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All (except one, sadly) of these are Hugo Eligible in 2016. Just sayin’. And you literally have no excuse to not watch them. They are available online, streaming, for less than the price of a movie ticket. Links are to the trailers on youtube.

**I cannot speak for availability outside the US. Input from readers in other countries welcome.

  1. Ex Machina – available from Google Play, iTunes, PS Store, and others for $4.99. I’m sticking my flag in this one and calling it the best science fiction movie of 2015. You have no excuse if you consider yourself a fan of the genre. (My review at Strange Horizons.)
  2. It Follows – available for $4.99 basically everywhere. Look, this movie is excellent and scary as hell, and I’m recommending it despite the fact that I really don’t like horror movies. (Totally Pretentious podcast episode for this movie.) [Sorry to report that this film technically is not Hugo eligible for 2016 because it released in festivals in 2014.]
  3. What We Do in the Shadows – available for $9.99 on a multitude of online streaming services. This is a mockumentary about vampires living in New Zealand, and absolutely hilarious. Swearwolves!
  4. Infini – available for $3.99 from Google Play, Vudu, Youtube, and Amazon. Currently on Netflix for free with subscription. Fucked up space zombie alien thriller that I needed a hug after.
  5. Turbo Kid – available on Vudu and Google Play for $6.99. I reviewed it in the first issue of Mothership Zeta. Sparkle unicorn BMX apocalypse, DO NOT SAY NO.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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There is a basic level of surreality you have to accept when you approach this movie, similar to when you watch a Terry Gilliam or Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. (I can’t believe it’s coincidence that one of the characters is named Gilliam.) There are things that happen that don’t necessarily make sense outside of a sort of dream logic. But if you can accept that, the experience is intense and rewarding.

Snowpiercer is gorgeous and disturbing and a bit heartbreaking. Just the way it was filmed was beautiful. Every car of the massive train has its own distinctive color palette and environment, which I loved. It goes from claustrophobic filth in the rear of the train to strangely 50s-esque, to technicolor futuristic to heartlessly gearpunk. And while there’s quite a bit of violence in the film, it’s brutal rather than titillating. People who get hit once with an ax go down and stay down. (Well, mostly.) Characters come out of the mid-film meat grinder utterly shell-shocked.

(And considering the movie I saw before this was Transformers 4, I appreciated the visual coherence among the complexity all the more.)

The plot for the movie sounds deceptively simple when summed up: Geoengineering that attempts to counter the undeniable threat of global climate change goes horribly wrong, throwing the world into a life-killing ice age. Humans take refuge on a massive train that is effectively a closed ecosystem that never ceases moving, making an entire circuit of all the continents once a year. There is a strict class system enforced with religious fervor, based on the original ticket bought by the passengers. The tail of the train is basically steerage, controlled brutally and fed on “protein cubes” with the cars becoming increasingly high class toward the engine. Curtis (Chris Evans) working with Gilliam (John Hurt) foments a rebellion and attempts to take control of the engine so they can demand equal treatment for those who live in the tail.

As you can imagine, this movie is very specifically about class, and about the way the poor are controlled, abused, and used by the wealthy. It’s also very much about the structures put in place by the wealthy in order to maintain that control—in this case to a Machiavellian, mind-bending degree. But the most pointed and brutal scenes of the movie are really the ones that involve children, both the way children are indoctrinated from an early age, and the way the children of the poor are ultimately meat for the gears of society.

The next time someone says that science fiction—nay, good science fiction—can’t or shouldn’t be political, I invite them to sit down and watch Snowpiercer. Then take a big swig from their swimming-pool-sized movie theater cup of shut-the-fuck-up.

I can’t begin to say how grateful I am that Bong Joon-ho dug in his heels and fought to keep his cut of the movie intact. If you’re one of those lucky people who live in a city where Snowpiercer is showing on its limited release, drop what you’re doing and go.

(For an excellent analysis of Snowpiercer as a movie about capitalism, see here.)

And a few SPOILERS now: 

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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So I was just thinking this morning, about how back in my undergrad days I wrote a paper wherein I mentioned that use of the adjective shrill to describe a person can be generally considered a red flag for sexism. That class involved peer critiques, and I subsequently had a male classmate who took a lot of umbrage to that statement explain to me, in a very animated way, how I was totally wrong.

Because, yanno. Shrill just gets used to describe women more because our voices are higher pitched than men’s. So when we’re loud it’s even more high pitched. It’s just accurate.

Yeah, dude, you’re right. I don’t know what could possibly be sexist at all about implying that the very pitch of our voices is grating when we’re being loud, as in: saying things you don’t like. (Seriously, has anyone ever been described as shrill in a positive way?) And it gets applied to men too, so it can’t be sexist! (Because goodness knows, men have never been insulted by the implication that they act/sound like women.) I’m sure there is absolutely nothing demeaning about a strongly voiced fact or opinion being reduced, in effect, to nothing more than an annoying sound.

You know. It’s not what you’re saying. It’s just the way you’re saying it. Being all loud and stuff. It hurts my delicate ears. Can’t you be sweeter?

Of course, recollections like these don’t just float up out of the blue. My brain got wrenched in that direction last night thanks to Tangent Online’s special review of the Women Destroy Scifi issue of Lightspeed.

First off: oh my gosh the reviewer said nice things about my story, AAAAAAAAAAAAAA, (she screeched with shrill delight. Huh. Doesn’t really work, does it?)

Generally speaking, the reviews are solid; while I’ve disagreed with various reviewers from time to time, I think the site does yeoman’s work when it comes to sorting through the massive number of short stories out there. (With occasional notable exception.) Where it just gets kind of special is in the response to Christie Yant’s introduction, and then David Truesdale’s “closing thoughts,” which could be better titled Oh you silly lady writers, being all wrong about everything and stuff.

I’m not going to really wade into this. Natalie LuhrsAmal El-Mohtar, and E. Catherine Tobler already did an amazing job at their respective sites and you should go read those. I just want to point out one thing. In the entire special review, the word shrill gets used twice. (Emphasis in both quotes added by me.)

Once by Martha Burns:

In addition, the authors play with tropes regarding femininity and don’t worry that the decision makes one too much or not enough of a feminist. They do not have to worry that the project makes one shrill. Voila. And the stories work.

(Which is a very positive statement that, I think, acknowledges the historic use of the word.)

And then once by Dave Truesdale:

The sad thing, and this is something I can’t help but fear, is that the closer these hypothetical weary travelers get to the SF community down there in the plush valley, looking to find rest, refreshment, and perhaps a place to call home, what they will first hear wafting up on the wind from that village in the valley below are cries and exhortations that it is not a nice place to visit, much less to consider making it a home. The shrill cries of racism!, sexism!, and homophobia lives here!, Beware and stay away!, will drive the travelers away before the decent folk of the village have a chance to tell them how life really is, there in their village where all are welcome and the occasional ne’er-do-wells are shown the road out of town.

“Shrill cries” is pretty much the summation of Truesdale’s characterization of the various in-genre blow-ups of the last couple of years–which was at its most basic one of the major motivating forces for the existence of this anthology and its resounding success on Kickstarter. Apparently not only are we totally wrong, we’re incredibly loud and annoying while we’re at it. His poor, delicate ears.

Considering Ms. Burns had only just said that we “do not have to worry that the project makes one shrill…” Well.

Hopes: dashed. I love the smell of irony in the morning.

