Tempest and Verb Noire

Tempest and Verb Noire

I’ve seen a few more people make this mistake lately, thus I wanted to clear things up. A lot of people seem to think that I’m one of the founders of the indie press Verb Noire. But actually I am not.

I think this misconception arose because Karnythia, who is one of the bloggers at ABW, posted about it there, and there are a lot of people who still assume every ABW post = me. But indeed, I have three regular guest bloggers now (nojojojo and unusualmusic are the other two) and many occasional guest bloggers.

This is not to say that I am unhappy about being associated with Verb Noire. On the contrary, I think it’s the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed. And I do what I can to support the venture by promotion, spreading the word, etc. This is a Credit Where Credit Is Due thing. Karnithia and thwayoftheid are working their butts off to make it happen. I don’t want there to be any doubt who the fabulous black women are behind the project.

And Others

Our reading tonight was listed in this week’s Time Out New York, both in print and online. Nora and I are “and others”, ha! I’m just glad they listed it. And in the print version we are right next to the review of Bayou, so I think the layout person may have been paying some actual attention. Awesome.

Looks like there will be a sizable crowd there tonight. Hooray! I’m sure there are some people we won’t see who actually need to be there the most. Ah well.

Carl Brandon Society Award Nominations

Carl Brandon Society Award Nominations

The Society would like me to inform/remind you that nominations for their 2008 awards will be open until September 1st. CBS administers two awards, the Parallax Award is for an outstanding speculative fiction work by a self-identified writer of color and the Kindred Award is for an oustanding speculative fiction work dealing with race and ethnicity. You may nominate the same work for both awards.

To nominate, click here.

I urge you to check out this list of stories published in 2008 on the CBS wiki. It’s still growing, and some of the work listed there is available for free online. I will also sneakily mention that I had a story pubbed in 2008 which is, yes, available to read for free online.

Ever wonder why I’m angry? This might be a reason…

I need not add anything else:

…many of the things that make me angry are topics that have a direct bearing on my ability to have a successful writing career, it’s hard to tune it all out. This is my livelihood we’re talking about, after all. I need to know if I’m going to have to turn my short story protagonists from female to male, or gay to straight, or whatever, in order to get published in ___ Magazine. … And I need to know which editors and agents and publishers and authors think it’s OK to throw racist and gendered slurs at people who look like me, simply because those people have opinions they disagree with. I might need to work with those editors, etc., later. It’s important to know who to watch out for.

[…]

But I don’t understand why anyone would think I want to do this. Why anyone would think I like watching my blood pressure numbers inch up week by week. Why anyone would think I happily, eagerly “play the race card”, whatever that means — or that doing so would actually benefit me in any way. Why anyone would think I’m glad to spend hours of each week reading up about the latest imbroglios, writing responses to them, posting clandestine reviews of problematic books (and worrying about how those reviews will come back to bite me on the ass), preparing for difficult panels at cons, and bracing myself for uncomfortable interactions at every single networking event I attend. Why anyone would think I gleefully await the next instance of a stranger feeling up my hair, or a favorite author showing his ass on race and gender issues, or an established pro shouting at me that this field is a meritocracy dammit, or an even more established pro using the n-word on a woman just like me. I’m boggled by the idea that some people think I find this work desirable, much less fun, when it hurts me every damn day.

Yes. What she said.

Reminder: Reading this Thursday

A gentle reminder that the Diaspora of the Fantastic reading is this Thursday. I’ll be reading alongside N. K. Jemisin, Alaya Dawn Johnson and Linda D. Addison at Bluestockings. Details here.

I am going to read from my Electric Velocipede story, Enmity, because I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the chance to read it for an EV thing. Plus, it was the first mythpunk story I ever wrote and I have longed to show off my mythpunkiness.

