Your Favorite Descriptions

Your Favorite Descriptions

In preparation for the WisCon panel on “How To Describe Nonwhite Characters Sans Fail”, I’m looking up descriptions of characters in my favorite books to analyze what I like about them and why they work. I’m hoping to bring some concrete examples of literary awesomeness so we can keep the panel balanced between “this is why describing people this way is a problem” and “here are non-faily descriptions, learn from the best.”

I have a few already, but I’d love to hear about your favorite character descriptions as well. Not just of characters of color  — though good examples of such are very much welcome — but phrases or passages that stuck out for you, that created clear or powerful pictures in your mind. No need to limit yourself to SF; show me your romance, your mystery, even your poetry! (Be sure to include the author and origin.)

And Now For Something Completely Awesome

And Now For Something Completely Awesome

Hugo Award nominations were announced yesterday and this shiny book got a nod in the Best Related Work Category:

That’s right! Chicks Dig Time Lords is a Hugo nominated work! I am so incredibly happy, yay!

And, if I am allowed to say: well deserved! Lynne and Tara put together a really solid lineup and the fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. I hope that remains the case as Hugo voting commences :)

On equally happy notes, I see a lot of friends scattered throughout the nominations, but I wanted to give a special shout out to fellow Altered Fluidians N. K. Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed. Ms. Jemisin’s first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, is on the best novel list and Mr. Ahmed is up for the Not A Hugo Campbell award for best new writer.

I posted the whole list over on the ABW and noted that there are quite a few women on the list, more POC than I’m used to seeing, and many “new” or young writers, which is an achievement for the Hugos. Can’t wait to see how the winners balance out on these fronts.

My WisCon 35 Schedule

My WisCon 35 Schedule

How To Describe Nonwhite Characters Sans Fail
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm | Wisconsin

M: Mary Doria Russell, K. Tempest Bradford, Moondancer Drake, Amal El-Mohtar, Rachel Virginia Swirsky

How do we get beyond “Her skin was the color of a delicious Coca-Cola?” What metaphors, similes, techniques, and descriptors are less problematic when describing nonwhite characters’ physical bodies? We’re starting from this post by Jed.

How to Respond Appropriately to Concerns About Cultural Appropriation
Sun, 1:00–2:15 pm | Wisconsin

M: Victor Raymond, K. Tempest Bradford, Mary Doria Russell, Geoff Ryman, Rachel Virginia Swirsky

At WisCon 33, the Carl Brandon Society taught a course which reviewed the basic concepts around race, colonial history, and cultural appropriation, along with a discussion of ways to build a vocabulary to discuss these topics. Let’s use that background to discuss what would be appropriate, considered, thoughtful responses by authors to concerns that their work contains cultural appropriation.

SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL[1]
Sun, 2:30–3:45 pm | Wisconsin

M: K. Tempest Bradford, Amal El-Mohtar, Michelle Kendall, Victor Raymond, LaShawn M. Wanak[2]

Back for a third go-round, by popular demand! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it’s true. But, at the end of the day, being a “person of color” is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it’s very flattering to asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice for multiple writers of color to sit on a panel that isn’t about race at all? Here’s our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.

Reading: For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Shapeshifting, Teleporting, & Conjuring….[3]
Sun, 4:00–5:15 pm | Conference 2

K. Tempest Bradford, Neesha Meminger, Nnedi Okorafor, LaShawn M. Wanak, Ibi Aanu Zoboi

Is Science Fiction the New Reality?[4]
Mon, 10:00–11:15 am | Caucus

M: K. Tempest Bradford, Richard Chwedyk, James Frenkel, Naomi Kritzer, Shira Lipkin

Star Trek offers a vision of the future that includes personal, networked communicators, talking, intelligent computers, and the tricorder, a portable, hand-held networked computing device. Today we have cellphones, IBM’s Watson,and the iPad. Are we already living in the science-fiction future? What does this mean for writers of speculative fiction?

I’m also going to do my best to coordinate the POC dinner for Friday.

Footnotes

  1. YOU GUYS. I am super excited about this panel. I’m collecting ideas on topics from my wonderful co-panelists right now, but excited suggestions are indeed welcome. Also welcome: ideas on how to do the game show aspect of things this year. I’m considering water guns…[]
  2. Did I mention how much I heart my panelists?[]
  3. I are intimidated.[]
  4. So, check out the list of panelists there. Yeah. And I get to moderate. Bring popcorn.[]

Best Birthday Present EVAR: Happily Ever After TOC

Best Birthday Present EVAR: Happily Ever After TOC

Many moons ago the awesome John Klima emailed and asked if I had any fairy tale retellings since he was putting together an anthology of such things. I sent him Black Feather (my Interfictions story), he accepted, I made a happy face. Life is good. Yesterday, for the first time, I saw who else is also in this anthology from a post on SFSignal. People, I had No Idea. I sporfled so hard on the subway train New Yorkers gave me the side eye.