(Have I mentioned the Women Destroy Scifi issue of Lightspeed? Because you should totally go buy it.)

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I literally had just gotten in the door from work, was rushing to try to get my computer set up so I could say mean things about Godzilla (2014) on the Skiffy and Fanty show (which is a whole other bit squee right there) when my phone rang. Scaring the crap out of me in the process.

It was Christie Yant. This is the first time in my life I have been called about any kind of writer-type thing. And Christie wanted to talk to me about Women Destroy ScifiNamely that they needed another story for the print edition and she loved my story that she had to turn down so much, that was the one she wanted and then I think she might have said some other things but I couldn’t hear her over my brain going OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

(And all I have to do is be able to do quick turn around on the edits tomorrow. Sister, for a chance to destroy science fiction, I WOULD DO MY EDITS WITH FEET WHILE BALANCING ON MY FREAKING HANDS AND SINGING LATIN HIPHOP FOR YOU.)

So I get to destroy scifi with my sistren after all. AND I STILL GET TO BE IN LIGHTSPEED. YES. I JUST SOLD THE SAME STORY TWICE TO LIGHTSPEED. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

And that was my Friday night. I think I win.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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No really, John C. Wright. You flounced, you’re not my problem any more, I don’t have to care about your bullshit misogyny and gross homophobia. I’m done with you. Stop wasting my time.

Only then you go and pull this shit.

I have this problem, you see. Most of the time, when there’s someone saying stupid things on the internet, I can make myself get up and walk away because I seriously have better things to do with my limited number of minutes on this mortal coil. Like read books. And write. And play with my cats.

But when it’s a particular brand of stupid shit on the internet, when it’s someone saying things that should be connected to actual real facts, I. Just. Can’t.

I already had an inkling that Mr. Wright had some problems with the truth after his flounce. But this just confirms it. So let’s play some whack-a-mole, shall we? Please, don’t consider the following comprehensive, exhaustive, or final. I invite you to play your own round of Spot The Bullshit. It’s fun for all ages! Enjoy slogging through his comically overwrought paragraphs! My brainmeats may never recover!

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

Not calling this out as an untruth necessarily, but because I am so, so fucking sick of this.

First off (at the risk of inviting hordes of flying monkeys to my blog for failing to bow at the feet of the Heinlein) you say that like it’s a bad thing. Second off, he won a Retro Hugo for best novel, for Farmer in the Sky, in 2001. This is not to say that if Farmer in the Sky had been on the actual 2001 Hugo ballot, it would have won. No, I’m pretty sure Harry Potter would have nutpunched poor Bill Lermer and gained the victory without breaking a sweat.

I’m also forced to wonder at the implied assumption that, had Robert Heinlein been born in 1977 (or 1967) instead of 1907, he would be writing the exact same stuff in 2014 that he wrote in 1954 (The Star Beast) or 1964 (Farnham’s Freehold–holy shit, I hope not!). Feels kind of insulting to him that if he’d grown up in a different time he wouldn’t have maybe had some different opinions, but I guess that shouldn’t be surprising coming as it is from someone who has attitudes about gender roles that might have been more at home in the Victorian era.

But that’s a discussion for a different time, a different place, and probably to be had by people who are a lot more personally concerned with Heinlein than I am. Let’s get back on track.

Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way. The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man is vehement and ongoing. An unsuccessful boycott was organized against the movie Ender’s Game, but he was successfully shoved off a project to write for Superman comics.

This is what’s commonly known as a lie. Orson Scott Card has a history of virulent and public homophobia dating back to the early 90s (oh look, Salon has been kind enough to collect a non-exhaustive timeline!) The straw that broke the homosexual’s back, so to speak, was him joining the board for the National Organization for Marriage in 2009–the loathsome organization that worked to pass Proposition 8 in California and then tried to defend it with blatant, pathetic lying in court. His involvement in NOM was specifically cited by the campaign to boycott the Ender’s Game movie, by the way.

Even better, Wright doesn’t even believe this line of shit himself. To quote a comment he posted in his own blog in response to someone pointing out that hey, OSC is in trouble for sticking his hand into the political blender when it comes to same-sex marriage, not for being a Christian:

Hence if Mr Card, a Christian, expresses what Christian should hold, he does and he must express the idea that homosexual acts are sins. When Mr Card is being punished for speaking out against homosex, he is being punished for being a true Christian.

Huh. I thought you said it was just incredibly mild opposition to judicial activism. Not “homosex.” Whatever the fuck that is. But if you read that entire post (I suggest you have an airsickness bag on hand first) it’s painfully obvious that Wright’s concerned about OSC being boycotted and punished for being, gosh, virulently homophobic because their opinions are totally similar, OSC is just so much more mild than him.

(Aside: This quote is from a hilarious thread in which Mr. Wright debates with a commenter whether or not Mormons are Christian and thus deserving of help.)

Mr. Wright, stop lying.

Likewise, Theodore Beale was expelled from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers America (SFWA), our professional union, on the rather specious grounds that he repeated comments from a members-only bulletin board to the general public.

Nope. Beale is an embarrassing (racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic) shitstain in the shorts of humanity in general, but what got him finally thrown out of SFWA was using the organization’s official Twitter feed to promote a racist, misogynistic screed. Here’s a post Amal El-Mohtar wrote prior to his expulsion, with screenshots of said screed. I don’t know, something about those professional organizations. They don’t like it when members try to drag them through the racist, sexist shit.

He was libeled with the same typical menu as above. [The "list from above"--ed: You know the selection: racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, insensitivity, fascism.] (By odd coincidence, the falsely accused racist here is also Hispanic.) That the expulsion was done in an irregular and ad hoc fashion casts an additional pall of shame over it.

(Note, I’m guessing the “falsely accused racist here is also Hispanic” is in reference to Larry Correia. I’m leaving the Correia issue alone because I do not know enough about the guy other than the fact that I think he’s an asshole, and still cannot be bothered to slog through the festering cesspit of his blog to investigate.)

Quoted from the screenshot of Beale’s blog post: [For context that should probably be unnecessary, NK Jemisin is African-American.]

Jemisin has it wrong; it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious reason that she is not.

And:

Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without external support.

Yes. Beale is totally not racist at all. [/withering sarcasm] Stop lying.

Back to Wright’s bullshit fest.

Likewise, Elizabeth Moon was “uninvited” from being the guest of honor at a large convention for making the rather unremarkable remark that immigrants to the United States should assimilate.

If you actually care to read the article linked to, you will find that once again that Wright is going for the incredibly dishonest minimization route. Now, maybe it was just the assimilation comment that got Elizabeth Moon uninvited. Or maybe it was this:

I know – I do not dispute – that many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks, did not approve of them, would have stopped them if they could. I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways. But Muslims fail to recognize how much forbearance they’ve had.

I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom. It would be helpful to have them understand what they’re demanding of me and others – how much more they’re asking than giving.

Context matters. Considering that the large convention in question is WisCon (pretty much the most liberal scifi convention that has ever liberaled), I’m more surprised Wright even managed to mention it obliquely without his poor conservative fingers bursting into white-hot flame from the hellish proximity of so many un-shaven she-devil feminists.

Likewise, under the editorial guidance of Jean Rabe, two well-established science fiction writers, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg, in the SFWA house magazine made comments ranging from the complimentary to the utterly innocuous about lady writers and editors breaking into the field. That issue also featured a toothsome sword-wielding Amazon in chain-mail bikini. All three were fired.

