All's Well

I've somehow managed to wear out the keyboard on my laptop. (My MacBook Pro is five years old, apparently.) Strangely, this has worked out to be a good thing. Now, I've got my laptop on a stand that's tall enough for me to actually sit up straight when I look at the screen and my wrists are at a good (lower) angle. So, I think I'll be working in a better position for me overall in the future. That's a good thing.

I've started watching Salem but I'm not sure how far I'll be able to go with it. I wasn't able to hang for long with the Black Death research I was doing before. I've been toying with a story idea, but I don't know. Some things are just too depressing even for me.


So... I've been listening to Dune...

I love audiobooks. I'm a slow reader, and I do a majority of my reading these days via audio books as a result. Anyway, I decided it was time to dust off Dune by Frank Herbert. It's been about ten years since I last reread it. I have some nostalgia around it, I admit. It's one of those books I reread along with Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451.

I came to SFF via Star Trek the television show when I was four or five. I had a reading disability. I hated reading as a result. So, I really didn't get into reading until I found a biography about Helen Keller. After that, I couldn't get enough, but most of what I liked was spooky stories. (Thank you, Saturday afternoon tv showing of the black and white version of War of the Worlds. Also? Dark Shadows.) Alfred Hitchcock's story collections, Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Ken Platt's Sinbad and Me, The Mystery of the Witch who Wouldn't[1] and every single book I could find written by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I went through a Dickens and Twain and other classics phase. There was Ray Bradbury thanks to my dad reading Something Wicked This Way Comes to me. Still, Bradbury wasn't the most welcoming entrance to SFF for a girl, but Madeleine L'Engle kicked open the SF door for me. I was in the fifth grade. (I was ten, I think.) The character, Dr. Kate Murry, blew my mind. WOMEN CAN BE SCIENTISTS! COOL! Not only that, WOMEN CAN BE SCIENTISTS AND MOTHERS! Thinking back, I can still feel what a postive shock that was. A whole new world appeared. So, in sixth grade, I discovered Dune.  I loved the Bene Gesserit right away. They were just so cool and powerful too. The Fremen were interesting in that they had women warriors. I liked that a lot and hadn't seen it much anywhere else. Paul wasn't too bad. It wasn't until the end that I got really offended. I didn't have anyone with whom to discuss my reaction. So, I never really unpacked it until much later. So it was that I walked away with, "The first part of that book is really cool. The end sucks."

I still feel that way.

However, this time, I've come away with a few more thoughts. First, what's with Princess Irulan? It's like her entire existance is nothing but slavish worship of Paul Atreides. When I first encountered her at age 12 I thought of her as an historian. I listen to her now and...did she ever do anything else in her life besides think of Paul and worry about her father killing her and her mother?[2] I started feeling sorry for her. Her relationship with her father was...interesting, but she had no life as far as I could tell. Not that I could blame her, given her relationship with her father. Her mother? A non-entity. This in spite of the fact that Irulan spend all of her time with her--well all of it that she wasn't spending focused on her dad or Paul. The fact that she marries him in an arranged marriage and is cast just heartbreaking.

Oh, Dune is a Fantasy, y'all.[3] There's magic. What Paul does? Magic. What the Bene Gesserit do? Magic. Seriously. Magic AND tech. I can't tell you how many times I was instructed not to mix those two when I was first writing. I never really understood why that's a thing. My suspicion is that most SF fans are atheist and want no part of religion/mythological thinking in their SF. Now, how Dune got past all that hate, I'll never know. Outer space? Rockets? A flimsy explanation regarding mind-expanding drugs?

And then there's the Messiah obsession. Paul is that most dreaded of all point of view characters, the Special Snowflake(tm). Holy crap the God Complex is mighty with that one. The entire universe bends around that guy. Everyone who meets him wants to help him, or they want to kill him. There is no one who doesn't give a crap. Everyone's lives are wrapped up in what he does or doesn't do. Everyone's.

Still, I love this stupid book. I'm not sure I would if I read it for the first time now. However, the best thing I got out of this reading? The All Mighty Kwisatz Haderach is gender queer. Herbert was so caught up in the illusion of gender binary that I'm not sure he understood where he was actually going with that. This time around, I kind of love the concept of Kwisatz Haderach for once. It makes me grin.

I'm still grinning.
[1] My first experience of 'learning real things via fiction.' The main character is the son of an architect and I learned all sorts of things about buildings that I never knew before.
[2] I've never ventured past the first half of the second book in the original series and have no interest in going on. I read the first three of the continued 'backstory' series and well...all of the vast swaths of "We assume you haven't read any other Dune book ever and therefore, prepare yourself for an info dump. Oh, and we're sure you skipped that info dump and/or you are brain dead. Have the exact same information again. And again...and..."
[3] And this is why SF and F are overlapping. They've always been tightly fit together. They're literary fraternal twins. They use their own special language to communicate.


