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

Addendum: Strong Male Characters (or, That Rogue One Review is Full of Crap)

Two days ago, I wrote a post about "strong male characters" that took to task some comments made in a review by Todd McCarthy. At the time, I had not seen Rogue One, so my argument essentially rested on the idea that we don't need "strong male characters" in every movie. Now that I have seen the movie, I feel it necessary to come back to McCarthy's review to address the substance of the claims. Expect some spoilers ahead! As a reminder, here is the relevant quote from McCarthy's review:
What the film really lacks is a strong and vigorous male lead (such as Han Solo or John Boyega's Finn in The Force Awakens) to balance more equally with Jyn and supply a sparring partner. None of the men here has real physical or vocal stature, nor any scenes in which they can decisively emerge from the pack in a way that engages audience enthusiasm. Both Luna and Ahmed have proved themselves repeatedly in big-screen and television performances, but their characters never pop here, to the film's detriment. And given that Jyn is rather less gung-ho and imposing than was Ridley's Rey, there's an overall feel of less physical capacity on the part of the main characters.
None of this is remotely accurate. Actually, I'd hazard to call it complete and utter bullshit. Read More

Strong Male Leads (Or, Why You Don’t Need Them in Every Goddamn Movie)

The Bourne Identity007: SpecterThe Fast and FuriousThe Dark KnightIndiana Jones, and Rocky. What do these films have in common? Well, aside from being action films and most of them featuring the name of the main character in the title, all of these films have male leads and, at best, female supporting characters. Is this a problem for these franchises? Not really. A series about Rocky should probably feature Rocky, after all, and it makes sense that the same be true for most of the films I just listed. For the most part, men dominate action franchises, with some notable exceptions[note]The Tomb Raider series, Resident EvilUnderworld, and The Hunger Games are some notable exceptions. A more complete list of female-led action films/franchises can be found here.[/note] That's been the way of things for decades, and only until recently has that power been properly challenged, with more and more female-led action franchises hitting our screens. It's a good thing. Some of those new franchises are fan-friggin-tastic. And those other franchises are fantastic, too. We can have both! Which brings me to the latest "men aren't getting their fair share" argument in film... By now, some of you have seen Todd McCarthy's review of Rogue One at The Hollywood Reporter. As far as reviews go, it's a fairly standard piece; read it if you like, but be warned there are some spoilers. Part of the reason McCarthy's review has garnered a lot of attention, particularly on Twitter, is the following quote: Read More

10 Reasons I’m a Feminist


What's that?  I'm a feminist?!  Yup.  A wicked awesome feminist who wears Feminist Cannons on his shoulders and shoots Holy Feminist Balls at sexism.  Or something like that.

Something I've never done before is provide some kind of explanation for why I am a feminist.  Hence this post.

Here are the ten reasons I am a feminist.  Feel free to list yours in the comments!
1.  I am fundamentally opposed to all forms of inequality, whether intentional, structural, or otherwise.

2.  Most of my life has been in the care of women.  My mother and grandmother played pivotal roles in my life, most notably because they were the people who actually raised me.

3.  I studied feminist theory in college before I was willing to call myself a feminist.  In doing so, I learned about dozens of different interpretations and worldviews, some of them more radical than others.  I also studied queer theory in college, though I was already pro-LGBT before that (for another time).

4.  It took a lot of doing, but making myself open to the possibility that I might have things wrong meant I could hear what my female friends were telling me when they called me out on things.  This willingness to "hear" people meant I learned far more than I otherwise would have, whether specific to feminism and women or to other issues (homosexuality, etc.).

5.  Feminism has done extraordinary things.  The Women's Suffrage Movement.  Abortion Rights.  Changing the social fabric of much of the world.  In brief, feminism has been one of the most influential ideas in human history.  Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?

6.  I've spent so much time online looking at how the world treats women that it's difficult for me not to see the inequality all around me.  I've even taught media representation at the college level in order to show how men and women are presented in advertising, and why that affects both men and women by imparting certain social and/or physical standards by which we are expected to live (not an absolute, of course).  Being so embedded in this "world" means it is nearly impossible for me not to believe something is wrong and that we need to do something to fix it.

7.  Feminism represents my interests, too.  Fighting for maternity leave means fighting for paternity leave, too.  Fighting for equality for women means fighting for equality for men!

8. Representation matters.  Women make up roughly 50% of the population, so why would we accept a world in which our media doesn't represent them as they actually are?  I don't.

9.  I'm a science fiction scholar, which means my day job literally involves reading about the future in its myriad forms (and sometimes about weird alternate histories and the like).  I see equality as the future for which we must always strive, so it makes a great deal of sense that I would be inclined towards ideas that are concerned with creating a better future.  Feminism is, in a way, a type of theoretical science fiction.