Wow, going there are we? The original comments in the Bulletin, however they might have been intended, were not complimentary, nor innocuous. The inflammatory and trollish way Resnick and Malzberg decided to respond (“liberal fascists,” really?) earned just the ire for which it had been aiming. That Wright chooses to describe the chain-mail bikini-wearing warrior woman as “toothsome” honestly just goes to prove every fucking complaint women had about that cover. Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg had a regular column that was discontinued because a large portion of the membership didn’t feel like paying to see ourselves belittled in writing; to my understanding, that’s not the same as firing. Jean Rabe resigned, though I suppose one could argue if she felt pressured, but she was ultimately not fired either.

Stop. Lying.

None accuse Mike Ashley of any evil intent against women. Yet if you look at the Wikipedia entry for this anthology, there is only one quote from a critic, mocking his lack of diversity.

Wikipedia: the best source ever for iron clad proof of the existence of conspiracies.

And then Wright goes of into a giant, frankly masturbatory stroke-fest about his cherished belief that he and people like him are persecuted. Keep reading if you want to feel a sense of creeping, disgusted awkwardness.

It’s a free country. Mr. Wright is entitled to his own opinion that the evil liberal thought police are out to get him, and I really could not give less of a shit if I tried. But just like climate change deniers, evolution deniers, moon landing conspiracy theorists, 9/11 truthers, and every other flavor of disingenuous nut scrabbling for justification, he is not entitled to his own facts.

Kindly stop wasting my time.

Sashay_Away

Stop lying. Asshole.

(PS: Natalie, IHU SO MUCH RN.)

Related links: 

HERE. If you want to watch someone try to take on the tortured “logic” in Wright’s post–which I noped right out of and went for the low-hanging fruit of completely dishonesty–Foz has taken a stab at it. Foz deserves all the cookies.

Natalie has also opined about Lying Liars Who Lie.

Popelizbet has an absolutely gorgeous takedown of some of the quasi-philosophical bullshit asshattery that the rest of us didn’t want to touch. NO REALLY READ THIS IT’S SO WORTH IT.

Marissa Lingen makes an excellent point about Heinlein that I only touched on here in the lightest possible sense.

From my own blog: The deeply pathetic intimation of violence. Because duels for honor are a thing?

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I have two new short stories out, because I am living the dream!

First off, go to Scigentasy and read What Purpose a Heart. Because it is painfully obvious that your morning doesn’t contain nearly enough space opera, ship to ship battles, or lesbians. I’m even more excited because the artwork Scigentasy put with this story is absolutely gorgeous and perfect in every way. So go! Read it! Why haven’t you read it yet?

Also, the second piece of flash I’ve ever managed to write, List of Items Found in Valise on Welby Crescent is out in Shimmer #19. This story has had three different incarnations and gone through over 10 drafts, which is pretty impressive (or potentially depressing) considering it’s less than 500 words long. But it’s an odd little story I wanted to see if I could tell in a strange way, and I’m really pleased with it. The story will be available online in June, but I think you definitely want to read it so much right now that you should buy a copy of Shimmer #19. And as a bonus you’ll get some other awesome fiction too.

Patricia Ash at GearHearts has reviewed The Ugly Tin Orrery and gave it 4/5 gears. If you’ve been missing out on pirates and murder and steam engines designed to jump the tracks, you should really remedy that. Just sayin.

Other exciting things are in the works, which has involved me being in editing hell for the last two weeks. Super exciting things. Unfortunately if I told you, a squadron of ninja would then have to show up at your house and kill you to preserve my honor, so it’s probably for the best that I’m just going to be mysterious and annoying about it.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Edited significantly on 4/30 at 1238 because I had my opinion forcibly modified downward and am feeling much less charitable now.

I’m not the only one on the “deets or GTFO” wagon. Apparently SFWA already requested evidence as well and Mr. Wright was too much of a “gentleman” to provide it. So again: Deet it or beat it.

Also, apparently Brad Torgersen is letting his SFWA membership lapse. I’m not planning to be the SFWA membership monitoring police (I have a real job and god, I do not even care), but I did want to mention it because of his stated reasons.

Instead of tackling (head on) the job of defending authors’ interests in a publishing industry enduring great change, SFWA contents itself by persecuting individual members for perceived sins of nonconformity, engaging in ideological purity tests (“Your papers . . . they are not in order!”) and impugning the reputations of men (and women) who have devoted their lives to enriching and growing the field.

(Brad, if you ever by chance stumble across this, I would like to say in all sincerity, thank you for acknowledging that whole women existing thing, if parenthetically. And using words like “members” and “officers.” I’m serious; the difference us stark when you put you’re words next to Mr. Wright’s. So thank you.)

And also:

I’ve seen a mentor slandered, attacked, and thrown out of the Bulletin, and I’ve seen my editor straw-manned and maligned by one of SFWA’s darlings and former top officers.

This is my issue. Actually, two of them. And since this was a comment on Mr. Wright’s blog and not a melodramatic letter created for public consumption, I think it’s fair for me to admit I may be overthinking things a little.

First: If you are accusing the organization itself of a campaign of persecution, same rules apply: deets or GTFO. And sorry, you don’t get to use Theodore Beale. History has yet to be rewritten to that extent. If you are accusing SFWA as an organization of impugning the reputations of others, then I sure hope you’ve got some newsletters or publications or official e-mails or something to back that one up.

Second: There is some inconsistency here that has gone beyond bugging me and into I cannot survive if I don’t say something territory.

Mr. Torgersen complains about “I’ve seen my editor straw-manned and maligned by one of SFWA’s darlings and former top officers.” Mr. Wright complained that, “Instead of men who treat each other with professionalism and respect, I find a mob of perpetually outraged gray-haired juveniles.” Which, stop me if I’m wrong, sure sounds like, “people are being mean on the internet.” And maybe I am reading too much into this, but considering it’s being cited as a reason to leave SFWA, there’s a hefty implication of “and SFWA should do something about it.”

Now, if you don’t want to be in an organization in which there are members who think you’re an asshole and don’t mind saying so out loud where other people can see, that’s clearly your right and I’m not going to say that you can’t/shouldn’t leave or mock you for it. There were plenty of people who dropped the org when Beale was a member because he either was after them or they just thought he was fucking disgusting and didn’t want to be associated with him even peripherally. And it can be very not fun to be in an organization when you feel people are hostile toward you, I get that too. Feels bad, man. But that’s kind of how it goes when you get a lot of people with wildly differing opinions who like writing a lot together and have no rules of engagement apart from “If you take a shit on our private property the ban hammer will descend.”

So here’s my problem. It’s the mentions of the bulletin on one hand–PC censorship!–and then on the other complaints that individual members are jackasses. The Bulletin is something SFWA can police, because it belongs to the organization. And not only that, it represents the organization and SFWA has every right to not want something, oh just pulling a totally random example out of thin air here, deeply disrespectful toward women written across its public face since holy shit it’s well past the year y2k and women are people.

SFWA doesn’t police its members when they’re on their own time and in their own spaces, however. That has always been very clear since when I joined at least, and every time there is a hint to the contrary the goddamn sky falls in. Now, I may be of the opinion that certain things should be beyond the pale, eg threats, racism, etc, but I also know there are people who would disagree with me even on that…and I’m not in charge of the org either. And this is the very reason Theodore Beale lasted as long as he did, until he took a warm, racist shit all over the SFWA Twitter feed.

