So... My First Day of Holiday

Last night, I ate oysters for the first time ever. You know what? I liked them! Of course, I also had salmon--because I love salmon and this is Seattle. We also had some very nice red wine. I've come to the conclusion that if it's a decent red, I'm probably going to like it. It certainly likes me. ;)

Today's partner in crime--er Adventure was Liz Argall. (If you're unfamiliar with her work, you should definitely look her up. She's an amazing writer.) We went for a walk around her new neighborhood, ate lunch in an Italian sandwich place (which was amazing,) shopped in a small bookstore[1], and drank the best hard cider ever brewed in the U.S.A. while writing in front of a fire. That was my day, bats and ghouls. Seattle is one of those places for which I have an affinity. The trees, the seafood, the boats, the water, the mountains... it has everything I love, including the moss. It also has coffee (OMG coffee) all these little bookshops too--NEW books bookshops. I'm in Heaven the whole time I'm here, every time. Best city. Best. [sigh] And it's so gorgeous too.

Oh, before taking off this morning, I bought a couple of issues of the new Ms. Marvel and read the first one. Wow. I think I've just been sucked back into buying comics again. I haven't felt this way about a comic since Sandman. Sooo good. Sooo good.

That said, I'm loving my iPad+keyboard setup. Seriously. Liz happened to casually suggest that we might write, and I was all ready to go. Just reached into my purse, and I had earbuds for music, internet for research, and a wordprocessor. Poof! Best thing ever. I got in 600+ words today without even trying hard. Love that. Really. Oh, I figured out the problem I was having with my keyboard. It was something simple. (I need to turn off the keyboard part every time I log out.) So, haunted keyboard is no longer haunted. Best money I ever spent.

This Saturday, I'll be indulging in my first experience with RollerDerby. Liz says there's a Harry Potter-themed match. It sounds like terrific fun. I can't wait. Now I have to call my husband. He misses my voice. This works out well because I miss his. ;)
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[1] I finally bought a copy of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I've been wanting to read that forever.
Norwescon was pretty amazing--in case you hadn't noticed. One of the things that is following me home is a gift from Rosie over at MakeMeASammich.org. Isn't it cool?



Thanks, Rosie! And thanks again for all your hard work. Like I said, I can only handle doing this one day a week. (Rosie does this 24/7. That takes a lot of guts, patience, intelligence, wisdom, and controlled righteous anger. Go you, my dear. Go you.) If you've not visited her website the last few times I've linked to it, you should go over there and take a tour. Great work going on over there like this blog post about rape culture.

So, I don't have the usual collection of links today. I know. I know. But I was working all weekend at Norwescon and... well... I suck at the internet while participating in intense life experiences. And that was an intense life experience. There were some incredible panels (and panelists) for example, I got to meet G. Willow Wilson (who wrote Alif the Unseen, a book that has long been on my ToRead Mountain.[1]) Willow is an amazing person. Just check out her thoughtful essay: "In Defense (Sort Of) Of Randa Jarrar" (scroll down.) It's a great discussion about cultural appropriation versus mutual cultural... inter-sharing (I guess that's a good phrase for what I mean.) Isolationism is every much a problem as cultural appropriation. By the way, The Religion in SF/F panel[2] was brilliant. It had so much potential to go wrong and bad, but totally didn't. Every person on that panel--including the moderator (Hi, Lillian!) totally rocked. Speaking of panel discussions--and ones that were far more appropriate for today... I was on a panel titled The Heroine's Journey. What I found interesting is that we had a hard time determining what the Heroine's Journey is. (And no, it isn't just The Hero's Journey with the genders flipped.) I walked away with the idea that it might have to do with discovering one's power and learning how to keep it while contributing to the well-being of and being a part of community. What are your thoughts?

Oh, by the way, I'm still in Seattle. So, the time zone thing. Yeah. Blog posts will go up later than usual. :)
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[1] She's also up for a Philip K. Dick Award this year! (Congrats!) And you know she's behind the new Ms. Marvel, right? RIGHT?!
[2] Where we met.

Happy Bunny Day!

