dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
That title doesn't quite scan, but it will have to do.

Via Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, probably the best thing I've read all week: Nine Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist and More Accessible, by Kai Cheng Thom. Really important stuff.

Read this essay by Sofia Samatar about being a black academic.

On a related note, Black Sci-fi Creators Assemble at Princeton and Imagine Better Worlds than This One, by Rasheedah Phillips.

Kari Sperring talks about justice, socialism, fantasy utopias, and Terry Pratchett.

Here's Alana Piper on the myth that 'women secretly hate each other'. Nothing throws me out of a story faster than female characters with no female friends, so this post was right up my alley.

Kate Elliott needs your help in a workshop on gender defaults in fantasy.

Shannon Hale writes about writing outside her culture. Note that at least one of the recommendations of books 'by Asian-American authors' is not by an Asian-American author, but rather, a Palestinian/Egyptian-Australian. It's still a good list.

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz interviews Zen Cho. I wait impatiently for my copy of Sorcerer To The Crown to arrive.

As always, the new posts at Ghostwords are a delight.

Two new reviews are up on Those Who Run With Wolves:

Vida Cruz reviews Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter.

I review Space Hostages by Sophia McDougall.

It has been twenty years since two formative works of my teenage years, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and the film Hackers, were released. Here's an interview with the Hackers director.

The Toast remains amazing. Two of my favourite recent posts: Dirtbag Milton (I remember studying him in uni and being furious about how badly he treated his daughters), and How To Tell If You Are In a Lai of Marie de France.

I hope your weekends are glorious.
dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
The linkpost is early this week, as I'm going to be absolutely flat out all afternoon, and then away on various workshops and conferences. Oh, the glamorous librarian life!

I'll start with a few reviews and posts about books I loved, or books I'm very much looking forward to reading:

A joint review of Space Hostages by Sophia McDougall, at Booksmugglers.

Amal El-Mohtar reviews Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho.

Zen Cho chats with Mahvesh Murad about the book.

She talks more about the book here.

Cindy Pon talks about her new book, Serpentine.

SFF in Conversation is one of my favourite columns at Booksmugglers. In it, various groups of writers sit down to discuss topics that are important to them. The most recent features Aliette de Bodard, Zen Cho, Kate Elliott, Cindy Pon, and Tade Thompson, and I highly recommend it.

This is the first part of a BBC radio programme about British folklore, monsters, and the landscape.

The reviews continue to pour in a Those Who Run With Wolves. Recent reviewers have been Leticia Lara, Athena Andreadis, and Aliette de Bodard.

Ghostwords has returned with a vengeance! The latest post sports a cornucopia of links, leading the reader off on an internet treasure hunt.

I very much appreciated this post on No Award about Indigenous (and other) seasonal calendars.

In case you missed it, I reviewed Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. I loved them all.

Men Wearing A Military Helmet and Nothing Else in Western Art History: The Toast is a gift.

I hope your weekends are filled with as much fun stuff and opportunities for learning as mine will be.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
Slightly flippant title, wildly inaccurate characterisation of my reasons for doing these linkposts. Over here I am gearing up for a much needed long weekend, after one of those weeks that just seem to go on and on and on.

Kate Elliott wrote a great post on 'Diversity Panels: Where Next'. I would encourage you to read (most of) the links that follow, particularly the panel discussion at The Book Smugglers, which I included in a previous linkpost.

Some (unintentionally Australian-centric) Hugos follow-up posts:

Liz Barr of No Award livetweeted the Hugos.

Galactic Suburbia did a podcast discussing the results.

On a less awesome note (in the sense of this needing to be said at all), Sumana Harihareswara responded to the use of the Hare Krishna chant in the Hugos ceremony in an extraordinarily open-hearted and giving way.

A lot of people were sharing this (old) 'How to (Effectively) Show Support' by Dahlia Adler. This part particularly resonated with me:

There is a really big difference between being a person who only rages and a person who both rages and makes a real move for change. And maybe people don’t realize that. Maybe they don’t get how. But I’m tired of seeing raging with no support counterbalance, and I’m tired of people thinking raging is enough without backing it up in a meaningful way. I’m tired of people not realizing how limiting the effects are when all you do is talk about who and what is doing things wrong and not who and what is doing things right.

(Incidentally, I think the first person I saw sharing the post was Bogi Takács, who very effectively shows support with regular roundups of #diversepoems and #diversestories recommendations.)

Aliette de Bodard has set up a review website, designed to host reviews of 'books we love, with a focus on things by women, people of colour, and other marginalised people'.

Here's Sophia McDougall doing a podcast with Emma Newman. My poor, Romanitas-loving heart hurt when Sophia talked about one particular scene in Savage City involving the Pantheon. (I know at least one friend is currently reading the series for the first time, so it might be wise to avoid this podcast until you've finished - it's mildly spoilery.)

