Linkspam, 8/30/13 Edition

Little tiny poot from that little tiny spout / Bumblebee sneezes and it drowns it out

In which is desired a Derriere – Wondermark, by David Malki !

Linkspam, ho!

Finally, I awoke this morning to news that one of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney, had died. Here’s my favorite poem by him from his 1975 collection, North.

Punishment

I can feel the tug
of the halter at the nape
of her neck, the wind
on her naked front.

It blows her nipples
to amber beads,
it shakes the frail rigging
of her ribs.

I can see her drowned
body in the bog,
the weighing stone,
the floating rods and boughs.

Under which at first
she was a barked sapling
that is dug up
oak-bone, brain-firkin:

her shaved head
like a stubble of black corn,
her blindfold a soiled bandage,
her noose a ring

to store
the memories of love.
Little adulteress,
before they punished you

you were flaxen-haired,
undernourished, and your
tar-black face was beautiful.
My poor scapegoat,

I almost love you
but would have cast, I know,
the stones of silence.
I am the artful voyeuur

of your brain’s exposed
and darkened combs,
your muscles’ webbing
and all your numbered bones:

I who have stood dumb
when your betraying sisters,
cauled in tar,
wept by the railings,

who would connive
in civilized outrage
yet understand the exact
and tribal, intimate revenge.

Con Report: Readercon

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So Readercon happened.  And it was wonderful.

For me, Readercon started Wednesday evening when we drove up to Philadelphia for dinner at El Vez with Fran Wilde, her family, and some of our local friends (including Lawrence Schoen and E.C. Myers).

And before there could be Readercon, there had to be Traincon. There were around 12 of us and we ended up taking over half the cafe car:  Shveta Thakrar,  E.C. Myers, Bernie Mojzes, A.C. Wise,  A.T. Greenblatt, D.T. Friedman, James and Lilly, and Fran Wilde with Chris Gerwel joining us in New York.

When we got to Boston, our little group had a schism–half of us took the train to Alewife and the other half of us took a cab and I gotta say, I’m pretty sure the cab half got a better story out of it. Our driver was really, really, really into the Backstreet Boys, to the point where he had the radio turned up super-loud, was bopping along and using the brake to keep the beat. In traffic. While we’re all frantically texting each other and I, at least, was trying not to laugh.  It was great.

I couldn’t have traveled with a finer group of people and I hope we can do it again.

The hotel, sadly, was under renovation and there was no lobby. And a distinct lack of seating in the public areas (there were mysterious appearing and disappearing chairs in the hallway, too). And there was no pub food menu in the restaurant and the service was terrible but they did a wonderful job with my roommate’s food allergies.

I was on programming every day of Readercon and I think all my panels went pretty well–I was on panels with a lot of incredibly smart and insightful people.  They’re mostly a blur at this point, alas.  I didn’t do as good a job leading the reader shame panel as I’d have liked, but it was my first time leading a panel at Readercon and it went better than the time I moderated a panel at C2E2, so I can’t complain. I learned a few things and will do better next time (assuming there’s a next time). I think my favorite part of being on programming was the people who approached me afterwards to let me know that I’d been informative and/or entertaining–that’s what I aspire to but I’m never sure if I’m succeeding.

We also summoned rum and Coke at my Thursday night panel which was just magical.

All the readings and panels I attended were wonderful and gave me a lot of food for thought, especially the Writing the Other panel and the Unraveling the Privilege of Safety ones (although I did have a cranky-ass moment in the latter where it was implied that “everyone” knew or was warned about the person who harassed Elise Matthesen and again: this is not the case; the back channel does not work for everyone).

The funniest moment of the con was, for me, when Rose Lemberg announced that when they need a break from G.R.R. Martin they read Crime and Punishment. That was on the realism panel which was also quite good, once we got settled in a room. The guide was wrong and there was a caravan from Salon F to, I think, Rhode Island. Which makes it sound like a major trek which, in crowded hotel hallways it kind of was.

