Tempest’s WisCon 36 Panel and Party Schedule

Tempest's WisCon 36 Panel and Party Schedule

WisCon 36 is almost upon us. Here’s where I’ll be!

Parties

Riots of Bloom | Sat, 9:00 pm Room 607

I’m the DJ.

Join us for spicy samosas and wine as we dance the night away to world beats! Riots of Bloom is a party to celebrate the speculative fiction of authors of color who have books and stories releasing this year. (N. K. Jemisin, Neesha Meminger, Kiini Salaam, Ibi Zoboi, Alaya Dawn Johnson) We are especially honored to celebrate WisCon 36 Guest of Honor and Tiptree winner, Andrea Hairston! So put on your most riotous colors and come prepared to boogie on down to the rhythmic beats of reggae, calypso, salsa, bhangra, and other world music!

Unnamed, not on the schedule shenanigans | Friday 11:00 pm room TBD

So there has been talk for a while about doing a party wherein we watch and heavily criticize Jem! and My Little Pony and some other beloved cartoons of our child and adulthood while eating gummi bears soaked in rum, vodka flavored with Skittles, and a number of other ridiculous, not safe for kids foods. Given the nature of the foods in question, it was suggested to me that we NOT make this an official party. So we’re going to find a suitable space and have it semi-privately.

Panels

From Sherlock to Sheldon: Asexuality and Asexual Characters in SF/F
Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm | Senate B

K. Tempest Bradford (mod), Liz Argall, Dawn Ash, L J Geoffrion, Jed Hartman

We’re all familiar by now with the sexual orientations homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual. Much less discussed are asexuals, persons who do not experience sexual attraction. This panel discusses what asexuality is and is not, and proposes ways for authors to explore this overlooked orientation in their characters. Is it enough that a character has no on-page sex life, or should asexuality be more positively portrayed? Asexuality in real-time fandom and asexual characters in fiction and media may also be discussed as time allows.

Feminist Blogging: What Is It and What Role Can It Play in Creating Social Change?
Sat, 10:00–11:15 am | Caucus

K. Tempest Bradford (mod), Brit Mandelo, Andrea Chandler, Michelle Kendall, Rachel Virginia Swirsky

The internet has seen an upsurge in feminist blogs, with those words returning millions of results in search engines. What are feminist blogs? How can feminist blogs help create positive change? In what ways can these spaces model an inclusive, non-hierarchical environment? What are the downsides to feminist blogging? Join us as we discuss new ways the internet can help further the discourse around issues of social and economic justice, feminism, and anti-oppression.

Sipping From the Firehose: Managing Writing and Social Media
Sat, 1:00–2:15 pm | Senate A

K. Tempest Bradford (mod), Barth Anderson, Kimberly Gonzalez, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, David J. Schwartz

FaceBook, Google+, LiveJournal, Tumblr, Twitter, blog, traditional website: Does a writer need them all? How do they help with self-promotion? How do they help with the isolation of writing? If you participate in social media, how do you keep it all up-to-date and still find time to write?

Creating Your Own Religion
Sun, 10:00–11:15 pm | Conference 4

K. Tempest Bradford (mod), Ann Leckie, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Deirdre M. Murphy, Larissa N. Niec

Which SF authors create interesting, believable religions, and which get religion wrong? (What does it mean to “get religion wrong” anyway?) Do made-up religions with intervening gods work better than those without? How can we as writers avoid making mistakes when creating and writing about fictional religions?

Not Everyone Lives in the Future
Mon, 10:00–11:15 am | Room 623

Carrie L. Ferguson (mod), K. Tempest Bradford, Ruthanna Emrys, Jesse the K, Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Technology has an undeniably transformative effect on our lives and it is worth examining who has access to those effects. Geeks are generally very engaged with technology and it is easy to assume that the Internet, cell phones, computers, etc. are a given in everyone’s lives. However, there are large communities where technological access is not at the level that geeks take for granted. How does lack of access to technology impede communities’ ability to prosper? How can geeks help to make technology more available to communities that may benefit from them? Are these transformative effects even desirable? What are good examples of SF that highlight or problematize this issue?

Reading

Title TBA
Sun, 4:00–5:15 pm | Michelangelos

Group reading: K. Tempest Bradford, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Jackie Mierzwa, Larissa N. Niec

10 Better Choices For The Next Doctor Who Companion

10 Better Choices For The Next Doctor Who Companion

Yesterday the Doctor Who crew announced that they’d chosen the new Doctor Who companion that will take over from Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill: Jenna-Louise Coleman. Moffat has heaped much praise upon Miss Coleman and said that her energy matches and even exceeds that of Matt Smith, so we should all rejoice.

