Why I’m Blogging…Again…At Last

You may have noticed I've started blogging again. Since Monday (10/20), I have released one blog every weekday on everything from favorite 80s scifi movies to neo-Nazis in my city to terrible movies to my thoughts on spending years reading mostly women. All of this is part of my effort to jumpstart my writing brain. The whole thing. Not just the blogging side, but also my fiction and academic writing sides, too. And I'm having a hell of a time getting there... Read More

The Neo-Nazis Are in Town, and They’re Playing Us

As I write this, Richard Spencer and his cronies have arrived in Gainesville, FL for an event at the University of Florida. He was not invited by anyone but himself. The student body overwhelmingly doesn't want him here. The city overwhelmingly doesn't want him here. But he's here nonetheless to share his message of hate, to manipulate young people to serve his needs, and to play all of us like a fiddle. This event isn't just about presenting his ideas. He'll use this as an opportunity to stage altercations, lie, and manipulate in order to legitimate his movement. This new breed of neo-Nazi/white nationalist[note]...or whatever stupid name you want to give these racist pisspots[/note] has a wide range of technological tools at their disposal that make disseminating lies and hatred easier than ever. Every reaction we give them is more fuel for his fire. They don't need us to discriminate against Spencer or his kind; they'll make it up if they have to. None of this means we shouldn't respond. What it means is we're sort of trapped between a rock and a hard place in all of this. If we react, it will be used against us. If we don't, it'll seem like silent consent. Either way, it seems like we are powerless against this stuff. The problem, however, isn't us. Read More

Five Faves: 80s Science Fiction Movies

The 80s were great.[note]They were also damn terrible. The horrible treatment of LGBTQ+ people, the AIDs crisis, Reagan, the Cold War, Reagan, and so on and so forth. I just like the art...[/note] Great music. Great movies. Great books. Great fashion. Yeah, I said it. Fashion. I love 80s fashion, and I don't care what you think about that! Anywho. For today's Five Faves post, I thought I'd take a stab at listing 80s science fiction movies. I know that the second I click the publish button on this post, I'm going to change my mind about the movies selected below. Oh well... Here goes: Read More

Thoughts on Years of Reading (Mostly) Women

Back in 2015, roughly 92% of the works I read were by women. This was mostly intentional, as The Skiffy and Fanty Show hosted a women-centric (and non-binary friendly) theme throughout 2015.[note]If you count the works I assigned in my classes, the total comes out to roughly 55% in favor of women. The dramatic shift from 92% to 55% can be blamed on the relative absence of female writers during the periods in which my courses have focused, and so some of my courses swing in favor of men (though not by a massive margin; I didn’t actually read that much in 2015, so it’s not that hard to swing things in the other direction).[/note] In 2016, the numbers were less skewed, with 61% of works by women. Including my teaching numbers into this list is a bit too complicated, so I won't bother including it here.[note]Complicated primarily because one of the courses I taught focused on "Queer Autobiography," which includes numerous works by people with gender identities that are difficult to classify without making assumptions. If you count LGBTQ+ as a factor, at least 22% of the works I read were by people in that category. For all the numbers in this post, I went with easily accessible information about identity for what I hope are obvious reasons.[/note] Obviously, having a more "open" year for reading meant my numbers were more fluid. But even with that fluidity in place, there's a clear indication that my reading habits have changed. So, here's what I've learned from the past few years: Read More

Why I Will Never Give Up My Terrible Movies

Bad movies. Some of us love to hate them. Some of us just hate them. And then there are people like me. I have a fondness for a few films that practically everyone would agree are terrible. My seemingly illogical love of 1988's absurd McDonald's-funded E.T. rip-off, Mac & Me, has earned me a rotating sequence of callbacks on my podcast, The Skiffy and Fanty Show.[note]I'm only half teasing...[/note] It's a sickness to some, but for me, it's a product of experience.[note]This topic was suggested by wabbit89 on Twitter. Thanks![/note] To be fair, I almost deserve it. I will jump at the flip of a hat to defend that movie against almost any criticism, not because I believe it's high quality cinema but because there is a deeper connection to that movie for me, as there is for so many of the trashfire films that occupy my DVD rack. Read More

