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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On World Fantasy Convention 2014

World Fantasy Con is over.  I'm home.  I'm alive.  I'm back to the life of a grad student and adjunct faculty, with a side of writing.  And these are my mystical thoughts on the whole experience:

I began my journey in the fashion of a handrail used by a string of infected boat passengers.  On Tuesday, I started feeling a cold coming on, and I frantically chowed down Vitamin C and everything else I could find to stifle the monster growing within me.  Alas, the cold was up to the task and settled in by Wednesday morning, leaving me so wiped by Thursday that I had to cancel class in order to get a lot of rest before the 2-hour drive to Jacksonville and the 2-hour flight to Arlington.  My flight was delayed by almost 3 hours, leaving me in an uncomfortable airport with death dribbling from my nostrils.  The flight itself was terrible for the simple reason that sinus pressure + plane cabin pressure = a terrible combination.  By the time I got to Arlington, I was completely wiped.  Thankfully, I started feeling better by Friday, though spent most of that day (the 1st day of my WFC experience) napping.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Hugo Awards Recommendations: Which shorts / novelettes / novellas have I missed?

It's almost that time again:  time to nominate stuff for the Hugos. I usually miss a lot of stuff throughout the year, so I like to reach out to readers to see what they'd recommend so I can create a reading list for myself.  Last time, you folks recommended so much that I ended up with a 1,200-page ebook!  I want to give myself a little more time for the next nominating season.

So...which short stories, novelettes, and novellas should I be reading?  Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

On #GamerGate -- Final Thoughts Before I Find Something Else to Do

If you have no idea what GamerGate is, the Wiki page gives a decent enough summary of the major events.  Additional details can be found at RationalWiki.

This is the only post I will write on this subject.  At this point, I'm basically "over it."  The whole thing is a monumental mess.  There's abuse on both sides, accusations flying everywhere, and, once more, a lot of hard divisions.  If GG had a purpose beyond its 4Chan origins, I think it's now over with, either because the well-meaning people within it could not control the narrative or because GG was always a hijacked movement whose membership, in part, was about attacking women (I lean more towards the latter).  For example, here's a rough statistical analysis of what GamerGaters have been talking about in the last month; hint:  ethics in journalism is pretty low on the list.

So this is all I'm saying on GamerGate.  I will not Tweet about it again.  I will not write more blog posts.  If someone decides to create an organized body of folks who are against corruption in games journalism, I'll support it, but I cannot in good conscience support GG.

These are my final thoughts:

Friday, October 10, 2014

On Language and Reinforcing Bigotry

[Note:  statistics will vary considerably depending where you are in the world.  I'm using statistics and studies which are mostly relevant to the United States, and so this post will focus accordingly.  This is my comfort zone, but I encourage others to take a look at these same concerns as they relate to their cultural contexts.]

Language is our responsibility.  How we use it determines everything from our ability to communicate with one another to how we talk about other people to how we describe the world we all share.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner (2014)

I didn't really have high hopes for The Maze Runner (2014).  Sure, I looked forward to seeing it on the off chance that it would be a lot of fun, but I didn't expect it to be a particularly "good" movie.  And it's not, but neither is it "bad."  The Maze Runner is just another entry in a long line of YA dystopia adaptations, one which never seems to escape the confines of a cinematic formula.

At its most basic, The Maze Runner can be summed up as follows:
Thomas wakes up in a mysterious elevator cage without any memory of who or where he is, only to be thrust into the company of a ragtag group of boys who have learned to survive in the Glade, which rests at the center of a massive, murderous maze.  But Thomas isn't as willing to accept the status quo as the rest.  Desperate to understand why they are in the Maze and who designed it, Thomas tries to piece together his fragmented memories and find a way out of the Maze.  Doing so, however, may threaten the entire community...
The premise of the film is fairly standard YA dystopia stuff, although what apparently separates Thomas from the rest of the boys is his curiosity, which sounds less like a magic skill than some kind of behavioral conditioning that the film barely acknowledges.  Fans of the books have been raving about this film, as to be expected, which might explain why it has earned nearly $200mil worldwide as of Oct. 5th, 2014.  But I'm not convinced that The Maze Runner will have a lasting impact.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Dear DC: Little Girls Play Board Games, Too

The folks on Sword and Laser recently had a brief discussion about the Justice League:  Axis of Villains board game, which apparently includes no women.  Peter V. Brett has a post about it here.  In short, his daughter didn't want to play the game because it didn't even have Wonder Woman.

WONDER WOMAN.  The single most important female superhero in the entire DC canon is not in a fucking board game meant to be played by children.

I cannot express how angry and disappointed I am in DC over this.  Every single time I hear something about DC, it's shit like this.  DC saying something dumb about women.  DC releasing creepy suicide PSAs w/ Harley Quinn practically nude in a bathtub.  DC not including women.  DC bad.  DC bad.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No, Repetition Does Not Mean Science Fiction is Stagnating...Per Se

(This is going to be a bit ranty.  Be prepared.) 

There's been a bit of talk lately about Project Hieroglyph, an Arizona State University anthology (and website) which attempts to address the argument in Neal Stephenson's "Innovation Starvation."  I recommend reading that essay yourself; it makes some compelling points about science fiction and the failure of contemporary culture to meet the demands of the 1960s imagination.  Here, I'd like to talk about Ed Finn's (editor of Project Hieroglyph) article at Slate.com:  "The Inspiration Drought:  Why Our Science Fiction Needs New Dreams."

In fairness, I came to this article via a wildly misleading headline on io9.  Finn's actual argument concerns the recycling of ideas within and outside of science fiction proper and its impact on science.  Finn argues that