Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2016, pt. 6: Nisi Shawl

Pleasures 2016
by Nisi Shawl

Pleasures and 2016 go together like change and smugness. That is, they don’t. Certainly I can’t be the only one shocked and disappointed by the deaths and other losses this past year has entailed. And yet…

Shivering beneath the heavy blankets I crawled under the night of November 9, I retreated from the digital world that had busied me lately to shield myself from reality with the printed word. As I’ve noted in previous posts, reading is in part something I do for a living; listening is something I do while writing, in aid and support thereof. Nothing makes me less likely to do something than making it compulsory. So, of course, despite a girlhood of literally walking around with my nose literally in a book, I had recently fallen behind in my required reading.

That night and since, I’ve regained my ground. I’ve read the books I had to, those I was obligated to review. I won’t go into details about them all here, because mostly they’re covered elsewhere: Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day in my new column at, Kiini Ibura Salaam’s collection When the World Wounds with Robert Charles Wilson’s Last Year and Alison Littlewood’s The Hidden Folk in the second installment of my new columnn at Seattle Review of Books.

And so on. My book discussion group will meet in January to talk about Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh, a 1980s space opera that says interesting things concerning gender essentialism. I read it last week, and I just finished the third of its three sequels early this morning.

I’m on a roll.

Call my reading escapism if you want to. Go ahead. I won’t censor you.

Years ago I used to argue with a nihilistic white lover that if voting didn’t matter, the authorities wouldn’t have tried so hard to keep black people from doing it. Well, hey. Got my tenses wrong.

I think reading matters. And I think sharing our thoughts about what we read matters even more. Let’s see how much of that we can do before it’s somehow, for some weird reason, suppressed.

 Nisi Shawl is the author of  Filter House, which won the James Tiptree Jr. Award and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award, Something More and More, her WisCon GoH collection, and, with Cynthia Ward, the co-author of the celebrated Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, and the editor of The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 5: Writing and Racial Identity, all of which are published by Aqueduct Press. Aqueduct Press has also published Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler, which Nisi co-edited with Rebecca Holden. This fall Tor released her brilliant alternate history/steampunk novel, Everfair. She is also the editor of the widely and wildly acclaimed anthology, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany.  She reviews science fiction for the Seattle Times and writes columns for and The Seattle Review of Books, is a member of the Clarion West board, teaches writing workshops at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA., and is the reviews editor of The Cascadia Subduction Zone.

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