Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Expanding Our Idea of What Reason Is

Yesterday when President Obama announced Sonia Sotomayor as his choice for replacing Supreme Court Justice David Souter, I was glad, finally, to hear that he was doing something I could really get behind.**** Naturally, then, that choice immediately came in for a barrage of nasty, even hateful attacks. Today, feminist theorist Linda Martín Alcoff has a piece on Common Dreams, Sotomayor's Reasoning, that addresses criticism of the nominee's forthright declaration that gender and ethnicity "may and will make a difference in our judging." As Alcoff notes, "Such views are widely held, but not widely expressed or defended. The difference with Judge Sotomayor is simply that she has put the view out there." Alcoff, by the way, addresses criticisms from both the right and the left, noting that many on the left are confused about identity and see any open articulation of it as susceptible to rigid stereotypical spinning. "Meanwhile," she notes,

people on the street know better. They know that identity is a rough guide to experience, and that experience affects how we see things, what we notice, how we gauge the plausibility of a story, or the credibility of a speaker. It also affects what background understanding we have at our disposal, such as what life is like for children in diverse families, or among those who live paycheck to paycheck, or without paychecks. And it affects what baseline information we happen to know without having to do any research, such as knowledge about the sterilization abuse inflicted by the United States on Puerto Rican women or the history of treaty violations with American Indian tribes.

Reasoning involves judgment calls, not deductive logic. The judgment of relevance, coherence, and plausibility can be more or less rational, but they are never axiomatic.

Alcoff refers back to the inability of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear and understand Anita Hill's testimony during Clarence Thomas's confirmation hearing.

Judge Sotomayor has simply stated upfront what most of us know full well: identity affects experience, and experience makes a difference in our judgment. It is never absolute or foolproof: Clarence Thomas's own background did not lead him to the left, thus showing that no identities are flat or monochromatic. We each have to interpret on our own what our identities mean, and in what way our experience is, or is not, relevant to a given situation. Acknowledging the relevance of identity does not replace reason with politics; it simply expands our idea of what reason is, and makes it more reasonable.

Glenn Greenwald's Justice Samuel Alito on Empathy and Judging (originally appearing at, considers the double-standard Judge Sotomayor faces, in comparison with the reception given Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. His piece begins:

As is true for any Supreme Court nominee, there are many legitimate questions to raise about Sonia Sotomayor, but the smear attacks on her as some sort of "identity politics" poster child -- which are still being justified largely if not entirely by the Jeffrey Rosen/TNR gossipy hit piece on her -- are nothing short of disgusting. As Anonymous Liberal put it: "Apparently, the only way to avoid 'identity politics' is to pick white men for every job." Both Adam Serwer and Daniel Larison note the glaring, obvious hypocrisy in simultaneously insisting that "empathy" has no place in the law while protesting Sotomayor's decision in Ricci on the completely law-free ground that what happened to the white firefighters is so "unfair." And Matt Yglesias writes that he is "really truly deeply and personally pissed off my the tenor of a lot of the commentary on Sonia Sotomayor" and, in a separate post, notes the wildly different treatment between Sotomayor and Sam Alito despite very similar records.

Do check out both of these pieces.

PS I hope to be doing some WisCon reporting soon.

****ETA Looks like I spoke too soon. I really can't get behind anyone who isn't clearly going to be supporting abortion rights-- as it now appears may be the case with Sonia Sotomayor.*****

*****ETA Although I probably did speak too soon, it looks as though my misgivings on abortion rights are misplaced. See Nancy's comment below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I just got back from Wiscon, where I talked to people both about Mammothfail and The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

I think I'm in over my head on both topics and have deleted the two posts I wrote.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I've Hit the Ground Running

I may be operating on an hour and a half of sleep, but I'm in Madison and have delivered a stack of What Remains (the GoH book by Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman) to A Room of One's Own bookstore for this evening's reading and am feeling very happy to be here. Need I say that before I left the bookstore, I had assembled a stack of books of about comparable bulk that I just had to buy? & what a lift it gave me to find, as I browsed, all five volumes of the Marq'ssan on the shelf (taking up a hell of a lot of space in the science fiction section). Room, you see, is not just any bookstore. I fell in love with the place when I first discovered it in 1996. And so I get a thrill, finding my work stocked there.

