Monday, June 29, 2009

Links for a Monday

**Dan Hartland writes about Vandana Singh's and Ian McDonald's work for Strange Horizons.

**On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the Fort Worth Texas police raided a gay bar, resulting in the arrests of seven people (for "public intoxication") and the hospitalization of one man with a brain injury inflicted by the police. 200 people turned out to demonstrate against this egregious police violence within 18 hours of the attack. Joel Burns, the city's first and only openly gay City Council member, noting the attack's occurrence on the anniversary of Stonewall, declared that “Unlike 40 years ago, though, the people of this community have elective representation that will make sure our government is accountable and that the rights of all its citizens are protected.” Read about it here.

**In Honduras, the police and military cut off electricity and the Internet (no Twitter there!) and imposed a curfew in the capital city, as citizens took to the streets to protest the overthrow of their constitutionally elected government by a military coup d'etat:

There is virtually no power or Internet in the Honduran capital in the wake of the coup d’etat. Electricity was gradually cut throughout the city, which is being overflown by war planes and helicopters. The few media outlets that continue to broadcast are only airing music.

The police have reportedly fired tear gas to disperse the growing crowds that have taken to the streets to protest.

There is also a blackout in some neighbourhoods in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in this Central American nation.

Reuters reports that

On Sunday shots were fired, apparently into the air, near barricades of chain link fences and downed billboards erected by the protesters to block off the presidential palace. Some demonstrators were masked and wielding sticks.

Troops in full fatigues with automatic weapons lined the inside of the fenced-off presidential palace. Some covered their faces with riot gear shields as protesters taunted them, and a tank sat nearby, its cannon facing the crowd.

Honduras, an impoverished coffee, textile and banana exporter with a population of 7 million, had been politically stable since the end of military rule in the early 1980s.

Apparently the overthrown president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, had attempted to fire the chief of the armed forces, and the Supreme Court had as a result authorized(???) the overthrow of the president. More details here and here.

Jeremy Scahill reflects on the coup, taking note of US associations and connections of its conspirators, particularly with the infamous School of the Americas and the certainty that the US Government knew it was coming. At the Nation, John Nichols notes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "reasonably muscular condemnation" of the coup and the Wall Street Journal's suggestion that the Obama Administration worked (unsuccessfully) behind the scenes to avert it. But Nichols then quotes Roberto Lovato, an expert on US relations with Latin America, who considers "expressions of concern" insufficient:

President Obama and the U.S. can actually do something about a military crackdown that our tax dollars are helping pay for. That Vasquez and other coup leaders were trained at the WHINSEC, which also trained Augusto Pinochet and other military dictators responsible for the deaths, disappearances, tortures of hundreds of thousands in Latin America, sends profound chills throughout a region still trying to overcome decades U.S.-backed militarism.

Hemispheric concerns about the coup were expressed in the rapid, historic and almost universal condemnation of the plot by almost all Latin American governments. Such concerns in the region represent an opportunity for the United States. But, while the Honduran coup represents a major opportunity for Obama to make real his recent and repeated calls for a "new" relationship to the Americas, failure to take actions that send a rapid and unequivocal denunciation of the coup will be devastating to the Honduran people -- and to the still-fragile U.S. image in the region.

Friday, June 26, 2009

WisCon 33 WisCon Chronicles 4

Hello Everyone.
As you may know, I've just become an Aqueductista, with my collection of SF essays coming out from Aqueduct at WisCon 33. And you doubtless also know, every year Aqueduct produces a volume covering the previous WisCon. Timmi has asked me to edit the 4th WisCon Chronicles, covering WisCon 33. It's an honour, but it also feels like a very big responsibility!

Chronicles 4 will concern me in my second hat, as editor, formal or informal, up to and including academic volumes, and I hope to blog, if sporadically, on the Chronicle's progress. For now, though, here’s a fullscale call for materials for WisCon Chronicles 4. In this volume we’re looking to include

Some academic papers,
Some extracts from work by people who read at the conference, including flash fiction, excerpts from longer fiction and poetry - especially Aqueductistas, of course.
Guest of Honour speeches, one already promised.