10.  Now, more than any other time in my life, there is a concerted effort to roll back the rights of women, whether by restricting reproductive rights, repealing or weakening laws that protect women economically or from abuse, etc.  Now, more than ever, it is important to be a feminist, and openly so.
And there you have it.
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On Agency: Strong Female Characters, the Myth of Non-Action, and Jupiter Ascending

By now you'll have heard the "Jupiter Jones doesn't have agency" criticism of Jupiter Ascending (dirs. the Wachowskis; 2015).[1]  The gist of the argument, as far as I can tell, is that Jupiter doesn't have agency (or enough agency) because she does not become a "strong female character" until the last possible second.  Andrew O'Hehir, for example, wrote in his Salon.com review that
Jupiter has less female agency than any character ever played by Doris Day. Compared to this movie, the Disneyfied feminism of “Frozen” and “Brave” and “Maleficent” feels like Valerie Solanas’ "SCUM Manifesto."
Peter Debruge wrote in Variety that
[although] clearly conceived as an empowered female heroine, poor Jupiter spends most of the movie being kidnapped and shuffled from one unpleasant situation to another, whether that’s being nearly assassinated during an egg-donating operation or pushed into a marriage with a two-faced Abraxas prince.
Sam Maggs wrote in The Mary Sue:
When I hear “Mila Kunis black leather space princess,” I want to see her bulked the hell up, Emily Blunt style, kicking ass and taking names. We don’t get to see Kunis looking really cool until the very end of the film, at which point I wanted way more of that. Which, I guess, means I would pay for a sequel.
The most damning claim about Jupiter's agency, however, comes from Tim Martain's review for The Mercury:
There’s a little test I like to apply, where you try to describe a character without reference to their physical appearance or occupation. If you can come up with three clear character traits, then you may have a well-crafted character. If not, well, you have a cardboard cutout. 
Jupiter is a big ol’ flat piece of nothing. 
She is a name and a device, nothing more. Her character is not developed in any way beyond “special girl who everyone is fighting over”. She is Cinderella with even less motivation or personality.
In other words, Jupiter isn't even a person.  She's a thing.  Because she is passive.  Because she doesn't fight (until the very end).  Because she is manipulated by others.  Because she is a toilet cleaner.  Because she is everything other than a "strong female character."  One must ask:  why does Jupiter need to take names?  Why can't she just be a space princess?  Why can't she simply get sucked into a world where space princesses are real and people like her (like us) have to learn to navigate the absurd bureaucracy of space royalty?  Why can't she be a confused, naive person like, well, a real person might be?  Why isn't that enough for her to have agency or for her to escape the charge that her agency is nearly absent?  Why can't this also be a story about someone discovering or developing a different kind of agency?  Isn't that enough?

Frankly, I'm not sure these individuals understand what "agency" means.  At its most basic, "agency" refers to one's ability to take action to affect their own lives; as such, agency exists on a continuum that is affected by social status, culture, upbringing, economics, and so on and so forth.  The degree to which we all have agency, in other words, depends on how well equipped we are to affect our daily lives.  Agency can be individual, collective, immersed within or isolated from a specific dominant culture, and so on.  In other words:  agency is pretty damn complicated, as is clear when you start to look into the sociological, psychological, and feminist struggles to adequately define the concept in a way that incorporates the full range of social interactions.  For women, agency has been a key component of the feminist fight for equality.  Since the world has historically (and still is to a large degree) favored men in nearly every avenue, women's access to "choice" in its broadest conception has always been curtailed.  Worldbank notes that "across all countries women and men differ in their ability to make effective choices in a range of spheres, with women typically at a disadvantage" in the avenues of control over resources, free movement, decisions about family formation, freedom from violence, and freedom to have a voice in society and politics.

Oppression does not necessarily mean that one loses all agency, though.  Indeed, how one exerts influence can take myriad forms, including subversive actions within an oppressive situation.  Women in violent, patriarchal societies do not lose agency simply by being oppressed; their abilities to affect their own lives, however, do change, limiting the degree of agency they might have, or, in some cases, simply changing how agency is perceived.  Lest you think only overt oppression can steal one's agency, remember that we are all to varying degrees limited by social, economic, and other factors.  Some of us, such as myself, just have more advantages -- in my case because I am white, male, American, and educated.[2]

But in a world where pop criticism often stands in for professional criticism, the buzzword definitions are replicated ad naseum.  Women who punch bad guys or take direct action against oppression or in some way "act" in a manner that makes them visibly opposed to a system or individual or in a position to "make things happen" are women who have "agency."  Every other woman?  Well, she might have "agency," but not enough that her agency is worth talking about, except to note that she doesn't have any (or very little).  If she subverts the system, her agency is only valued if her subversion is aggressive.  Passive subversion won't make her "strong."  If anything, "passive" is just another word for "worthless" or "oppressed."

