Monday, March 31, 2014

Numa: An Epic Poem with Photo Collages by Katrinka Moore

I'm pleased to announce the release of Numa: An Epic Poem with Photo Collages, the 38th volume in Aqueduct's Conversation Pieces series, by Katrinka Moore.

Circle the fire, night
at their backs. A lone
voice sings — archaic
strain — flame ashes
spiral of smoke —
Numa the darkness surrounding
them / Numa a vixen edge-
flickering / a sleepy child
catches hazel-eyed
gleam / spark
The poems in Numa tell the story of a shape-shifting numen. Numa, whose home body is that of a wild feline, learns by trial and error to take the form of other animals, plants, and the elements. As she grows up, she uses her skill to experience and share the divine in ordinary aspects of the world. She gives birth to a cub and begins raising her to shape-shift. Then an interloper appears, a young man on a quest for glory who believes he should defeat the “monster” in the forest.

Aqueduct is releasing the book in both print and e-book editions. It's available now here, at Aqueduct's site, and will soon be available elsewhere.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Inclusive Reviewing

This week is flashing past like a speeding bullet. Before it's completely gone, let me point you to a discussion (if you haven't already encountered it) of reviewing and issues of inclusivity, featured this week at Strange Horizons. It comes in three parts: Nisi Shawl's excellent essay Reviewing the Other: Like Dancing about Architecture; Samuel R. Delany's essay Escaping Ethnocentriticty?; and Inclusive Reviewing: A Discussion, by Samuel R. Delany, L. Timmel Duchamp, Fabio Fernandes, Andrea Hairston, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Sofia Samatar, and Aishwarya Subramanian.

Monday, March 24, 2014

2013 Galactic Suburbia Award

Galactic Suburbia's Alex, Alisa, and Tansy have announced the 2013 Galactic Suburbia award for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction! Here's the list:

Honor List

Malinda Lo's continuing statistics gathering on LGBT YA books 
  Foz Meadows for her blogging generally, but particularly "Old Men Yelling at Clouds." 
  Anita Sarkeesian - Tropes vs Women in Video Games (Damsel in Distress 1 & 2, Ms Male Character) 
  The Doubleclicks - Nothing to Prove music video 
  Cheryl Morgan - The Rise & Fall of Grimpink 
  Deb Stanish for her essay in Apex magazine: "Fangirl isn't a Dirty Word." 

Honorary shortlistee (the Julia Gillard Award):

  Wendy Davis for her amazing filibuster

Joint Winners this Year!!! (drum roll please) 

  NK Jemisin for her GoH speech from Continuum (link
  Elise Matthesen for her essay "How to Report Sexual Harassment at cons" (link

But do go listen to the podcast, which announces and discusses the winners and honor list, here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sarah Tolmie's The Stone Boatmen

Sarah Tolmie's The Stone Boatmen is back from the printer. The novel won't be officially released until April 1, but Aqueduct Press is selling it now for a pre-release price of $16 through its website, until the official release date. The Stone Boatmen evolved out of Tolmie’s fascination with the fourteenth-century visionary poem, Piers Plowman, which she has also explored in the media of virtual reality and dance. Her novel weaves a tale of three cities, separated by oceans, lost to one another long ago: the first, the city of rituals, of ceremonies; the second, the city of words, of poetry; and the third, the city of the golden birds, of dreams. In their harbors stand the stone boatmen, pointing outward toward the unknown. Now the birds are fostering a new-found relationship of the three cities of the ancestors, and the voyages of the ship Aphelion and its crew are beginning to rebuild the links.

Ursula Le Guin declares of The Stone Boatmen: “Certain imaginative novels never best-sell, yet remain alive, a singular treasure to each new generation that finds them — books such as Islandia, The Worm Ouroboros, Gormenghast. The Stone Boatmen has the makings of one of these quiet classics. It is lucid yet complex. Its strangeness fascinates, captivates. To read it is to find yourself in a country a long, long way from home, taken on a unforeseeable journey — and when it's over, you wish you were still there.”

Publishers Weekly has given The Stone Boatmen a starred review: "The voyages of the ship Aphelion reconnect three isolated cities whose shared past is an enigma of half-understood relics and myth. Tolmie gently guides the reader through a winding thread of linked relationships that span decades as each generation rediscovers infatuation, love and hate, grief, and joy; what could be mere grand inhuman spectacles of epic historical processes are firmly rooted in individual friendships, romances, and bitter feuds that add a vital human dimension. Tolmie's prose is addictive, 'a feast of words burning bright against the dark,' drawing the reader into the subtle tale. Intimacy is favored over flashy action, contemplation over bold speeches. This unique little gem eludes comparison to other works, and discerning readers will count themselves lucky to discover it."

You can purchase the print edition from Aqueduct now, as well as the e-book edition. Both will be available in the usual places on April 1.

ETA: Nancy Hightower wrote about The Stone Boatmen in the March 18, 2014 Washington Post: " In Tolmie’s novel, writing becomes a holy act, temple birds carry an ancient grief, and statues that never move are eerily alive. You will want to find such places once you’ve finished reading this remarkable novel."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remedial history months

It's Women's History month. For those who might wonder why we still need such a thing, Ruth Rosen explains spells it out in an article published at Open Democracy last Sunday. She begins:

"Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin "helping" them. Such a world does not exist —never has” —Gerda Lerner
Aside from the Republican’s relentless War on Women, let me offer you another reason why even one token month is still necessary to America’s political culture.