Yet my first thought upon seeing her was: another young, white female? Really? That’s the best we can do?

I know nothing about Coleman and I have no reason to believe she’s not a good actress. So, nothing against her personally and all. This is more about the general banality of choice here. I shouldn’t expect much from Mr. Moffat given his track record — he did choose Matt Smith, after all — but is it so much to ask that a TV show about an 1100 year old time traveling alien be more than just the same old tired stuff all TV is about? Do we really need another young, white cis woman to compliment the young, white cis man at the center of the show?

Say what you will about Russell T. Davies (and I have said plenty in my time), he at least had the balls to change it up a bit when it came to companions. There were two companions of color on his watch, plus an omnisexual man, plus a woman with some years and experience on her.

Given the show’s penchant for picking actors and actresses from past episodes, I can think of 10 really good choices for companion that each bring things to the table we haven’t seen in a while and break the young, white, human female mold in different and interesting ways.

Madame Vastra and Jenny

Madame Vastra and Jenny

I’m starting with these two because I know so many people will agree. Moffat introduced them in “A Good Man Goes To War” and I’m pretty sure the entire fandom went nuts for them right away. They’re clearly lesbian, clearly in love, and would clearly bring some welcome snark and spark to the TARDIS. Especially because Vastra is all about not putting up with the Doctor’s bullshit. Yes, Jenny is a young, white female, I know. But this combo works so well. Plus she’s from our past and it’s been a while since the Doctor pulled a companion from sometime other than contemporary Earth. Vastra is non-human; again, something the show used to do and hasn’t yet since it came back. And with the whole lesbian thing we can finally leave behind the whole Girl Moons Over Doctor thing.

Canton Everett Delaware III

Canton Everett Delaware III

Any excuse to allow Mark Sheppard to take up more screen time on my TV is a good one, right? Beyond that, it seemed clear to me that when older Canton shows up in “The Impossible Astronaut” he had been through many more adventures with the Doctor than we saw. Why not add him to the TARDIS crew for a season? Let him bring the man he loves along (a gay black man from the 50’s in space? YES. Call Idris Elba).

Amara Karan

Amara Karan

When “The God Complex” first aired I remember a bunch of people said that they wished Rita hadn’t died because she’d make a fantastic companion. I wholeheartedly agreed. Just because Rita is dead doesn’t mean that Amara Karan can’t be a companion. It’s what happened with Freema, after all. She’s such a fantastic actress, just give her another great character and she’d be fabulous. Plus, she’s a woman of color. Honestly, the show needs to prove that Martha wasn’t just a token by being a little less white for no good reason.

Alonso Frame / Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey

Since we’ve seen Alonso twice now, I think he’s a good candidate to be a companion, but I’m not wedded to the character from “Voyage of the Damned”. Russell has a nice wide range and does crazy flustered really well. Maybe even better than Matt Smith. I don’t think he’d make a good solo companion, but perhaps teamed up with Amara or Lenora in a non-romantic way it could work. He’d also make a great alien with those big ears.

Lenora Crichlow

Lenora Crichlow

Ever since I saw Lenora in “Gridlock” I have loved her. I definitely don’t want to see her play the character from that episode as a companion, but someone new. As a Being Human fan it would give me no end of squeezing to see her and Russell Tovey as companions together, but that might just be too Brit-TV incestuous. Pair her up with Canton, maybe? Then you have a nice triad. An older guy to be sort of steady and reasonable, Matt being all muppety, and a younger woman to be the balance between them. Though, honestly, I’d love to see Lenora play someone 180 degrees from the roles I’ve seen her in so far.

Naoko Mori

Naoko Mori

I’ll say this up front: there’s no good reason why Torchwood’s Toshiko Sato is dead. Though I wouldn’t be down with them bringing that character back for Doctor Who, Naoko Mori should definitely get another chance at the Whoniverse. She’ll be the first Asian companion since the dude in the American movie. My only fear with her is that, once again, the writers will go for the easy stereotypes – shy, good at maths, bad at interpersonal relationships, computer wiz. Ugh. Naoko is so much better than all of that, as the show should be.