These limitations on "agency" are so pervasive that they affect how we even talk about female characters, particularly when the term "strong female character" crops up.  Sophia McDougall's essay in the New Statesman ("I Hate Strong Female Characters") points out that the phenomenon of the "strong female character" seems particular to women:
No one ever asks if a male character is “strong”. Nor if he’s “feisty,” or “kick-ass” come to that. 
The obvious thing to say here is that this is because he’s assumed to be “strong” by default. Part of the patronising promise of the Strong Female Character is that she’s anomalous. “Don’t worry!” that puff piece or interview is saying when it boasts the hero’s love interest is an SFC. “Of course, normal women are weak and boring and can’t do anything worthwhile. But this one is different. She is strong! See, she roundhouses people in the face.” 
Women, in other words, are the only ones who can be erased by a stereotype of strength.  Whereas men can be kung-fu masters, brilliant scientists, sensitive piano players, or chess players without losing their status as "strong characters," women who do not fit the mold assigned to "strong female characters" are rejected -- if not outright, then by implication.  Since "strong female character" is often synonymous with "woman with agency," it's no wonder that female characters who do not fall into that rigid definition of either term are also erased as women who do things.

This is part of the problem with the way critics (and even some proponents) have discussed Jupiter Ascending.  Because Jupiter does not "take action" (i.e., punch someone) until the end of the movie, she is a passive character, one with little to no agency because of her position as a member of the servant class and then as someone who has all the power in the universe but appears to do almost nothing with it for much of the movie.  She just doesn't move the plot.  Alternatively, as some fans have argued, Jupiter has agency only because she stops being a servant and eventually becomes a princess.  Power, in other words, is agency.
All of this is absolutely wrong.  Jupiter always had agency.  Jupiter's mother always had agency.  Being a servant does not mean you sacrifice your agency.  Becoming a princess doesn't mean an agency fairy drops out of the sky and anoints you with agency oils, as the film inconsistently demonstrates.  Agency is a complicated monstrosity because it is a reflection of an individual's interactions with a given culture.  How Jupiter interacts with her culture(s) is certainly passive for most of the movie, but that does not make her absent of agency.  In fact, quite the opposite.  From the moment Jupiter discovers she is a space princess, she must rely on the knowledge of others to help her through the process.  If, as one definition would hold, we define agency by the ability for one to take actions which are in their own interests, then it is certainly true that Jupiter's reliance, while passive, is a choice that is made for herself.  Because she does choose.  Her actions may not involve flying mecha spacejets or running away on hovering rollerblades, but they are actions -- and like normal people, her actions sometimes come with negative consequences.  Even her reluctance about the degree to which she wants to participate in the interstellar culture of the film indicates a character who has agency, since she not only struggles with this decision but also has the ability to make that decision.  And the film's progression, however inconsistent, is entirely about the process of shifting degrees of agency:  Jupiter begins the film with limited but apparent agency and ends the film with as much agency as the villains.  That she chooses to make limited use of her new-found power should be the real discussion point here, not the question of Jupiter's agency.
The erasure of the complexity of agency isn't isolated to Jupiter Ascending; it is just such a strong component of the criticism of the film that it's hard to ignore.  This erasure, however, occurs in other sf/f franchises, too.  In the case of The Hunger Games (the first two films/books, at least), the focus on Katniss as a "strong female character" often means that we forget Prim or her mother, who are not-quite-passive in the film, but certainly more passive than Katniss.  Unlike Katniss, however, Prim and their mother are healers, and, as far as we can tell, by choice.  They may all live in an oppressive society, but Prim, Katniss, and their mother each make their own choices within it, the consequences for which are varied.  We hail Katniss because she sacrifices in an overt manner, but we don't talk about Prim's sacrifices and struggles as a young girl learning to heal the wounds of an oppressed people.  The narrative does enough erasing by necessity, since it cannot cover everything, but the rigid definitions of "agency" and "strong female character" mean that we do a fair bit of erasing, too.
Another example of this can be found in the figure of Peggy Carter from Agent Carter.  As a character, Carter is on the surface a stereotypical "strong female character."  Despite living in the sexist culture of the 1940s (a complex one, we should note), Carter almost always acts of her own accord, often by fighting against the system in which she exists through feats of strength or intelligence.  She punches bad guys.  She tells people off.  She holds her own or plays up her "female-ness" when it serves her agenda.  She is, in other words, an active agent in almost every sense.  However, using Carter as the definition of a "strong female character" means that the agency of other women around her is effectively erased.  Angie, Carter's delightful neighbor, is unlike Carter because her actions are either that of conformity or subversion.  We should remember here, too, that the reason Angie is so different from Carter has to do with their relative power:  Carter is just in a better position to exercise her agency in active ways.  If we talk about Angie's difference as being a negative rather than a particular cultural position within a male-dominant society, then we are effectively making it possible to erase Angie's agency.  Carter's actions are the right actions; Angie's are not.  This comparison model, one which equally affects Jupiter since she is by default compared to female characters that "got it right," does a disservice to the women whose day-to-day lives may be infinitely more complex than films can ever show.