We’re also looking to include some panel reports.
Panels are the core of WisCon, where the important, the sensitive and the new issues for the SF and F and feminist scenes and increasingly, fandom in or out of the Blogosphere, come to light.
And we are looking from input from everyone who attended WisCon 33.

Panel reports could be on a single or several panels, or thoughts about such, any length under 4000 words, about any panel you felt was important, to you in person or to the feminist SF and F scene, or in general.

If you’ve posted such reports already, please consider passing them on to us to consider for printing. All contributors will be acknowledged, under whatever name they wish, in the Chronicles
We also want overall personal views. The notional title for the 4th Chronicls is My WisCon, and we would love to have as many of these as possible.

My Wiscons would ideally
Be under 4000 words but longer than 400
Possibly overlap with My WisCons from people who went to the same events
Need not cover everything, just your thoughtpoints
Could come as straight reports, but also as poems, letters, dialogue, recipes, and so on.

The only thing we can’t manage is illustrations, they are too expensive, so actual art or photos, sadly, might not be the best choice.

The current deadline for Chronicles 4 turn-ins is the 1st of August. Please send your thoughts and/or impressions to me at
Attachments are possibly better, but in the body of the post will do.

Thoughts and queries cd. also be sent there. I hope to establish an LJ community for discussion as well.
Hope to hear from you!

40 Years Since Stonewall

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising against the police, which marked the beginning of the Gay and Lesbian rights movement in the US. Democracy Now has a video, "Remembering Stonewall," available online here.

And the SF Gate reports:

President Obama today marked an historic first when he issued a White House resolution for Gay Pride month that honors the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots -- marking the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.

What Remains

What Remains, which until now had been sold only at WisCon 33, is at last available through Aqueduct's site, where it can be purchased for $12. Published in conjunction with the appearance of Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman as the Guests of Honor at WisCon 33, What Remains features three tales, two short tales by Geoff Ryman and an original novelette by Ellen Klages.

In Ryman’s “No Bad Thing,” a certain brilliant, world-famous scientist has become a vampire and duly turns hi intellectual gifts in a new direction; and in “Care,” a story set in the fascinating world of Belo Horizonte created by Sheldon Brown and the Experimental Game Lab, a little boy’s father stands with him on the Edge of the world looking down at Rio, shows him how to walk off the Edge, then disappears.

In Ellen Klages’s original novelette “Echoes of Aurora,” Jo Norwood goes back to her hometown to bury her father and meets a lovely, mysterious woman named Aurora, and through the summer, Jo and Rory make passionate love, poetry, and a story together—a story that begins “Once upon a time, you kissed me.”

What Remains also includes Eileen Gunn’s interview of Geoff Ryman and Debbie Notkin’s interview of Ellen Klages.

PS For more about the fictional world of Belo Horizonte, check out this trailer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"An instrospective future history"

Charlie Jane Anders has posted an interview with Samuel R. Delany at io9, taking about his forthcoming novel, "Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders," about which he says

In a way, it's a very simple story, just about two working-class gay men, who meet when they're seventeen and nineteen, living on the coast of Georgia. They meet in 2007, and they stay together for the next 80 years, until one of them dies. Now you tell me whether that's science fiction or not. It definitely goes into the future, but on the other hand, they're absolutely out of the center of life, and things progress where they live, very very slowly. And they hear about things that are going on outside. They live on coastal part of Georgia in a little town that does go through cycles of being a semi-popular tourist spot in the summers, and then some years, nobody bothers to come at all. Eventually they move to a little island off the coast, and a little lesbian art colony starts up on the island. And they wonder if they're not being crowded out of their new home. But they're very fond of some of the people who live there, and some of the people who live there are very fond of them.