A Happy Easter to those who celebrate. (And Happy Sunday to those that don't.) Norwescon was amazingly amazing again--like it always is. The panels were fantastic. (I even sat on a couple that I wasn't scheduled for.) So many wonderful people and conversations and good times... alas some of it is kind of blurring together. Kat Richerson and I roomed together and had a blast. (I love having a roommate. It brings a slumber party air to the whole thing.) We yammered until 3-4am every night. This is why my brains are a bit fried. I didn't hang out with all the people I wanted to see, but that happens every time. A least I got to see a few folks and met many new ones. G. Willow Wilson was fantastic--so very fantastic. It was like meeting an old friend. I could easily see us getting up to no good, fast. So, I suppose it's a good thing I missed her the rest of the convention. The panels were so great. Sooooo great. I learned a lot. The only times the panels felt a bit off were when there weren't enough people on them. It makes it harder to keep the conversation rolling. And I felt my reading could've gone better... but I was jet-lagged in a big way, and I haven't practiced that piece much yet.

The plan is to hang around Seattle until May 1st. I want to see Liz Argal, maybe hang out with Alex in Portland, see Fawn+1 and Pat, and Shelly Rae Clift, and... and... I love Seattle. So many incredible people. I want to go for long walks too. The trees, ocean, and mountains are inspiring. Just... yayayayay!

Hugs out to everyone. I'm going to nap now. Brain has stopped braining, I suspect. 

Hugo Nominations

So, the Hugo and Campbell nominations went out today. A Huge CONGRATUALATIONS hug to all the nominees. Becase DAYUM. Check it out. Here's the list:

BEST NOVEL (1595 ballots)
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

BEST NOVELLA (847 ballots)
The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
“The Chaplain's Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE (728 ballots)
“The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
“Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
“The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)

BEST SHORT STORY (865 ballots)
“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
Note: category has 4 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.

BEST RELATED WORK (752 ballots)
Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
Writing Excuses Season 8 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

BEST GRAPHIC STORY (552 ballots)
Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
"The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who" written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
The Meathouse Man adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics )
“Time” by Randall Munroe (XKCD)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM) (995 ballots)
Frozen screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
Iron Man 3 screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
Pacific Rim screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (760 ballots)
An Adventure in Space and Time written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space / BBC America)
Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST EDITOR - SHORT FORM (656 ballots)
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR - LONG FORM (632 ballots)
Ginjer Buchanan
Sheila Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Lee Harris
Toni Weisskopf

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (624 ballots)
Galen Dara
Julie Dillon
Daniel Dos Santos
John Harris
John Picacio
Fiona Staples
Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST SEMIPROZINE (411 ballots)
Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin

BEST FANZINE (478 ballots)
The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J. Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris, and Helen J. Montgomery
Pornokitsch edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin

BEST FANCAST (396 ballots)
The Coode Street Podcast Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester
The Skiffy and Fanty Show Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, David Annandale, Mike Underwood, and Stina Leicht
Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman
Verity! Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
The Writer and the Critic Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
Note: category has 7 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST FAN WRITER (521 ballots)
Liz Bourke
Kameron Hurley
Foz Meadows
Abigail Nussbaum
Mark Oshiro

BEST FAN ARTIST (316 ballots)
Brad W. Foster
Mandie Manzano
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles
Sarah Webb

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (767 ballots)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).
Wesley Chu
Max Gladstone *
Ramez Naam *
Sofia Samatar *
Benjanun Sriduangkaew
*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

Congrats, everyone. Seriously. It's a big big honor to be on this list again. The Skiffy and Fanty crew (of which I'm a small part) is super amazing. They're so deserving of being on the nomination list. They all work very, very hard and they're lovely people. (Yes. Even Shaun. ;) )

Norwescon

So, I'm off for Seattle and Norwescon this weekend. I so look forward to this every year. It's one of the best conventions I've ever attended. (And very well organized too!) Anyway, expect my blog posts to be spotty for a bit. I'll try to keep on schedule, but I've a super busy schedule. Speaking of, here it is:

The Art of Critique
Thu 5:00pm-6:00pm Cascade 12
A writer must learn to critique both her own work and the work of peers. What makes a good critique? How do you critique yourself and how do you critique someone else?
Stina Leicht (M), Christopher Bodan, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Renee Stern