All of these women represent the myriad ways in which agency manifests.  Trying to compare them to one another as if some forms of agency are better than others is at best absurd and at worst downright unethical.  Unethical because it is a fantasy which erases, intentionally or otherwise, the gritty work of women around the globe who aren't bow-toting superheroines.  Women who are like Jupiter.  Women who are servants, prostitutes, soldiers, cooks, mothers, doctors, poker players, yoga instructors, fishers, housekeepers, CEOs, etc.  Women of all types.  Women living in all manner of social conditions.  By saying only some of them are really "strong" or "have agency (enough that it is worth noting)," we erase all those who exert their agency and strength in other ways.  Personally, I think women have been erased enough...

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[1]:  This post is obviously a defense of Jupiter Ascending.  However, I hope it's clear that I am defending the film in a specific way.  The quality of the film as a whole is a separate issue.

[2]:  This is obviously a rough definition so I can get to my point.

P.S.:  There are also other issues with the criticisms of Jupiter Ascending.  One that particularly irritates me is the attack on the film's representation of servant-class labor.  Setting aside the mass exploitation of immigrants, the attack on Jupiter's job as a toilet cleaner is part of a wider American (and probably elsewhere) assault on the value of labor in general.  While working at McDonald's or as a housekeeper has never been a particularly glamorous job, it has only become synonymous with "the garbage of society" over the course of decades of wage deflation, whereby minimum wage jobs are increasingly less valued because they are increasingly less able to facilitate the basics of American life.  As far as I'm concerned, the continued peddling of this narrative does a disservice to those who work in those less-valued industries, as it makes it far more difficult for them to lobby for better working conditions, etc.  But I digress...

P.S.S.:  Olivia Waite has a similar take on all of this in her post entitled "Die Hard, Jupiter Jones, Cinderella, and Character Agency."  I recommend reading it.

Gender, Non-Binary, and Things (or, the Likelihood of Failure)

As you may have heard, I changed my review guidelines so I could join my podcast, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, in its 2015 "Women and Non-Binary in SFF" theme.  This post isn't really about that so much as the related subject of life and getting things right.

Or, rather, getting things wrong and hoping for forgiveness.

Already, I can tell that my efforts to provide representation for women and non-binary folks is going to an informative journey through no fault of the people involved.  Learning is, after all, partly experiential, and so it's unlikely I can go through a year with such a clear focus without picking up on my own failings or picking up new behaviors, habits, concerns, dreams, aspirations, and so on.  I'm the type of person who finds something they love or care about, and then I start dreaming about all the ways I can do that thing, often knowing deep down that I won't be able to paint the whole picture with the resources on hand.  Ambitious to a fault, if you will, about the things that matter to me, or that I find I'm most passionate about.  Podcasting and issues of representation happen to be two of the things from which I currently derive the most joy.  Partly, that's because I find podcasting to be a great deal of fun -- reading books, watching movies, and hanging out with friends; what's not to love?


And while issues of representation don't provide the same kind of joy, they are something about which I am deeply passionate (if my Twitter feed were not already an indication).  It's something I try to get right, not just in terms of science fiction and fantasy, but in terms of my everyday life.  Representation encompasses so much of the world we live in, and it informs so much of the life I now lead.  That's why I wanted this year's theme to be "Women and Non-Binary in SFF."  I wanted the thing I love doing to be part of the thing that I am deeply passionate about, but in an explicit, "out there" sense.  This is about doing what I think is important and right.

In truth, I will fail at this -- sometimes miserably.  I will identify people by the wrong pronouns, even when I know it's incorrect; habit will often get the best of me.  I will also assume a gender or sex for someone because I don't know how to ask, or I may just get it wrong because I'm monumentally stupid sometimes.  In fact, I've already done some of these in the past (thankfully, to someone who is enormously gracious with their forgiveness).  I will fail in ways I can't even imagine right now, because there's so much I still don't know or understand about gender, sex, sexism, patriarchy, women, non-binary people, and all manner of related topics.  The things I don't know could fill the Grand Canyon.