Now that's a description that hooks me.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Aqueduct Gazette, Summer 2009

The Summer 2009 issue of the Aqueduct Gazette is now available for download from Aqueduct's site. (This is the issue we distributed at WisCon.) Highlights include Nisi Shawl's reflections on finding herself the first African American to win the Tiptree Award, Gwyneth Jones's notes on the stories in The Buonarotti Quartet, an interview with Liz Henry about The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 3: Carnival of Feminist SF, and my thoughts on Aqueduct's fifth anniversary. There's also the usual-- word of works forthcoming from Aqueduct and descriptions of our most recent publications. You can download a pdf file of the issue here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back from Syacmore Hill

I returned home from Sycamore Hill late Friday night (sans checked luggage)-- only to wake at four the morning after with a full-blown, brutal cold and a cough that makes my chest burn. I'm drowning in not only mucus, but also in email. If you're one of the many people waiting for a reply from me, I beg you to be patient. I'll be getting to you soon. (I hope.)

Sycamore Hill was, as ever, wonderful. This year it rained most of the time, and the food was subpar. (Thank god for the salad bar.) But the stories the attendees brought were excellent and the company witty (Karen Joy Fowler was with us), stimulating, and often fun. Most of us, regardless of gender, painted our toenails garish colors at our end-of-the-workshop party on the last night. And as if that weren't enough fun, there was much singing, and several attendees burst into delightful song just before their stories were critiqued. (photos in this post by Jim Kelly.)

I wrote the following (hoping to finish and post it the next day, before the critiques began) on Friday, June 12 on a plane en route to Asheville:

By coincidence, the issue of the American Book Review that arrived in my mail box this week(May/June 2009) features a focus "Why Teach Creative Writing," while the issue of the New Yorker that arrived a couple of days earlier (June 8 & 15, 2009) has an essay by Louis Menand, "Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing Be Taught," that apparently takes its impetus from Mark McGurl's The Program Era, a book about creative writing programs recently published by Harvard University Press.

Menand's essay begins by revisiting the old argument about whether creative writing can be taught, then moves away from the specificity of that question to consider what creative writing programs are able to do (or not do) for their students, providing a bit of history of such programs along the way. The most striking statement Menand makes is this: "As McGurl points out, the university is where most serious fiction writers have been produced since the Second World War. It has also been the place where most serious fiction readers are produced: they are taught how to read in departments of literature." Menand's essay does not set out to discuss this, so I can't fault him for expanding on this; but this point certainly merits thorough consideration. And I think it'd be particularly interesting to consider the bearing this has on genre fiction in the US today (as opposed, say, to the status of genre fiction before the years in which creative writing programs proliferated).

Menand offers up a lot of entertaining anecdotes about famous writers teaching creative writing classes. My favorite is his story of of what Angela Carter said once on the first day of class when she was teaching at Brown and a student asked her what her own writing was like: "My work cuts like a steel blade at the base of a man's penis." According to Menand, "the course turned out not to be oversubscribed." He also quotes McGurl's book on how certain styles have been adopted by "lower middle-class" writers like Carver and Oates as a means for "dealing with the highbrow world of the academy," to "shield oneself with words." And he rightly observes that "no one seems to agree on what the goal of good writing is, anyway." Interestingly, Menand concludes his essay by noting that he stopped writing poetry after he graduated and never published a poem which, he says, "places me with the majority of people who have taken a creative-writing course." He comments, "I don't think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things."

The ABR focus section on "Why Teach Creative Writing" offers a spread of takes on the subject of creative writing by creative writing teachers, eliciting markedly different attitudes toward the question and understanding of its semantics. I found Lance Olsen's answer the most congenial. He believes that creative writing classes teach a method of reading. (Which may or may not be useful for student writers). My experience of writing workshops (which granted has always been as a teacher or a peer) confirms this. Interestingly, another teacher, Leslee Becker, takes the question personally, as in why she herself teaches creative writing (rather than why anyone should teach creative writing). Teacher Kelly Cherry recalls being a student of creative writing herself, saying that creative writing classes gives would-be writers "permission" to write, which for her, as a student, was "liberating and life-saving."