More on the invisibility of older women authors, this time from Tricia Sullivan.

Ana has gathered some great, library-related links at Things Mean A Lot.

'Breakthrough in the world's oldest undeciphered writing'.

Via [personal profile] umadoshi, these photos of the world's oldest trees are really amazing.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends.
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
Well, it's been a while.

Chinelo Onwualu talks race, speculative fiction, and Afro SF.

Sophia McDougall's new book Space Hostages is out! I have my copy ready to read on my upcoming holiday! There is a book trailer, tumblr post and author interview!

Rather than linking to individual stories and essays, I'd like to simply direct you all to the latest issue of Uncanny Magazine. I've thoroughly enjoyed everything in it so far, in particular E Lily Yu's short story and Natalie Luhrs' column.

Two tables of contents for what look to be excellent anthologies:

To Shape the Dark (ed. Athena Andreadis).

Apex Book of World SF 4 (ed. Mahvesh Murad)

Here are two great Storifies on dealing with rejection, from authors Nalo Hopkinson and Elizabeth Bear, Rachel Manija Brown, Aliette de Bodard, Tobias Buckell, John Chu, Shveta Thakrar, Beth Bernobich, Jeremiah Tolbert and others. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz made both Storifies.

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz has revamped her books blog. The first post is a guest post by editor Didi Chanoch, talking about a new press he's launching.

This is a great interview with Aliette de Bodard.

I really appreciated this column by Renay about gatekeeping, fannish history and the SF 'canon'.

I also appreciated this interview with Kate Elliott.

I also loved Athena Andreadis' thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road.

More on Fury Road: No Award's guide to Australian slang. That blog is a national treasure.

I hope you are all feeling wonderful.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
This week's post goes from the sublime to the ridiculous (but mainly focuses on the sublime).

To start off, an absolutely fabulous roundtable on diversity. The participants are Aliette de Bodard, Zen Cho, M Sereno, Bogi Takács and JY Yang, moderated by Charles Tan.

Over at Ladybusiness, Renay has created a fabulous summer (or winter) reading recommendation list.

On a sadder note, Tanith Lee has died. Athena Andreadis has written a lovely tribute. Sophia McDougall shared an old anecdote about meeting Lee.

There are a lot of new updates at Where Ghostwords Dwell.

Sophia McDougall has posted an excerpt of Space Hostages, which will be published really soon.

You can enter a giveaway to win an ARC of House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard here.

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road this week and absolutely adored it. (If I had endless money and more time on my hands, I would have seen it at least five more times since Tuesday.) This essay by Tansy Rayner Roberts goes a long way towards explaining why.

I found this post by Kaye Wierzbicki over at The Toast very moving. (Content note: discussion of abortion.)

This is the last week of A Softer World and I am really not okay. This and this are probably my favourite recent comics of theirs.

Natalie Luhrs is reading what looks to be a terrible book for a good cause. I encourage everyone who has the ability to donate. I will be donating to an equivalent UK-based charity.

This post's title comes from my favourite Eurovision song this year, which didn't win. This did not bother me in the slightest.
dolorosa_12: (epic internet)
So. Lots of stuff to get through this week, as my corner of the internet has been particularly full of people doing wonderful, clever and awesome things.

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz had a busy week. Here's Rochita on the uses of anger, her new short story, and being interviewed for Lightspeed magazine's author spotlight.

Catherine Lundoff has had so many submissions to her 'Older Women in SFF' recommendations post that she's had to split it into two. Part one, part two.

I really liked this review of Zen Cho's writing by Naomi Novik.

This review by Sarah Mesle of the most recent episode of Game of Thrones made a lot of points I've been struggling to articulate. Content note for discussion of violence, abuse and rape.

I really appreciated this thoughtful post by Tade Thompson on safety, community and dissent.

Natalie Luhrs makes some really important points here:

This is part of the ongoing conversation about the importance of different voices in our community. About making space for people who have been told–explicitly and implicitly–that what they have to say isn’t worthwhile and that they need to sit down and listen and that someday, maybe, they’ll be allowed to speak.

This list of Best Young Australian novelists looks great, and reflects the Australia that I grew up in. Congratulations to all the winners!

I have to admit that the #hometovote hashtag has been making me cry.

I wrote two longish posts this week. One is over at Wordpress: a review of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The other is here at Dreamwidth/LJ, and is a primer to Sophia McDougall's Romanitas trilogy.

My mother is a radio journalist. Her programme this week is on Eurovision, and you can listen to it here (not geoblocked). There are additional features . I am an unashamed Eurovision fan, and as you can see, it runs in the family.