In truth, I haven't been a good feminist for my whole life.  At times, I have been anything but.  I've done things I know now were wrong -- and probably knew were wrong then, but used all kinds of mental gymnastics to convince myself otherwise.  Things that sometimes haunt me when I realize I was one of "those" guys, even though I was also one of "those" guys, too (relentlessly bullied, depressed (still), insecure (yeah, still), hopeless).  But being one of "those" guys didn't make it okay for me to be one of "those" guys.  And I still feel a deep need to atone for the wrongs I have done, not just to women, but to all manner of people.  Not because any individual demands it, but because I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

I want to be a better person tomorrow than I am today.  I want to be the best person that I can be, even though I know perfection is impossible and that I will always be just shy of the mark no matter what.  But striving to be something "more" in life is, I think, more important than succeeding and moving on.

So this is going to be a year where I try to be a good person, where I will fail, and where I will apologize.  By 2016, I hope I am a much better person than I was when this year began.  We shall see.

Great SF/F Books by Female Authors: A Massive Twitter List! #sffbywomen

Earlier today, I posted seven sf/f books by women worth checking out for International Women's Day.  This led to a tweet asking folks online to list a single sf/f work by a woman that they think is exceptional.  Folks promptly ignored the "single" part and sent me a lot of suggestions.  You can add your own suggestions in the comments here or via the #sffbywomen tag on Twitter.

In any case, if you're looking for something new to read and care about gender parity, here's a massive list of great works of sf/f by women (note:  the list may be edited later; I may send the question to Facebook and Google+ to make things interesting).

Enjoy!