Current SFWA officers have to be very careful and very clear about when they’re speaking in their capacity as officers, but they don’t sign away their right to have personal thoughts when they get elected. (Talk about making a thankless job even more thankless.) Former officers can say whatever the fuck they want. This should go without saying, but regular members can say what the fuck they want on their own time and in their own space. Because you know. Free speech. Remember that? I thought the crowd that’s self-identified as taking a stand against the evil SFWA liberal PC-police was really in to free such. Or is that only for speech they like, and only in the comments section of others?

I wonder if perhaps now Mr. Wright and Mr. Torgersen feel some empathy for the people who were driven from the org by that shit stain in the pants of humanity, Theodore Beale. Because where the fuck were they then, aiming their sad censure at How Unprofessional Some People Are Being?

Pretending to be the adult in the room is a damn sight less believable from someone who has actively tried to make things worse in the past. (Courtesy of Natalie, from this post.)

I’m really, really done with this bullshit.

ETA at 1314, 4/30: 2 things:
1) Brad had responded in the comments with the requested deets, fwiw.
2) To clarify, my mentions of Beale are not directly connected to Brad’s resignation reasoning; I’m aware there he’s talking about Resnick and Weisskopf specifically there. My opinion on Resnick and the Bulletin should already be abundantly clear, so I obviously do not agree with him on that one. I don’t have much of an opinion about the Weisskopf thing because tbh I found her essay kind of incoherent and couldn’t parse get point well enough to form a solid opinion. The Beale thing has more to do with other comments of Brad’s I have read elsewhere. And also I hope makes the point well that it’s not like SFWA members being assholes on the internet is a new thing, and as far as I’m concerned no current assholery even approaches that level.

Edited my above comment at 1457 because I erroneously kept saying Hoyt instead of Weisskopf. I have no excuse for that mistake, mea culpa.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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7dcMy reaction to Under the Skin, summed up by well known philosopher, critic, and Hero of Canton, Jayne Cobb.

Because I am an adult and make excellent life choices, I decided to see this movie at 2230 on Sunday, even knowing that it would mean getting less than five hours of sleep before work on Monday. Because I’d heard wonderful things about it, and I have yet to see something that involves Scarlet Johansson that I haven’t loved to pieces. And the concept behind the movie also sounded so interesting–psychological thriller about an alien stalking Glasgow and doing terrible things to unsuspecting human men until she discovers some inner well of humanity? Sign me up.

I have no idea now, why people are calling this movie a psychological thriller as opposed to horror. I’m guessing because (at least in America) it’s not horror if it doesn’t involve jump scares and copious amounts of blood. Well, I don’t watch a lot of horror movies because I don’t really like either of those things all that much. But they also don’t really tend to leave me feeling fucked up for hours and days afterward. I claim Under the Skin is horror because it managed to fill me with existential dread for well over a day and kept me from sleeping. The last movie that did that? Kairo. The original Japanese horror movie, not that shitty American…whatever it was.

There is nothing about this movie that wasn’t fundamentally disturbing. Scarlet Johansson spends a lot of time staring at the world with dead eyes…except when she’s attempting to lure a hapless (and completely lonely) man to her exceptionally creepy and very water-damaged house. I can’t tell you precisely what happens to the men because it’s never explicitly stated, but it starts out with naked, boner-sporting fellows sinking down into a bottomless pool that the alien simply walks across like it’s solid, continues on to them being sucked out of their goddamn skins so literally there is an empty fucking skin floating in the water, and ends with what sure does look like ground meat and bonemeal slurry going down a chute.

The dialog is minimal, which only leads to the feeling of complete unease. The score is not going to win any prizes for beauty, but it does what it’s supposed to do with efficiency, which is make the audience feel intensely unsettled at every possible moment. The score was composed mostly of sustained chords, which were incredibly discordant and became less so as the alien experiences her shift in personality. The movie takes its time with long scenes, not terribly unlike the alien walking slowly backwards as she lures men into the dark room where they’ll ultimately get turned inside-out for the the crime of just really wanting to fuck a pretty woman. (A pretty woman, I’ll note, doing one of the least sexy strip teases that has ever been put to film.) It’s long, and drawn out, and at times you want to beg it to have mercy and just. Fucking. Stop.

But it is, by the way, fucking gorgeous. Large portions of this movie could easily act as a tourism advertisement for Scotland; forests and shorelines and the countryside all have their moments to shine. Except for the bit where the take home message seems to be: Come to Scotland, it’s a magical place where you might be picked up by a woman in a molester van and then get liquified after 24 hours of terrifying captivity on a bottomless swimming pool.

One thing I found interesting was the amount of nudity in this movie, which surprised me considering the R-rating. Full frontal nudity of both the male and female variety, and much of the male variety involved erections. But I think it’s because I’m used to an R-rating meaning lots of violence. That’s the American way, right? And there is really very little actual violence in this movie, for all it involves men getting sucked out of their own skins. There’s one really horrible scene at the end–an attempted rape that leads to something even more awful–and the rest of it is disquietingly non-violent and unsexy both. This movie refuses to offer you relief from the horror of what is happening by making it titillating in the slightest.

Continue on if you don’t mind spoilers:

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Remember this fucking guy? He has done a public flounce from SFWA now. It’s delightfully pompous as flounces go, and I highly recommend it if you need a dose of evil glee to round out your Monday. (Though I am forced to wonder why someone who seems so enamored of strict gender roles has decided to emulate a stereotypical teenaged girl, albeit one armed with a thesaurus and a King James Bible.) No idea why the flounce occurred today of all days, as SFWA has been nicely quiet for some time.

My best guess is

  1. Mr. Wright is jealous that the other super misogynistic embarrassment to science fiction (you know, Theodore Beale) is getting all the attention and desperately wants the cute girl whose parents gave her a mustang for Christmas the internet to pay attention to him and validate his outrage.
  2. Mr. Wright’s membership is up and he decided to not renew in the most flamboyant way he could find without shelling out the money for a sky writer.
  3. A confluence of luck that made both happen at the same time?

(Dear people who keep trying to blame the syphilitic outbreak on the Hugos on SFWA, get it straight. We give out the Nebulas. Address your complaints to WSFS, and then buy a supporting membership in Loncon 3 so you can vote. Because that’s how the Hugos work. SFWA has nothing to do with it. And I hope Mr. Wright knows that considering he was until today a member of the organization.)

There isn’t really that much to say other than the evil belly laugh for which hairy-legged feminists like myself are renowned, the sound of which causes agony to all good god-fearing men. Well, other than to point out a couple things in his florid love letter to his own ego that he really should be ashamed of typing. You know. If shame is a thing he does.

Instead of enhancing the prestige of the genre, the leadership seems bent on holding us up to the jeers of all fair-minded men by behaving as gossips, whiners, and petty totalitarians, and by supporting a political agenda irrelevant to science fiction.

Sorry dude, if you have a problem with gossips and whiners, you really shouldn’t have typed out that entire letter there and posted it on the internet.

Instead of men who treat each other with professionalism and respect, I find a mob of perpetually outraged gray-haired juveniles.

I really wish you guys would get your internet persecution complexes straight. I thought we were The Young. (DAH DAH DAAAAAAAAAH!) Now we’re gray-haired juveniles? Did we have a terribly dye job accident? Also, the fact that Wright again and again talks about men and completely ignores the fact that there are people of all genders in the org makes me INCREDIBLY glad the door isn’t hitting him on the ass on the way out.