Texts from Hieronymous Bosch made me laugh and laugh.

Happy Friday, everyone.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
This was initially going to be a comment on [personal profile] dhampyresa's blog, but it occurred to me that I spend way too much time bouncing around the internet, trying to convince people to read the Romanitas trilogy, and it would be nice to have one post about it that I can refer back to on later occasions. So consider this a rather flaily, incoherent primer.

It helps, I think, if you understand something about my tastes in stories. I will read or watch just about any iteration of story that engages with ideas of power, privilege and dispossession: who has power, and why, and who is dispossessed by that power, and why. But I need the stories to do something more: they need to place the blame for inequality and dispossession where it truly lies, on an institutional level, and on individuals within such institutions. The stories need to centre the dispossessed, although it's an added bonus if they consider the various ways in which power, empire and privilege corrupt and dehumanise those who benefit from them. And they need to show that the strength of the dispossessed lies in them finding common ground, making common cause, dismantling the systems that oppress them, supporting one another, carving out spaces in which they are able to safely assert their humanity.

It's for this reason that I keep returning to the Pagan Chronicles by Catherine Jinks, the works of John Marsden, Galax Arena by Gillian Rubinstein and the other powerful, formative books of my childhood. It's for this reason that shows like Pretty Little Liars, Orphan Black, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Orange Is The New Black have resonated so strongly with me. In various ways, they explore these vital ideas. Their characters are the dispossessed, whether they be Christian Arab squires thrown into exile by the Third Crusade (or the Cathar heretic daughter of said squires, traumatised by the politics of thirteenth-century Languedoc), teenage resistance fighters, children stolen off the streets to artificially extend the lives of the super-rich, bullied teenage girls, clones whose creators view them as patented scientific material, or the inhabitants of a women's prison. Over and over again such stories show their dispossessed central characters banding together, supporting one another, and insisting on their own autonomy and humanity in the face of those who refuse to acknowledge it.

This is the backdrop against which my love for the Romanitas trilogy should be understood.

Cut for non-detailed discussion of slavery, empire and colonialism )

I hope that helps at least in laying out the reasons why this series works for me. I love it. I hope that other people love it too.
dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
Let us not talk of the UK election results - I have no words. Instead, let's talk about something much more pleasant: the return of my weekly linkposts!

Unlike the rest of my corner of the internet, I didn't have a massive problem with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sophia McDougall and Sonya Taaffe probably get closest to articulating my own feelings on the subject.

Joyce Chng, David Anthony Durham and Kari Sperring (moderated by Vanessa Rose Phin) have some interesting things to say on 'Representing Marginalized Voices in Historical Fiction and Fantasy', at Strange Horizons.

Athena Andreadis talks about the uses and misuses of cultural traumas (in this case, her own, Greek culture) in fiction.

Aliette de Bodard talks about Dorothy Dunnett at Fantasy Book Cafe.

'For the Gardener's Daughter is a fabulous poem by Alyssa Wong, published in Uncanny Magazine.

On Sophie Masson's blog, Adele Geras talks about retelling fairytales.

One of my friends and former academic colleagues has started a blog looking at popular representations of monsters.

The History Girls is not a new blog, but it is new to me. It's the work of a group of women who are historical fiction writers.

Today is pretty grim, so I will leave you with footage of a koala roaming around a rural Victorian hospital.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
This week's linkpost is up a bit early, and contains many fabulous things.

I'm a huge fan of Sophia McDougall's review of Birdman: over at Strange Horizons. In it, she compares the film to Boris Johnson. It's an apt comparison.

Here's a great interview with Samantha Shannon. 'Cities are made of narrative' indeed.

Aliette de Bodard's description of her subconscious as a library is a fabulous metaphor, and one that I might steal myself!

There's a great set of guest posts over at Ladybusiness on 'What books are on your auto-recommend list?' (For the record, mine are the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, the Pagan Chronicles series by Catherine Jinks, Space Demons, Skymaze, Shinkei and Galax Arena by Gillian Rubinstein, Parkland, Earthsong, Fire Dancer and The Beast of Heaven by Victor Kelleher, the Romanitas trilogy by Sophia McDougall and the Crossroads trilogy by Kate Elliott.)

Episode 4 of Fangirl Happy Hour is up. This week Ana and Renay are talking Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, Jupiter Ascending and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I'm not quite as critical of S.H.I.E.L.D. as they are, while I think there's room for difference of opinion about the feminism of Jupiter Ascending, but as always, I appreciate their thoughts.

The first few guest posts about representation and diversity are up on Jim C. Hines' blog.

Shannon Hale talks about gender segregation at readings she's done at schools. It's heartbreaking.

I thoroughly enjoyed this article by Robert Macfarlane about language and landscape. Beautiful stuff.