Reading: Stina Leicht
Thu 9:30pm-10:00pm Cascade 1
Cold Iron, a new novel. Rated PG
Stina Leicht

Faith in Speculative Fiction
Fri 2:00pm-3:00pm Cascade 10
Faith is an area that is often overlooked in world-building and character motivation for speculative fiction in spite of the impact that it has had and continues to have (for good and bad) in our world. How does faith affect the setting and formation of a fictional world? How has faith been used well (or badly) in our genres?
Lillian Cohen-Moore (M), Stina Leicht, Ken Scholes, Dean Wells, G. Willow Wilson

Anti-Heroes and Rogues
Fri 4:00pm-5:00pm Cascade 5
From Elric to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to the Gentleman Bastards - anti-heroes and rogues are everywhere. Our Writer GOH, Michael Moorcock, practically invented the anti-hero in fantasy and rogues have been around since the early days of the genre. But why do we love them? Do they fulfill some deep psychological need in us when we "aim to misbehave?" Let's talk about our favorites and muse about which ones show promise in current fantasy.
Myke Cole (M), Bradley P. Beaulieu, Lynn Flewelling, Stina Leicht

Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy
Sat 10:00am-11:00am Cascade 7&8
Epic fantasy is different - but why? What makes it epic? Is it the immersion in a new world, or just the sheer weight of the book? Come join us as we talk about this massive subgenre of fantasy and what makes it tick.
Bradley P. Beaulieu (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Stina Leicht, Janna Silverstein, Duane Wilkins

Defining Urban Fantasy
Sat 1:00pm-2:00pm Cascade 3&4
There are almost as many definitions of urban fantasy as there are readers. Is it simply a supernatural story in an urban setting? Does this mean the "mean streets" of urban fantasy are more metaphorical than actual? Is the fantastic in urban fantasy a part of the landscape, or can it just be an intrusion? The panel will look at different explanations, interpretations, and expectations that writers and readers bring to the genre.
Cat Rambo (M), Myke Cole, Stina Leicht, Kat Richardson, Duane Wilkins

Researching Your Fantasy
Sat 2:00pm-3:00pm Cascade 9
You're going to write a fantasy novel. You've come up with some characters; you've outlined your basic plot. Now what? How about research? The most important element of a fantasy novel is originality. How do you find out what's already out there? What familiar elements can you spin into the story to make the reader feel drawn in, and yet at the same time be fresh and exciting? Find out what to research and how to do it to make sure you're not treading well-worn ground.
Stina Leicht (M), Brent Kellmer, Kat Richardson

Autograph Session 2
Sat 3:00pm-4:00pm Grand 2
Our Attending Professionals are available to sign autographs. PLEASE NOTE: So that as many fans as possible can participate, we will be enforcing a three-items-at-a-time (or single-sketch) autograph limit.
S. A. Bolich, Clinton J. Boomer, Jason V Brock, Paul Byers, Rob Carlos, Anne Charnock, Myke Cole, Bruce R Cordell, Heather Dale, Lynn Flewelling, Diana Pharaoh Francis, M. Todd Gallowglas, Lex Lingo, Kay Kenyon, Jay Lake, Diana Copland, Stina Leicht, Morgue Anne, Amy Raby, Mark Rahner, Kat Richardson, Ken Scholes, Jack Skillingstead, GregRobin S

Hopefully, I'll see you there!

Celebrity Culture

I happened upon this recording of Jack Gleeson this morning. If you haven't watched/listened, it's well worth doing so.