I’ve just finished reading a book titled The Season of the Witch, written by David Talbot, who founded in 1995, the first web magazine in the United States, known for breaking investigative journalistic stories. The book is an evocative political, social and cultural history of San Francisco from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Since he dealt with every trend and movement, often in overheated prose, I kept waiting—and waiting--for him to describe the sudden explosion of the women’s liberation movement.

Astonishingly, Talbot didn’t even write one paragraph about the women’s movement, which certainly transformed American political and social culture more profoundly than did the two chapters he devotes to the San Francisco 49ers football team.

Did his publisher tell him that half the population was dispensable? Did his agent convince him that including feminism would diminish the appeal and profits? Is he just ignorant?

This is just one example why we need Women’s History Month in the United States. It’s to prevent students, teachers, intellectuals and writers from forgetting about half its population.

The origins of this month reflect an era in which the grassroots efforts of a few prescient individuals created a national month dedicated to informing the public about women’s lives. It was during the late 1970s when a growing number of women, grasping the subordination of women in the present, began to wonder about what women did in the past. The idea of “women history” was still very new, and yet a group of women on the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a "Women's History Week" celebration for 1978.

Rosen goes on to recount some of the history of the area of the discipline called "Women's History." And then she concludes:
Fast forward to 2014 and one has to ask, so is Women’s History Month still necessary? Didn’t we transform the curriculum in all the disciplines, change laws and customs, legalize abortion, force everyone to call us Ms. instead of Mrs. and Miss, and teach students not to faint when a female professor entered the room?

Unfortunately, it is still necessary to have a token month devoted to women’s lives. Every generation of little girls and women need to learn their past so that they can imagine a future in which gender equality is the norm and not the exception.

Understanding women’s history is also an essential antidote to the Republican’s “war on women.” We are no longer in the midst of just a “backlash” against the women’s movements, as was true in the 1980s; feminism is the object of a serious right-wing attack against women’s rights, especially women’s reproduction freedom. And even our friends and allies, writing about San Francisco’s cultural history, clearly need reminding that women transform history.

No one ever expected Women’s History Month to change our political culture, at least not by itself. It doesn’t change the double standard that still exists when a woman runs for electoral office. (Did she spend too much or too little time with her children?) Nor does it change the endless scrutiny of women’s appearances—attacks against Hillary Clinton’s thighs or descriptions of Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas who stood up for women’s reproductive rights as “Abortion Barbie.”
I've sometimes wondered, and I know that others have, too, why we still have such remedial "token" months as "Black History Month" (which was last month) and "Women's History Month." Black people should be an integral part of all non-specialized histories of the US, and women should be, too. When I was a university teaching assistant in the 1970s, one of the professors I taught for excoriated me after a visit to one of my classes, chiding me with the assertion that "Women and children are irrelevant to 19th-century European history." He, I already knew, was clinging to what Lerner calls "a world that does not exist"--and did not really exist even in the 1970s. That was forty years ago. Do people still cling to worlds that shove anyone who isn't a white male so far to the margins that those worlds, too, do not really exist? We know they do. Will we still need these token months forty years hence? You tell me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Introducing Arrate Hidalgo Sanchez

Hello all! This is Arrate speaking. I am Aqueduct Press’ new trainee, freshly arrived to Seattle to learn about and train in all things Aqueductian.

A few years ago I left my Spanish home for England, where I learned the ins and outs of publishing from a book’s conception through to its printing and delivery. This work made me happy and I had long been dreaming of applying my skills to literature I really care about, and hence it just seemed natural that my next step would be knocking at Aqueduct Press’s door.

My love affair with feminist science fiction began only a few years ago, although the preamble to it had been ballooning inside me since encountering Pamela Zoline’s 1967 short story "The Heat Death of the Universe," a very much discussed piece of subtle science fiction that showed me that there was another way, a different, exciting way to write speculative fiction—or just fiction, for that matter—that spoke directly to me as a woman and a feminist. Zoline’s Californian housewife Sarah Boyle put my world upside down and it has never been quite the same ever since. I have always been intrigued by liminal beings that inhabit several worlds and none at the same time. Creatures that we cannot quite pin down, neither evil nor good, that escape the constraints of human-animal, male-female dichotomies. The trickster Loki (without whom the surviving mythological Norse tales would not be half as fun) quickly springs to mind, but there are many more such characters, and I find that feminist science fiction is a world in which they thrive.

From Ursula K. Le Guin’s gendered-at-will citizens of planet Winter in The Left Hand of Darkness, to brave, compassionate Luciente in Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, to the innocent but resourceful teenage girl Rachel trapped in a chimp’s body in Pat Murphy’s "Rachel in Love," to, more recently, the bodyspeaking nectar collector WaLiLa of Kiini Ibura Salaam’s James Tiptree Jr. Award-winning short story collection Ancient, Ancient: these are characters that inhabit margins and mezzanines of meaning, reassembling and dismantling constructions of humanity and gender. And these are the books I love: books that tear apart the conventions perpetuating unjust power structures, restrictive sexual roles, and finite expressions of humanity in beautiful, inspiring ways.

Aqueduct Press turns ten years old this year and I will be helping to celebrate the feat by bringing back the newsletter and organizing a party at this year’s WisCon. I will have lots of reading to do as well, and I will be digging for classic titles that may deserve a proper reappearance on our shelves.

I will also be looking to build bridges between Seattle and the feminist science fiction being written in Spain, which is little, but fierce. While a great deal of Spanish science fiction, both by women and men, faithfully follows the conventions of the canon, there are some voices—Elia Barceló and Lola Robles, for instance—that have been paving the way for the last couple of decades towards a change in the tradition. I suspect there will be more about this topic soon enough.

I look forward to putting my passion for books that matter to good use, and I can’t wait to get started.