I really liked the recent BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. This interview by Julia Raeside of Claire Foy, who played Anne Boleyn, goes a long way towards explaining why.

For reasons that will soon become apparent, although I can't provide a link to it, the #readingAuthorName hashtag on Twitter has been a powerful and positive movement. It works like this: think of an author whose works moved you and shaped you into the person you are. Tweet about it. Add the hashtag #readingAuthorName (obviously replacing AuthorName for the author's actual name). Feel happy.
dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
This week's linkpost is up a bit early, and contains many fabulous things.

I'm a huge fan of Sophia McDougall's review of Birdman: over at Strange Horizons. In it, she compares the film to Boris Johnson. It's an apt comparison.

Here's a great interview with Samantha Shannon. 'Cities are made of narrative' indeed.

Aliette de Bodard's description of her subconscious as a library is a fabulous metaphor, and one that I might steal myself!

There's a great set of guest posts over at Ladybusiness on 'What books are on your auto-recommend list?' (For the record, mine are the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, the Pagan Chronicles series by Catherine Jinks, Space Demons, Skymaze, Shinkei and Galax Arena by Gillian Rubinstein, Parkland, Earthsong, Fire Dancer and The Beast of Heaven by Victor Kelleher, the Romanitas trilogy by Sophia McDougall and the Crossroads trilogy by Kate Elliott.)

Episode 4 of Fangirl Happy Hour is up. This week Ana and Renay are talking Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, Jupiter Ascending and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I'm not quite as critical of S.H.I.E.L.D. as they are, while I think there's room for difference of opinion about the feminism of Jupiter Ascending, but as always, I appreciate their thoughts.

The first few guest posts about representation and diversity are up on Jim C. Hines' blog.

Shannon Hale talks about gender segregation at readings she's done at schools. It's heartbreaking.

I thoroughly enjoyed this article by Robert Macfarlane about language and landscape. Beautiful stuff.

I really liked the recent BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. This interview by Julia Raeside of Claire Foy, who played Anne Boleyn, goes a long way towards explaining why.

For reasons that will soon become apparent, although I can't provide a link to it, the #readingAuthorName hashtag on Twitter has been a powerful and positive movement. It works like this: think of an author whose works moved you and shaped you into the person you are. Tweet about it. Add the hashtag #readingAuthorName (obviously replacing AuthorName for the author's actual name). Feel happy.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
So, I wrote a review of Mars Evacuees by [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall. And then this happened...

 photo ScreenShot2014-03-30at123206PM_zps883c9c7b.png

So, my review convinced one of my favourite authors to read a book by another of my favourites. My work here is done!

In all seriousness, I would urge you to give Mars Evacuees a try. It's a children's science fiction novel, and the best way I can think to describe it is 'like Pacific Rim, but if the main characters were twelve-year-old girls [and there were many more female characters]'. It shares Pacific Rim's best qualities: optimism, an emphasis on kindness, compromise and empathy in the face of destruction, and a representative, global cast of characters. It's also really, really funny.

This weekend has been quite busy. Our friends L and C came up on Friday night. Both of them used to live in Cambridge, but they now live in Exeter, where L has a job as a university lecturer. They were visiting because C had her MA ceremony. The Cambridge (and Oxford) MA is a bit of a weird tradition. It's not awarded for completing any course, but rather given as an honorary degree to everyone who has a Cambridge BA degree a certain number of years after they've completed their studies. So, Matthias, who did his undergrad at Cambridge, has a Cambridge MA, but I, who did my undergrad in Australia, will never be eligible for one. In any case, C accidentally had too many tickets to the ceremony, so Matthias and I tagged along with her husband L and her mother and sister. We spent the afternoon after the ceremony catching up with various people, and ended up having a pub dinner.

This afternoon we'll probably all go walking out to Grantchester, which is a small village just outside Cambridge. It's an absolutely glorious day - 20 degrees, and with enough sunshine to actually cause sunburn. The others are all out having breakfast, but I needed a little break from people before going back to socialising. So I'm just sitting here with the internet, the Daysleepers and a cup of coffee, thinking that life is pretty much fabulous.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
This weekend, the weather suddenly turned summery (or at least what passes for summery in the south-east of England). I think I was more excited about the fact that I'd be able to dry laundry in the courtyard instead of in the house than the fact that I would be able to ditch my winter clothes. I've since done two loads of laundry, and I find the sight of sheets waving gently in the breeze oddly comforting.