Blog, Organize, Co-Sign, BE Against Racism

From the Carl Brandon Society Blog, in case you haven’t seen it:

Open Letter to the SF Community re: Ellison/Bradford Incident

To the Speculative Fiction Community:

We at the Carl Brandon Society are writing this open letter to our community regarding the recent incident involving Harlan Ellison and K. Tempest Bradford. Mr. Ellison, mistakenly believing that Ms. Bradford had criticized him on her blog, wrote a post on his discussion board that included the following passage:

She is apparently a Woman of Color (which REALLY makes me want to bee-atch-slap her, being the guy who discovered and encouraged one of the finest writers and Women of Color who ever lived, my friend, the recently-deceased Octavia Estelle Butler). And she plays that card endlessly, which is supposed to exorcise anyone suggesting she is a badmouth ignoramus, or even a NWA. Ooooh, did I say that?

Mr. Ellison has subsequently apologized to Ms. Bradford and she has accepted his apology. We do not wish to address what has now become a private matter between the two. However, since the problematic post was made in public and thus was published in full view of the SF community, the Carl Brandon Society wishes to define some basic principles of discourse which were put into question as a result of this exchange. We hope community members will consider and respect these principles in future debates and disagreements.

These principles are as follows:

1) The use of racial slurs in public discourse is utterly unacceptable, whether as an insult, a provocation, or an attempt at humor. This includes both explicit use of slurs and referencing them via acronyms.

2) Any declaration of a marginalized identity in public is not a fit subject for mockery, contempt, or attack. Stating what, and who, you are is not “card playing.” It is a statement of pride. It is also a statement of fact that often must be made because it has bearing on discussions of race, gender, and social justice.

3) Expressing contempt for ongoing racial and gender discourse is unacceptable. Although particular discussions may become heated or unpleasant, discourse on racism and sexism is an essential part of antiracism and feminist activism and must be respected as such. There is no hard line between discourse and action in activism; contempt of the one too often leads to contempt of the whole.

The Carl Brandon Society assumes in this letter that everyone reading it shares the common goal of racial and gender equity, and general social justice, in all our communities. We hope for a quick end to arguments over whether or not unacceptable forms of debate should be allowable. These arguments obstruct the process of seeking justice for all.

Sincerely,

The Carl Brandon Society

STEERING COMMITTEE
Candra K. Gill
Claire Light
Victor Raymond
Nisi Shawl
Diantha Sprouse

To express your agreement and “sign” this letter yourself, click here.

(comments are off here on purpose.)

People Saying Stuff About My Fiction

People Saying Stuff About My Fiction

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been made aware of several people saying things about my stories but haven’t had the time to mention it here due to some other stuff taking up my time. Heh. Anyway, here it all is in simple list form.

  • SFScope’s Mark L. Blackman attended the NYRSF Federations reading on July 7th and gave his impressions of the stories and the readers. I have to say, he picked what has to be the worst picture of me, ever! I look like I just discovered a bug in my copy of the antho. :)
    • After a break, next up was K. Tempest Bradford, whose breezily snarky offering, “Different Day”, was a reaction to the common premises that alien worlds have one culture/one global government and that, invariably, they “come to America first.” She cleverly posits rival alien tribes, just as mutually hostile as our contemporary nations, visiting and negotiating with other parts of the world (like Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama), though her present-day biases and digs limit the story’s shelf-life.
  • Tom Crosshill reviewed Sybil’s Garage No. 6.
    • “Elan Vital” by K. Tempest Bradford. A story of dealing with loss, of holding on, and of letting go. The execution is superb, even if the premise feels somewhat familiar (I won’t reveal it here, except to say that this story too is about the undead, although to call it a zombie story would hardly be accurate.) At its core is a parent-child relationship, which as you will see becomes a recurring theme in this issue.
  • Sam Tomaino at SFRevu made me go “squee!”
    • K. Tempest Bradford gives us what, I think, is the best story in the issue with “Elan Vital”. … This is one you won’t forget soon.