Alexander, Alma. Midnight at Spanish Gardens
Alexander, Alma. Secrets of Jin Shei
Alexander, Alma. The Worldweaver Books
Anderson, Laura S. The Boleyn King
Andrews, Ilona. The Kate Daniels Series
Aquirre, Ann. The Perdition and Sirantha Jax Series
Arakawa, Hiromu. Full Metal Alchemist
Armstrong, Kelley. The Cainsville Series
Armstrong, Kelley. Women of the Otherworld Series
Asaro, Catherine. The Last Hawk
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale
Baker, Cage. The Company Novels
Baker, Kage. The Anvil of the World
Baker, Kage. The Garden of Iden
Bear, Elizabeth. Carnival
Bear, Elizabeth. Chill
Bear, Elizabeth. Dust
Bear, Elizabeth. Grail
Bear, Elizabeth. Hammered
Bear, Elizabeth. Range of Ghosts (and sequels)
Bear, Elizabeth. Scardown
Bear, Elizabeth. Undertow
Bear, Elizabeth. Worldwired
Bennett, Jenna. Fortune’s Hero
Bernobich, Beth. Allegiance
Bernobich, Beth. Passion Play
Bernobich, Beth. Queen’s Hunt
Bernobich, Beth. The Time Roads
Beukes, Lauren. The Shining Girls
Beukes, Lauren. Zoo City
Bishop, Anne. Black Jewels Trilogy
Bishop, Anne. Ephemera Series
Bishop, Anne. The Others Series
Bobet, Leah. Above
Bodard, Aliette de. The Xuya Series
Bond, Gwenda. Blackwood
Bond, Gwenda. The Woken Gods
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Avalon Series
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Sword of Aldones
Brennan, Marie. A Natural History of Dragons
Brennan, Marie. Tropic of Serpents
Briggs, Patricia. The Mercy Thompson Series
Brook, Maljean. Heart of Steel
Brook, Maljean. Riveted
Brook, Maljean. The Iron Dukes
Brown, Rosel George. Galactic Sibyl Sue Blue
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Barrayar
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Curse of Chalion
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Komarr
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Memory
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Mirror Dance
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Paladin of Souls
Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Vorkosigan Saga
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Warrior’s Apprentice
Bull, Emma. War for the Oaks
Butler, Octavia. Kindred
Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower
Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Talents
Cadigan, Pat. Synners
Caine, Rachel. The Weather Warden Series
Carson, Rae. Girl of Fire and Thorns Series
Cashore, Kristen. Bitterblue
Cawkwell, Sarah. The Silver Skulls Books
Cherryh, C.J. Downbelow Station
Cherryh, C.J. Foreigner
Cherryh, C.J. Fortress in the Eye of Time
Cherryh, C.J. Pride of Chanur
Chng, Joyce. Starfang
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Cooper, Brenda. The Creative Fire
Cooper, Brenda. The Diamond Deep
Cooper, Elspeth. The Wild Hunt Series
Cooper, Karina. Tarnished
Cooper, Louise. The Indigo Series
Cooper, Louise. The Time Master Trilogy
Cooper, Susan. The Dark is Rising Sequence
Czerneda, Julie. A Thousand Words for Stranger
Czerneda, Julie. In the Company of Others
Downum, Amanda. The Drowning City
Elgin, Suzette Haden. Communipath Worlds
Elgin, Suzette Haden. Native Tongue
Elliot, Kate. Crown of Stars
Elliott, Kate. Cold Magic
Engh, M.J. Arslan
Eskridge, Kelley. Solitaire
Files, Gemma. A Book of Tongues
Fisher, Sharon Lynn. Ghost Planet
Flewelling, Lynn. Luck in the Shadows
Forsyth, Kate. Bitter Greens
Foster, M.A. The Morphodite Trilogy
Frohock, Teresa. Miserere: An Autumn Tale
Gentle, Mary. Golden Witchbreed.
Goldstein, Lisa. A Mask for the General
Goldstein, Lisa. Red Magician
Goldstein, Lisa. Strange Devices of Sun and Moon
Goldstein, Lisa. The Dream Years
Goldstein, Lisa. Tourists
Goldstein, Lisa. Uncertain Places
Goodman, Alison. A New Kind of Death
Graham, Ellen. Lana’s Awakening
Grant, Mira. The Newsflesh Series
Griffith, Nicola. Hild
Hall, Sarah. The Carhullan Army
Hambly, Barbara. Dragonsbane
Hamilton, Laurell K. Bite
Hamilton, Laurell K. Carvings
Hamilton, Laurell K. Never After
Hamilton, Laurell K. Strange Candy
Hand, Elizabeth. Winterlong
Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina
Henderson, Zenna. Ingathering: the Complete People Stories
Hobb, Robin. The Liveship Traders Trilogy
Hopkinson, Nalo. Sister Mine
Hopkinson, Nalo. The New Moon’s Arms
Höst, Andrea K. The Touchstone Series
Jemesin, N.K. The Broken Kingdoms
Jensen, Liz. The Rapture
Jensen, Liz. The Uninvited
Jones, Diana Wynne. A Sudden Wild Magic
Jones, Diana Wynne. Black Maria
Jones, Diana Wynne. Conrad’s Fate
Jones, Diana Wynne. Deep Secret
Jones, Diana Wynne. Homeward Bounders
Jones, Diana Wynne. Islands of Chaldea
Jones, Diana Wynne. Magicians of Caprona
Jones, Diana Wynne. Ogre Downstairs
Jones, Diana Wynne. The Dalemark Quartet
Jones, Diana Wynne. The Merlin Conspiracy