But all of this is honestly just mockery on my part, and really has no meaning beyond me just being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. Mr. Wright can be upset that women are allowed to speak in public or whatever has his ass in a twist and it really does not matter in the long run. Except for this one right here, and this is where I draw the line:

Instead of receiving aid to my writing career, I find organized attempts to harass my readers and hurt my sales figures.

Does he provide any evidence for this? No. And I will flatly state as a member of SFWA who frequents the message boards, I have not heard word one of even a breath of an idea that could even begin to approach the hint of the shadow of  anything of this nature. Mr. Wright further states in an addendum to the letter that he will not be providing any evidence because he’s totally a professional, and professionals don’t kiss and tell provide evidence for their accusations.

This is bullshit. And is also commonly magical internet speak for “uh oh I don’t actually have any evidence oh shit just pretend to be taking the high road and hope no one notices!” And the more I think about it, the more it just flat fucking pisses me off. It’s all fun and casual taunting games until someone makes an accusation that can actually be supported with evidence.

If this is an actual real thing that has happened, it needs to be stopped. Because going after someone’s readers and harassment is never okay, whether you like the person involved or not. But considering the nature of the rest of the letter, unless he has evidence of this organized harassment of his readers with the intention of hurting his sales figures, Mr. Wright would be far worse than a man in love with his own persecution complex. He would be a liar. The rest of his complaints are the standard differences of opinion, and they are what they are, agree or not. This one is an actual accusation, and as such should be backed up with actual facts if he wants to have any hope of credibility.

Or as we say on the internet: Deets or GTFO.

ETA 4/29: Apparently SFWA requested evidence as well and Mr. Wright was too much of a “gentleman” to provide it.

And Steven Gould, president of SFWA, had a few things to say about these accusations, which includes both his personal opinions and notes on SFWA policy.

And the flounce continues!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, these last couple of days. Well, as much thinking as possible considering I’ve been getting about five hours of sleep a night and work is slowly consuming my brain, my soul, and probably my major viscera. (But hey, workshop day is tomorrow! Then I get to relax have severe panic about all the end of month work that I didn’t get done because of the workshop wheeeeeeee.)

Anyway. I’ve been thinking drawing the line. You know. The Line. The Line That Must Not Be Crossed.

It’s an expression that can have some real macho bullshit baggage with it, I guess because it makes for nicely threatening language. See anything involving foreign policy. But that’s not what I mean, here. It’s not about denoting territory in a power struggle, be it between international powers or people. It’s not about maintaining physical safety. Those are the lines you draw outside of yourself, whether you’re a country or a parent with a cranky toddler or someone trying to hold the distance between you and an evil shitbag that doesn’t comprehend the meaning of No–and that’s a whole different matter.

The lines I’m thinking about here are the ones you draw inside yourself. They’re part of the way you define and shape yourself into the person you want to be. They are yours–only yours. You don’t get to force your configuration of internal borders on anyone else, and no one has the right to reach into you and redraw those boundaries.

These internal lines read: if I do this, if I am a part of this, I will no longer be the person I am or the person I want to be. I will no longer be right with myself. Crossing these internal lines will probably never hurt you physically, but will wound you in ways that never heal.

And make no mistake, other people aren’t going to have the same internal lines as you; it’s never easy to hit a point where you think something is unacceptable, but your friend is okay with it. Being human ain’t easy because no two of us are exactly the same, and that’s another thing you have to decide for yourself.

But these lines are important. These are the lines you draw between yourself and the dark.

#

So why all the navel-gazing? It’s not really my style when I’ve got movies I could be bitching about. As you might suspect already, this is another dispatch from the gift that keeps on giving: this year’s Hugo short-list. In my previous post, I said I’d be doing my best to read all the entries with an open heart. It was the best I could come up with at the time, because my first urge is always to ask what’s fair.

But then I made the mistake of getting lost down the comment rabbit hole of Natalie’s post, and one of the people there invoked Orson Scott Card, Roman Polanski, and Woody Allen as similar situations to the Vox Day being a Hugo nominee. (Insert your own feelings here on if you think that’s even a fair comparison to make on the scale of artistic merit versus complete shitbaggery.) And god I wish he hadn’t done that, because I’d almost managed to stop picking at this particular scab and let it retreat to no more than a nagging itch.

I’ve already searched through this little sector of my soul in relation to Orson Scott Card. (For me, he’s the only really pertinent example, because in all honesty I’ve never really liked Woody Allen’s work.) I fought with myself, blood was drawn, wounds were taken, and I came to the conclusion that I have a line. There is a point at which I can no longer separate the art from the living artist. I cannot escape the fact that my support of their art, however miniscule in relative scale it may be, implicates me in what they then use their platform to do and say. It makes me complicit, if only peripherally, in the harm they choose to do. I said of Orson Scott Card:

If you can separate the art from the artist, maybe that makes you a better person than me. Feel that way if you like. But I cannot support someone who believes that me and many of the people I love and esteem are not full human beings.

If that’s true for OSC, whom I have met and actually liked as a person, it’s just as true for Vox Day. And I’m ashamed of myself for not having considered this sooner. Though I guess that explains why I’ve been so damn uncomfortable about this entire mess.

I may still read Vox Day’s story if it’s in the Hugo packet, because what little of his prose I’ve seen has been downright florid, and I have this “hobby” (some might call it a “problem”) where I watch or read terrible things and then go on seething rants about the awfulness I witnessed. So I might give this embarrassing shitstain in the shorts of humanity that much of my time. Or I might just watch a couple episodes of Master Chef reruns instead. The series where it’s all kids is super cute, after all.

But I will not be putting Vox Day above the No Award line. I gave up Ender’s Game because being right with myself was more important than a novel I treasured as a teenager. This isn’t even a contest.

#

You don’t have to agree with me. I don’t expect you to. These are my lines, not yours.

Feel free to discuss this with me. Feel free to offer me arguments (I’ll do my best to consider) or ask questions if you’re going to actually listen to the answers. If you think less of me as a person for my melodramatic little choice, well, it is what it is. This is personal. I didn’t make this decision for you, and I sure as hell didn’t make it just to spite some guy I wouldn’t recognize if I bumped into him on the street.

It’s the end of the day, and I feel right with myself.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

I edited my post from yesterday to add this, but I’m going to make it as a statement all its own too (with a little expansion), since I don’t think I made this point as strongly as I wanted.

While my sideeyeing here is mighty, I’m going to do my best to give the fiction in the Hugo packet an open-hearted read, within time constraints. I feel like if I’m going to complain about this uber-pathetic deck stacking, then it’s my obligation to not play into the game by letting my choices be made by anything outside what I read in the stories. This might be a good place to whip out that old Samuel Clemens chestnut about not wrestling pigs (because you both get dirty and the pig likes it). I’m pretty sure whichever way the awards fall this year there will be politics invoked as the reason whether it is or not.

I’m also well aware that I’m operating from a pretty privileged position here, so please don’t read this as a finger-shaking exhortation or some kind of judgment. (And feel free to argue with me on this one, I’m just doing my best and my best ain’t perfect.) At the end of the day you do what you have to do to be right with yourself. Where you draw the line for yourself is your choice, not mine. Relevant update on this notion here.I’ll be doing my best to read everyone fairly… minus one.