I began bumping into WisCon people long before reaching the hotel, of course. The gate in the Minneapolis airport for the early afternoon flight to Madison fairly teemed with familiar folks, including Cynthia Gonsalves (who was fascinated to see the new volume of the WisCon Chronicles, which I'd been reading on the plane) and Bill Humphries. And on arrival in Madison, I discovered that Eileen Gunn and John Berry had been on the same plane out of Seattle with me, only I never noticed because they were seated way in the back, surrounded by a youth choral group and a high school champion volley ball team who were, even at 7 a.m., in high spirits. Eileen's still in a cast (she claimed she broke her finger skateboarding, but then admitted that she got so carried away looking at the cherry blossoms that she tripped and went sprawling). From her description of her accident, it sounds like the sort of thing that could happen to me.

So many people kept arriving at the airport that the hotel shuttles were unable to keep up with the demand. Oyceter, by the way, was among those riding sharing the shuttle with me; she entertained us all by describing a fantasy book that included every fantastical creature the author could thing of. "With her," Oyce said of the author (whose name I didn't catch), "More is more."

Next on the agenda, the reception at Room.

Do I sound as though I'm manic? Let's just say I'm a little excited.

PS Someone told me that Nisi is here, but I haven't seen her yet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Aqueduct Goes to WisCon-- a preview

Once again, Aqueduct will be at WisCon. Kath has packed up her station wagon with Aqueduct books and party supplies and will be heading off on the long haul to Madison later today. Tom and I will fly in on Thursday. Fewer of our authors will be attending this year, but those who do will be helping us to celebrate our Fifth Anniversary. And, no small thing, Nisi Shawl will be accepting the Tiptree Award on Sunday night.

Besides me, the other Aqueduct authors will be attending: Eleanor Arnason, Eileen Gunn, Lesley Hall, Andrea Hairston, Liz Henry, Sylvia Kelso, Ellen Klages, Nancy Jane Moore, Geoff Ryman Nisi Shawl, and Anne Sheldon. In addition, some of the members of our blog who aren't authors will be attending, as well. Aqueduct will be in the Dealers Room beginning early Friday afternoon. Come and see us and admire our fabulous list of-- can you believe it?-- 42 titles.

We won't be putting our newest titles, What Remains by Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman and the WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 3, ed. Liz Henry, onto Aqueduct's orders page until after WisCon. We'll be bringing 150 numbered copies of What Remains and be selling them for $8 apiece in the Dealers Room. Those that we don't sell will retail, after the con, for $12. That's because this little volume is intended to complement WisCon. If we sell out, we'll think about reprinting an unsigned, unnumbered edition, depending on demand. But I suspect this little book will be a one-off. And of course we'll have plenty of copies of the new volume of the WisCon Chronicles on hand.

As I did last year, I'm posting here a list of most of the programming Aqueduct's writers and blog members will be doing:


6:00 Reception and reading at Room of One's Own-- Ellen and Geoff will be giving short readings & everyone present will be celebrating the beginning of another WisCon


Writers' Workshop—Rachel Swirsky
Fri 9:00AM - 12:00PM Room 634
M: Rachel Virginia Swirsky

Cultural Appropriation 101 Workshop
Fri 2:30 - 3:45PM Assembly
E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman, Victor Jason Raymond, Nisi Shawl

Where Are the Minority Mad Scientists?
Fri 4:00 - 5:15PM 629
Moderator: Jessica Lynne Morris. Email Jessica Lynne Morris, Lesley Hall, Jenny Sessions, Betsy Urbik

We Do The Work
Fri 4:00 - 5:15PM Conference 4
M: Fred Schepartz, Eleanor A. Arnason, Chris Hill, Michael J. Lowrey, Diana Sherman

Urgent and Essential: The Role and Function of Science Fiction in the Societal Stabilizing the Converging Technologies/Romance of the Robot: From R.U.R & Metropolis to Wall-E
Fri 9:00 - 10:15PM Conference 3
Rosalyn Berne, Andrea D. Hairston