I got a chance to see friends I hadn’t seen since last year and make a whole bunch of new ones that I hope to see in future years. I drank too much coffee and too much alcohol and didn’t eat enough vegetables. There was fat swimming on Saturday night (this is when you are fat and you go swimming and you give no fucks). The annual outing to Legal Seafood happened as did the outing to the food court at the mall (where there is a really good Indian restaurant although I didn’t eat any this year). There was an after-con outing to see Pacific Rim which was, in many ways, the perfect way to end Readercon: I have never seen a smarter dumb movie than that one.

I didn’t buy too many books, but I was unable to resist a print copy of the Crossed Genres anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Melancholy of Mechagirl, the Clarkesworld with my favorite Genevieve Valentine story, “A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones”, and John Jakes’s The Last Magicians (because it looked terrible and it was $2 and why the hell not).

Was it a perfect convention? No–no gathering of hundreds of people is going to be perfect. There were some accessibility issues around seating and food.  I also admit to being bothered at being recorded while on panels with no disclosure around what will be done with the recordings–at least none that I could find in the program guide or on the website. But overall it was wonderful.

However, the very best part of Readercon for me was the little things. We had a gender neutral bathroom–it’s a small thing, but it tells people who are non-binary that there is space for them at this convention. People were wearing sparkly lanyards–that was a signal that you could go to them with safety concerns. Overall, the program was amazing–so many great panels with smart people saying smart things on them. It felt like a much safer and open space than it has in years past.  Readercon, as a whole, felt transformative.

I know how much hard work the entire convention committee put in, especially the programming and safety committees and it showed.  They did an absolutely amazing thing: they did more than just change a con, they also changed the culture.

My Readercon 24 Schedule

Brains!

Brains!

I am really excited for Readercon next week (next week!) and I am especially excited about my schedule. And I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and wearing my brain down to a tiny little nub.

If you live in the area and are interested in what Readercon is all about, Thursday evening programming is free and open to the public.

Thursday, July 11

8:00 PM ME Have You Seen Me?: The Absent Children of Urban Fantasy. Toni L. P. Kelner, Shira Lipkin (leader), Natalie Luhrs, Veronica Schanoes, Romie Stott. Real cities are full of children; urban fantasy cities (Bordertown and Sesame Street excepted) appear to be populated almost entirely by adults. In a series of blog posts on the nature of urban fantasy, Kip Manley, working off of Farah Mendlesohn’s Rhetorics of Fantasy, posited that urban fantasy tends toward “immersive fantasies [hinging] on a rhetoric of ironic mimesis, taking for granted the wonders that distance its world from ours,” and leading to a cynicism towards magic. Are children absent from urban fantasy because their innate inclination toward wonder and play would detract from that cynicism? What place might there be for children in this genre, and what are the reasons behind their exclusion?

Suggested by Victoria McManus.

Friday, July 12

3:00 PM ME Knit One, Print Two: Handicrafts, Replicators, and the Future of Making. E.C. Ambrose, Natalie Luhrs, Adrienne Martini (leader), Eric Schaller, David G. Shaw. Take your average 21st-century American knitter on board the Enterprise and the first thing they’d do is replicate a heap of yarn and some needles, or roving and a wheel to spin it with. The replicator might obviate the need for real plants and animals as sources for raw materials, but not the desire of people to create beauty out of those raw materials, or just to do something with their hands on long trips. Given this, why do we almost never see handicrafts in SF futures with replicators? What can futurists learn from the recent simultaneous booms of 3D printers (which are arguably proto-replicators) and handicrafts, both under the header of “making” and often employed and enjoyed by the same people?

Suggested by Rose Fox and Anil Menon.

