Link of the Week: John Chu’s “Stand Back! I’m Going To Quote Junot Díaz (Thinking about language)”

John Chu's recent post over at The Booksmugglers is a must read.  He talks about the difficulty of including foreign language in works of fiction and has some truly interesting things to say on the subject.

An excerpt:
Whereas listeners might reasonably experience that orchestration both ways, readers either understand a foreign language or they don’t. However, like how the orchestration of the Carousel Waltz must be compelling in either instrumentation, a story that makes use of dialect or foreign language must be compelling either way. Non-fluent readers must never feel as though something is missing but fluent readers must never feel as though anything is extraneous. 
Go on.  Read the whole thing.

Link of the Week: “Bigotry, Cognitive Dissonance, and Submission Guidelines” by Charles A Tan

I was going to write about this whole ordeal today, but by the time I got the chance to do so, I saw that Charles Tan had beat me to the punch (and by "beat me to the punch" I mean "he blogged about it and in no way actually beat me to anything because I own nothing").  Instead of going on about the same things and repeating brilliant points already made by Charles, I'll send you all over to his essay:  "Bigotry, Cognitive Dissonance, and Submission Guidelines."  Here's a quote:
Wait, wait, a privileged Western white writer writing about Africa? This hasn't been done before. 
And Mike Resnick has written about Africa before. He must get it right, right? 
In many ways, the editor's oversight of this fact is part of a larger, arguably unconscious, racism on his part. Take for example his blog entry titled Broadening The Toolbox Through Cross Cultural Encounters: On Resnick, Africa & Opportunity. Instead of talking about writers from the continent of Africa (and it's a large continent, so there's a large pool of writers like Chinua Achebe, Lauren Beukes, and Joan De La Haye), we get Mike Resnick. Nnedi Okorafor gets mentioned but only as an off-hand comment, rather than the focus of the article. 
So when talking about an anthology that's diverse and inclusive, neither Mike Resnick, Kay Kenyon, or Jack McDevitt are what I'd consider the examples you should be touting as a contributors. Because to many, it appears that you are favoring the already privileged writers instead of those marginalized.

(For the record, I have also written on things said by the editor mentioned in Charle's post.  My post was on misery tourism, which may be of interest to some of you.)

Link of the Week: “Confirmation bias, epic fantasy, and you” by N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin takes a stab at the now tiring debate over whether epic fantasy in faux-European settings can include women and people of color without rewriting (imaginary) history.  It's an interesting topic, as always, and, as always, Jemisin is brilliant in her response.

Here's the comment I left:

I don't have too much to add to this conversation, but I will say two things: 
1) I was actually surprised that there were any people of color in Martin's world when I first started watching the show.  I'd become so used to epic fantasy featuring no people of color (or "evil" stand-ins for them in the form of inhuman critters like orcs) that seeing an actual civilization of non-white folks in a world which is so very much Anglo-European for most of the show was a bit of a "well, isn't that unusual" moment. 
That said, I recognize that Martin's world doesn't actually do much with this (based on what I've seen and read, mind).  So the criticism of his treatment is valid. 
2) I used to be one of those people who would say "but that's how it was back then" as a defense of epic fantasy.  Then I went to college.  And took some classes on colonialism.  And British literature from Chaucer to the Victorian Era.  And African lit.  And Indian lit.  And all these things.  And it became very clear that this whole "Europe was white" thing was, well, bunk.  It certainly was mostly white (based on my understanding), but even Shakespeare wrote plays with non-white people as part of the main cast (Othello and Titus Andronicus, for example -- the title character and a secondary character, respectively).  In the early 1600s (maybe late 1500s).  So, no, the excuse is bad.  It comes from a position of ignorance, which we're all able to correct.  And it's unnecessary.  You can write fantasy set in faux European settings *and* include PoCs.  Or you can try to write worlds with whatever the frick you want.  It's fantasy, ffs.  If you want to mix it up and have a story about Chinese-esque dragon riders, then write it. 
In some sense, I think the confirmation bias endemic to epic fantasy's Euro-myths is one part ignorance and one part unwillingness to imagine.  But it's also probably rooted in everything you've written up there, too.  The thing I still don't get:  why does this remain a threat?  What is so bad about wanting to see more women or PoCs or whatever in fantasy? 
Answer:  not a damn thing.