There’s more to that last review but it’s a bit spoilery. Obviously you should read the story right now so you can then read the whole review ;)

Guest Blogging, Wiki-ing, and the like

Guest Blogging, Wiki-ing, and the like

I feel like I must have mentioned this before, but looking back it seems maybe not. Anyway, this month I’ve been guest blogging at the Carl Brandon Society blog. I think this is going to become a regular thing as it seems like they’re very pleased with the lists of POC fiction I’ve been posting.

By the way, if you’re POC and have short fiction coming out in 2009, please let me know so I can include you in future lists. Instructions at this link. If you already had something come out in 2009 and missed my announcement before, you can add your story yourself to the Carl Brandon wiki. There’s also a 2008 short fiction entry.

At some point I’d like to start listing novels on the wiki. But it may take someone other than me starting that project. Though if I continue blogging at CBS, then another thing I want to start doing is mini author interviews whenever a writer of color has a book coming out. Something similar to the author spotlights I did at Fantasy Magazine. A 4 – 6 stock questions that hopefully elicit interesting answers. It’ll be a quick and easy way to start keeping a list of who’s publishing what and when. Plus, promotion!

And finally, if you will all please head over to this post about artists of color in SF/F — I’m trying to create a list. I hope it will also go up on the wiki someday. I only have two comments, sad! I know there are many artists of color out there. Please add your favorites or add yourself.

In Which Harlan Ellison Apologizes

I had forewarning of this a few hours before it was posted but wanted to wait until it was published. This went up on Harlan’s message board earlier:

HARLAN ELLISON
– Friday, July 24 2009 16:35:36
OPEN LETTER TO MS. KAY TEMPEST BRADFORD

Dear Ms. Bradford:

You have a number of good friends who also happen to be good friends of mine. They have rallied on your behalf, to contact me by phone (four today alone), to tan my bottom in regards to my, well, at best, at very minimally best, my “snarky” response to what I perceived to be yet another Total Stranger Meanspirited Internet Troll Assault. I fear there is still a tot too much “street” in me to let such perceived calumny go unanswered.

Apparently, I received inadequate information, some of which I interpreted incorrectly, some of which was simply wrong.

One of the heartrending epiphanies of the current Paradigm Shift is that the most adolescently ignorant demographic of this far-from-perfect society needs to (as my President said today) “ratchet down the noise-level.” The moment one such as I goes for the okeydoke and begins to believe this “geezer” bullshit, is the moment one realizes that we like in a Momentary-Celebrity Culture, and for everyone claiming sexism, racism, elitism, et al … there are 10,000 arrogant little twits, semi-literate, semi-humanoid, and less-than-semi-courteous, who truly believe that to have SURVIVED and STILL BE PULLING THE PLOW, is to grant them power over you. Depression and anger and suicide follow therefrom.

I am 75. I’m old, I ain’t senile.

I still work, I still publish, I still have very cool thoughts and do very cool deeds, every day. I’m not quite ready yet to let monkeybrain bloggers who need Google to know who Colette or Guy de Maupassant are, predicate my existence.

Mmm. I’ve drifted. Your friends tell me to back off and not attempt to exact the demonic vigerish that is my wont. Several people known and unknown to me personally advise me that you are rather a cranky soul yourself, so you shouldn’t be TOO ‘tude about my responding in kind.

That it turns out you’re not as deserving of my bestial attentions as others I’ve used as objects of scaphism, warms my li’l ole heart, and if any part of my reply to your various blogs here’n’there was over the line, consider this a gentlemanly apologia. I know this message will get to you, via one or another conduit, so here’s my IfYouTalkTheTalk you’d better be ready to WalkTheWalk: I have no idea where you live, but if you are anywhere near where I am, please name the time and the day, and my wife, Susan, and I would be condign taking you for an excellent meal at one of the great joints I frequent.

THEN–and ONLY then–you’ll be able to make your own informed judgment about me. And you won’t have to poison yourself with the fanboy/fangirl gossip that substitutes for ratiocination on this electronic asswipe of a medium.

You know where to find me.