I'm impressed that someone so young is able to step back from the celebrity circus machine and have a long hard thoughtful look at what is going on around him and to him. I've long been a fan of Vincent Price, but an ex-boyfriend of mine used to wonder about that. The ex claimed that actors whose careers are based upon playing evil characters were themselves evil. He was attempting to draw parallels between roleplaying (in games) and acting. Sure. In a RPG, people who habitually play evil characters aren't people I tend to want to hang out with. But when it comes to actors... I disagree with my ex. An actor's choice of roles in and of itself is no indication of who they are because they're being paid to play these roles. The choice isn't 100% theirs. Their choices depend upon the opportunities that are given to them in the first place. One works with what is on offer. Even among mundane jobs this is the case. (A majority of people don't work at anything like their dream job.) I can't imagine, after playing a role like Joffrey Baratheon that it would be easy to step into a broad variety of roles. I imagine what he'd be offered would be despicable character after despicable character because he did play that one so well. I can imagine that takes its toll after a while--particularly if that isn't all of who you are. It's hard to break free of that stigma. It's only wise to step back from it. Vincent Price was known to be a good, kind, intelligent, creative person with a wonderful sense of humor. Most of the roles he played weren't that at all. And I guess that's why I adore coming across people like Vincent Price and Jack Gleeson. It's a reminder that we're all human. That we're not always what we seem on the surface. I like seeing that, particularly in celebrities.

Also, the things Gleeson says about modern celebrity make sense to me. I wonder at our obsession with fame for fame's sake.[1] I hate it when people talk about an author's "Brand" as if who you are is some sort of commodity to be bought and sold. That isn't a healthy way to be. Our work is separate from who we are and should be. Creative works are a part of those who created them, but they aren't who they are in their entirety. Writers don't write characters whose points of view are 100% the same as their own. Creating characters isn't aspirational. To do so on a regular basis is considered lazy writing. It's boring reading and boring writing. The point is to try on different points of view and see the world through different sets of eyes. That way, we create a better understanding of what it is to be human beings. Honestly, I feel the same about acting.

Anyway, I hear Mr. Gleeson isn't planning on staying within the acting profession--at least for now. (He's young, and he's got his whole life ahead of him.) He's breaking away from Joffrey and is off to do Good Things. I say, more power to him.
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[1] And I can't help thinking about Andy Warhol's claim that everyone will have at least 15 minutes of fame--something he predicted long before there was this thing called the internet--and what that really means.

Feminist Monday is as Loud as Thunder

The storms we were expecting on Sunday arrived this morning along with the cold front. So, it's 44F this morning. That's damned odd for Texas in mid-April. I'm not complaining. This is my favorite kind of weather, and everything is so wonderfully green. Plus, my garden is busting along with little to no effort on my part. We're getting all the rain we've been missing for the past couple of years--maybe even over the past ten. Of course, the rest of Texas is not in as good a place--north Texas in particular. Ah, climate change. I'm so not happy to see you. That said... today's links.

In entertainment/SF news: Under the Skin, An Interview with Jonathan Glazer is about a SF film in the works starring Scarlett Johansson. In order to shoot it, Scarlett bravely goes into situations with a fleet of hidden cameras/cameramen and the unsuspecting are filmed. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Frankly, I'm more than a little uncomfortable. First, here we have another stupid premise about a super sexy female Alien whose entire purpose for being on our planet is to have The Sex with Human Males. Because, you know, that would be the only reason a female alien would show up on this planet. Because her own species isn't hot enough for her. Or something. [rolls eyes] Um. Guys? Really? How is that even taken seriously as a story outside of Cinemax Late Night? Gorgeous art depicting Disney Princesses. And here's some genderswap art. Author Juliet E. McKenna talks about Reviews, Reviewing, Reviewers, and Gender. From the article: "Of the nineteen authors featured in this [BSFA] issue, seventeen are men. There’s one non-fiction title by a woman writer discussed and one piece of fiction. That fiction review is not a positive one." This problem is real and continues. Stating you're aware of the problem and have fixes in the works is not enough. The fact of going out into the world with this type of skewed list contributes to the problem. Today we'll spotlight Women in Fantasy Illustration: Kristina Carroll because women who happen to also be writers aren't the only ones getting ignored. From Bitch Magazine--Don't Be a Dick: The Gender Dynamics of Marketing Comics. An important message from author Seanan McGuire. Why Sansa Stark Is the Strongest Character on 'Game of Thrones' That article has a lot of really great things to say about Sansa and GoT fandom in general. It is significant to note that "The elder Stark daughter is often cited as one of the most reviled characters on Game of Thrones, which is really saying something; this is the same show that brought us a king who ties up a prostitute and shoots her to death with a crossbow, so it's a bit odd that people are harping on a teenage girl for the crime of being "utterly useless and whiny." To be honest, I can't stand her in the books. Why? Because she's a fucking cliche and almost never acts outside those bounds. However, I love her on the series because I'm seeing her grow out of her immature romantic notions of chivalry and developing into someone (a morally good character, no less) who could eventually stand against Cersei Lannister at court. Frankly, that's something I'd LOVE TO WATCH. But that may be just me. I love political fantasy. (For the record, I still hate Dany.)