Turns Out This Is Your Dad’s SF/F
Fri 9:00 - 10:15PM Senate B
M: David D. Levine, Eileen Gunn, Chip Hitchcock, Brad Lyau, Pat Murphy

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Fri. 10:30 PM Assembly
M: Nancy Jane Moore, J. Kathleen Cheney, Tina Connolly, Lori Devoti, Moondancer Drake, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kimberley Long-Ewing, Kathryn Sullivan, Katherine Mankiller, Morven Westfield, Phoebe Wray


The Mismeasure of Man and the Rest of Us, Too: Science, Colonialism, Genocide and Science Fiction
Sat 10:00 - 11:15AM Senate B
M: Rachel Virginia Swirsky, Evelyn Browne, John H. Kim, Micole Iris Sudberg, K. Joyce Tsai

Book View Cafe: A New Venture in Online Publishing
Sat. 10 - 11:00 AM Conference 5
M: Nancy Jane Moore, Sylvia Kelso, Madeleine Robins, Jennifer K. Stevenson

Keeping Up with Science
Sat 1:00 - 2:15PM Capitol B
M: Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Eleanor A. Arnason, Gary Kloster, Chris Stockdale

Feminism, Anarchism, & Power: The Marq'ssan Cycle
Sat 2:30 - 3:45PM Senate A
M: Kate Mason, Lesley Hall, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Alexis Lothian

Ask A Pro
Sat 2:30 - 3:45PM Capitol A
M: Eileen Gunn, Shana Cohen, James Frenkel, Jack McDevitt, M Rickert, Geoff Ryman

Genuinely Multicultural Panel
Sat 4:00 - 5:15PM Wisconsin
M: Alan Bostick, Rachel Kronick, Isabel Schechter, Ekaterina G. Sedia, Nisi Shawl

The Treatment of Aging in SF and F
Sat 4:00 - 5:15PM Capitol A
M: Eleanor A. Arnason, Gerri Balter, Richard J. Chwedyk, Magenta Griffith, Diana Sherman

A New Paradigm: Reading by Book View Cafe Writers
Sat. 4 PM, Michelangelo's
Anne Harris, Sylvia Kelso, Nancy Jane Moore, Madeleine Robins, Jennifer K. Stevenson

The Fiction of Geoff Ryman
Sat 4:00 - 5:15PM Conference 5
M: Margaret McBride, Eileen Gunn, Sandra J. Lindow, Farah Mendlesohn, Steven E. Schwartz, Delia Sherman

Taboo II: Electric Bugaloo
Sat 4:00 - 5:15PM Conference 2
Vylar Kaftan, Ted A Kosmatka, Jennifer Pelland, Rachel Virginia Swirsky

Aqueduct Press/Carl Brandon Society party
9 p.m-- ?? Room 607


Why You Should Write Book Reviews
Sun. 10:00 - 11:15 AM Senate A
M: L. Timmel Duchamp, John M Gamble, Steven H Silver, Gretchen Treu, Gary K. Wolfe

Andrea Smith's Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide
Sun 10:00 - 11:15AM Senate B
M: Micole Iris Sudberg, Andrea D. Hairston, Diantha Day Sprouse, K. Joyce Tsai

Something Is Wrong on the Internet!
Sun 10:00 - 11:15AM Capitol B
M: Vito Excalibur. Vito Excalibur, Piglet, Liz Henry, Julia Sparkymonster

"Going Native": Gender, Colonialism, and C.J. Cherryh
Sun 1:00 - 2:15PM Conference 4
Panelists M: Micole Iris Sudberg, Matthew H. Austern, Chip Hitchcock, Janine Ellen Young

Aqueduct Press Reading I
Sun 2:30 - 3:45PM Conference 2
Eileen Gunn, Liz Henry, Sylvia Kelso, Pat Murphy

Aqueduct Press Reading II
Sun 4:00 - 5:15PM Conference 2
Eleanor A. Arnason, L. Timmel Duchamp, Andrea D. Hairston, Nisi Shawl, Anne Lane Sheldon

The Anvil Chorus: Historical Fiction and Social Justice
Sun 4:00 - 5:15PM Wisconsin
M: Lesley Hall, Jane Acheson, Ellen Klages, Deepa D.