To be honest I feel a bit bad for anyone that’s gotten unwittingly caught in the crossfire of Correia’s incredibly unsubtle “sad puppy” campaign thing because it adds an unhappy shadow of doubt to the nominations, and that seems unfair. Then again, guys, you got nominated for a Hugo! It’s not like you need some random person on the internet feeling bad at you for that.

Also, you should read Kameron Hurley’s post. And remember that this kind of stuff ain’t new.

That is hopefully all I’m going to need to say about that. I might try to blog a bit as I’m reading. If I have time to read.

Until then–IT’S LEG DAY MOTHERFUCKERS ARE YOU READY

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

I know, I drop off the internets for two weeks (I have a massive slate of excuses that I’m planning to elaborate on…soon-ish) and then two posts in one day! Zomg! But the Hugo nominations just got released, so I’m going to react in between moving my plate so my cat can’t get to my sandwich.

So, here’s the list of nominees!

First off, I’ll cop immediately to the fact that I don’t have as many opinions as I would like about most of the categories because the amount of reading I got done last year was somewhere between deeply pathetic and downright sob-worthy. (And much of what I did read was not published in 2013. Boo.)

I’m super happy for Sofia Samatar; Selkie Stories Are For Losers is one of those rare 2013 stories I did actually read and I loved it so much I nominated it so woo! I helped!  The Graphic Story category is very exciting this year (and god I’m already looking forward to throwing Ms. Marvel on the 2014 ballot, you have no idea) and I’m very happy to see Gravity and Pacific Rim in the Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category. Also An Adventure in Space and Time and The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot are my faves out of the Best Doctor Who Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. Semiprozine and Fanzine both look exciting this year. And Skiffy and Fanty got nominated in the Fancast category and I love that podcast ferociously so YAY.

Standard congratulations to everyone who got nominated, particularly the five writers up for the Not a Hugo award!

So then there are the things that I’m just sideeyeing so mightily.

First off, Wheel of Time. The whole series. In best novel. Look, I get that it’s technically okay by the letter of the rules, but seriously? I just… I can’t even. And don’t take this as me just being some WoT hater. I mentioned the nomination to Mike, who has read the series and owns many of the books. He likes that massive wood pulp trainwreck in his own way. And when I told him about the nomination, he frowned and said, “Really? That had better not win.” SO IT’S NOT JUST ME.

I’m super disappointed that Her didn’t get nominated in the dramatic presentation, long form. I’m guessing it’s because it wasn’t as massively popular (or well-advertised) as any of the other movies, but goddamn it was phenomenal. (It very much deserved the Oscar it received for best screenplay, and every one of its nominations.) And of course Europa Report, but I had no illusions about that one even having a chance since it was a relatively teeny independent film.

Then the dramatic presentation, short form category. The Best Doctor Who category. But really, The Name of the Doctor? And frankly, I have such a hate/love relationship with The Day of the Doctor that I just can’t even start on that. I guess I’m just glad The Time of the Doctor didn’t get a nomination or I might have punched my fist through my laptop screen. Boy I can’t wait until next year when The Loofah of the Doctor and The Worrying, Hairy Mole That Should Probably Get Looked at of the Doctor battle it out against Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose. (I have never watched nor read GoT, and yet it’s very likely even I would vote for that episode because I am an adult human being with an internet connection.)

And then there’s this thing where my sideeyeing hits the sort of level that might indicate incipient eye strain. Natalie Luhrs posted at her blog and there’s also a bit about it over at File770, which is basically the fact that several of the nominees were on sample ballots pushed by the dreaded Vox Day and the not-dreaded-and-is-probably-a-perfectly-nice-dude-in-person-but-online-sounds-like-a-real-asshole Larry Correia.

Now, I have no idea about the quality of most of the work on the ballot this year. I didn’t put nominees in a lot of the categories because I didn’t get to read much new stuff, which is kind of the point. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t nominate things you haven’t read. And for all I know right now, these are all equally fantastic damn stories; I look forward to finding out when I read them. In fact, I had no thoughts beyond, “Oh hey, good for you Brad Torgersen, two nominations!” and so on until I heard about this grossness. (Exception: I did think, “Wow, the Prince of Darkness got nominated for a Hugo? What the hell does that story do, press and iron your shirts while you read?”)

People post their personal ballot picks all the time. I actually look at those when the nomination period is drawing close so I can try to squeeze in a few more things to read and get a better spread on my own nominations. But there is a subtle but very important distinction between, “So this is who I’m going to nominate” and actively exhorting your followers to pony up the $40 for a supporting membership and participate in a “Sad Puppies Hugo stacking campaign” because it’ll… make liberals cry or something.

Bonus points for VD trying to blame it all on the subject of his massive internet hateboner, John Scalzi:

It should be interesting to see how this all turns out. But after John Scalzi – how entirely unsurprising – laid the groundwork for the open politicization of the Hugo Award, it was inevitable that what had always been done quietly behind closed doors would come out in the open.

See! He totally did it first! We’re just doing it better or something!

I get that there is an element of politics inherent in award giving, particularly when it’s “big” awards–all you have to do is observe the Academy Awards to see that. And I get that there is a lot of deck stacking when it comes to platform. (Shit, man, I was just bitching about how a movie I thought was fucking amazing didn’t get a nomination because it was insufficiently popular.) Yet all you have to do is really look over the nominations to see that it’s not just the 900-lb gorillas that get on the slate for these things.

While it might feel good to tell yourself that the only reason the people in your in-group aren’t raking in all the awards is because fancy schmancy people who write stories you don’t like because there’s too much global warming and not enough guns are having a massive circle jerk and didn’t invite you, it’s also pretty goddamn sad. It’s “you plebes just don’t get my genius” in a different form.

It just seems really…pathetic. Yeah, that’s the word I’m looking for.

ETA on 4/20: And since I feel like I didn’t make this point strongly enough in the original post–while my sideeyeing here is mighty, I’m going to do my best to give the fiction in the Hugo packet an open-hearted read. Because if I’m going to complain about this uber-pathetic deck stacking, I feel it’s then my obligation to not play into their game by letting my choices be made by anything outside what I read in the stories. I’m also well aware that I’m operating from a pretty privileged position here, so please don’t read this as a finger-shaking exhortation or some kind of judgment. (And feel free to argue with me on this one, I’m just doing my best and my best ain’t perfect.) At the end of the day you do what you have to do to be right with yourself. Relevant follow-up here.

TBH I feel a bit bad for anyone that’s gotten unwittingly caught in the crossfire of Correia’s incredibly unsubtle “sad puppy” campaign thing because it adds an unhappy shadow of doubt to the nominations, and that seems unfair. Then again, guys, you got nominated for a Hugo! It’s not like you need some random person on the internet feeling bad at you for that.

Anyway, good luck to all the nominees! And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

So, Larry Correia wrote a fantastically dickish blog post about Alex Dally MacFarlane’s post on Tor.com in regards to the default gender binary represented in mainstream SF literature. The post in question involved Alex making the incredibly revolutionary1 observation that transwomen and transmen, you know, exist. As well as other people who do not conform to the strict, aggressively Leave It To Beaver-ish gender binary that’s still presented as the default. And it’s time to get away from that being the default. And hey, there have already been works written that touch on the issue, so let’s discuss those and then move forward. (Alex, if you ever happen to read this, I hope I have not misrepresented your position overmuch in my rather flippant summary.)