Link of the Week: “The Problem of Toni Weisskopf” by Foz Meadows

Foz Meadows has some things to say about a recent post by Toni Weisskopf on all the debates going on in sf right now.  It is what I'd call essentially reading at this point.

Here's one of my favorite parts:

"...intentionally or not, Weisskopf has begun by framing both SFF itself and the current tensions within the community as being a purely American concern, grown from American politics and American culture. The fact that much of what she’s observing stems rather from a deliberate rejection of this attitude – from the idea that SFF is a global community – seems completely to have escaped her...But in the age of international blogging and social media platforms, where it’s possible to communicate daily with fans and authors from all over the world; where Tor Books is about to publish Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, the first Chinese SF novel ever translated into English; where Japanese anime and manga have so long been staples of global fandom that it’s impossible to try and deny their relevance; where award-winning authors like Nnedi Okorafor, Aliette de Bodard and Helen Oyeyemi are writing (among other things) about cross-cultural politics through an SFFnal lens; where there are whole conventions dedicated to diversity and inclusivity, like WisCon and Nine Worlds; and where many of the field’s best writers are anything but straight, white and male, then acting as though every conversation and argument surrounding these issues is simply the result of Americans misunderstanding each other is, to put it bluntly, utterly wrongheaded."
Go on.  Read the whole thing.

Top 10 Blog Posts for February 2014

And here they are:

10. Why I Haven't Babbled About the Hugo Awards...Yet
9. Book Review: Tarnished by Rhiannon Held
8. Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Anime Movies
7. Censorship is what people say when they don't want to address the actual issue...for reasons
6. How to Destroy the SFWA...err, no, I'm not going to talk about that after all
5. Moderating the Community and the Cost of Respect
4. Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies Since 2010 (Thus Far)
3. Top 10 Overused Fantasy Cliches
2. On the SFWA Bulletin Petition Thing Nonsense
1. Movie Review: Riddick (2013) (or, I'm Going to Mega Rant Now)

I am genuinely surprised that my review of Riddick remains one of my most popular posts this year.  Interesting...

For anyone curious, I'm currently using Google Analytics for the numbers.  I don't think they're entirely accurate, but the stats in Blogger are currently flooded with hits from the spam accounts that targeted me last month.  Some posts were artificially amplified by that; GA mostly removes spam hits, but it also removes repeat visits and anything else it assumes isn't an "original visit," which seems fairly wide in scope.  So it's a little difficult for me to figure out what is super popular right now...  Oh well!

Link of the Week: “Me, as a useful representative example” by Mary Robinette Kowal

If you want to know the background for all of this, start with this post (mine) and all the links listed there, then go here (The Daily Dot) and here (Silvia Moreno-Garcia).  These will provide you with the necessary details to really understand why Mary Robinette Kowal has become a target by...certain individuals.

In short, her post provides an example of precisely the sort of treatment many women receive in the SF/F community and the publishing industry.  It's worth reading.  It's worth thinking about.

That is all.

(For the record:  Mary once donated an hour of her time to The Skiffy and Fanty Show -- cause she's awesome.)

Link of the Week: @chuckwendig on Self-Publishing (or, Heh, Yeah)

The which Chuck Wendig says things I've been saying for a long long time about self-publishing, but with a lot more funny terms and a billion more readers.

As a sorta-reviewer, I've had to shut out almost all self-publishers and indie authors for precisely the reasons Wendig cites in his post.  And it's frustrating, because I know there are some lovely authors in that sea, but you can't honestly expect me to give up my time and energy reading mountains of legitimately crap books just to find the gems.  A while back, I got crapped on for suggesting this.  Now, I'm sure all the poop goodness is hanging out in Mr. Wendig's backyard.

Oh, and I seriously mean there are good SPed books out there.  I've read some of them.  I've even bought some in recent memory.  I just don't buy most of the SPed books out there for the same reason I don't subscribe to every blog I come across.