Saturday, July 13

10:00 AM ME Making Love Less Strange: Romance for SF/F Writers. E.C. Ambrose, Paula Guran, Victoria Janssen (leader), Natalie Luhrs, JoSelle Vanderhooft. When authors who aren’t familiar with romance-genre tropes incorporate romantic elements into speculative fiction, the resulting hybrids can look quite peculiar to romance readers. (Bruce Sterling’s Love Is Strange is a particularly striking recent example.) There can also be an aspect of reinventing the wheel; why struggle with the pacing of relationship development when romance authors have it all figured out? Our panel of envoys from Romanceland will explain the central themes and expectations of the romance genre, from “happily ever after” to physical and literary climaxes, to help SF/F authors looking for a wider audience hit all the notes that romance readers expect while avoiding the genre’s pitfalls.

8:00 PM ME The Gender of Reading Shame. Jordan Hamessley, Natalie Luhrs (leader), Julia Rios, Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Trent Zelazny. In a 2012 post on Book Riot, Amanda Nelson wrote about bookstore shoppers who display signs of shame or embarrassment about their reading choices. She concluded that this behavior is highly gendered: “If men read ‘unliterary’ but stereotypically masculine genres it’s fine. If women read ‘unliterary’ but stereotypically feminine genres it’s deserving of a brown paper bag in the form of increased e-reader sales so you can read in public in peace.” Our panelists discuss their own experiences with reading shame or lack thereof, whether the gender hypothesis holds true within the speculative fiction–reading community, and why we read books we’re ashamed of or feel shame about what we read.

Suggested by Ellen Kushner.

Sunday, July 14

1:00 PM    F    Egalitarian Character Trauma. Amanda Downum, Natalie Luhrs, Daniel José Older, Julia Rios (moderator), Sonya Taaffe. In 2008, Ekaterina Sedia wrote a blog post titled “PSA: Female Trauma!” in which she generated a list of traumatic things that can happen to female characters (spanning a scale from “high heels” to “losing a limb”) that don’t involve sexual violence. In 2012, Seanan McGuire blogged about an anonymous correspondent who asked her “when” her female protagonists were “finally” going to be raped, implying that rape is an inevitable outcome of being a woman. How can we counteract the predominance of sexual(ized) threats to female characters? Is it enough to simply write other things and move the Overton window, or does the status quo need to be directly subverted? Who’s doing it right and what are some examples of doing it wrong?

And just as a general note: I have a difficult time introducing myself to people I don’t know, so if you see me in a public space and want to say hello or if you need help, please approach me. Even if it looks like I’m occupied with knitting or reading.

Linkspam, 6/21/13 Edition

"The Moon", Paul Roden + Valerie Lueth, 2012.

“The Moon”, Paul Roden + Valerie Lueth, 2012.

Finally, this sums up my feelings about people who try so hard to build community only to have it thrown back in their faces: Sad Trombone.

Also! Late breaking! Bryan Thomas Schmidt is still telling people they’re doing it wrong! (screencap) I am so glad that he is around to tell us how to do things! Man. I mean, just MAN. I love how he claims that the people telling him that he’s upholding the status quo and arguing in bad faith (as proven by his actions and his words) are “uninformed assumers with no credibility”.  I think that means he doesn’t know who we are?

Bryan Thomas Schmidt: you do not get to set the terms of engagement. You do not get to tell people who have been told, in various ways throughout their lives, that they need to be nice and polite if they want you–or anyone else–to listen to them.

You think you are an authority. You are not. Authority is earned, not assumed.  You haven’t earned it.  The difference between us? I know I’m not an authority. I’m just an opinionated woman with a website and a low tolerance for bullshit. And I’m okay with that.

Why are you so interested in dictating terms of engagement? What do you get from it? How does it hurt you, personally, if people talk about how racism and sexism in our community make them angry? It doesn’t. It just makes you uncomfortable–and, for whatever reason, you value your comfort over justice. And I find that to be appalling.

Linkspam, 6/14/13 Edition

Totempole head - Uraba lugens

Evolution, go home. You’re drunk. (via)

Before we get into this week’s linkspam–I have a separate post with many links pertaining to This Week in Racist Bullshit. It’s important that we, as a community, make it clear that this is not acceptable behavior.