Respectfully, Harlan Ellison

The person who forewarned me was one of the folks who called Harlan and the apology she reported to me was less equivocal than the above, but either way Harlan has said he’s sorry. And, as I suspected, someone or several someones have been feeding him “misleading” information about the whole discussion.

I have three things to say about this. The first is: wow, four people were willing to call Harlan Ellison on my behalf. I know who one of those persons are. I must say, you’re all very brave and very good friends. Thank you. (Also thank you to everyone who has commented here or on other posts expressing outrage and support of me, it means a lot.)

Second, I plan on accepting this apology and not worrying to much over some of the extant details because, as I said in my other post, I have no desire to “get into it” with Ellison. I’m glad someone gave him the facts, which is what I had wanted, but would rather re-enter the world where Harlan doesn’t care about what I say or do. That said, I can’t dictate what the rest of you do. There’s issues here and you’re free to discuss them.

Third, I’m sure some people’s heads are exploding because I got this apology, and not all for the same reason. I don’t expect to get apologizes from certain others but I do expect you all to show at least this level of decency now and in the future, okay? Okay.

ETA: for the defenders of Harlan’s honor who, strangely, started showing up en masse last night: Harlan APOLOGIZED. He apologized! It’s over. Go home! I’m not letting your increasingly bizzare attempts to defend/explain/make better what he did and what he said out of moderation because they are not helpful or appreciated. Plus, they are negated by the fact that he apologized. I accepted, I’m moving on. Why can’t you? Seriously.

In Which Harlan Ellison Has Things To Say

In Which Harlan Ellison Has Things To Say

I actually thought I was done posting about this. Hm.

Okay, so a couple of days ago someone told Harlan Ellison about the Realms art/cover/boob discussion thing going on but, apparently, did not actually send him links or anything, just told him “Hey, some woman somewhere is calling Realms’ publisher a sexist!” or somesuch. Internet telephone being what it is (and considering the probable source and considering the phobia Ellison has of the actual Internet), I’m not surprised that this is the version of the conversation that’s reached him. And if you do not know, right now, the gist of what Harlan’s commentary is, then you don’t know squat about Harlan. You’re lucky.

Now, when I first heard this I had a notion of actually writing to him or posting on his weird message board thing that, actually, no one was accusing any person of being a horrible sexist, and giving him the actual background on what we’re talking about. But then I thought: Why in Zuul’s name should I care about the opinions of a guy who grabs women’s breasts in public and thinks it’s cool? He’s really not the audience for such a discussion. Nor is he someone I care to convince.

During my Clarion West, we had this fun running gag where we’d ask our instructors for Harlan Ellison stories. I think this got started because someone in our first week told a particularly funny one. The other stories ranged from funny to “OMG he DID that?!” And while it’s all ice cream and cakes to focus on the funny aspects, those other ones left me with the impression that Ellison, great writer though he may be, is not someone I would like to run across in a dark alley or even a well-lit convention floor. Or, apparently, on stage in front of hundreds of people.

So, I went about my business. But someone out there faxed Harlan more details and now he knows my name.

Sort of.

He seems to think my first name is Kay.

Well. At least he won’t find my house.

He also wants to “bee-atch-slap” me because I’m a woman of color. Specifically because he helped Octavia Butler launch her career so, as a woman of color, I owe him fealty or something. I dunno. He also seems to think I called HIM a sexist and that I want to “get into it” with him.

Um.

One thing I am annoyed about is that someone told him I called him a sexist. In this discussion, I mentioned Harlan only in the context of him having a story in Realms. I have not said one word about him being sexist or anything else. If I were to care, I would set the record straight with him on that. But I don’t.

I’d also like to point out some other fun aspects of his post. #1 – he seems to think that by naming me as the culprit he’s put my Public Name in a Public Place and that’ll show me! Um. #2 – he hurls several insults at me, but some of my favorites are: I’m in the NWA, a Women of Cuhluh, and a swineherd. Thumbs up! You keep it classy, Ellison!