Clyde Langer (Daniel Anthony)

Clyde Langer

Bringing in someone from The Sarah Jane Adventures would tie the Whoniverse together even more. I like Luke, though I don’t think the whole innocent super genius thing would work all that well on Who, especially up against 11. Clyde is a different sort of person, and his personality would compliment Matt’s manicness well, I think. Plus you get the benefit of a person of color and someone who won’t be over-wowed by all the strangeness yet remain grounded.

Dichen Lachman

Dichen Lachman

Dichen slips in as a Whoniverse alum just barely since she had a small part in Torchwood: Miracle Day. However, my recommendation is not based on that. I had to watch every episode of Dollhouse so I could write about it. Despite the absolute torture of such a thing, I did notice that Dichen outdid most of her co-stars on a regular. One of the few good things about Dollhouse was watching her and Enver Gjokaj school everyone on how the whole new character every episode/scene thing was done. Not that most of them learned. I see her as a companion with a lot of mad energy. Or maybe even a Time Lady. Let’s rescue Romana from E-Space and revive her as a mixed-race woman of color!

Gina Torres

Gina Torres

This entrant right here is just some wish fulfillment. I’ve watched Gina Torres be a badass awesome lady through many a TV show, both good and bad. I say let’s bring that to the TARDIS’ doorstep and see what comes of it. She’s a woman comfortably above tweenage with some gravitas to her, has the body to do all the running necessary, won’t let the Doctor walk all over her or fall in love with him, and is probably comfortable destroying whole galaxies if you get in her way.

There you go: 10 awesome choices that aren’t the same old banal young, white female we’ve already been there and done.

Who would you add to the list?

Co-Signed: An open letter to Washington from Artists and Creators

From Stop The Wall:

As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.

We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result.

Read the whole thing.

As a writer and creator I wholeheartedly co-sign this statement.

Stop piracy, not freedom.

Pictures. Of me. In 2012.

Pictures. Of me. In 2012.

I’m doing this thing wherein I take a picture of myself every day in 2012. I started doing this back in April when I turned 33 thinkign I would take a picture of myself every day of my 33rd year, but then I kept forgetting. Perhaps this will encourage me to keep going.

There’s no big reason why I’m doing this. I just thought it would be interesting. Right now all of the pictures are of my face, but I suppose some full body shots will be ion there, too, especially since i am attempting to get in better shape. I can’t real measure my success by weight since I’m building muscle. I do hope to lose some inches, though.

This morning I was supposed to do a workout but didn’t because I read an article that basically said: if you’re going to the gym and getting on an eliptical or a weight machine, you’re not getting any benefit. So I was like: UM, that’s what i was going to do!

I am encouraged by the suggestion of an awesome weightlifting book, but I’m a little afraid to start doing the lifting without a coach for fear of breaking everything.

This got pretty rambly all of the sudden. Ah well, have a picture of me today:

2012 Resolutions

2012 Resolutions

All the cool kids are doing it.

1. Write fiction every day.

2. Write a non-work, non-Tumblr blog post every day. I have 10 blogs. I should, like, post on them.

3. Manage my time. At all.

4. Get in better shape by exercising regularly and switching up my daily habits so I move more and spend more time outside (weather permitting).

5. Be strict about my budget.

6. Tackle all of the non-work, non-fiction writing projects I wish to participate in, but one at a time instead of all at once.

7. Read more fiction. I now have the ability to save stories on the web to read later on my eReader. I should, like, do that.

8. Spend more time with friends both virtually and in real life. I should be Google Hanging Out far more than I do, and I should be seeing my friends out in the world far more than I do.

9. Learn a new skill. I’m thinking about something to do with programming/coding. Perhaps I will learn how to make Android apps, or something to do with Linux.

10. Complete my home improvement projects. I want track shelving in the living room and Moroccan-style decor in my bedroom.

ETA: 11. Learn something new every month. A recipe, a nugget of knowledge, a skill, something.

Let’s Talk About Human Nature

Let's Talk About Human Nature

Specifically, the Doctor Who series 3 episodes “Human Nature/The Family of Blood”.

Those of you who read my Chicks Dig Time Lords essay know a bit about how I feel about this episode, specifically Martha in this episode, but I’ll give a small bit of explanation and background for those who don’t.

In this two-parter, the Doctor runs away from the Family because they want to capture him and feed off of his Time Lord essence. So he hides the Time Lord bit of him in a watch (aided by the TARDIS) and hen goes to live as a normal human for a bit so that they can’t find him. The species the Family belongs to apparently have a short lifespan, so the Doctor knows if he can just wait them out in hiding, they will eventually die.