Just look here and sporfle with me, won’t you?

  1. “The Seven Stage a Comeback” by Gregory Maguire
  2. “And In Their Glad Rags” by Genevieve Valentine
  3. “The Sawing Boys” by Howard Waldrop
  4. “Bear It Away” by Michael Cadnum
  5. “Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower” by Susanna Clarke
  6. “The Black Fairy’s Curse” by Karen Joy Fowler
  7. “My Life As A Bird” by Charles de Lint
  8. “The Night Market” by Holly Black
  9. “The Rose in Twelve Petals” by Theodora Goss
  10. “The Red Path” by Jim C. Hines
  11. “Blood and Water” by Alethea Kontis
  12. “Hansel’s Eyes” by Garth Nix
  13. “He Died That Day, In Thirty Years” by Wil McCarthy
  14. “Snow In Summer” by Jane Yolen
  15. “The Rose Garden” by Michelle West
  16. “The Little Magic Shop” by Bruce Sterling
  17. “Black Feather” by K. Tempest Bradford
  18. “Fifi’s Tail” by Alan Rodgers
  19. “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link
  20. “Ashputtle” by Peter Straub
  21. “The Emperor’s New (And Improved) Clothes” by Leslie What
  22. “Pinocchio’s Diary” by Robert J. Howe
  23. “Little Red” by Wendy Wheeler
  24. “The Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman
  25. “The Price” by Patricia Briggs
  26. “Ailoura” by Paul Di Filippo
  27. “The Farmer’s Cat” by Jeff VanderMeer
  28. “The Root of The Matter” by Gregory Frost
  29. “Like a Red, Red Rose” by Susan Wade
  30. “Chasing America” by Josh Rountree
  31. “Stalking Beans” by Nancy Kress
  32. “Big Hair” by Esther Friesner
  33. “The Return of the Dark Children” by Robert Coover

Susanna Clarke, Kelly Link, Jeff Vandermeer, Genevieve Valentine, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, the list of awesome just keeps getting longer and longer! Nancy Kress was my first Clarion West instructor and now I am in an anthology with her. What.

But the most exciting bit is this. No anthology of this kind would be complete without Theodora Goss, that goes without saying. But the story in here, “The Rose in Twelve Petals,” is one of my favorite stories of All Time[1]. One of the first that ever moved me to track down an author’s website and email her[2]. That one of my stories gets to be in the same book as that is a most excellent way to begin my next year of life.

The book is out in June, and you can pre-order it from Nightshade or Amazon or Barnes & Noble or likely your local bookshop.

P.S. I would also like to point out that, once again, I’m in a book with a gorgeous cover.

Footnotes

  1. I just came across this blog post where Dora talks about how the story came to be. She mentions that it was her first story ever published — a surprise to myself — and that it’s been 10 years now. That… makes me feel old.[]
  2. the other was “The Run of the Fiery Horse,” which I talked about in the PodCastle introduction.[]

Wiscon 35: Safer Space for POC – Ideas, Discussion

Wiscon 35: Safer Space for POC - Ideas, Discussion

As part of my duties for the WisCon 35 programming committee, I’ve been put in charge (officially) of the Safer Space for POC at the con. Essentially they’d like me to address any issues the community has with said space and make it as useful and comfortable as it can be. Thus, I’m opening up the discussion here to make sure I address issues I’m not aware of. Hopefully, even though this is online, we’ll get a mostly representative mix of ideas and concerns.

First thing: the Safer Space is still in the Solitaire Room this year, just like last year. I remember hearing people complain that this ended up being a detriment as it is so out of the way. However, it’s too late at this point to move it this year. Next year, perhaps. The reason it ended up in the Solitaire Room (from what I understand) was to cut down on gawkers.

One solution to this issue is to plan events and meetups in the space to encourage people to come. And I wouldn’t mind having a lunch together again. The concom also said they’d look into having a coffee/tea service in the room.

So, my question to the WisCon-attending POC out there is: how can we make this room more useful to you beyond the basic function? Are there things you want to happen that didn’t last year? Events you want to see continue? Suggestions, comments, issues, cookies in the comments below! However, if there’s anything you’d like to bring up with me privately, please use the contact form on my website if you don’t know my email or message me on Facebook. I can keep your concerns private/anonymous if need be.