Now, the bottom line here is that Harlan is convinced that I am specifically after hm. He really, really is. Unlike most egomaniacal wankers on the Internet, I don’t think he has this impression just on GP (that’s general principles for you non-urban folk out there). I think that whoever has been telling him about this discussion has made Harlan think that I and a bunch of other people are specifically mad about him. Him in general, him in Realms, whatever. But the truth is, Harlan is not only not the issue here, he’s barely a footnote.

The cover mockup I posted the other day (provided by Charlotte, for those of you who didn’t know) takes a dig at him, but from what I understand, that was aimed at Realms‘ publisher, not Harlan himself. However, it was a dig and if I’d seen my name over top the words “Senile Meanderings” I’d be pissed, too. So, for calling attention to an image that included a personal attack on someone not even involved in this discussion, I’ll take the blame for that one. If Mr. Ellison wants me to remove that from the post, he’s free to ask.

As to the rest: I have no intention of getting into it with Harlan. I don’t care about him enough. I wouldn’t mind letting him know what was actually said by me as concerns him. Otherwise, I just can’t get excited about it. The orc horde has more important stuff to deal with just now.

But hey, look at that, some famous person knows my name! And posted it on his website. My Google Juice is going to skyrocket now!

RoF Drama Dying Down

RoF Drama Dying Down

And yay for that. I’m working on a post about tone which may also meld into a post I have about how two people saying the same things can garner different reactions based on their gender. Oh yes, it came up.

But first, I would like to point out that Realms publisher Warren Lapine made an appearance on the original thread yesterday. Interested parties may want to take note of the difference between his appearance and Doug’s. There are still some issues to address, mind, but there is an appearance of willingness to listen that I’m taking on face value.

Anyway, I think this is the end of my Realms-specific postings. I’m kind of impressed with the range of dialogue that’s been generated about fantasy art — it’s more than I hoped for and I’m really glad to see the issue being discussed.

Also, much love for the people in this thread.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth

Torchwood: Children of the Earth

It’s hard, sometimes, being a Torchwood fan. It’s hard loving a show that has such obvious flaws. That suffers so many episodes with a good or halfway decent premise to fall apart in the last 5 – 15 minutes. That suffers some more than occasional bouts of bad acting. That suffers Burn Gorman to be presented as a desirable sexual partner for either men or women.

It’s hard being a Torchwood fan.

Long ago I had to admit that I love Torchwood the way lots of people love fanfiction. After all, the show is essentially Doctor Who fanfiction (spinoff is such a polite term). And, like fanfiction, I’m willing to put up with a lot of crap as long as my kink is massaged. My kink is, of course, Captain Jack Harkness.

Over time I also became quite a fan of Miss Toshiko Sato, though her character was badly used through the whole of her two series. And Ianto, of course — mainly because he was snogging Jack.

As long as any one episode contained Jack, Jack snogging Ianto, and Toshiko being awesome, I was mostly happy. But man, oh man, I wished for more. I wished for plots that held together and deep emotional impact and for Gwen not to suck so much donkey balls and for the show in general to just really take chances and change the game.

I clapped very hard for this. Harder than I clapped for Tinkerbell. And my wish came true.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth is so good, so phenomenal, and so crunchy that it truly transcends its fanfiction/spinoff standing and becomes one of the best television events I’ve witnessed in the past several years.

It’s sad that we only got five episodes this series, but Russel T. Davies utilized them well, delivering a plot arc that kept the tension up without resorting to cheap tricks. In “Day One”, children all over the world freeze at the exact same moment. Just freeze. Then, a few minutes later, continue on as if nothing’s happened. That afternoon it happens again, but this time the children all speak in unison: “We Are Coming.” It’s terrifying in its simplicity and in the delivery. All children everywhere saying the same thing at the same time.

Of course the Torchwood team goes into action trying to figure it all out. But they quickly discover that their biggest obstacle and most immediate threat isn’t the aliens, it’s the British government. We find out exactly why over the course of the first three days.

I won’t go spoilerific on you yet (I have much analysis and questions, but I’ll save that for after the final episode has been aired in the US), but I will say that the tension, mystery, excitement and stuff that makes you cry is very well-balanced throughout the series.