Yesterday I went with my friend and former sort-of-housemate J2* to a buffet lunch at Pembroke College. It's an annual event to which all the people who supervise (i.e. provide the one-on-one tutorials that are the main part of the teaching method at Oxbridge) students from Pembroke are invited. J2 invited me as her guest, and when we arrived we discovered that another friend of ours, M, had also been invited. The meal began with sparkling wine in what I think was the college's senior combination room, and then we were treated to a three-course buffet in the hall. We sat next to a very bitter physicist who spent the whole meal complaining about how academia has changed in the past twenty years (the short version: too much admin), and an interesting woman who taught Arabic language and Middle Eastern history. She bemoaned the fact that interest in her subject area only spikes when something terrible happens in the Arab and Islamic world.

After the lunch, the three of us went to a pub that lets people take drinks outside into the park near the mill pond, and we sat on a wall, surrounded by hundreds of other people who clearly had the same idea. All in all, it was a really fabulous day.

Today I've just been lounging around at home. Matthias is working in one of his library jobs, but will be back in about an hour, at which point we'll have a late lunch. This evening I've got yoga, but other than that, I don't plan on leaving the house. I've been - rather decadently - drinking white wine in the sun and reading novels. At some point I'll probably post some reviews of them, but for now, I plan to relax.

I'll leave you with a few links to stuff that's been making me happy today.

First, [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall's newest book, a children's science-fiction work called Mars Evacuees, is about to be published. She's got a couple of excerpts here and here. The second link includes a bunch of other stuff, all of which is worth reading, especially her article in the New Statesman about the gender disparity in book shop displays.

This review of the recent TV series of Dracula, posted in [community profile] ladybusiness, is making me rethink my decision to avoid the show. I find Jonathan Rhys Meyers almost unbearable to watch, and that is why I originally chose to give the show a miss, but if anyone who has watched it has an opinion, feel free to weigh in and convince me one way or the other.

Fantasy author Saladin Ahmed has started a really cool side project, tweeting the Husain Haddawy translation of the Arabian Nights.

I'll leave you with some music. Yesterday, in honour of International Women's Day, I posted a bunch of feminist music on Tumblr. Assume a broad definition of the word 'feminism' here that has room for Christine Anu singind about migration and identity, Lucinda Williams singing about loss and grief, and Ciscandra Nostalghia demanding listeners worship her.

I'm really into the music of The Daysleepers at the moment. This album and this album are simply fabulous. They sound like summer in Sydney - all diving under waves and bobbing out beyond the breakers, the glare of the asphalt hurting your eyes, jacaranda trees, standing on a roof and watching the fireworks on New Year's Eve, mangoes, cherries and grilled fish and sparkling wine - in a way that I cannot properly articulate. Just gorgeous.

Finally, Matthias and I watched the last stage of Melodifestivalen for the first time this year. We both would've been much happier if Alcazar had won.



Seriously, is that not the most Eurovision song ever?

___________________
*By which I mean that she lived in a sharehouse with my partner Matthias during the year I lived in Germany, so she was my housemate whenever I visited him.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
When I was a child and teenager, I consumed stories with an urgent, hungry intensity. I reread favourite books again and again until I could quote them verbatim,* I wandered around the garden pretending to be Snow White or Ariel from The Little Mermaid or Jessica Rabbit.** I had a pretty constant narrative running through my head the whole time I was awake, for the most part consisting of me being the character of a favourite story doing whatever activity I, Ronni, happened to be doing at the time. (No wonder I was a such a vague child: every activity required an extra layer of concentration in order for me to figure out why, say, the dinosaurs from The Land Before Time would be learning multiplication at a Canberra primary school.) The more I learnt about literary scholarship, the more insufferable I became, because I would talk at people about how 'URSULA LE GUIN WROTE A STORY WHERE EVERYTHING HAS A TRUE, SECRET NAME AND THEN ANOTHER USE-NAME AND ISN'T THAT AMAZING IN WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT IDENTITY?!?!' For the most part, I don't inhabit stories to the same extent, and they don't inhabit me to the same degree, although there are rare exceptions to this.

The rare exceptions tend to be things that sort of satisfy my soul in some deep and slightly subconscious way.*** And the funny thing is that although I can write lengthy essays explaining why something both appeals to me on this hungry, emotional level and is a good work of literature (indeed, I have been known to dedicate a whole blog to this), I can also remember a specific moment when reading/watching these texts and they suddenly became THE BEST THING EVER. I can remember exactly what it was for all of them.

The following is somewhat spoilerish for Romanitas, Sunshine by Robin McKinley, Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, The Demon's Lexicon, The King's Peace by Jo Walton, Parkland by Victor Kelleher, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Robin Hood: Men in Tights,
Ten Things I Hate About You, Cirque du Soleil, Pagan's Crusade by Catherine Jinks and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.