Jones, Diana Wynne. Wilkins’ Tooth
Jones, Diana Wynne. Year of the Griffin
Kane, Stacia. The Personal Demons and Magic Series
Kellog, Marjorie B. The Lear’s Daughters Series
Kennedy, Leigh. Journal of Nicholas the American
Kerr, Katherine. The Deverry Series
Kiernan, Caitlin R. The Drowning Girl
Kittredge, Caitlin. The Black London Series
Kowal, Mary Robinette. Glamour in Glass
Koyanagi, Jacqueline. Ascension
Kress, Nancy. Probability Moon
Kurtz, Katherine. The Deryni Series
L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time.
Larke, Glenda. The Last Stormlord
Le Guin, Ursula K. Lavinia
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Dispossessed
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness
Leckie, Ann. Ancillary Justice
Lee, Yoon Ha. Conservation of Shadows
Leicht, Stina. And Blue Skies From Pain
Leicht, Stina. Of Blood and Honey
Lindholm, Mega. Cloven Hooves
Link, Kelly. Magic for Beginners
Loenen-Ruis, Rochita. “Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life
Lord, Karen. Redemption in Indigo
Lord, Karen. The Best of All Possible Worlds
Lowachee, Karin. Burndive
Lowachee, Karin. Cagebird
Lowachee, Karin. Warchild
Lowe, Helen. Heir of Night
Lynn, Elizabeth. The Northern Girl
MacAvoy, R.A. Damiano
MacAvoy, R.A. Damiano’s Lute
MacAvoy, R.A. Raphael
MacAvoy, R.A. Tea with the Black Dragon
Marks, Laurie. Fire Logic
Marley, Louise. The Terrorists of Irustan
Marr, Melissa. Carnival of Souls
Marshall, Helen. Hair Side, Flesh Side
Matthews, Susan R. The Jurisdiction Series
Maurier, Daphne du. The House on the Strand
May, Han. Star Sapphire
McCaffrey, Anne. The Dragonriders of Pern Series
McCaffrey, Anne. The Ship Who Sang
McGuire, Seanan. One Salt Sea
McIntyre, Vonda N. Dreamsnake
McKillip, Patricia A. The Riddle-Master Trilogy
McKinley, Robin. Chalice
McKinley, Robin. Hero and the Crown
McKinley, Robin. The Blue Sword
Meadows, Jodi. The Incarnate Series
Misha. Red Spider White Web
Moffett, Judith. The Holy Ground Trilogy
Monette, Sarah. The Goblin Emperor
Moon, Elizabeth. The Serrano Legacy Series
Mundell, Meg. Black Glass
Murphy, Pat. Women Up to No Good
Nagata, Linda. The Red: First Light
Nesbit, Edith. Five Children and It
Nesbit, Edith. The Phoenix and the Carpet
Nesbit, Edith. The Story of the Amulet
Newman, Emma. The Split Worlds Series
Norton, Mary. The Borrowers
Novik, Naomi. The Temeraire Series
Okorafor, Nnedi. Who Fears Death
Pearce, Philippa. Tom’s Midnight Garden
Pierce, Tamora. Terrier (and its sequels)
Pierce, Tamora. The Keladry of Mindelan Quartet
Priest, Cherie. Boneshaker
Rawn, Melanie. Dragonprince
Redwine, C.J. Defiance
Richards, Jess. Cooking with Bones
Richardson, Kat. Greywalker
Robb, J.D. The In Death Series
Robertson, Freya. Heartwood
Rogers, Jane. The Testament of Jessie Lamb
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. Boneyards
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. City of Ruins
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. Diving into the Wreck
Russ, Joanna. The Female Man
Russell, Karen. Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Saintcrow, Lillith. The Dante Valentine and Jill Kismet Series
Samatar, Sofia. A Stranger in Olondria
Saulter, Stephanie. Gemsigns
Saxton, Josephine. Queen of the States
Schanoes, Veronica. Burning Girls
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
Slonczewski, Joan. The Highest Frontier
Smith, Sherwood. Crown Duel
Snyder, Maria V. Poison Study
Spurrier, Jo. Black Sun Light My Way
Stevrmer, Caroline. A College of Magic
Stevrmer, Caroline. A Scholar of Magic
Stewart, Mary. The Crystal Cave
Stewart, Mary. The Hollow Hills
Sullivan, Tricia. Maul
Swainston, Steph. The Castle Series
Swendson, Shanna. The Enchanted Inc. Series
Tallen, Tara. Galaxion
Tambour, Anna. Crandolin
Tepper, Sheri S. Beauty
Tepper, Sherri S. Raising the Stones
Thruman, Rob. The Cal Leandros Series
Traviss, Karen. City of Pearl
Viehl, S.L. The Stardoc Series
Walton, Jo. Among Others
Walton, Jo. Farthing
Walton, Jo. Ha’penny
Walton, Jo. Half a Crown
Wecker, Helene. The Golem and the Jinni
Weis, Margaret / Hickman, Tracy. Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Weis, Margaret / Hickman, Tracy. Dragons of Spring Dawning
Weis, Margaret / Hickman, Tracy. Dragons of Winter Night
Wells, Martha. Death of the Necromancer
Wells, Martha. The Cloud Roads
West, Michelle Sagara. The Essalieyan Empire Series
Williams, Jen. The Copper Promise
Willis, Connie. Bellwether
Willis, Connie. The Doomsday Book
Willis, Connie. To Say Nothing of the Dog
Wilson, G. Willow. Alif the Unseen
Winstanley, Cam. B-Spine
Winterson, Jeanette. The Stone Gods
Wrede, Patricia C. The Raven Ring
Wren, M.K.. Gift Upon the Shore
Wurts, Janny / Feist, Raymond. The Empire Trilogy