One note I will make is that I was pleasantly surprised to discover about halfway through “Day Two” that I wasn’t as annoyed and chafed by Gwen or Rhys as I usually am. In fact, I thought Gwen was really awesome in this series. She didn’t once make me wish she had died instead of Tosh. I didn’t once want to throw her out of the airlock whenever there was a scene with her and Jack or her and Jack and Rhys all together. This is a major accomplishment for Torchwood, I think. And I’m not sure who to attribute the credit to.

I could be Eve Myles, who is a fine actress, and who is not at fault for Gwen horridness in Series 1 and 2. It could be Russel T. Davies, who just might have a better handle on writing the character than Chris Chibnall ever did. He wasn’t responsible for all of Torchwood’s previous episodes, but he was in charge of the series, and thus the writers probably took his cues more often than not. Maybe it was just that there was no time in this series for the usual stupid love triangle crap someone shoehorned into previous series. That’s fine with me. Series 4 writers please take note: this is the Gwen we should have had all along. Let’s keep her, please.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth is the best series to date. I hope its true that we’ll get a Series 4 someday, because if the show keeps going in this vein it may surpass the one that birthed it. Fanfiction rules!

Harry Potter and the… hmm, what was I saying?

Harry Potter and the... hmm, what was I saying?

My review of the latest HP movie is on Tor.com. What I did not say was that, during the scene in the cave when they go to get the locket? I kept falling asleep. It was THAT FUCKING DULL. I woke up at the end of it because there was fire. That is one of the most crucial, heart-rending scenes in the book and the movie managed to make it snooze-worthy. Sad.

Someone in comments pointed out that the scene with Hermione crying on Harry’s shoulder was well done — it was. I did forget to mention that.

New Writers? GTFO

New Writers? GTFO

Speaking of Realms of Fantasy, I was just paging through the new issue when I came across a letter from the editor, Shawna McCarthy, in the back. Here’s an interesting quote:

Without the magazines providing both a training ground and a platform for young writers, the genre publishing industry will be severely hampered–writers without track records have a much harder time finding agents, and should they have sufficient talent to find an agent without a short fiction history, the agent will have a much harder time selling their books to a publisher. All that will be left in the SF and Fantasy section are Old Reliable Writers, which, don’t get me wrong, have survived as long as they have because they are talented and capable, but as with all other things, they will one day pass on and who will be there to keep the industry alive?

I’m sure there are a few people who will debate her point about writers needing a short fiction track record, etc., but I’m more interested in this because of something Realms publisher Warren Lapine said at ReaderCon.

Now, I was not there for this, but my sources are multiple and reliable. Apparently on Thursday evening during a party, someone asked Warren about e-submissions and Realms. The discussion that ensued was described to me as a ‘fight’, with Warren very much against e-subs. When someone said to him that he was basically cutting out a whole generation of younger writers by being against e-subs, Warren reportedly said something like: Why do I need those writers, I’ve got Harlan Ellison in my magazine!

(Apparently there’s a Harlan story in an upcoming issue.)

This attitude is very much at odds, it seems, with the Fiction Editor’s. I don’t know how McCarthy feels about e-subs, specifically, but she doesn’t seem to feel that the presence of an Old Reliable Writer like Ellison is of so much more value than newer writers.

Later in the weekend I myself asked Warren if Realms would be accepting e-subs, and he told me something different. He said something about how if a writer rises up to a certain level, they can send submissions any way they please. I believe the words “Neil Gaiman can submit to me in crayon, if he wants” were uttered. But as concerns lower-level writers, he can’t have them sending in e-subs, that would be a disaster. But if you rise up — say have a book on the NYTimes bestseller list or something — you certainly can.

Again: Old Reliable Writers can do what they want because we want them! Young/New writers? Pfft!

(by the way, this is my last RoF post for the day, possibly forever. I’d meant to post these last week but stuff got int he way.)