Birthing a Writer's Community
Sun. 4 PM Conference 4
M: Diane Silver, Stickshift Bear, Nancy Jane Moore, Michelle Murrain, Monica Valentinelli


Writing SF While Living in a SF Disaster Novel
Mon 8:30 - 9:45AM Senate A
M: Suzanne Allés Blom, John Joseph Adams, Eleanor A. Arnason

Not Enough Tricksters
Mon 10:00 - 11:15AM Senate B
M: Joell M. Smith-Borne, Charlie Anders, Lesley Hall, Julia Sparkymonster

Mon 11:30AM - 12:45PM Capitol/Wisconsin
John Joseph Adams, Barth Anderson, Eleanor A. Arnason, Melodie Bolt, F. J. Bergmann, Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas, Richard J. Chwedyk, Lori Devoti, Moondancer Drake, L. Timmel Duchamp, Carol F. Emshwiller, Eileen Gunn, Anne Harris, Deborah Lynn Jacobs, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Sylvia Kelso, Marianne Kirby, Ellen Klages, Naomi Kritzer, Ellen Kushner, Ann Leckie, David D. Levine, Kimberley Long-Ewing, Kelly McCullough, Sarah Monette, Nancy Jane Moore, Pat Murphy, Larissa N. Niec, Nnedi Nkemdili Okorafor, Jennifer Pelland, Sarah B. Prineas, Mary Robinette, Margaret Ronald, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Geoff Ryman, Fred Schepartz, David J. Schwartz, Ekaterina G. Sedia, Nisi Shawl, Delia Sherman, Kristine Smith, Jennifer K. Stevenson, Caroline Stevermer, Kathryn Sullivan, Catherynne M. Valente, Monica Valentinelli, Joan D. Vinge, Morven Westfield, Laurel Winter, Phoebe Wray, Patricia C Wrede, Doselle Young, Janine Ellen Young

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Green Country of Fantasy

This weekend's Los Angeles Times has a feature on Ursula Le Guin as well as a review of Cheek by Jowl by Kate Bernheimer." While I'm happy to see a piece like "Ursula Major" taking note of Le Guin's importance, I'm less than thrilled by its author's taking Thomas M. Disch's attack against her seriously. On the other hand, Kate Bernheimer's review, while on the brief side, offers a deeper perspective:

"Fantasy's green country is one that most of us enter with ease and pleasure, and it seems to be perfectly familiar to most children even if they've never been out of the city streets," writes Ursula K. Le Guin in "The Critics, The Monsters, and The Fantasists," which appears in her collection of essays "Cheek by Jowl," just published by the valiant, feminist press Aqueduct.

Le Guin continues, "I will defend fantasy's green country. . . . Although the green country of fantasy seems to be entirely the invention of human imaginations, it verges on and partakes of actual realms in which humanity is not lord and master, is not central, is not even important."

She concludes her review:

Hundreds of writers still work today from fairy tales and for the green country in large part because of [Frank] Baum's popular [Oz] series. For more exploration of why fantasy and its astral-ecology is the Real Thing, Le Guin's "Cheek by Jowl" is the source.

Earlier this week, Publishers Weekly also reviewed Cheek by Jowl:

The work of poet and novelist Le Guin (Lavinia, The Left Hand of Darkness) spans genres, including science fiction, fantasy and kid lit, and here she collects scholarship and opinion on the importance of fantasy in every stage of our lives. Aside from taking on “the whole misbegotten procedure” of condemning a genre with the standards of another (why not “judge Moby Dick as science fiction” or “Pride and Prejudice as a Western”?), Le Guin delineates a number of intriguing points just by focusing on animal characters, and their relationships to humans, in her multi-part essay “Animals in Children's Literature”: Jack London’s White Fang, for example, uses the perspectives of canine and human characters to create a genuine understanding of the love between them. Le Guin’s most charged argument tackles the idea that fondness for fantasy equals lack of maturity; instead, Le Guin attests that fantasy is the only type of fiction that can be fully appreciated at any age, and is often involved in important poetry and unique imagery. This compact collection will stoke readers' affection and appreciation for fantasy by highlighting important but overlooked qualities in many familiar tales (such as the duplicity at work in Lewis Carroll) that prove its lasting value as literature. (May)

The First Mother's Day Proclamation, 1870

Mother's Day Proclamation

by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why Is That So Hard?