So the Doctor becomes human and hides out in pre-WWI Britain as a teacher in a rich boys school. Martha is his companion, so she has to hide out, too. So she gets to be his maid. Since he brought her along with him to this job as a teacher (I think the explanation was that she was his family’s maid) she focuses most of her energy on caring for him, but is also made to do work around the school. At one point we see her cleaning floors with another maid she’s become friends with.

Then, of course, the Family shows up, stuff happens, big adventure[1].

I have a lot of problems with this episode.

  • For a long time I wondered what possible justification the Doctor had for taking Martha to this time period and this place on earth when he had, oh all of time and space to choose from?
  • People have pointed out that the Doctor did not choose the time and place, the TARDIS dd. Well, TARDIS: wtf? Still not okay[2].
  • It’s yet another example in a long list of examples where Martha is put into the Mammy role. I might have let it slide except it happens so often it’s a damn theme, and that’s really problematic.

There are a lot of different strings tying this all together. To start, this episode was based on a Doctor Who novel written by the dude who also wrote the script: Paul Cornell. Apparently RTD liked the book so much he asked Cornell to make an episode of it. But the book was written some time ago starring a different incarnation of the Doctor with a different (white) companion. And thus the companion’s role was very different in the book.

By doing this episode during season 3 Cornell and the creative team introduced a tricky element that wasn’t in the original. They did address race more than once, and that’s good. But they only addressed race in the more surface, basic ways while letting other deeper issues stand.

This is more complicated by the fact that I really like the episode overall. It’s well-written and the story itself is interesting and the dilemma the Doctor faces in the end is crunchy and thought-provoking. I’ve found myself wishing many times since watching it that they’d done this episode with a different companion, because obviously there just wasn’t enough deep thought about race to do it the way they did without being super problematic. Or, that’s the way it seems from the result.

So what precipitated this post? Over on Tumblr I reblogged something from Karnythia about this ep where people expressed their frustration with it. It’s the part where the nurse that the Human!Doctor has fallen in love with is talking to Martha, who reveals she is a (medical) doctor. The woman then says: “Women might train to be doctors, but hardly a scivvy and hardly one of your colour.”  Karnythia points out:

“Black women had been training to be doctors in the UK & the US for almost 40 years at this point. Were there a lot of them? No. But there was a lot of coverage of the ones who did succeed. If she knew women were training to be doctors, then she knew some of them were women of color.”

Perhaps she would have, but the writer and the creative team apparently did not[3].

That gives me a whole other reason to be mad at this episode.

As I said in my Chicks piece, I don’t think anyone was being intentionally racist here and it’s clear that some thought was given to race when they decided to do these episodes with Martha. That’s a good thing. But when you’re dealing with something as thorny as this, you can’t just put some thought into race. And as many people have pointed out, there is all kinds of just on the surface or just under the surface problems with race in the new Doctor Who[4].

These episodes are a source of great rage because of the lack of deep thought about race. For me, the rage is informed by that and by the knowledge that it could be such a good episode if not for this stuff.

And it all makes me realize I need top hop on getting this book started with Karnythia.

Footnotes

  1. If you want a full synopsis, check Wikipedia.[]
  2. In the world of the show that is bad enough. But I find it to be handwavy and bull on the part of the writer/creators/whoever came up with this idea. It looks like they’re trying to absolve the Doctor of responsibility here, and that’s a dick way to do so. Plus, it doesn’t fly for the TARDIS, either, as it’s been well established by this point that it has a consciousness, too.[]
  3. Or there’s another explanation. I think we may find out.[]
  4. The classic episodes, too, of course.[]

My Thoughts On The Latest #YesGayYA Developments

My Thoughts On The Latest #YesGayYA Developments

I meant to post this yesterday, but work things got in the way. Then the ever-wonderful Cleolinda posted the long, long post I was going to write and said everything I was going to say. So I’ll keep mine short. I suggest you click over to Cleolinda’s blog for the full story. Seriously.

A few days ago Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith wrote a guest post for the Genreville blog over at Publisher’s Weekly about their experience with an unnamed agent who asked them to make changes to their YA manuscript to erase the fact that a main POV character was gay. At least for the first book in the series. The pair went on to say that they’d heard that this thing with erasing gay characters in YA was something other authors experienced and thus they felt the need to write about it and bring the overall issue to light.