Some of the pieces in the ABR focus section assumed a defensive posture, most curiously Steve Tomasula's, which took the question as an attack on not only the very notion of making creative writing classes and programs available but even on the notion of creative writing itself. Given that the people asking the question were inspired to do it after attending the annual AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) meeting, this interpretation suggests an uncomfortable degree of sensitivity. (Easy to imagine how such a sensitivity could develop in the early 21st-century US.) Tomasula zooms in on the atmosphere in post 9/11 "Middle America": "everyone wants to live in a world where great stories make it easy to draw a line between good and evil." Although he doesn't say so directly, he implies that learning to understand "how language can be manipulated to create effects-- get us to vote, buy, feel sympathy or anger-- that to learn by doing in a creative writing classroom where manipulators and their audience meet face-to-face and feedback is immediate" will make students immune to the manipulative effects of narrative. The contrarian in me wonders whether it won't also produce more effective manipulators. Do most creative writing courses spend a significant amount of their time exploring ethical issues? I wonder. The people who use narrative to achieve certain effects are, after all, accomplished craftspeople and can be assumed to have learned their craft in the same classes that attempt to wise-up students about the manipulative effects of certain narratives. Certainly I know many people (among them numerous writers) who define successful narratives as those that entertain the majority of people reading or viewing them while making them feel optimistic, smug, and safe.


pretty much forgot about having started the above post while I was at Sycamore Hill, until one of the goldsmiths approached a group of us to anxiously urge us to read Louis Menand's essay. He seemed to think we needed to read it to help us understand something about our peer workshop. I'm utterly clueless about what he might have had in mind (except that maybe he felt we needed to submit ourselves to the middlebrow authority it represented to him by virtue of having been published in the New Yorker, we being mere science fiction writers). In fact, we spent the week taking apart and examining one another's fictions, continually worrying at narrative and its workings-- and above all, as critical readers, excavating and even constructing stories out of the narrative when they weren't at all obvious (as was often the case)-- and seeking to persuade everyone else of the validity of our readings. For me, peer workshops like Sycamore Hill chiefly offer insight into how readers engage with texts and how a group of readers negotiate collectively to produce meanings as they interrogate texts. Obviously, such insight is invaluable to fiction writers. But it occurs to me to wonder why literary critics don't workshop in a similar way. I suspect they could learn a lot about their craft as well as the works they write about if they did so. But I suppose most scholars of literature feel that their classroom work already teaches them as much as they need to know about how readers collectively engage with texts.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Feminist Collections

(As Timmi is off on a plane again, I get to do my own bragging* rather than modestly sitting back and letting her post it...)

I recently put my hand up to review a number of books relating to feminist sf for the journal
Feminist Collections: A Quarterly Of Women's Studies Resources, which “reviews the latest print, electronic, and audiovisual resources for research and teaching in women's studies”. Like many other wonderful things, the journal comes out of Madison, the University of Wisconsin System to be precise.

My review is the lead article in the Winter 2009 issue, entitled “What's a Bright Feminist Like You Doing in a Genre Like This? Reading Women's Science Fiction”. It was a lot of fun to write, and I got to mention a few Aqueductians - if nothing else I think I convinced the editor to go off and read some sf, so that’s a good sign!

ETA: *edited word here in the interests of harmonious US-Aus relations (as detailed in the comments!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quote o' the Day

But maybe there's no greater proof of skill than how he makes Bascombe's base elements seem like universal essences. By the end of the book, the realtor's self-pity, his fear that any break in the day's routine could lead to unspeakable dread he'll never recover from, even his urge to fish with his son, may well seem like the American experience, rather than the circumscribed experience of the white suburban male. Maybe nobody more than a provided-for white guy could be so certain that his crises were those of the world.

--R.J. Smith, Review of Richard Ford's Independence Day. Los Angeles Times 2 July 1995. Found by James Sallis.

WisCon 33 Report-- Day 1

I'd hoped to be able to write a series of WisCon reports during the con this year, but though I began writing up a report on Friday while sipping a latte and munching a cheese Danish in Michelangelos early Saturday morning, I didn't get far before Tom hauled me away, to get on with the day. The next chance I had to open my laptop was Monday afternoon, and by then I was too exhausted to do more than download my email. Later that evening, on the plane, it was all I could do to start making a list of the zillion things I needed to accomplish before leaving on my next trip (to Sycamore Hill). So although I haven't been very good about blogging and haven't quite worked my way completely through that list yet, I've crossed off an impressive number of items and now think there's a good chance that I'll get most of them (though not I'm afraid all) done by Friday.