One of the hot sf novels of the season, Neal Stephenson's Anathem, has been getting feminist scrutiny from Nic at Eve's Alexandria, who found the novel "heavy-going," and from Liz Henry at the Feminist SF blog, who writes "I love the book, I think it’s fabulous, I wallowed in it and couldn’t stop reading it" but was constantly jolted out of her enjoyment by the book's "unnecessary sexism." After looking at specific instances of this, Liz writes:

A general complaint, not directed in particular at Stephenson. I don’t ask that every book be all things. But this book tries to be so much, and it fails so notably at this thing which to me seems so simple. Just make women characters as human as the male characters. Why is that so hard? How can anyone so smart and cool write something that fails to do that simple thing? Why do we as female readers and geeks so often get left behind and disappointed in this way by male writers? I am haunted by these questions in general while reading science fiction. Men, and heterosexual ones who claim to love and appreciate women and who in their daily lives surely do just that, fail to be able to write STORIES where women have full human agency and are important in any way other than romantic symbols or sadly cardboard sops to “strong female hero”.

Yeah. What you said, Liz.

Both are insightful, incisive reviews worth checking out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gwyneth Jones's The Buonarotti Quartet

Aqueduct Press is pleased to announce the publication of The Buonaraotti Quartet by Gwyneth Jones, the twenty-fifth volume in Aqueduct's Conversation Pieces series.

The man who'd given his handle as Drummer raised heavy eyes and spoke, sonorous as a prophet, from out of a full black beard. “We will be ordered to the transit chamber as we were ordered to this room; or drugged and carried by robots in our sleep. We will lie down in the Buonarotti capsules, and a code-self, the complex pattern of each human body and soul, will be split into two like a cell dividing. The copies will be sent flying around the torus, at half-light speed. You will collide with yourself and cease utterly to exist at these co-ordinates of space-time. The body and soul in the capsule will be annihilated, and know GOD no longer.”—from “The Voyage Out”

In Gwyneth Jones’s White Queen Trilogy, the reclusive female genius called Peenemunde Buonarotti invented the instantaneous transit device of the same name. In the four stories of The Buonaraotti Quartet, Gwyneth Jones shows us humans traveling via the device to alien worlds and situations. Some are diplomats, some are extreme travelers, some are prisoners. All are in for a rough, wild ride.

The volume is available now through Aqueduct's website here. (And just a reminder: Subscriptions of ten consecutive volumes (beginning with the volume of your choice) may also be purchased through the site for $80.)

Here are notes Gwyneth has written about the fiction in this volume:

The Buonarotti Transit

The Buonarotti Transit first appeared in White Queen, a novel about an alien invasion of Earth —in which human gender issues come up against another way of cutting up the world, and a mechanist global civilization is overcome by a non-mechanist, highly intuitive and devious crew of buccaneers. Meanwhile, reclusive genius Peenemunde Buonarotti has been researching a means of instantaneous interstellar transit. She’s been piggy-backing her experiments on the Big Science giant accelerator nearest to her place of work: translating herself into pure information, splitting the code and sending two code-versions of herself around the ring, to collide at lightspeed and reach fusion with the State of All States. Not quite ready to publish, she returns from her first successful landing on an alien planet, the night the (apparently) faster-than-light-powered Aleutians announce their presence. . . “That’s torn it,” says Peenemunde, robbed of her big moment.

The “Buonarotti Device” features in the next two episodes of the Aleutian story as a lost treasure, as proof that humans were not always colonized and inferior; and as the symbol of an Utopian future, in which Humans and Aleutians will share the freedom of the stars as equals.