They did not name the agent or agency. They moved on from their specific example to the broader issue. They pointed out that this seemed to come from a concern over market forces rather than labeling anyone Homophobic or Gay Hating. If you don’t believe me, go read the original.

The post sparked a big conversation about the issue and I saw in the comments and on blogs and social networks that several other authors, published and not, talk their stories of having agents and/or editors tell them to remove gay characters from their YA.

Then Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, an agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation, posted on Colleen Lindsay’s blog, The Swivet, outing her agency as the one in question (though claims she is not the specific agent in question) and essentially called Rachel and Sherwood liars. Under the guest post part, Colleen added this:

FACT: Both these writers already have their own agents. At least one of those agents reps YA books. So what does it say when the respective agents for both these well-established writers advise them to find a different agent for the book in question because neither of them wanted to rep it themselves?

It tells me that homophobia was most likely not the reason that this book has thus far not found representation.

And that made me see red because that just looks like a personal attack and an attempt to dismiss what Rachel and Sherwood said by saying that their book is no good. Further, on my Facebook page, Colleen claimed that she knew other agents who turned the book down because it had structural issues.

I like and respect Colleen a lot, but I’m calling bullshit on this. Though she says she didn’t mean for the above words to be an attack, that’s what it looks like. And, even if other agents passed on the book for structural reasons, that does not mean that the conversation as represented by Rachel and Sherwood didn’t happen. One does not preclude the other.

Putting that aside, at this point we’ve reached He Said/She Said, and it comes down to which side you believe. Stampfel-Volpe said that at no time did they say they wanted make the character not gay or take away references that he was gay in the book in question[1]. Rachel and Sherwood maintain that this is indeed what was said.

For my part, I believe Rachel and Sherwood. My main criteria being that my interactions with Rachel online and the interactions and friendships she has with people I know and trust do not lead me to believe she would lie in this way. I don’t know Sherwood well, but nothing I have ever heard from her good friends leads me to believe she would perpetuate a hoax for publicity or lie for profit.

Rose Fox of Genreville apparently felt the same way. Colleen mentions something about how the piece wasn’t fact checked, but how was that supposed to happen? The agency wasn’t named. And even though there are claims that the gossip identified the agency, the majority of us wouldn’t know without their self-outing. These are not the kind of “facts” that can be easily checked because the other party can say “That didn’t happen” and they could be lying just as easily as the authors. Rose used her judgment based on what she knows about the two women and, so far, I haven’t seen any reason for her to have doubted that.

Additionally, Stampfel-Volpe’s post is filled with the kind of red flags I see every day as an anti-prejudice activist. The tone is too defensive[2] and unconvincing. Plus, what exactly do you expect the agency to say? “Yes, we did that”? No. Hell no.

Think about it. If they did request the changes Rachel and Sherwood claim and did so because of market forces and such, they wouldn’t admit to it especially if they aren’t homophobic themselves. It’s just like the whole cover controversy with Justine Larbalestier’s Liar. I’m sure that her publishers are not racist people, but they put a non-black person on the cover of her book at first because they assumed that systemic racist attitudes would hurt sales. That is not something you want to admit in public, because it’s gross. It happens, though. We all know it happens. And thanks to #YesGayYA we know that the erasure of gay characters in YA happens, too. And it’s still gross.

No one wants to admit when they give in to prejudiced bullshit.

The other reason I just don’t believe Stampfel-Volpe is that she made this whole thing personal:

One of our agents is being used as a springboard for these authors to gain attention for their project. She is being exploited. But even worse, by basing their entire article on untruths, these authors have exploited the topic.

Someone explain to me how the agent in question is being exploited when he/she wasn’t named. Also, bringing a topic to light is not exploitative. The kind of people I see using language like that are the folks who try to tell me that by bringing up racism or “inventing” it when it’s not there, I am the one being racist. This is a classic defense. It may even be on the BINGO card. When I see people using this kind of language, I immediately distrust what they have to say. I’ve been on the receiving end of this too often to not recognize it.

I suggest you read the original Genreville post and the other excellent links at Cleolinda’s blog before you come down on one side or the other, especially if you don’t know any of the people involved. The readiness of some people to immediate jump to HOAX! based on absolutely nothing but one person’s word would astonish me if I didn’t already have plenty of experience watching people readily dismiss real prejudice that exists right in front of them as not-prejudice. It’s so much more comforting to think that someone is just a lying liar than that there’s a serious problem to tackle.