This year, for me, WisCon afforded the usual pleasures of allowing me to renew contacts, providing continual brief bursts of intense close encounters, and a lot of feminist stimulation, but also the frustration of seeing people friends and acquaintance only in passing in the hall (or elevator) and never quite managing to connect. If I remember correctly, last year's intruder denigrated WisCon as a "hug fest." So what's to ridicule? I wonder, thinking about how good those hugs actually felt. As has become the case since starting Aqueduct, some of the time I spent attending or participating in programming, some of the time doing Aqueduct business, and a lot of time in conversation. I did manage to make some new acquaintances this year, which matters to me. I have less time because of Aqueduct in actively pursuing them, though, which is not so good. I regret that there were quite a few people I'd have liked to spent time with who found me already occupied. (I haven't quite figured out how to manage my time at WisCon better.) And also? For all the riches of the reunions I did enjoy, I did miss several people who didn't make it to WisCon this year. But of course not everybody can attend WisCon every year (especially in years like this one).

So, to Friday. Day 1 of WisCon, Friday was fairly chaotic. I spent part of the day helping set up our tables in the Dealers Room and trying to run some specific errands, but every time I ventured out of the Dealers Room, even to use the rest room, it would usually take me at least twenty minutes to return because I just couldn't not talk to people I hadn't seen for an entire year. Similarly, at our table, I tried to be helpful to Kath and Tom, but because people were continually stopping to talk to me, I didn't really pull my weight as a team member. (WisCon, as Kathy Nash remarked to me, is like a huge family reunion.) But there was something wonderful about setting up, even so. When Kath and I clustered Aqueduct's Tiptree winner & Honor List books together at one end of the table, with appropriate gold and silver stickers on them, just seeing them in association tickled me pink. Not long after that, as the display of books on our tables took its final shape, I had one of those odd moments, of suddenly seeing our books-- all 42 of them-- and thinking Holy Shit! Did we really produce that many books in just five years? We're the Real Deal!

I did manage to attend two programming items on Friday: a panel at four and Andrea Hairston's paper at nine. The panel at four, titled "We Do the Work" featured Fred Schepartz (moderator), Eleanor Arnason, Chris Hill, Diana Sherman, and Mike Lowrey. In his opening statement, Fred announced that the panel was going to avoid discussing definitions, since the reason most panels on class at WisCon fail have usually failed is because they typically get bogged down in arguing definitions. The focus, he said, will be narrow-- specifically on the lack of portrayals of working class characters in science fiction and fantasy. He then asked panelists to characterize the status quo of working class characters in sf.

Eleanor: Chunks of society as we know it now tend not to be represented.
Diana: Blue-collar labor is repetitive and unexciting. Working class life is conceived of as a trap to be escaped.
Chris: The story about class in sf is usually about escape or the failure to escape (from working class existence).
Mike: One of the few working class occupations to appear is soldiering (a grunt can sometimes have the opportunity to break out.) Also: there's a bias against collective action.
Fred: Class is a taboo subject in the US

Q: Why are there so few working-class characters?
A. Authors feel audience wants escapism, and working-class characters aren't conducive to escapist pleasure.
Mike: Its difficult depicting labor struggles-- it's easier to focus on leaders rather than on the collective.

Fred: Will there be a working class in the future?
Mike: Who built the Death Star?
Andrea Hairston (from the audience): Robots
Mike: Who built the robots?
Andrea: Robots

Chris: Why is there an absence of blue-collar work in most sf narratives of the future? Because a wonderful future then looks delightful, since it doesn't show all the dirty boring tedious work, which if seen straight on, would spoil the delight.
Diana: Such top-down world-building creates thin narratives. World-building from the bottom up will create a richer, more foreign-feeling place than top-down created world.
Fred: How do we get writers to write working-class characters and get publishers to publish them?