Jim Hines, bless him from his shiny head to his sofa-marrying heart2, possesses such intestinal fortitude and abundance of spare time that he’s done a point by point take down of Correia’s post.

My normal inclination here is to have the same response as I had to John C. Wright and his wall of misogy-text, namely: would you get a load of this fuckin’ guy. But there are a few things that are bothering me particularly, though. In short:

  1. Correia spends the whole time calling Alex “he” in his original post. (Alex isn’t a man. It takes exactly one google search or two clicks to double check that.[ETA] Her bio is literally at the bottom of her post. What kind of fucking laziness does this take?) I actually went and looked at Correia’s blog to see if he corrected himself, and he did… kinda? Somewhere in the word salad of this long response to Jim he corrects himself on Alex being “she,” airily dismisses it as a mistake and says he further doesn’t care anyway BECAUSE IDEAS NOT PEOPLE. Perhaps at this point misrepresenting someone’s gender feels like a drop in the ocean of douchery, and that’s the excuse for not taking two seconds to type out the word ‘sorry.’ But it’s a damn pathetic excuse.
  2. Seriously, what is with the dog whistle liberal versus conservative culture war bullshit framing? Perhaps this is bothering me more than normal because in my offline life, I just had a strong reminder that being conscious of gender identification isn’t a default liberal versus conservative issue, it’s a not being a douchebag issue.
  3. Correia’s thesis as written seems to be that (a) straw Alex wants all books to be nothing but non-standard characters and there will be checklists nothing but checklists forever, (b) this would make everything a preachy issue book (presumably because straw Alex does not care about story?), therefore (c) that would destroy the genre of science fiction.
  4. The ”I don’t like thing X, therefore if you write thing X IT WILL DESTROY THE GENRE,” line has gotten so common that I believe it deserves its own name. It’s like an appeal to consequences and appeal to tradition got together and had an ugly, whiny baby. Any suggestions? The best I’ve got is Appeal to Destruction, and that’s admittedly tepid.
  5. Correia keeps coming back to story being the most important thing. I don’t think there’s any halfway decent writer who would argue the point that story is where it’s at. So where the fuck is this disconnect? How does what Alex actually said in any way preclude the primacy of story? How does even making a conscious effort to write non-default characters equal preachy issue book? Is there some kind of mathematical proof I’m missing out on here that shows the number of transgender or genderqueer characters is inversely proportional to the amount of story and/or fun?
  6. Geeze, dude, leave some straw men for the rest of us. Seriously. Worldwide shortage.
  7. Cisgender hetero guy with enormous biceps kills vampires and then must face their sire in a world-shattering showdown versus Transwoman with slightly less enormous biceps kills vampires then must face their sire in a world-shattering showdown would both be driven by the same basic story. Each would be distinct because, say, for option B you’d have to consider how the heroine’s status as trans would effect her interactions with other characters and all of their choices–yet in the end it’s still about some badass killing a shitload of vampires and saving the world.
  8. I do not tend to buy books that promise to preach at me. But you know what I will go out of my way to buy? Books with female protagonists. Books with explicitly bisexual protagonists. Because like all human beings, I’m an egocentric jerk and I enjoy being able to see people like me in stories, saving the world and doing other badass shit. [ETA: I would hope this goes without saying, but you never know. I want good and interesting books with the aforementioned and following. Books with excellent story, which very much do exist when combined with "non-default" main characters. Yeesh.] But you know what else I’ll go out of my way to buy? Books with genderqueer protagonists. Books with non-white protagonists. Books with protagonists from cultures other than my own. Why? Because I want to imagine things outside of myself as well. And imagining ye olde heterosexual white dude? We all basically know how to put those shoes on mentally before we can tie our literal shoelaces in the real world.

 

1 - Mmm, sarcasm italics. How I have missed you.

2 – Some of the comments on Jim’s post are gold.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Yes, it’s that time of year again, where I make googly eyes at you and hope you’ll keep me in mind for various awards. 2013 was a very good year for me–I have nine stories that are eligible!

Note: I had my first pro sale in 2010. I am not Campbell eligible, just in case you were wondering.

Legend
[LGBT] = Involves QUILTBAG character(s)
[★] = Personal favorite
[F] = Free to read

Short Stories  
Significant Figures from Strange Horizons (12/16/13) [★][F]
Stranger from Silver Blade Magazine (9/5/13) [F]
Breaking Orbit from Daily Science Fiction (07/23/13) [★][F]
Samsara in Waylines issue #4 (July 2013) [LGBT][F]

Novelette
Murder on the Titania from Musa Publishing (4/5/2013)

Novella
Do Shut Up, Mister Simms from Musa Publishing (11/1/2013) [LGBT]
Blood in Elk Creek from Musa Publishing (9/6/2013) [★][LGBT]
The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog from Musa Publishing (6/14/2013) [★][LGBT]
The Ugly Tin Orrery from Musa Publishing (5/17/2013) [LGBT]

Thank you so much!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

God, what does a woman have to do around the internet to get her heathen liberal-fascist* feminazi reverse racist anarcho homosexual agenda aimed at the complete destruction of a literary genre noticed? I was about to start setting shit on fire, I fucking swear.

But it’s okay, guys! Senpai noticed me! (Okay, and a lot of other people, but I’m still getting some dokidoki in my shriveled, blackened little kokoro.) Finally, someone gets what we’ve been trying to do all along! We no longer have to go creeping around under cover of the internet, stealing Edgar Rice Burroughs novels from babies and pushing well meaning white guys (who just want to explain to us that we should stop whining because racism and sexism aren’t actually a thing any more, or wait maybe they are a thing but we should just suck less okay) down the stairs.

I for one am relieved. I’ve hated scifi since the minute I first encountered it. As my mother read The Hobbit to my brother and me as children, I had only two thoughts:

1) I was pretty sure I could take my older brother in a knife fight. If I sacrificed him on the altar if the dark and terrible lesbofeminazi gods, would I grow up to look absolutely fabulous in trousers and have my very own mustache to twirl?

And.

2) I was going to destroy Middle Earth and the rotten literary ground from which it had sprung. And then salt the soil with the bitter tears of all god-fearing, proper fans.

I never managed number one, though I do still look fabulous in trousers. But goal number two is ticking along nicely. I have joined an (apparently not so secret) cabal composed of basically everyone who isn’t a straight white guy oh wait there are some straight white guys in or cabal too, um shit, I guess it’s actually a cabal of people who just don’t think everything has to be about straight white guys. Yeah, that. And then, of all dastardly things, we WRITE.

Because we saw, you see. We saw so clearly that the foundation of all speculative fiction is actually straight white guys, not, you know, fantastical elements and what if like those lying bastard liberals tell you in their “college courses.” (Hah! Our secret liberal indoctrination works again!) So if you replace the straight white guys in fiction with people that actually reflect the diversity of the population, IT WILL ALL COME CRASHING DOWN LIKE A JENGA TOWER SURROUNDED BY DRUNKEN UNDERGRADS.

AHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA

I mean, we SAY we would just like to read stories about people like us, that a little diversity doesn’t hurt, but smart guys like senpai know. He’s on to us. We hate art, because art is only the stuff senpai likes reading, and the rest of us totally don’t count because we don’t get the greatness of all that ART. We’re just going to burn that shit down. I for one only read scifi because I hate it. I only do things I hate. That’s how my bitter, sad, and twisted life works. That’s why you should all run out right now and bake me cakes because if there is one thing I hate more than scifi it’s cake and I’ll eat cake while I read a scifi novel so then MY HATE-FILLED, MISERABLE EXISTENCE WILL BE COMPETE.