Tackling problems requires thought, effort, and often sacrifice. Who wants to deal with that?

Footnotes

  1. Edited to make things clearer. I didn’t read my original sentence a second time and should have. Thanks Helen.[]
  2. Especially the parts added by Colleen, who emphatically claims that the agent is a good friend and not homophobic, even though Rachel and Sherwood didn’t say he/she was. A person might not be personally homophobic, but still perpetuate the idea that mainstream readers are too homophobic to deal with gay charcaters. It’s a systemic problem, and one need not be personally prejudiced in order to bow to the system.[]

Doctor Who Debate: Davies vs. Moffat

Doctor Who Debate: Davies vs. Moffat

At Dragon*Con last weekend I went to a panel called Doctor Who: Davies vs. Moffat in the Brit track so as to cover it for the Daily Dragon. The panel discussion was… less than robust, I would say. But then, this topic could have people going on for hours and we only had one. I wrote it up for the DD here, if you care to read.

Coming away from the panel I felt that I’d like to continue the conversation in a venue better suited to deep conversation. And here we are.

The basic idea behind the panel was to examine Doctor Who and debate which “era” of the show — the one headed by Davies or the current one by Moffat — is better overall. Of course, with both showrunners there’s a lot to pick apart and examine and for some there may not be a better overall choice. It’s completely legitimate to point out the areas where either of them excel or falter. And, of course, there will be some pitting the various Doctors against each other.

To back up your arguments, you may mention any episode that’s been aired but don’t reveal any spoilers from unaired stuff. By aired I mean aired in the UK. If you really, really don’t want spoilers for the most recent stuff, you should probably skip this one.

To start the debate, I’ll ask of folks: who do you think is the better plotter? On an episode by episode basis I would have said Moffat until season 5. On an overall arc basis, I’m saying Davies. So far The Silence just makes me roll my eyes, and I wanted to stab the Pandorica thing from the word go. Season 3′s arc was much more satisfying and well constructed… until the Tinkerbell bit.

What say you?

Dragon*Con 2011: The Late, Late Report

Dragon*Con 2011: The Late, Late Report

I’m horrible at posting timely con reports, so I’ve given up worrying about it. It’s been a week since Dragon*Con ended, so at least with this one is up faster than my WisCon or ReaderCon reports. No, you didn’t miss them… they aren’t posted yet.

Onward!

This was my first Dragon*Con, and I was slightly worried about feeling overwhelmed. However, I had the chance to work for the at-con newsletter, the Daily Dragon, and that helped me feel less at sea. I had specific things to do and I spent most of my time doing them. Those specific things involved copyediting, being on call in the DD office, covering panels, and interviewing people. Being a journalist is a bunch of fun.

I had a great time talking to Ann and Jeff Vandermeer about steampunk and Alethea Kontis and Leanna Renee Hieber about being pro guests who are also fans. But the absolute highlight of my con was getting to interview Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Janeway. I also got to interview Brent Spiner of The Next Generation.

For Kate Mulgrew, I had to chase down her agent, then come sit at her signings three times before he found time in her schedule. William Shatner had just denied a couple of my colleagues an interview, so I was nervous. But Ms. Mulgrew wasn’t as ALL DONE THIS as Bill (and I don’t blame him, he did three solo panels and signed 4 times) so she granted me five minutes.

I’ve met her just once before, and she was just as warm and funny as before. She has this commanding attitude that I adore. It’s not obnoxious — more like a very forceful matriarch. If she tells you to do something, you do it because obviously she thinks it’s best. Plus, you don’t say no to Captain Janeway. Read the interview (Kate says so.)

Talking to her about how there needs to be more women leaders in the Star Trek franchise, I had this awesome idea for a panel at Dragon*Con about female leadership in SF. My dream panel would be Kate Mulgrew, Nana Visitor, Mary McDonnell, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, and Gina Torres. I also think that would make an excellent pop essay book, with the volume split between TV/Movie properties and SF novels. As things ramp up for next year’s D*Con, I’ll see if the panel is possible.

I was in the autographing room on Monday waiting for Brent Spiner to have time when I noticed that Robert Duncan McNeil (Tom Paris, Voyager) had a life-size cutout of himself in character sitting on top of his table. Not next to, on top of. I went over and asked, “How much to take a picture with the cutout?” because pictures with him were $10 and that’s just not my thing. Thankfully he has an excellent sense of humor and joked with me about it and, when I came back to actually take a picture with the cutout in my absolute silliness, decided he needed to be in the pic, too. I let him. You know, to make him feel better.