"The Fulcrum"

It all seems so long ago. . . “The Fulcrum” is the first Buonarotti story I wrote, and the most loosely connected to the universe of Spirit, the novel for which all these stories are preparatory sketches. It was my contribution to a themed anthology called Constellations. Orion is my favorite constellation, so that choice was obvious. I already had a device that sent people across interstellar distances, with unpredictable results. I found out about the Bok Globule, the star nursery in the Orion Nebula (also the Osiris angle), and there I had my science/astronomy strand. The fiction is a pure spoof on post-cyberpunk sf noir —hyper-masculine playground for nihilist vigilantes, where ordinary people (whatever their sex) had better shut up, accept that violence rules, and keep off the streets. I like a little fantasy mayhem as much as the next fan, but I despaired at the message that the critically acclaimed sf of the new millennium was giving to women, especially young women, as genre readers and as writers . . . and my response was laughter.

If you’re fond of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, or rather the 1941 John Huston movie, you’ll spot liberally scattered references to this great and venerable “noir” in my plot, characters, and McGuffin. Orlando and Grace, besides being named for a (heterosexual, but conventional!) cat couple in a UK classic series of children’s picture books, are not aliens, they are humans with body-mods who like to call themselves aliens. Nice Eddie is the name of a character in Reservoir Dogs, another favorite old movie. Look out for what happens to the perfect (virtual) girlfriends: Sara Komensky, and “Annie-Mah.”

"Saving Tiamaat"

Every so often, science fiction futures need to be refreshed. New Space Opera is Space Opera updated, with the Cold War-ish scenario that’s been around since Star Trek I finally consigned to the recycle bin, the media taking their modern share in the making of governments, the megadeath weaponry refurbished, and sci-fi concepts like robotics, cyborgs, mind-control, total surveillance enhanced by contact with the actual technology. There was modern Space Opera before NSO (try C.J Cherryh’s Cyteen), but what’s really new is that in C21 the globalization of planet Earth is inescapable. If the proper study of science fiction is the present day, then right now NSO is the genre mirror of our world —a multi-state organization (choose your political flavor!) of diverse but basically similar peoples; struggling toward unity, beset by horrific genocidal wars, where the privileged few can cross staggering distances in no time, while the many casualties of the process are just moved from one internment camp to another. When I wrote “Saving Tiamaat,” my vague idea that I’d like to write a novel-length (new) Space Opera had become a firm intention, so this isn’t only a drama about a moral dilemma at a peace conference —and the mistake we still make (though we should know better!) when we assume that a woman will be nicer, more all-round civilized than a man. It’s also a sketch for “Speranza,” my interplanetary capital, the latest incarnation of a long-gone seedy space station called The Panhandle — the public architecture, the vast bureaucracy, the staffers’ breakfast bars; and the secret, ruthless shadow-self that every Utopian State conceals.

Physically (er, given that it’s inside a hollowed asteroid), Speranza is modeled on the EU glass and concrete hives of Strasbourg and Bruxelles: please substitute the majestic, allegedly good-willed super-government behemoth of your choice.

"The Voyage Out"

If the Buonarotti stories followed a fixed chronology (which they don’t, I never thought about it), “The Voyage Out” would come soon after “The Fulcrum.” The Panhandle has become a deep space Remand Center, where condemned prisoners wait to be transported to the unknown shore where they’ll serve life sentences. They don’t know if the Landfall planet even exists: maybe when they lie down in those couches they simply get vaporized; but they soon discover that the Buonarotti Torus, where the barrier between mind and matter is broken, makes spooky company. . .

When I wrote “Voyage” for Lynne Jamneck’s Periphery collection (it’s an anthology of Lesbian sf erotica), I'd been reading L.Timmel Duchamp's Alanya to Alanya. I think "Ruth Norman" is sideways-related to Timmi's "Kay Zeldin," a high-powered elite-academic in a similarly lawless yet oppressive future. A woman who has starved herself of pleasure so that she can live a life of principle; who has beaten herself up repeatedly, to keep her career (as a political activist, in this case) intact, but who has all kinds of longings and untapped potential. The secret life of nightdresses is a very ancient fantasy of mine, to do with a fairytale about some princesses who used to sneak out of bed at night and go dancing in fairyland. I used to spend a fair amount of time ill-in-bed when I was a little girl, and was devoted to my nightclothes. Much nicer than the clothes I had to wear in the waking world, where it was school uniform and other depressing outfits. The original Hilde was a girl at school with me, who had frizzy cinnamon braids and a beautiful smile. I always liked the look of her, but I never said anything, she was sporty, it was hopeless. I don't think I need to explain the Gruffaloes.