Today, I've a post about Cold Iron over at Mary Robinette Kowal's My Favorite Bit. Comment, and you'll be entered in the give-away! And soon (tomorrow) there'll be a post over at Supernatural Underground. And yesterday, I put in 800 words on a new SF story. (I'm almost afraid to say anything about it lest the idea train grind to a halt. SF intimidates me so much it's stupid.) So, yes, I've been busy. That's a good thing.

Dane's birthday weekend was a good one. We ate good seafood, played video games, watched What We Do in the Shadows (which was very funny), went to an actual theater and saw Man From UNCLE (which I enjoyed,) drank some cider, and played video games.

One of the games we started playing was...Costume Quest 2. It's just as silly and cute as the first one. Yay! Also, I'm listening to the audiobook version of Dune and it's surprizing to me to discover that it had an influence on Cold Iron. I like that.

Feminist Monday

Welcome to your weekly dose of rage--or not. :) I've an idea burning in the back of my brain that I want to work on today. So, let's get to it, shall we?

Today's video. I admit, I've a thing for dying languages, and she's got a gorgeous voice.

Literary/Entertainment: Foz Meadows comments on the Hugo results in Hugos & Puppies-Peeling the Onion. In addition, Jim Hines said something about how the Puppies with a few exceptions were fans too and how it's not best to frame the matter in a "SF Fans vs the Puppies" manner for that reason. I think he has a point there. For the record, I don't see them as outside fandom and never did. That was why I was so nervous about what was going to happen. Anyway, Foz has some great things to say about the whole thing. [O]ne of the reasons Chan didn’t pursue an acting career previously was because “growing up, I never saw any Asian faces on TV, so it didn’t feel like a viable option”. And this is why representation matters. We need to stop thinking about representation as a zero-sum game. That's just ye old colonialism rearing its head.[1] What inclusion really means is that we get more of the best talent out there. In creative circles, this is a sign of a healthy, flurishing community of artists. In publishing, everyone wants to produce the good stuff. Just because one person succeeds does not mean that another will fail. The two are unrelated. There aren't only three slots available for which all writers compete. That's bullshit. We aren't in competition. So, cut the crap. Grow up, and grow out of imaginary scarcity. Gwenda Bond takes on Franzen. Linda Nagata talks about the issues around publishing while female. The commentary. [sigh] Writing with Color is a great resource for writers. White critics and rap fans love ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ but they’re missing half the story. The Vaudeville Actress Who Refused To Be A Stereotype. Which of Amanda Seyfried's Male Co-Stars Was Paid 10 Times More Than She Was? SF Women of the 20th Century: Introduction.

General: The 4 Biggest Myths About Transgender Kids Used To Justify Denying Them Health Care. Bring back the abortion underground railroad. Police Group Makes A Big Admission About 'Justifiable' Police Shootings. Only assholes question the identity of others. Get ready to feel gross, 'cause somebody made a supercut of all the casual sexism on Fox News. In truth, I could only get through to the 1/3 point. Planned Parenthood Means Fewer Abortions. Yes. That moment when it becomes obvious that the far right's issue is not about decreasing abortions. It's about controlling women and others who have female reproductive organs. Undocumented Immigrant Bravely Calls Out His Racist Employer, Donald Trump. YOUNG, BLACK AND VICTORIAN: WONDERFUL PHOTOGRAPHS OF VICTORIAN WOMEN OF COLOR. You Can’t “Single Mom It” If You’re Not A Single Mom. I’m Latino. I’m Hispanic. And they’re different, so I drew a comic to explain. These are the Army’s first female Ranger School graduates. For The First Time, Women Will Graduate From Army's Rigorous Ranger School. Kick. Ass. Republicans have developed six new incredibly sadistic techniques for torturing the poor. Is There Any Right Way to Reject a Guy? [Updated] Holy crap. THAT. I can't tell you how scary it is to reject men. I can't tell you how many times I resorted to "I've a boyfriend." when I didn't--this in spite of resenting the fact that it's sexist. But a simple "No, thank you." is never enough. There always have to be REASONS. And you know what? Often, "I've a boyfriend." wasn't enough. At least fifty percent of the time it resulted in "He doesn't have to know." as if "Hi, I'm a slimeball who not only doesn't listen to women/respect women but cheats and lies." was such a selling point. [rolls eyes] The fact that that poor woman has had to go through all that crap... just... arrrgh. What You're Really Asking a Woman When You Ask Why She Doesn't Have Kids. AND STILL WE RISE Race, Culture and Visual Conversations. 15 Men React To The Idea Of Taking Their Wife’s Last Name After Marriage. NYC Police Officers Win Big in Pregnancy Discrimination Case. Bertha Benz-How the World's First Car Theft Jump-Started the Auto Industry.