Probably a closer look at my subconscious than is comfortable )

Do you have moments like that?
____________
*Which led to a very awkward moment in Year 5 when our teacher was reading Hating Alison Ashley out loud to the class, but would skip bits from time to time - whereupon I would correct her.
**(whose appeal was less that she wasn't 'bad, just drawn that way' and more due to the fact that she wore an awesome dress)
***I've seen people describe fanfic like this as 'idfic', but for me this tends to be a phenomenon of professionally published fiction.
dolorosa_12: (epic internet)
Life is a bit crazy at the moment. For the past couple of weeks, my supervisor and I have been discussing the final stages of my PhD, and yesterday we had a meeting where we sorted out four potential examiners. (I need two examiners, one from within my department and one from another university, but I need to nominate two potential people for each examination slot.) I've written my abstract and am at the point where I need to inform the university of my intention to submit...in September! I am both terrified and relieved to have got this far. But this means the next few months are going to be extremely sleepless.

I have had huge numbers of tabs open for weeks and weeks and weeks (and even resorted to emailing links to myself in order to close some tabs), just waiting for me to have the time to do a linkpost. I don't really have time, but I want to get these out there before too much time passes, so here they are.

I finally dusted off my Romanitas blog and posted the next of my commentaries. This one's for Romanitas Chapter 5, 'White and Silver'. I also wrote a fairly negative review of Juliet E. McKenna's Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution series on my Wordpress review blog:

I’m sad to say that the series just doesn’t work, or at least it doesn’t work for me. The problem is partly one of characterisation (I find all the characters clichéd collections of tropes rather than engaging human beings), but really one of believability. The problem is that the whole revolution is too easy.

This is an old post by [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall about London, but it's so wonderful that you need to read it anyway.

Australian YA author Melina Marchetta is someone I really admire. She's constantly pushing herself in terms of what she writes, and is thoughtful and articulate about her writing and that of other people. This interview with blogger Jo at Wear The Old Coat is characteristically excellent:

I don’t believe that writing for and about young people is a public service. The problem about role models is that some people may believe a good female role model is someone who doesn’t have sex as a teenager at school. Other people may believe that a good role model is someone who challenges the establishment. Or someone who works hard and gets into university. Or someone who doesn’t have to go to university or college to succeed. I don’t think of role models or teaching lessons when I’m creating character. If I did have a secret wish of what I’d like to come out of my writing, it’s that someone feels less lonely. Or someone feels more connected. Or someone questions the status quo.

Another author very dear to my heart is [livejournal.com profile] kateelliott. I've mentioned before that I'm deeply interested in people on the margins of history, people who led fulfilling, happy and interesting lives, but whose stories were never recorded because the Powers That Be didn't view those people's activities as being important. Elliott is an author after my own heart. She puts such marginal people front and centre in her medieval (and nineteenth-century) inflected worlds. Her interviews and blog posts make it clear that this is a deliberate choice. If you're not reading her already, this latest offering might tempt you:

I am not, by the way, a monarchist nor do I yearn for the halcyon days of yore with a secret reactionary bent to my heart. The idea that epic fantasy is by nature a “conservative” subgenre is, I think, based not only on an incomplete reading of the texts but also on an understanding of the medieval or early modern eras that comes from outdated historiography.

I don’t doubt specific works can be reactionary or conservative (depending on how you define those words), but more often than not I suspect–although I can’t prove–that if a work defaults to ideas about social order that map to what I call the Victorian Middle Ages or the Hollywood Middle Ages, it has more to do with sloppy world-building in the sense of using unexamined and outmoded assumptions about “the past” as a guide. I really think that to characterize the subgenre so generally is to not understand the variety seen within the form and to not understand that the simplistic and popular views of how people “were” and “thought” in the past are often at best provisional and incomplete and at worst outright wrong.

Historian Judith Bennett calls this the “Wretched Abyss” Theory, the idea that the European Middle Ages were a wretched abyss from which we modern women/people have luckily escaped. It’s one of the founding myths of modern feminism as well as the modern world. Me, I want to live now, with internet, antibiotics, and that nice intensive care nursery that saved my premature twins. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t also responsible to depict a more nuanced and accurate representation of “a past” as it was lived and experienced as a dynamic and changing span.


And now, for a complete change of subject, have a link to a post about Oideas Gael, the Modern Irish language school where I've spent a couple of happy summers. It really captures the heart of the little village and the classes. I was sorry to hear from the post, however, that Biddy's (one of the three pubs in the Glen), has closed down. Its wall had a sign promising 'ól agus ceol', which is really all you could possibly want in a pub...

