was how boring and uptight a lot of the attendees were. Which sounds mean, and I guess it is, but I've never been to a con where everyone was so serious about everything. There was a "heist" game where each table had to steal nick-nacks from other tables--it was sort of a role-play thing, with "Alliance officers" inspecting your papers and ocassionally confiscating "contraband" items. A number of people copped a 'tude about playing along--it was weird. Most Browncoats I've met were happy-go-lucky so I'm not certain what was going on there--I don't think seriousness is a symptom of the fandom in particular, in other words.

At any rate we largely enjoyed ourselves, and now we're back home and the furbabies are happy we're home.
caitri: (Default)
In celebration of Aggiecon, Cushing Library is offering limited Behind-the-Scenes tours of our Sci-Fi Collections! Tour times are:

2pm Friday
9:30am Saturday
10:30am Saturday

Please email me at or call 979-845-1951 (Cushing Library) to reserve your spot! This is a rare chance to see inside our stacks--these stacks are off limits to the general public!

We also have a temporary display of material in our collection in the Reading Room of Cushing Library. Two tables: four days! Come visit us while you can!


caitri: (Default)

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