On Generation Ships and Pandorum (2009)

One thing that has always struck me about generation ships is the way in which they are usually treated as microcosms for the Earth (as it was, is, or might be). Like the wagon train to the west, the generation ship can help us move the social and political problems of our world into an isolated space for interrogation. That detachment, I would argue, is a part of what makes so much of science fiction so influential, and why generation ships are somewhat easy mechanisms for staging the kinds of socio-political criticism so much of science fiction is known for (in theory).[note]The topic of generation ships was suggested by Jeff Xilon on Twitter. Thanks, Jeff![/note] Read More

On Space Opera and Domesticity

Domesticity and space opera? Do they go together? Obviously, yes. But what happens when they do?[note]This topic was provided by Joyce Chng on Twitter. Thanks, Joyce![/note] Earlier this year, Tor.com hosted a massive space opera extravaganza. Liz Bourke contributed a post on the politics of domesticity in space opera, with particular attention on what she somewhat half-heartedly called "domestic space opera." One of the important points Bourke makes is that the personal and the political are not necessarily separate entities. Bourke defends this claim by looking at several examples of space operas which place heavy focus on domestic spaces and by suggesting that perhaps it is the emotional dynamics of those spaces that make up the bulk of the operatic (or melodramatic) focus present in so much of space opera. It's an interesting post, and I suggest you read it. Read More

My NASFiC / San Juan 2017 Schedule and Podcast Interviews

I'm going to Puerto Rico! I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it... [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iwBM_YB1sE[/embed] OK, enough of that... I've got good reason to be, too. I've never been to Puerto Rico, so the second I found out about it, I bought a membership and began planning. The crazy thing:  they gave me a TON to do while I'm there, including running an interview panel with one of my favorite authors:  Tobias Buckell! Before I give you my schedule, I do want to remind potential readers and attendees that I'm a podcaster. I run The Skiffy and Fanty Show, and I will be open to recording discussions and interviews at NASFiC. So, if you're an author, fan, creative type, or whatever and you'd like to be interviewed, hit me up! Alright. Here's my schedule: Read More

Five Faves: Rums (Guest Post by Noah Mueller) #MonthofJoy

I want to take a moment to talk about rum. Rum is a distilled spirit that is frequently associated with the Caribbean because a major ingredient is sugar or molasses and the Caribbean has long been known for its sugar plantations. As a result, rum became the drink of choice for many of its residents. Generally speaking, there are three types of rums: light, dark and spiced. Dark rums are dark because they have been aged or because manufacturers have added coloring. I discourage buying young rums with added color because they’re masquerading as being older than they are. If you want a young rum, buy a light rum. Spiced rums frequently are darker than light rums, but this is because of a variety of spices that have been added during the manufacturing process. My favorite type of rum is the aged variety. Like Scotch, well-aged rums have a different flavor profile than younger varieties, and good aged rum can be enjoyed neat. I’ve been told that the older a Scotch is, the better it is. I’m not a Scotch drinker, so I cannot verify this, but I can say with certainty that this is not true for rum. In my opinion, the aging process for rum follows a bell curve with the best rums being aged somewhere between 12 and 16 years. Some rum manufactures will blend rums of different ages, and this is acceptable to me as long the “average” falls somewhere in this range. Now for my top 5 favorite rums. Read More

Five Faves: Fabulous Worlds of SF/F (Guest Post by Helen Lowe) #MonthofJoy

I believe worldbuilding is the characteristic that most distinguishes SF/F from other styles of literature. All other genres rely on the reader's understanding of the world as it is or has been. In SF/F, the writer must first build the world—a process that includes environment, geography, history, politics, culture, and religion, as well as technological and/or magic systems—for both the story to exist and the reader to engage with it. And as an avid reader of SF/F, as well as an author, there is nothing that rocks my reading and SF/F-loving world quite like a truly fantastic bit of worldbuilding. So in the spirit of #monthofjoy here are five of my favorites – although there are, of course, many, many more. Note: I should add that I am deliberately excluding both Middle Earth and Narnia, simply because they are so well-canvassed in the zeitgeist, but you may take it as read that they're definitely right up there for me. Read More