At the end of the panel, panelists suggested authors and novels that do a good job depicting working-class characters, including several of Melissa Scott's novels and Rebecca Ore's Slow Funeral and her Becoming Alien series.

The panelists had much more to say than I jotted down. (I recorded it, so I might eventually have a verbatim transcript of it to offer.) At one point during the discussion, Andrea and I had a brief whispered exchange about how working-class people and characters are less visible as such if they are female or non-white. Waitresses, secretaries, housecleaners are often not perceived as "working class." I thought this panel was unusually successful, but for me it would have been even more interesting if race and gender had been more fully incorporated into the discussion. In retrospect, I think also it might have been interesting if this panel had directly followed Andrea's paper. Of course the audience for both programming items wasn't identical, but it would have been really interesting to follow up some of the insights in Andrea's paper in the discussion of "We Do the Work."

After "We Do the Work," I returned briefly to the Dealers room to check on Tom and Kath, then ran off to have dinner with Liz H. (Much exciting Aqueduct talk, plus feminist stimulation, all quite wonderful.) When I got back, I collected Tom and at about five to nine swept him off to Conference 3. There Andrea Hairston presented a bona fide academic paper, but because she is a superb performer, she delivered it with great drama and verve, as if she were telling a fabulous, spellbinding tale (which she was!), wowing everyone present, even those suspicious of all things academic. (Andrea, when an audience member expressed pity at her being an academic, unapologetically declared she was glad to be an academic.)Her paper was titled "Romance of the Robot: From R.U.R. & Metropolis to Wall-E. She opened by declaring that fictions about robots address the "primal problem of distributing wealth." Stories about robots have forcefully challenged the dehumanization of the worker. She gave a wonderful overview of Karel Kapek's play R.U.R., which was extremely popular" following its 1921 premiere in Prague and was translated into English almost immediately and premiered in NYC in 1922. R.U.R. helped inspire Fritz Lang and Thea Harbou's Metropolis. Helena, in R.U.R., Andrea said, is a fabulous, unforgettable character.

And so to Wall-E, a Chaplin clown-figure. "Wall-E's gender is very much in the eye of the beholder," Andrea startled me by declaring. She then quoted Kate Bornstein's review, which reads Wall-E as a dyke who falls in love with Eve. Eve may be "the round one with the feminine acronym," but she fires off deadly missiles on cue and at first seems oblivious to the gentle Wall-E, who spots a plant growing in the middle of a dumpsite of humanity's non-biodegradable debris, which it is Wall-E's job to compact and tidy up. I'm afraid that at this point I became so caught up in Andrea's performance, so carried away by the tale she was telling, that I stopped taking notes, except at one point to scribble "Realist narrative takes the fantastic as an alternate world." Which reminds me that Andrea discussed how the fantastic can serve realist narrative ends through creating an alternate world that reveals the otherwise unseen, unaddressed social relations and reality of the everyday world we live in.

Because her co-presenter, Rosalyn Berne, did not appear, after she delivered the paper Andrea spent the extra time remaining in conversation with the audience, in a discussion that included talk about the uses of "anti-realism" in the theatre, how Bertold Brecht, though a "brilliant organizer," had appropriated the plays of his lovers, women he treated abominably, about Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty, about Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.

I apologize for offering such a disjointed set of points that doesn't begin to convey the powerful sense the paper made to me. I hope to get to read the paper soon. (Aqueduct will eventually be publishing a collection of Andrea's essays; I'm assuming this will be one of them. I'm also hoping it might find its way into the next volume of the WisCon Chronicles...)

After the time allotted to the slot had expired, Tom and I went up to the sixth floor and spent some time in conversation with Nisi S., Eileen G, and John B.-- as well as with Lynne T., an archivist from Northern Illinois University who is interested in acquiring the papers of writers like Nisi and me. (I had visions of clearing out the many boxes of mss of the Marq'ssan Cycle dating from the 1980s, including the first version of Reneagde, which I substantially rewrote a few months after first drafting it... I've managed to resist throwing them out several times, but mainly because they're stored in cupboards in the attic that we never open.)