Tempest Bradford and Lt. Paris... and Robert Duncan McNeil

I also had one other mission during the con, which was to sell fans and raise money for Con or Bust when possible. I didn’t sell many fans, but my roommate, Mary Robinette Kowal, sold TONS. She’s a sales machine and earned Con or Bust a lot of money.

In addition to selling fans, I also asked some actors of color to sign one so we can auction them off. When I get home I’ll post pics. Edward James Olmos (BSG) and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim, Voyager) both signed readily and were very sweet about it. In fact, Garrett misunderstood my request (I’d asked him the night before in the green room) and had a picture he’d planned to give me of Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo and himself in character, signed by all three. It’s really adorbs. I gave him a fan in exchange for the picture and we’ll auction that off, too.

Sidenote: Garrett Wang is awesome. He runs the Trek Track at D*Con and does a fantastic job, does funny as hell spots for Dragon*Con TV, and spends hours and hours in the autograph room so everyone who wants to see him gets a chance. Plus, he’s super sweet, like I said.

That was pretty much my Dragon*Con. I met many awesome fans, hang out with the fabulous Daily Dragon staff, saw fantastic costumes, got to go to panels, met one of my heroines, and had conversations with a host of fabulous people. I’m looking forward to going back next year.

As Always, My Thoughts On 9/11

Are best expressed in fiction.

Others have also raised concerns over the ongoing nature of the haitai ritual. Though performing it after the first or second anniversary isn’t unheard of, most clerics don’t recommend it. Wassirian cleric Anes Mshai is an outspoken opponent of further Red Seteshday haitai.

“Bringing closure and allowing family members to say goodbye is healthy. Especially in the case of such a massive disaster. But reliving and recreating the event over and over again every year may be keeping them from moving on.”

Until Forgiveness Comes at Strange Horizons

Intra-Community Behavior – How Do We Address Problems Constructively?

Intra-Community Behavior - How Do We Address Problems Constructively?

This was a very long comment on the post from yesterday. However, in writing it I realized that this discussion is separate but related, so I broke it out into its own post. This comment addresses some stuff across multiple comments over there plus some things from this discussion on the anon community.

Just to clarify: For me, my worries over the doubts I had about Kynn and the way I pushed them aside isn’t about whether I should have known she would rape someone. It’s totally separate from that. It’s more about how I shouldn’t have accepted that behavior from a person who very clearly wanted to be allied with my community and me personally. I don’t look back and regret my errors because of what happened to jack specifically. Wanted to clear that up.

While on one hand I agree with the anon that points out that within social justice communities if someone doesn’t speak up and say “hey, I don’t agree with the actions this person is taking” then people may assume that we endorse or, at least, don’t find the behavior problematic. And that can be a problem both within and outside of the community.

On the other hand, I very much agree with Cheryl that I don’t then want us to turn the tone argument on each other or start deciding whose anger is more valid. Plus, I get the feeling that what some critics of social justice want in that instance is a public “I DON’T AGREE” in big letters. I’m not always comfortable with that.

Intra-community discussions of appropriate actions and words should stay inside unless the community decides to open it up to wider discussion.

Examples of this include the recent flare-up surrounding Ashley Judd’s condemnation of hip-hop as sexist. Women in the hip-hop and POC community have been dealing with this issue a lot longer, and many did not appreciate someone from outside the community swanning in to give her ill-formed and unwanted opinion on the matter.

Within a feminist context, women outside of mainstream white western culture are forever dealing with well-meaning feminists trying to tell them how their cultures are evil and should be abandoned. Whereas women inside those cultures and communities are constantly saying “Back off, we got this, we’re working on it from our own cultural framework.”

Those are big picture examples. Those are also more straightforward than what we’re dealing with here.

The dilemma I see is this: how does a community or an individual within a community approach another individual to say I/We think you’re crossing a line? That’s a tough conversation to have. I’ve found myself reluctant to have it the few times it’s come up. And, as I said yesterday, I am not the behavior police nor do I feel I have the right to be.

Still, this situation is making me realize how important it is to discuss this and come up with strategies not only to ensure the mental health of the community at large, but also to achieve our common goals.

As before, thoughts are very much appreciated. And to the anonymice out there — I allow anon comments here, but reserve the right to moderate as I see fit. (Generally: deleting abusive ones.)