Trigger Warning: The Tory rape exception for tax credits is worse than you thought. Keep Calm, I’m A Rapist – Ranting Against The Ripper Museum Culture.

[1] Click that link. REALLY. It's great.

Well, That Just Happened

A well-deserved congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Hugo Awards. Seriously. Good on G.Willow Wilson, Wes Chu, Cixin Liu/Ken Liu-translator, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, the TV show Orphan Black, and Lightspeed Magazine. Every one of you worked very hard and it's paid off. May you go forth and create even more wonderful works. This is, in spite of a hard push from conservative extremists, a diverse group of winners. In fact, I suspect that's the first time a translated work actually won a Hugo. That's terrific news.

Another first happened as well. And I can't help it. Not to make light of those that died in the real disaster...well...this video seems too appropriate today.

In case you're not involved in the SFF writer scene, the extremists (the Puppies) didn't fair well. In fact, in the catagories they managed to cheat into making all Puppies...No Award won out. That means FIVE No Awards won the popular vote over any catagory with only puppy candidates. FIVE. In seventy-four years of the Hugo, only five No Awards have been granted. In one night, that was doubled. Of course, the puppies are spinning the result to say they've been proven right. The pagan cabal is in force. Woe be to "Right-thinking Christians" everywhere...blah, blah, blah. But we knew that would happen. Last night's result was less about proving to them that they are wrong and more about proving to ourselves that SFF can be more inclusive. That real, substantive change can happen. That SFF isn't as backward as some few would like to believe.

This whole situation bothered me more than I'd like to admit. Frankly, I was frightened. Any result, short of this one, pretty much meant that (as a woman who is also an author) I should give up trying to continue my career under my real name. Now, I feel there's actual hope. I have to admit, I cried, I was so relieved. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be a member of other minority groups as well.

Anyway, this never meant that conservative works can't be worthy of awards--even if the Puppies will attempt to spin it that way. Any actual liberal will tell you that opposing view points are important to include in any discussion for the health of the discussion--or in this case, for the sake of creativity. What this means is, Fandom doesn't appreciate being gamed. Ultimately, I've always thought it odd that anyone who claims to be One Of The Good Folks thinks for an instant that Any Means To An End is okay. Frankly, the instant you go there? You've lost.

Hello Friday!

Dane's birthday is this weekend. Yay! (All the more reason for me to not be at a convention.[1]) So, this weekend will be about seeing Man From Uncle and playing with the new XBOX One which we'll be getting on Sunday. Hopefully, Rocksmith 2014 will still work. [crosses fingers] Dane has been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. I haven't. I kind of got overwhelmed by the controls and well, I'm not a fan of the character design animation. I'm happy to see all the women characters, though. (They even have clothes! How about that?!) That's cool. That alone may suck me in but...not yet.

I finished The Martian. There are things I liked and things I didn't like. (Zilch character development, but not every novel has to be character driven.) Not that my opinion ultimately matters, I thought it was...okay. It was well-crafted overall, and I loved the ending. The nattering on about the math and science geek stuff got overwhelming for me--to the point that I got bored[2]. And at the very start I didn't understand why he didn't just spell something out with rocks. Hey, he knows there are satellites whizzing overhead and taking photos, right? Why didn't he think of that sooner?[3] (I'm not a science genius and I thought of that right away.) Also? Weather. Clearly weather is a thing. Why didn't he wonder about that more when he was away from the habitat. Hell, *I* would've and was.[4] Nonetheless, I get why they want to make a movie out of the novel. It's clever. Hurray clever! It'll be a good movie. Matt Damen is a perfect match for the main character's voice.[5]

I haven't made up my mind as to which audiobook I'll move to next.
[1] It seems like I'm always at a con on his birthday or on our wedding anniversary or both. [sigh]
[2] Sorry. This is why I don't read hard SF.
[3] I've seen too much Guilligan's Island. Speaking of, if he's watching 70s tv, why wasn't that mentioned at all? Sure. He could say, "Yeah. Too depressing." and move on, but still... and I hated Dukes of Hazzard, and this is coming from a muscle car freak. I kind of have to call disbelief on a woman liking it enough to take that sexist, racist shit to Mars with her.
[4] Also, not so much with the passing the Bechdel Test. Again, not that it's a judgement re: whether or not it's good...just whether or not it's a dude film. Dude film.
[5] Which may also have been why I didn't totally groove on it.