And finally, we fled the sixth floor and went up to bed, where Tom immediately fell asleep while I read about ten pages of C.J. Cherryh's Regenesis, to try to rid my head of the buzz that naturally resulted from hours of feminist stimulation. And after a bit, I did actually manage to sleep.

ETA: Josh has sent me links to two more posts on the excellent "We Do the Work Panel": Badgerbag's is here, and Mary Read the Pirate Queen's is here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rosaleen Love receives A. Bertram Chandler Award

A bunch of Aquedistas attended the 48th Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Adelaide last weekend, and one of them, Lucy Sussex, has informed me that during the Ditmar awards ceremony another of them, Rosaleen Love, was given the A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outsanding Achievement. (Lucy herself received this award in 2003.) Congratulations, Rosaleen!

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Aqueductista Stuff

Here's a new Aqueductista link: Fantasy Magazine has reprinted E.C. Myers' Dear Superman, which originally appeared in Talking Back: Epistolary Fantasies, ed. L. Timmel Duchamp, (#11 in the Conversation Pieces series).

I've also seen some reviews in print publications, for which I have no links:

In her column, carrying the title "The Uses of Disenchantment" in the Aug/Sept Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Elizabeth Hand reviews Ursula K. Le Guin's Cheek by Jowl at length. Actually,Hand does more than review Cheek by Jowl; after praising its "centerpiece," "the long marvelous title essay on animals in children's literature," she launches into a set of interesting, disgruntled reflections on all that Le Guin has "to answer for"-- which she sums up as: "What irks me is the gentrification of fantasy [I'm a middle-aged bobo, therefore irked by gentrification in all its forms], which has grown so all-encompassing that I impatiently await Martha Stewart's contribution to the genre." Hand laments that the "self-referential, recursive nature of so much contemporary fantasy literature has made it increasingly difficult for a writer to deliver that grace note [the "take your breath away" note "found only in the greatest kind of fantasy"], without its sounding like it's already been winded on someone else's ivory horn. Our marvels have grown commonplace. Fairy fruit's available at Costco now, and Whole Foods."

FemSpec Vol. 9 Issue 2 arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It includes some interesting pieces, ranging from Cristy Dwyer's "Queen Lili'uokalani's Imprisonment Quilt: Indomitable Spirits in Protest Cloth" to Robiin McAlllister's essay on a Cuban feminist sf fotonovella by Daina Chaviano, and including lengthy reviews by Janice Bogstad of The WisCon Chronicles Vol. 1 and by Ritch Calvin of De Secretis Mulierum.

Here's Bogstad: "In its mix of writing levels, range of expertise of the interviewers, interviewees, panel transcripts and shorter pieces, this work demonstrates that knowledge can be transmitted at various levels of discourse, underlining the value of events like WisCon and chronicles of those events like this text. . . . I can recommend this book, especially as the chronicle of an event that cannot be repeated: a weekend in time that is also destined to be timeless. While it is neither a fanzine nor a critical work, it is a source document for future scholars of both fandom and the developmental states of feminism and science fiction."

And here's Calvin: "The narrative of De Secretis Mulierum is framed as a letter sent by Jane Pendler to a researcher, Elena, who is examining the relationship of "women in history" and "women who write history" (75). The selected history that a now-aging and -ailing Pendler provides further comments upon and complicates the question of historical accuracy and reliability. What sorts of women's secrets might history hold? What sorts of technologies might reveal them? What kind of evidence counts as evidence? Who might have better access to this information? To what extent do personal and professional ideologies interfere [with and] alter the "science" of history? Duchamp's novella asks profound questions about the limits of our historical knowledge, the socially constructed nature of knowledge, and the gendered and sexual biases therein."

Finally, don't miss the interesting conversation between Matt Cheney and Istvan Csicsery-Ronay on reading in general and reading James Tiptree Jr. Up the Walls of the World in particular.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Aqueductista Links

Niall Harrison has a long piece about Vandana Singh's work, specifically reviewing The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet but also discussing Distances and Of Love and Other Monsters.

Vandana Singh has an excellent post that includes thoughts on "writing the other" and "mammoth fail" here.