In general news: Meet The Three Female Medical Students Who Destroyed Gender Norms A Century Ago (And guess what? They aren't American.) Because this needs to be re-posted: A Mighty Girl's list of biographies of important women in history. (Note: there are 13 pages of them.) Gender-flips are a simple and smart way to turn sexism on its head (It's solid Feminism 101, mind you, and not 100% foolproof.) Texas Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Trans Widow, In Defense of Twitter Feminism, Women's Contribution to Classical Islamic Civilisation: Science, Medicine and Politics--one of the things that annoys me is when Christians criticise Muslims for how they treat women. Um, hello? Christians don't exactly have a great track record either to this day. Neither Female Nor Male. As someone with friends who are having babies, I can totally see all the pressure there.
Yesterday, I saw the new Captain America.


Dear Marvel, I understand you're not perfect. I understand you don't always get everything right. I understand you're a comic book company that was born and bred in a sexist, nationalist, and even racist environment. But...

Marvel, I kind of love you a lot right now.

First, I am quite happy with the rewrite of Captain America. I know that in his original incarnation he was problematic at best, but in this film you've done an excellent job with a good guy knight/paladin-type character. I get that the concept is: Once upon a time Cap lived in a simplistic good vs. evil fictional world[1] and has been transitioning into a more morally ambiguous setting. (In reality, it's a transition of the story from a simplistic, even childish, old skool propaganda comic to a more adult intelligent, thoughtful version.) He's gained (or maybe the better way to express it is retained) his more human qualities. He's deeply loyal to his friends--even when they're in situations that change them utterly. I love that about him. He's generous and caring. He doesn't just stand up for "America, right or wrong!" He stands up for justice and real freedom--the genuinely messy kind--not the bullshit version the Republicans and Libertarians are selling these days. He doesn't stand for controlling-punishing authoritarianism because "Hey, it's too dangerous to have real freedom! People might make bad choices! We can't have that!" In short, Cap isn't a fascist even though it'd be super easy to write him that way. I like that. A lot. Plus, Nick Fury. OMG, Nick Fucking Fury. I love everything about Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Period. Seriously. He's a bad ass leader--not just a bad ass, and he doesn't suffer the fate of so many PoC comic book characters. Plus, now with Falcon being added to the line-up he isn't even the only PoC character.[2] All of this--the fact that at a certain point in the film we have an ensemble cast consisting of two black males, two females, and one white male... has that ever happened in a comics movie? And then there's Black Widow. OMG, Black Widow. Black Widow is (IMHO) everything Wonder Woman should be and never has been. Best of all? She has no romantic story. That's right. Exactly zero males are putting Black Widow in the romantic relationship box. Seriously. The only time she discusses relationships is when she's being a friend to Cap and pointing out how he has to move on with his life. I can't even begin to tell you how significant that is. She's competent. She's human. (She also is loyal to friends, even though her backstory would go against it.) She has a kind streak. She cares. She's independent. She has her own set of personal rules and lives by them. She isn't rescued any more than any male character would be. Her costumes are no tighter or more revealing than Cap's. She's an equal while retaining her femininity. That means the world to me. I can't wait to see that Black Widow movie. Can't. Wait. Go see this film. Give Marvel your money. It's well written and tight even though there's a lot going on. (Think 1970s spy story plus action film.) It would've been easy to let it unravel into a mess, but that didn't happen. It's a very good film--not just a great comic book movie. Hats off to you, Marvel. You win. DC? Eat shit.
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[1] That's bullshit, btw. I refuse to believe that those actually living through WWII experienced an easy 100% good vs 100% evil world, and that there were zero ethically complicated situations. In fact, I know better. We all do. Read anything having to do with how Japanese Americans and German Americans were treated during that time. My own family has stories. History gets edited. The morally complicated stuff gets erased. Whatever doesn't fit the established story gets hidden and fades away from memory.
[2] And I love Falcon too. Now, we need a few PoC females, a few LGBT characters and then we'll have a more representative fictional world and more importantly, a more interesting one.