"The Tomb Wife"

Here’s the rationale, a C21 variation on a venerable sf trope: the material universe, in the final analysis, cannot be logically distinguished from the perceptions of the observer, the maps of firing neurons that light up when you see the stars or think about string theory. We can manipulate one of these sets of information, pretty much without limit: why not the other? Once you’ve broken the barrier between mind and matter (for instance using the Buonarotti method; there are more dangerous ways, outlined in a series called Bold As Love, but they’ve been outlawed) you can do just about anything. If you know the 4-space coordinates of your destination you can simply arrive there, by an act of will, and your informational self will take material form from the ambient chemistry it finds —not merely your body, but your survival gear; or even large hunks of ancient masonry, if you’ve had the proper neuro-training.

The catch is that what really happens is an equation of staggering complexity, a huge volume of information space resolved into a new pattern. Conscious travelers, (and some of the party must be conscious, or nobody’s going anywhere) experience this complexity as an intense, disturbing dream. In White Queen, Buonarotti’s lab rats didn’t know about this effect, which proved to be a bit of a nightmare. In “The Tomb Wife,” the last story I wrote before the new novel, the perils of non-duration travel have been tamed, to an extent. There’s a consensus reality (we’re on a starship). There’s a navigator, who knows exactly what she’s doing. But things can still go wrong.

There are genre stories that are only genre because a strand of the arbitrarily strange has been threaded into the everyday world. “The Tomb Wife,” on the other hand, is a sci-fi tale with added strangeness.

CFP: Race and Ethnicity in Fandom

Special issue: Race and Ethnicity in Fandom (Summer 2011)

Transformative Works and Cultures
editor AT


Sarah Gatson, Sociology, Texas A&M University,

Robin Reid, Literature and Languages, Texas A&M University-Commerce,


Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), an online-only, peer-reviewed journal focusing on media and fan studies, broadly conceived, invites contributions for a special issue on race and ethnicity to be published in summer 2011.

Academic scholarship on fan cultures and fan productions over the past few decades has focused primarily on gender as the sole category of analysis. There has been little published scholarship on fan cultures and productions that incorporates critical race theory or draws on the rich array of methodologies that have been developed during the past century in both activist and academic communities in order to incorporate analysis of the social constructions of race and ethnicities in fandoms.

In contrast, fan activism and fan scholarship (at cons, workshops, and on the Internet) has produced a growing body of work (personal narratives, essays, carnivals, and in recent months, a press) focusing on not only analyzing but also confronting hierarchies of race and
ethnicity and their relationship to gender, sexuality, class, and disability. Submissions by academics, acafans, fan scholars, and fans are encouraged. In all categories, people of color are especially encouraged to submit.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

*Online activism and the circulation of critical race theory and women of color feminisms in fan communities, in particular the relationship between fan online discourse and other online activist communities.

*Critical analysis of the instantiation and critique of racial hierarchies in fan communities and the surrounding cultural productions.

*Racist and antiracist issues in commercial transformative works (comics, film, mashups, remixes, machinima, etc.), especially recuperative race readings (e.g., Randall's The Wind Done Gone, Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea).

*Race concerns in source texts (characters of color and their fannish reception, fandoms for work by authors of color, writing fannish original characters, etc.) and fannish responses (such as the Carl Brandon Society, Verb Noire, and other panfannish and professional

*Intersection of race and ethnicity with gender, sexuality, class, and ability in fannish contexts in fan works and fan communities (pre-Internet, Internet, conventions, vids, fan fiction, artwork, etc.).


Submit final papers directly to TWC by October 1, 2010. Please visit TWC's Web site ( for complete submission guidelines. Please contact the guest editors with questions or inquiries.


Theory: Apply a conceptual focus or theoretical frame. Peer review. 5,000-8,000 words.

Praxis: Apply a specific theory to a formation or artifact; explicate fan practice; perform a detailed reading of a specific text; relate transformative phenomena to social, literary, technological, and/or historical frameworks. Peer review. 4,000-7,000 words.

Symposium: Provide insight into developments or debates surrounding fandom, transformative media, or cultures. Editorial review. 1,500-2,500 words.