Love, Joy, Feminism is pretty much my favourite blog these days. It's written by Libby Anne, who grew up in an abusive fundamentalist subculture in the US, but broke away as an adult. She is an articulate, unflinching and persistent critic of the culture in which she grew up, and this makes her dangerous to those who promote that subculture as a way of life. If you feel up to it, I highly recommend her most recent series of posts, which are on homeschooling and its potential to exacerbate abuse and neglect. You can tell how rattled Libby Anne's posts are making some people, as she's receiving a huge backlash from the (so-called) Homeschool Legal Defence Association (an organisation that believes children have no rights, parents have complete ownership over their children and that any regulation beyond parents informing the state of their intention to homeschool is an infringement on parents' freedoms). I highly recommend reading everything Libby Anne writes.

Still on the topic of homeschooling, here is a post by Jon Bois about his homeschooling experience as a child in rural Georgia in the '90s.

Check out this TED talk about changing the way we talk about abuse and harassment. The gist of it is that men (are the perpetrators in not all, but most cases of abuse and harassment) should be told that being bystanders to abuse and harassment is a failure of leadership - that if they are in positions of authority or relative power, and they do nothing to investigate, discourage or stop abuse and harassment, they are failing as leaders.

Finally, have a read of Maureen Johnson's post about genderflipped YA book covers.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
My brain sometimes takes weird turns. Last week, Matthias and I went to London to see Robyn in concert (which was amazing) and it got me thinking about her music. Its power lies, I think, in taking the words that are used against the powerless and dispossessed and using them as weapons or armour. Her lyrics are so sharp they could cut you, but you kind of don't notice it until some time later. Anyway, what with the Robyn lyrics and the fact that my PhD thesis is basically about dispossession and the creation of history and identity and the realisation that, like everyone, I have certain literary tropes that are like catnip to me (in my case, motley families that are made, not necessarily born, taking their power back) I have come to the conclusion that I am all about the dispossession.

With that in mind, I decided to compile a (provisional) list of texts (that I love) with this trope. That is, stories about the dispossessed finding strength in their dispossession and reclaiming the power that was always theirs. I emphatically do not mean 'dispossessed' people using the tools of their oppressors to save the world - Campbellian heroes have no place here. If you're the rightful king, and you defeat the evil, false king and replace him, you're not really dispossessed, even if you grew up on an isolated farm. A benign monarchy is still a monarchy.

Was my Una icon ever more appropriate? )

What about you? Do you have texts that fit with this trope that you could recommend? Or do you have your own particular tropes which you want to read/watch again and again and again? Inquiring minds want to know.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
So, if you've been reading this blog at any point in the last, oh, nine years, you probably know that there are certain series of books that I adore and rave about constantly. And if I had to narrow the list down to 'the most life-changing books I have ever read', to the books I would take with me on a desert island, to the books I would carry around in order to keep myself sane in a post-apocalyptic scenario, I would name three series: the Pagan Chronicles by Catherine Jinks, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and Romanitas by [profile] sophiamcdougall. These series all came into my life at precisely the right time, and have affected, influenced and transformed me in various ways. I could read them again and again and again and still discover something new.

But what struck me this morning is how close I came to not reading any of them at all. The sheer crazy random happenstance that caused me to read all these series is completely ridiculous.

memory lane is full of strange twists and turns )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I've been wanting to do a sort of 'social justice by the numbers' post, where I wrote about how well the things about which I am fannish handle matters of representation. For those of you who think that representation isn't important, I would urge you to educate yourselves, and in particular listen to people who aren't often well-represented in the media when they talk about how it matters to them that they are represented adequately.

A quick word on my methodology. I've included a fandom/text in this post if it:
a) makes me behave in a fannish manner (that is, that I want to respond to it in some way, be it with fic or meta or discussing it with other fans); and
b) makes me want to revisit it again and again in order to find new things out about it.

For this reason, only books and television shows are included, since for some reason films seem to have less of a fannish effect on me. I've suspected this is because I mostly become fannish due to characters, and although many films have excellent characterisation, I usually find that two hours or so is not long enough for me to become truly attached to their characters.

I'm giving each fandom a Representation Score (for great social justice!). The way points are allocated is thus:
A text gets one point for simply including a character from an underrepresented group (eg, a female primary or secondary character, a queer character etc).
A text gets two points if such characters pass certain other tests (eg, if it passes the Bechdel Test, if a disabled character isn't there merely to teach the non-disabled characters a lesson about tolerance, etc - basically if they're not defined by their minority-ness).
A text gets five points if said characters occupy an equal amount of screen-time as those of comparable importance (for example, if there is a show with three main leads, one of whom is straight, two of whom are queer, all three must get roughly equal amounts of the story).
A text loses five points it has such characters, but resorts to stereotypes or handles their stories poorly (for example, if a character is Othered, if women are fridged).

Obviously, my interpretation of these things is going to be subjective, and if I mess up, tell me. I am female, but in every other aspect I have privilege: I am white, I am middle class, I am straight, I am cis, I am able-bodied and I am neurotypical. I won't change what I've written (as I believe if you screw up in things like this, you should own your mistakes and allow people to see them) but I will emend my post and include people's criticism. So, let's get to it!