ETA: Hey anons, want to further clarify something for those of you who seem to be lacking reading skills. This post is not about reactions to what Kynn did to Jack. I’m not saying AT ALL that intra-community issues need to be worked out around people’s reactions to that. I’m talking here about more general issues using Kynn’s behavior before this incident as a touchpoint, but not due to what happened at WisCon. This is about things I observed before that. How people deal with someone in their group who rapes another is a separate conversation and not what I’m addressing here (for that, see the other post). Okay? Okay.

Community, Trust, Responsibility, Consequences

Community, Trust, Responsibility, Consequences

This post may be triggering for some as it contains discussions of rape, sexual assault, and community responses to such.

I promised to write this post last week, but unfortunately preparations for BlogHer took up more spoons than I anticipated. Plus, I’ve been dealing with a lot of intense emotions around the issue and it kept me from posting publicly for a while. But I feel it’s important for several reasons, all of which you will understand by the end of this post. I’m placing the bulk of it under a cut, just in case. [Read more...]

Gender Imbalance, Again. Mansplaining, Again. Bleh.

Gender Imbalance, Again. Mansplaining, Again. Bleh.

The latest entry in the Gender Imbalance Hall of Fame appears to be Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction edited by Ian Whates. Of the 21 contributors there are 4 women[1].

You may facepalm now.

But, you see, the editor totally knows that this whole gender imbalance thing is a probem. This is why his other anthologies have more women in them! And that makes this all okay.

The thing is, as an editor, it’s almost inevitable (given the aforementioned imbalance) that you’re going to fall foul of somebody’s opinion somewhere. I’ve just released the TOC for Solaris Rising, an anthology I’ve been commissioned to produce for (you guessed it) Solaris. … Already the book has attracted a drearily predictable comment of “How’s that mistressworks thing goin’?” from Nick Mamatas. It’s strange, but last year when I released the anthology The Bitten Word (ten female authors, seven male), nobody accused me of being a feminist. Nor was gender commented on that June when I released Anniversaries (seven female authors, two male). I suspect that next month, when I release a new collection of stories by Liz Williams – A Glass of Shadow – with an intro by Tanith Lee and cover art by Anne Sudworth, no comment will be made then either, nor when I release the next NewCon Press anthology Dark Currents in 2012 – which looks set to once again feature more female contributors than male. The detractors are very selective, it seems.

Shorter Ian Whates: WHERE ARE MAH COOKIES?!!

Someone call the wahmbulance and pick this mansplaier off the ground before he hurts himself.

Footnotes

  1. Oh look, Paul DiFilippo is in it, too! That’s a sure sign of quality… /sarcasm[]

The Unblinking Eye [Part 1, rough]

The Unblinking Eye [Part 1, rough]

The cold open of my TNG/Doctor Who fanfic is done, so I thought I would share it with you all. I also came up with a tentative title. It will likely change.

Okay kids, keep in mind that this is a first draft. Like a really, really first draft. Have fun.

The Unblinking Eye

Captain’s Log, Stardate 46389.2. We’ve just entered the Davien system and commander LaForge informs me that the test of the new subspace field generator will commence within the hour. If successful, the new engine will increase dilithium efficiency three-fold.

“All right, Data. Activate the field.” Goerdi LaForge swept his rolling chair between consoles, keeping track of half a dozen monitors at once. This first test was going to be tricky, and he didn’t want to give the engineering core back at Starfleet Headquarters any reasons to shut him down before he could prove this new engine scheme would work.

“Subspace field activated.” Data stood at Engineering’s central console while the rest of the crew moved between the warp vestibule and their consoles, keeping almost as diligent an eye on the outputs as their boss.

All signs were good, and Geordi was about to give the order to go to warp 1 when a sharp, rushing sound interrupted the normal thrumthrum of the room. It lasted only seconds, hardly enough time for panic to well up in his chest at what might be going wrong. And when it was over a body lay sprawled on the floor.

“What–”

“Intruder alert,” the computer announced in her faux alarmed tone.  [Read more...]

Happily Ever After Is Now Out

Happily Ever After Is Now Out

Happily Ever After Cover

The Happily Ever After anthology is now on bookstore shelves (both virtual and physical). You should certainly go pick up a copy if you’re a fan of fairy tales, subversion of fairy tales, mythpunk, and other related things, as this book is FULL of such wonderful nonsense. The table of contents alone is enough to tempt people, and that cover is to die for. Here, I shall make it easy for you:

Amazon | Kindle | B&N / Nook | IndieBound