The Good, the Bad, and the Fugly

By this point, I think it's pretty clear to anyone that reads this blog I like Good characters. That might sound strange coming from someone who writes how I write, but I do. On the other hand, I find Superman to be the most boring character on offer in all of comic-dom. As for Captain America, he disturbed me because of the whole nationalism angle. So, the other day I read In Defense of Supermen, and it reminded me of a few things. First, that certain current trends in entertainment actually have a great deal in common with trends in the 1970s. The anti-hero was totally a thing at that time. Nothing wrong with that. I do like anti-heroes sometimes. Who doesn't? I don't necessarily consider it a sign of immaturity to like anti-heroes as the author of that article suggests. (It may be if that's all you're into, mind you. Insert sermon #12 here about variety, and how it's important in story-telling.) However, I too question the American need for violence to be the answer to every possible literary conflict because that is a question we should be asking. Conflict doesn't necessarily have to equate to violence. You can have internal conflict, conversational conflict, conflict portrayed in humor... it can be very subtle. In fact, it takes a great deal more skill as a storyteller to portray just about every other form of conflict than it does to write about violence, and I suspect that's why violence is so heavily employed. It's a no-brainer. The other thing that came to mind was a pairing of the '70s anti-hero with the '80s Snarky Action Hero™. I've talked about that before. It's a disturbing combination, if that's the main of your story-diet.

I do like Good characters. (Hey, I admit it. There's a reason I dated a lot of Eagle Scouts.) The problem is, they're deceptively tough to write well in a stark, simplistic Good vs Evil setting, and I suspect that's the actual problem. When the setting is morally flat and unreal one goes elsewhere for that element of complication and depth--in this case, the characters themselves. Good characters require a complex backdrop to grant them dimension. They need grey-areas with which to struggle because that's the reality of being a good person. Being selfish, mean, judgemental, and vengeful is easy. Love, happiness, forgiveness, and humanity are not a simple choices when the world is as difficult and complex as it is.

Anyway, I get why the author of the article wrote what he did. I even agree with some of it, but I'm not sure we agree on the why.
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[1] Ah, Porter in Payback. Yeah, he's so an anti-paladin. Heh.

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys

FIRST: today at 11am Pacific Time, I'll be a guest on Juliette Wade's Google+ hangout. We'll be discussing worldbuilding. Since I've now handled worldbuilding within a real-world setting as well as a Fantasy world setting, I think it'll be interesting to talk about the differences between the two. Anyway, please drop by if you're so inclined. I anticipate a good time. I may even learn something. :)

Yesterday, was spent cleaning the office (it was to a point where I couldn't think in here) and working on the current short story project. With a little bit of struggle, I managed to come up with a convincing fictitious Austin nightclub name. It took turning off the computer and going to bed before I was able to overcome the "OMG! I can't do this!" fairy. But sometimes walking away is what it takes, you know? Am at the halfway point with the story. The funny thing is it definitely has its own soundtrack, and it's very '90s goth/punk. It makes sense. I'm using memories of Austin's Liberty Lunch, the Back Room, Ohm's, and Elysium--all were places I hung out in the '90s. Hopefully, that doesn't date the story out of relevance or something. It was a fun time for me. I was exploring and discovering things I'd never had a chance to do before--mainly music and subculture. There's something about finding the place (or group) with which one belongs. It's one of the reasons why Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower spoke to me so much.



Well, that, and the fact that me and my friends did actually call ourselves The Island of Misfit Toys. Largely, I wanted to capture that feeling and add some deep, dark danger. Because I am me and why wouldn't I? :) I'm liking it so far. But hey, I've hit the middle. It's time for the Insecurity Fairy to visit and tell me all about how I'm not a short story writer.