Wurts. Curse of the Mistwraith

On the SFWA Bulletin Petition Thing Nonsense

(Note:  I've listed links to other posts on this topic at the end.)

I won't have anything extensive to say on this "anti-political-correctness" petition thing.  That's mostly because Radish Reviews has pretty well covered it...

That said, there are a few things I'll address:
1) I'm utterly baffled by the difficulty certain members of this community have with understanding what the First Amendment means.  We went over this in depth in my senior year of high school (everyone had to take a semester of government), so it was never a confusion for me:  the First Amendment only applies to the government interfering with speech.  In any other instance in which speech is hindered, the crime isn't in preventing one's speech, but something else entirely.  Libel perhaps.  Or maybe someone tied you down and forced you to write something against your will (like in Misery).  All illegal because you're committing other forms of crime.  But it's not illegal for me to tell anyone they can't write for my blog.  It's my blog.  It's my space.  If you were to ask me why I was censoring you by not letting you write for my blog, my only response would be:  fuck off.

And the SFWA is a private organization with its own rules, and one of those rules says the President handles publications.  So if the President wants to change the Bulletin to a fishing journal, he or she can do that.  Granted, I think it would be utterly stupid to do something like that, but so be it.  That wouldn't be censorship either.  Even so, as C.C. Finlay has made clear all over the place, the changes coming to the Bulletin were requested by the majority of members, and one of those requests was basically "not publishing things that alienate segments of the community."  You know, because the Bulletin is supposed to serve the members at large, not some subset of people who don't particularly care if they offend other people with their words.  And if a good portion of people are offended by the content (legitimately offended, not "I'm offended because your offense means I can't be offensive anymore," which is total bullshit), then it makes sense to change things.

Imagine, if you will (because you are probably a fan of SF/F and are fully capable of using your imagination), a situation where the Bulletin published an article in which one of the authors said Mormons aren't real Christians (in seriousness, not as a reference to a work or something).  Can you imagine how many Mormons would be offended by this?  I know a few.  I'm sure some Mormon members of this organization would be offended, too.  And wouldn't it go without saying that maybe we shouldn't publish something in a journal about writing advice and market tips and professionalism that basically shits on other people, or at least makes others feel like they've been shit on (since individual perspectives vary)?

Seems logical to me.

It's about respect, which I've already talked about.

2) I'm likewise baffled that Robert Silverberg admitted to signing the offensive, early version of the petition, even while admitting that he didn't like what was in it.  How am I to take this man's judgment seriously?  I don't sign a loan contract if line 57 says "once a month, you will submit for experimental radiation tests to grow an alien tumor out of your rectum" and then say, "Well, but you're going to change that part, right?"  The petition isn't legally binding, obviously, but I still don't understand the defense.  Either you agree with it as it is, or you don't.  And if you don't...well, don't sign it.

I should also note that the original version of the petition is precisely the problem with this whole conversation:  here's the point <0>..............................................and here's them <X>.

They don't get it.  In case you missed that part.

3) The petition makes this strange claim that the Bulletin is becoming politicized (it's politically correct, oh noes), but I fail to see how removing things that have nothing to do with the theme of the Bulletin and intentionally making the content more inclusive is anything but apolitical.  The Bulletin isn't a place to voice your political opinions anyway, so why should it make any effort to become a sandbox for those opinions which piss off a huge portion of the electorate and the people who actually care about this field?  It doesn't cost anyone anything not to be a rude dick in a professional journal (and, yes, that's what this comes down to).  Why would you *need* to voice an opinion about gay marriage or whether you think some members are fascists when that's not the point of the Bulletin anyway?

This isn't about politics.  Well, OK, outside of the Bulletin, it's about politics on some level, though I'm inclined as a crazy liberal raised by a lesbian mother ninja to think that inclusiveness is apolitical in nature.  But the Bulletin isn't about politics.  That's not it's purpose.  That's not what SFWA's members want it to address.  So this is a non-issue.

4) I don't know Resnick and Malzberg.  I've said my share on last year's Bulletin fiasco already.  I will agree that some of the dialogue surrounding last year's events reaches too far.

However, I also understand the frustration.  For me, the issue with Resnick/Malzberg's column is no longer "there was sexism in there," which, in my mind, is fairly weak tea in comparison to, say Theodore Beale (Vox Day, who has since been removed from the SFWA), but rather the behavior demonstrated in that final column.  To receive a lot of criticism from a wide body of individuals and to simply discount it is one thing, but to then use a professional organization's professional publication to lob an attack on those people is callous at best, petty and horrendously unprofessional at worst.  This is not the kind of behavior one expects to find in the pages of a professional journal, nor is it the kind of thing I expect from two respected individuals in this field.

I think the sexism aspect is important, but what bothers me most, then and now, is the complete unwillingness to recognize and acknowledge that what we say and do has a real impact on other people, and that you should listen to those you've harmed so you can do better next time.  That, for me, is the root of all of the frustration.  It's not that there's soft sexism in the SFWA from time to time.  It's not that Resnick and Malzberg said some boneheaded things.  It's that they said them, were criticized for it, and showed not only that they didn't give a shit, but also that they had no respect for any differing opinions on the matter and would rather double down than give ground.  This is why these fights keep happening.  It's about, as I said the other day (see one of the links above), respect.  When it comes down to it, the respect a lot of people in this community are asking for costs us next to nothing to give.  It shouldn't be this hard to get or give it...

And on that note, I think I'll shut up now.

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P.S.:  One last thing:  I realize this post is focused in one specific direction -- Resnick, Malzberg, Silverberg, etc.  On the subject of respect, etc., I think it is fair to say that there are lines that can be crossed on either side, and that some of those crossings on my side (or what I perceive to be my side) don't actually help further the discussion and can sometimes hinder what should otherwise be a simple movement towards respect.  I've thought a lot about this, but I've yet to put together a cogent argument about it.  Part of the reason I haven't has to do with my concern about tone arguments, which I can get to another time.

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Here are the other responses: