Rocket Talk!

Hey, check it out!  I’m on Rocket Talk!

This was a lot of fun to record–so great to chat with both Jenny and Justin about the really strong slate of short stories nominated for this year’s Hugo.

For reference, here are the nominated stories:

In other news, I was hoping to have time to compile a links post to go up while I’m at Readercon–I don’t think that’s going to happen as I seem to be running out of time.

But I will mention that Elise Matthesen has some gorgeous shinies up for sale. “Everything I Know” is coming to live with me but I was also quite tempted by “Bring Me the Heart of Edward Cullen”, too.

Readercon 25: My Schedule

I’ll be at Readercon 25 this coming weekend–I am always happy to meet new people and if I’m in one of the public spaces, that means I’m approachable. If I’m by myself, chances are good that I’ll be reading or knitting or drawing–please interrupt me! If I need alone time, I will be in my room.

That said, here are the panels I’m going to be on–to say that I’m excited about them all would be an understatement. I am not officially participating in Meet the Pro(se) on Friday night, but I’ll probably stick my head in for a little while.

Friday July 11

11:00 AM G This Whole Situation Is Monstrous!: Supernatural Excuses for Abusive Behavior. Leah Bobet (leader), Liz Gorinsky, Catt Kingsgrave, Natalie Luhrs, Veronica Schanoes, Peter Straub. Paranormal romance for adults and teens often provides supernatural excuses for abusive behavior. For example, in Cassandra Clare’s The City of Lost Souls, a character’s abusive behavior as a teenager stems from his confusion over being turned into a werewolf. Years later the teens reunite, explanations are given, and the boy’s redemption story briefly takes center stage in the narrative. Instead of focusing on abusers’ redemption through human aspects overcoming monstrous aspects, and obscuring the unpleasant truth that abuse is a very human behavior, is there a better way to use the supernatural to talk about abuse?

7:00 PM G Romance Recs for Spec Fic Fans. Saira Ali, Beth Bernobich, Rose Fox, Victoria Janssen (leader), Natalie Luhrs, Cecilia Tan. At Readercon 24, “Making Love Less Strange” discussed ways for spec fic authors to incorporate romance into their work. Building on that, this panel will provide and invite recommendations of romance novels that spec fic fans will enjoy and authors can learn from. Some examples include Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke, a steampunk police procedural; Isabel Cooper’s No Proper Lady, starring a time-traveling demon-battling assassin; and Sara Creasy’s Song of Scarabeus, an action-packed cyberpunk space opera. Prepare to take notes.

Saturday July 12

11:00 AM G Criticism in the Service of the Field. Chris Gerwel, Andrea Hairston, Donald Keller, Robert Killheffer (moderator), Natalie Luhrs. An editor performs quality assurance (QA) on a book, making it the best book it can be. Literary critics might be seen as taking the QA role for the entire industry of publishing, or the specific portion of it in which they ply their trade. How does the practice of criticism change if critics of speculative fiction take it as their goal to help the field be the best it can be?

Sunday July 13

11:00 AM ENL Readercon Recent Fiction Bookclub: Ancillary Justice. Francesca Forrest, Adam Lipkin, Natalie Luhrs, Sarah Pinsker (leader), Sonya Taaffe. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice is gender-bending space opera with a thriller pace and sensibility. Critics are hailing Leckie’s worldbuilding in the story of Breq, the remaining ancillary consciousness of a formerly great warship. We’ll explore Leckie’s themes of humanity and justice, as well as the way the book’s use of nearly exclusively female pronouns shakes up or affirms our notions of a gender binary.

Links: 07/04/14

Two things I read this week and loved:

And a few updates on WisCon:

Guest Post: Sunny Moraine on the Importance of Non-Fiction

Sunny Moraine, friend of The Radish and all-round awesome human being, has a collection of essays out today–and they were kind enough to write me a lovely essay about the importance of non-fiction in genre.

A Brief History of the Future, Sunny Moraine

I’m not sure what actually made me decide to collect two years of essays and blog posts into a book. It’s not that any of the content is exclusive – it’s all online already. It’s not that I expect an essay collection to do fabulously well, because I know they tend to be a tough sell. I think it was more that I just wanted to see if I could, or at least if I could without hating myself and life and word processing and Adobe Acrobat. Turns out that was possible, and now I have a book. That I made all by myself.

In some ways, compiling two years of nonfiction writing turns out to be very different than surveying a collection of short fiction. There are challenges that fiction does not, I think, tend to present. Blog posts can contain massive numbers of hyperlinks, and indeed mine often do. I puzzled over what to do about this for a while. In the end I decided on footnotes, which is massively clumsy – I’m in graduate school, and in five years of that I learned to despise footnotes – but which seemed to be the most approachable solution at the time. I puzzled about how to arrange the pieces – chronological, or no? Chronological didn’t seem to work at all; thematic organization made a lot more sense to me, and in the end I came away with four sections (writing, games, technology, and life in general) that bleed into each other in some ways that I personally find useful.

But perhaps most significant, at least for me, was the difference in how I relate to my nonfiction writing versus the work I do that’s arguably fictional. When we talk about writing in this community, it’s easy to overlook everything else in favor of fiction. The idea of collecting a bunch of blog posts into a book and calling them essays – even when most of them could be said to adhere to that format – seemed a bit pretentious. Wasn’t my fiction what I should be focusing on? I published this book under my SFF writer name, which is not the name I often blog under – was that confusing? Are the clear lines of connection I’m drawing here too clear? Is this something that might not work in my favor, in ways I can’t foresee?

Nonfiction writing does matter. Blog posts matter. Blogging matters. Among those of us in genre, the last few years have been fraught – let’s face it, things have pretty much always been fraught for the people who have the audacity to argue that SFF shouldn’t be almost entirely straight and white and cisgender and male – and our blogging has been part of how we make our voices heard. It’s been part of how we work through ideas, how we call out the bullshit, how we form community with each other. How we share news. For many of us, I think, our blogs have served as our supply lines and our communication with the front. We need them. The writing here is every bit as important as our stories, because really, it’s all our stories. Fiction doesn’t have a corner on the transference of knowledge. That much should be obvious.

But in this book and in my writing, I also have a foot in the academic world, and there blogging still has an even harder time of it. In many circles, it’s still regarded as not only mostly useless but something to be actively avoided, something you shouldn’t put on a CV because people will wonder why you indulged in such distractions. Too many people don’t see it for what it is: a way to do academic work publicly, to engage with people we might not otherwise talk to, about theory and research and teaching and everything. It’s a way to fumble through concepts, to make conceptual leaps and connections without having to slog through the ponderous, frustrating, and increasingly morally bankrupt process of academic publication. It’s a nimble, fun way to do the work I’m in grad school to do, and of all the work I’ve done since I got here, it’s actually been the most intellectually rewarding.

So in the end, what I took out of this process was a new respect for this kind of writing, for my writing, and a public stance that it’s something valuable. That it literally has value, in every respect. I can do this. I did do this. And now it’s out in the world, and I’m proud of it.

If you pick it up, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did over the two years in which I produced its contents.

For more of Sunny’s non-fiction, pick up A Brief History of the Future in paper or electronically. Or check out their fabulous blog And if you’re interested in their fiction, check out Line & Orbit (more) or Crowflight (disclosure: I am acquisitions editor at Masque Books, publisher of Sunny’s Casting the Bones trilogy)

Links: 06/27/14