As already noted by Cat Rambo, Eileen Gunn interviews Nisi Shawl at Fantasy Magazine: their discussion ranges from Nisi's work (both fiction and nonfiction), to pie, to Nisi's thoughts on being the first African American to have been awarded the Tiptree (which she has also written about in the latest Aqueduct Gazette (soon to be posted at Aqueduct's site).

Liz Henry reflects on connections between women, inspired by her reading of two Conversation Pieces, My Death and De Secretis Mulierum. (link thanks to Josh Lukin)

Morgan Dhu also writes about My Death (here), Distances (here), and De Secretis Mulierum (here).

Urine-soaked seats: the future of air travel?

All my adult life I've been watching-- or should I say experiencing-- the constant worsening of the conditions of air travel. Discomfort, inconvenience, and airline contempt for passengers have been growing at such a rate since the early 1980s until finally anyone who finds it necessary to fly is left wondering how much worse it could actually get. Over the last couple of years, I've been joking with friends that in the end, since they probably can't squeeze seats any tighter, the airlines will simply pack everyone who can't afford first class in the baggage compartment (for the same prices we have to pay now) and charge a hefty extra fee for oxygen, while in the meantime, on the road to that satirical end, they'll start charging people to use the rest room. Well guess what. In today's Guardian, we read that a European airline has decided to strip their planes of most toilets (leaving only one per plane) and charge passengers 1 pound per rest room visit:

Ryanair boss, Michael O'Leary, insisted today that it will cost passengers a pound to spend a penny as he confirmed plans to charge for toilets on his aeroplanes within two years.

The chief executive of Europe's largest budget carrier said the airline would also generate extra revenues by removing two out of the three toilets on its Boeing 737-800 jets and filling the space with up to six seats.

O'Leary first mooted the toilet charges in February, prompting his press officer to warn that the outspoken executive "makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along". However, O'Leary confirmed that he will ask Boeing to look at putting credit card readers on toilet locks for new aircraft.

Will this actually happen? Probably. And if it does-- and if Boeing equips toilet locks with credit card readers-- you can bet all the US carriers (which, after all, provide cut-rate service for premium prices) will follow suit. Anyone not flying first class is already charged whopping extra fees for checked luggage, aisle seats, seats closer to the exit, exit row seats; and never satisfied with all the cash they've forced their customers to fork over for degrading, uncomfortable "service," the airlines ceaselessly look for ways to further gouge the consumer. Any day now they'll start charging for water and soft drinks. Will they find a way to justifying charging extra for the awful polluted air that recirculates through the cabin? Under the late capitalist, regime, all and every indignity can be inflicted on the captive consumer with impunity. Stay tuned...

(Link thanks to oursin.)

ETA: Actually, once the rest room charges are in place, the flight attendants will probably spend most of their time going up and down the aisle, hawking adult diapers. Do you s'pose every airline will have develop its own brand of diapers and diaper accessories? Diapers, get your diapers here! Delta's Diapers are whisper soft, magically absorbent, and come in three delightful deodorizing scents! They'd have to make them cheaper than a rest-room visit, otherwise no one would buy them...

Nisi Shawl Interview

Fantasy Magazine has an interview with Nisi Shawl, conducted by Eileen Gunn, up here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Centuries Ago and Very Fast reviewed in Locus

Centuries Ago and Very Fast gets some love from Faren Miller in her review in the June issue of Locus:

In Centuries Ago and Very Fast, Rebecca Ore pulls off an audacious experiment: using the raw language and deliberate focus on sexual encounters of "slash" fiction to relate a series of linked episodes and moments of reflection from the stupendously long life of a gay male, from his earliest days as a mammoth-hunting caveman to around the present.

Her review concludes:

...both Vel and Thomas (the latest modern lover who occasionally takes over the narration) compeltely won me over with their matter-of-fact acceptance of both their sexuality and the vagaries of time in a life where "history" is always directly lived and chronology doesn't govern the learning experience. These characters may be nothing like the standard concept of Everyman, with their enthusiastic coupling and all the procedures, rituals and bodily fluids it involves, but they have plenty of interesting things to say about what it means to human.