Life Log #02: Fulfilling Dreams, Reading Weirdness

This week is a strange one. One of my dreams has started to come true. Today, the people secretly indicted by Robert Mueller turned themselves in, revealing that major members of the Trump administration may very well have committed serious crimes against the United States. A lot of us have been waiting for this moment, and it's just the beginning. I'll continue to hope this cascades into something great; otherwise, this is a good start. Having one dream come true also reminded me of another dream I fulfilled earlier this year. As you may recall, I attended Worldcon 75 in Finland. On the way, I decided to make some stops in Germany and Sweden to visit friends and go on some adventures. One of those adventures was riding this beauty: Read More

The Downsides to Owning Way Too Many Books

Yeah, I know. There's no such thing as "too many books," except when there is. As I mentioned recently, I've been slogging through Stephen King's IT on a mission to get a fuller picture of the story we've been told 1.5 times in film. When I say "slogging," I mean it. For all that I enjoy about the book, there are so many things that I don't, most notably its massive page count and glacial pace. It comes back to that "big books" problem, which I've talked about before (probably on Twitter somewhere) -- albeit in a somewhat different context. In brief, I've avoided books over 300-350 pages for years simply because I work so much and read too slow. With all that swirling around in my head, I decided to put IT down for a bit to put my brain into something else. All of this leads me to my topic for today: Read More

SF and Food: The Future Shall Be Fed

When I think about representations of food in science fiction, I'm struck by the fact that a lot of science fiction simply washes over the issue of production and distribution. Food is almost always "around" in SF literature. After all, most SF characters have to eat something from time to time (though they never poop). However, very little of the genre actually directly addresses the future economics of food, and even when it does, it's usually a cursory glance. The one exception might be the dystopian genre, especially Soylent Green (1973). Since dystopia and starvation go hand in hand, the genre is naturally concerned with food. Read More

Life Log #01: My Back Isn’t Broken and Media Consumed

Currently Reading:  IT by Stephen King (pg. 380 of 1184) Currently Watching:  Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 1) Mood:  Pleasantly Unperturbed I had an appointment with a physical therapist today -- the first of two. For the past two weeks, I've been out of commission from some sort of exercise-induced back injury. Nothing serious. Just a little localized pain and noticeable tightness. Rather than ignore it, I used the free healthcare options I have on hand to get expert advice on what is going on. And the verdict? My back isn't broken, my spine is in working order, and all I've done is sprained the lower back muscles. This is partly due to general weakness in the core, back, and thigh regions. That means I need to do more focused exercises to build those areas up so they aren't being pulled about by all the other bits. Or something like that. 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

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

Five Faves: Diana Wynne Jones Novels (Guest Post by K.V. Johansen) — #MonthofJoy

What, only five? How? Which? Rapidly writing down the first that come to mind without thinking about it: Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, Deep Secret, Conrad’s Fate . . . Tale of Time City. Or maybe Lives of Christopher Chant. Or Hexwood . . . Or . . . It’s impossible to describe the genius of DWJ’s writing and do it justice. I tried in a non-fiction book once. Here, I’m just going to give an emotional reaction. Suffice it to say, Jones is a master of effortless characterization, her plots (ohhhh, her plots) are intricate and unpredictable, her worldbuilding infinite in its wonders, and the subtle psychological dramas that underlie it all are awe-inspiring. I don’t think there’s a single one of her fantasies that I haven’t read at least twice; most I’ve read so many times I’ve lost count. Sometimes I need this book or that like it’s an essential nutrient I’ve been starved of, and when that happens, I always find something new in it. Read More

Five Faves: Space Opera Books — #MonthofJoy

It's Five Faves time! Throughout the month of June, I'll be diverting attention away from the things I'm supposed to be doing in order to spend a little time babbling about the things that I love. This feature will do exactly what it says:  list five of my favorite things in a category. Most of the lists will be "on topic," which is to say "related to SF/F in some way," but some lists will be on my other ancillary interests, such as reptiles, books of theory, pies, and...wait...pie? Oh my god, I love pie! Anywho...today's post, as the title suggests, will list 5 of my favorite space operas. I will use the following criteria for this list:
  • Books will be taken to mean "narrative fiction at novel length" rather than the broader definition we use today. Comics and graphic novels deserve their own list anyway. That means no movies either.
  • I'm using my personal definition of space opera. I'm happy to talk about that definition at another time, but for now, I just want to share some things I love!
Here we go: Read More

Shaun’s Rambles 015: Spoilers vs. Content Warnings

Don't spoil me with your content warnings, they say! In this episode, I take a crack at the confusion between content warnings and spoilers. What is the difference? Why are content warnings important? What value do content warnings provide? Take a listen to hear my take! Let me know what you think about content warnings and spoilers in the comments below! Read More