(Note: there are spoilers for The Demon's Lexicon trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan, the Romanitas trilogy by Sophia McDougall, Galax-Arena and the Space Demons trilogy by Gillian Rubinstein, the His Dark Materials trilogy and Sally Lockhart Mysteries by Philip Pullman, The Pagan Chronicles by Catherine Jinks, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.)

Spoilers abound )

I wasn't surprised that The Demon's Lexicon and Romanitas scored so highly. Their authors are very conscious of representation. In the case of Sarah Rees Brennan, her series' main focus is on identity and perception, while McDougall is concerned in Romanitas with power and dispossession. This is what McDougall had to say (in an interview with me) about representation:
If you want a future where fiction doesn’t routinely perpetuate harmful stereotypes and ignore everyone except the white people, (especially if you are white yourself) you probably cannot assume your unexamined muse and your good intentions are going to do all the work for you..

And this is what Rees Brennan said:
Here’s a problem: the role Nick, Mr. Tall Dark &c, plays in the series is a role played by a white guy with a bunch of issues: that’s a main role we get to see every day, a role that gets forgiven a lot of things, a role that if I didn’t get right a bunch of other people would. Let’s face it, “White Dude With Some Issues” could be the title of seventy per cent of movies and books out there. (We switch it to “White Dude With Some Issues (Who Is My Boyfriend)” I think we could make it to eighty per cent.)

I’m a girl, not a guy, and I’m white, not black, so in both cases I was writing from the point of view of someone I wasn’t. But there’s a lot more hurt to be inflicted if I got Sin wrong. And with writing, the chances of getting something wrong are high indeed. But it was something I felt I had to do. And it is something I feel like writers should do: write what they want and feel called to write, and write about the world the way it is. Writers should give every story in them a voice and a time to speak.


I think more authors and writers need to be conscious of these things. I believe representation is extremely important, and I think even those texts that I've singled out for praise or scored highly here have further to go. Why do the texts aimed at children have no queer characters? Why are there no trans* characters at all? These are questions that need to be asked, and we need to keep on asking them until things change.

_________________________________
*Note: in some of these texts, the category of 'working class' makes little sense. I'll categorise them differently when the need arises.
**Note: that's an in-show perception, and not a view I hold myself. There's no 'right' way to be sexual.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I haven't had internet at home for a while, so I'm just now catching up on all my feeds, There's been a lot of interesting stuff posted recently, so I thought I'd make a linkpost.

Sarah Rees Brennan posted this thought-provoking piece about what it means to be an author and have an internet presence.

And then, for a total change in tone, she wrote a hilarious liveblog of Teen Wolf, making it sound so funny that I might be tempted to check it out.

Catherynne M. Valente posted about how she was fed up with arguing about ebooks.

She also wrote about the misconceptions social conservatives hold about 'women's work', and the supposed golden age of pre-industrial times.

[livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall made a Romanitas playlist. I geeked out.

Here's an article from Rolling Stone about the effects of global warming in Australia. I found myself nodding away to pretty much everything being said.

It's been said before, but it needs to be said again: unpaid internships are exploitative and perpetuate inequality.

Our forum interviewed Philip Pullman.

Finally, I blogged about the start of the semester in Germany.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I haven't had internet at home for a while, so I'm just now catching up on all my feeds, There's been a lot of interesting stuff posted recently, so I thought I'd make a linkpost.

Sarah Rees Brennan posted this thought-provoking piece about what it means to be an author and have an internet presence.

And then, for a total change in tone, she wrote a hilarious liveblog of Teen Wolf, making it sound so funny that I might be tempted to check it out.

Catherynne M. Valente posted about how she was fed up with arguing about ebooks.

She also wrote about the misconceptions social conservatives hold about 'women's work', and the supposed golden age of pre-industrial times.

[livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall made a Romanitas playlist. I geeked out.

Here's an article from Rolling Stone about the effects of global warming in Australia. I found myself nodding away to pretty much everything being said.

It's been said before, but it needs to be said again: unpaid internships are exploitative and perpetuate inequality.

Our forum interviewed Philip Pullman.

Finally, I blogged about the start of the semester in Germany.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I've been blogging away on Wordpress and thought I'd give you all a few links.

First up, I wrote a (spoiler-heavy) review of [livejournal.com profile] kateelliott's book Cold Magic on Geata Póeg na Déanainn. It's mostly about the similarities between that book at Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

A while ago I interviewed [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall. Part I is here. Part 2 is here. They're also pretty spoiler-heavy for her whole Romanitas trilogy.

Enjoy!

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