I am so glad I don’t have to pretend any more. It’s like a great burden has lifted from my shoulders.

Now, I’m going back to writing my story about a lesbian Sikh werewolf going to the prom because I am doing my part to destroy everything that scifi stands for. Which, let us remember, is only straight white guys. Only that. Ever.

* – That’s what it’s called, right, Bill O’Reilly (or was it Glenn Beck I don’t even know any more they’re all like the same person) is no longer actually intelligible through all the froth, so I’m guessing.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

This is an independent science fiction movie. It was released a week ago, but the release is so limited it’s not in any theaters near me. Thankfully, it’s also available from On Demand for $8, which made it cheaper than actually seeing it in a theater. I was excited about this movie. It didn’t disappoint.

To be honest, watching it on the home screen I think might have worked better than at the theater, just because of the film style (found footage, so generally not high quality) and the CGI wasn’t the greatest; what flaws I was able to see on a 55″ flatscreen would have no doubt been all the more glaring on a movie screen.

This is definitely one of the most scientifically accurate movies I’ve seen in a long time. (Per Phil Plait, JPL scientists were consultants on the film, and it looks like the filmmakers really took what they said to heart.) And the science really plays into the story and helps drive and define the plot. It’s the motivation and not the villain, which was very refreshing. It also serves as a good reminder that accurate, basically present-day science still has some amazing storytelling possibilities for speculative fiction in it.

At its heart, I think the movie is very much about science, and the wonder scientists feel, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for the sake of answering one of the greatest questions to ever face our species: are we alone? The cast really sold it, I think, and Daniel Wu and Anamaria Marinca were particularly good I think.

And there’s an adorable reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey at the beginning, which I loved.

The movie is mostly found footage style, which is a format I’m increasingly disenchanted with, though I understand why it’s used–it’s generally a cheaper option. For the most part I felt like it worked pretty well, and it put us in the action with the crew. I didn’t like how some of the jumps and cuts were done, since it really didn’t fit with the narrative frame of “here we edited this together for you.” It felt like a transparent attempt to make the movie seem scarier than it was or needed to be.

This was not a scary movie, despite what the trailer wants you to think:

If you believe the trailer, this is going to be a “found footage thing where team of astronauts goes to alien world and gets horrifically eaten by sneaky, evil aliens that may or may not look like giant space spiders.” And it’s really not. It’s tense, it’s heart-wrenching at times, but this is definitely not a horror movie.

SPOILERS

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at The sound and nerdery of Rachael Acks. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Mr. Radar)
So far, it's been a nice visit to the UK, which is really no surprise to anyone. Christmas and Boxing Day were big family get togethers, which I enjoyed and only got a little drunk for. My jet lag problem is still present this year, though I think not nearly as obnoxious as it's been in years past. I've had to take naps on a couple of days, and have had a little bit of insomnia, but not to the point that I've been up at 3 in the morning and completely unable to sleep like I have been in other years.

The weather in the UK has been just fine as far as I'm concerned. There's been a lot of do about the temperature being below zero C, but I went for an hour and a half walk in it on Christmas morning while everyone else was at mass, and it was perfectly fine other than my ears getting cold since I forgot my hat back in the US. I think the bigger problem is just that the cold temperatures means the ice doesn't melt, and I guess this part of the UK doesn't know the wonders of car-destroying mag chloride the way we do in Colorado. I did have to avoid some terrifying icy sidewalks during my walk, to be sure. But other than that, it hasn's been any kind of Snowmageddon. Yesterday when we got back from London (around 2200) it was actually raining fairly heavily, so that's hopefully a sign that it's getting a bit warmer and the ice will go away. We ended up taking a cab from the train station at Wokingham, since the line west of it was shut down and the rain was nasty enough we didn't feel like waiting for the bus, or walking home once we caught said bus.

Speaking of Snowmageddon, we landed all right, but Heathrow has still apparently not gotten its shit together. Once we landed we had to park somewhere in the back of beyond for a good twenty minutes because there was nowhere for our plane to go, and then moved to a slightly less far away parking spot so that we could take buses to the terminal. Immigration was fast, but then we spent a stupid amount of time waiting for our luggage. I was also insanely thirsty the entire time, and there was nowhere to get anything to drink, though I could have apparently bought a SIM card from a vending machine if I wanted to. Maybe you can suck on those like mints. Anyway, our flight landed not long after 0900, and we didn't get our luggage collected and get out of there until after 1100. There was also a frightening graveyard of lost and unclaimed baggage taking up one entire section of the claim, which did not inspire confidence.

It's also worth noting that I didn't get to sit next to Mike for most of the flight, since the television for his seat was broken, and they moved him to the only empty seat on the airplane so he had something to do. I mostly used the flight to catch up on movies... I watched Toy Story 3, which I thought was very good and don't feel at all ashamed about sniffling through. I also watched The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The funny thing is, when Mike and I met up after landing and were talking about the movies we watched, we could each name two of them and it took us forever to remember which one the third was. For both of us, it was that movie. Which I think pretty much says all you need to know about how utterly unremarkable it was as a film.

Yesterday Mike and I went in to London. I paid a quick visit to Harrod's - the store was insanely busy, but everyone apparently just desperately wanted to buy perfume. After we got out of that section of the store it was just fine, and we were in and out in less than twenty minutes. After that we met up with Sam and Rick, and spent the rest of the day taking up space in a pub and playing board games. The game we started off with was Ticket to Ride, which was a lot of fun and I'm going to have to pick up a copy once my checking account stops crying about the furnace.

Oh yes, translation for any UK readers: by furnace, I mean boiler. Even though it has nothing to do with boiling water. I do not in fact own any sort of smelting equipment. This announcement brought to you by Mike's parents, who found that particular vocabulary mix-up very entertaining.

The Doctor Who Christmas special was pretty good, I think. I wouldn't place it higher than the first Christmas Invasion, or even the Runaway Bride, but I definitely liked it better than the silly episode with the space Titanic, or the one from two years ago that was kind of about the cyberman and all it really had going was a lovely steampunkish Victorian setting. I'd say this one was as close at Doctor Who's really gotten to just out and out producing a fable, and while it had the normal plot holes that you could drive a truck through, it at least had a lot more life in it than the last couple of episodes I've seen. (Which were, for the record, Victory of the Daleks and The Adventures of Spitty Timothy Dalton as the Most Underused Rassilon Imageinable [not its actual title].) Really, considering that I feel like the entire episode was based around someone saying, "I've got this awesome mental image of a shark flying through the air, pulling a rickshaw... let's combine that with Christmas!" the end result was surprisingly coherent and fun. It's also convinced me to give Matt Smith another chance as the Doctor... considering my first exposure to him was the underwhelmingly written turd of a Dalek episode from his season, he really needed something to recommend him.

I think a some point I may have to devote a post to how I feel about the way the Daleks have been used in recent episodes. It won't be a very nice post.

Today Mike and I are headed off to Brighton to see Sam and Dan and Rhi and hopefully Captain Stu, so that's exciting. It's hard to believe we're already at the midpoint of our trip, though this one's a few days shorter than trips we've taken in the past, since Mike ran out of vacation. Something to do with a wedding.

Also, Anotherealm has now published its 2011 lineup. Transportation will be the September offering - I'm really excited about that!

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