Tag Archives: sf/f

Two Months In The Making!

Okay so the Top Eleven Obscure Works as nominated and voted on by Feminist SF – The Blog! readers is now up! It’s been a bit over two months since I first suggested the list and looking at the final eleven books (there was a tie) I’m extremely gratified – by the fact that it’s out and done, the fact that so many participated in the process and the fact that I now have 7 books to add to my mental reading list (and I already own two of them just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet) and the four I have read on the list are all fantastic reads.

So go check it out, comment and link far and wide!

Elves, Elves and more Elves!

I’m sick of elves! Their pale-as-moonlight, arrogant, earth controlling, long-lived, ivory-skinned,  lawful-“good” (oh, except when they have black skin, forgot that!) always-hollywood-skinny asses make me throw up in my mouth.

Okay so maybe that’s a little harsh but it’s true. I’m tired of Celtic urban fantasy in general and elves specifically. Although I should say that like any overused trope there are ways to make it new and interesting again, such as Marie Brennan’s Midnight Never Come which linked faerie England with Queen Elizabeth I from her rise to power to her golden age. Those instances aside I’m sick of elves. 

Maybe this is because I didn’t have a “proper” introduction to elves. I didn’t read about elves in Tolkien or any of those authors who followed in his tradition. My introduction to the fanciful creatures came from a comic called – Elfquest. Created by Richard & Wendy Pini this series explored a tribe of elves that lived in the forest and their ongoing altercations with both humans and trolls. Eventually they escape and make a trek across the desert where they run into another tribe of elves  who’re guess what? Brown! And the Sun-Elves of the desert aren’t more savage and wild than their whiter forest cousins, in fact they view the Forest-Elves in that way while they are more civilized and urbane.

Already Elfquest is a step ahead in the race department with y’know an actual biological basis for elves that dwelled in the sun developing darker skin as opposed to the ricockulous idea that elves going underground and being cut-off from sunlight would darken their skin to midnight black. There is no evilness connected with the darker skin, there are heroes and villains on all sides but beyond even that the villains are all complex. None of the villains are simply evil they all have motivations and reasons for doing what they do and being the way they are.

It’s more than that though. The way the series dealt with sex/love was so innovative and progressive.  These elves had bonds between pairings of all genders and even three-bonded relationships. They weren’t shy of their bodies, they had open marriages, they had relationships with many differing levels of commitment and investment as opposed to the normal dichotomy of spouse/partner/mate versus friend. And the different relationships had varying levels of intimacy – some that included sex not only as a benefit but as a tool to connect and keep those connections strong. The series acknowledged the idea of soulmates while also stating that great love was possible and important even without a mating of souls. Basically the elves in this series valued love, family,  loyalty and friendships above all else – across all differences. Of course there were also fights with power-mad witches, searching for past ancestry, exploring different worlds and times and being haunted (literally) by someone you both loved and killed.

So after reading Elfquest being introduced to the more traditional fantasy elves was quite a let down. Sure there were occasionally elves that weren’t white but they were invariably the more savage “wild elves” or the universally evil “dark elves”/”drow”. Or if the main character was one of these “savage” or “evil” races then they were a good person but only as an example of how the rest of their race fit the stereotype exactly, the exception that proves the rule.

These elves were rigid and boring and more hide bound than the humans in the stories, they took forever to move and seemed to lack empathy or sympathy and run on pure arrogance…and this was the “pure/lawful good” race? This is what we’re supposed to consider good? This belief that they are always right, this arrogance that they know best. That very idea will sound familiar to anyone aware of colonialist reasoning. And this post isn’t even really getting into the HUGE problems with morality being connected to race, where whiter skin usually marks the race as good and dark skin marks them as evil and the colonialist thoughts that went into the creation of that trope and the racist notions it perpetuates.

Maybe it’s my politics or how I was raised but I much prefer the elves that accept folks for who they are, don’t think they know everything and value emotions and fighting for what’s right above tradition and safety. I’d rather the baseline for elves be ones that come in all different shades with no savagification or evil tied to their skin color. I’d rather if writers wanted to adapt an elf mythos they chose Elfquest over Lord of the Rings. The Elfquest elves take diversity and progressive writing in mind while the elves of Tolkien descent just seem to try and reestablish old stereotypes of race and gender.

Forgetting

Posts around here will grow a little more scarce than usual in the coming weeks as I concentrate all my energy on moving across the bay and starting grad school – I feel a curious mix of excitement and nausea. I won’t be disappearing but I don’t know if the one-post a day route is going to work while all this is going on.  I’ll still post often it just won’t be as often as it has been over the last few months, probably more like 2-3 posts a week as opposed to 4-5.

All this packing for a move has clearly given me a severe case of wool-brain since I forgot to mention that the final round of voting in the Feminist SF Top Ten Obscure Works Poll ends tomorrow night! Here’s the post with the covers of the Top 24 books and here is the post with the link to the poll. Go vote!

Orson Scott Card & Media Friday

By now most of you have probably heard about OSC’s rabidly heterosexist rant in the Mormon Times. If you haven’t check out Yonmei’s deconstruction over at Feminist SF – The Blog. Yonmei’s blogged extensively about OSC’s bigotry over on FemSF but his rant against marriage equality really takes the cake. Bankuei over at Deeper In The Gamereminded me of OSC’s book Songmaster, it’s a relevant point in the discussion that OSC does have queer characters in his books they just always come to horrible ends or realize the way they are is wrong and live in unhappy marriages.


So Media today! I recently talked about Comic Book Tattoo, the almost 500 page comic anthology with over 50 stories all based on Tori Amos’ songs. Well I read the whole thing and it’s amazing and I recommend it to everyone even if you’re not an Amos fan. If you are an Amos fan then sweet jebus you have to get this book! Reading the book while listening to the song that inspired it is fascinating the two different forms inform each other so much that you end up catching nuances in both works that you didn’t notice before. In celebration of that here’s some Tori, a couple classics, a couple from her newest album and one from her hard to find early metal album Y Kant Tori Read:

Resolution For Helix Authors

Ithe wake of the horrifyingly unprofessional bigoted comments of Helix editor William Sanders there was a lot of talk on what authors could do if they no longer wanted to be associated with Helix because of Sanders official comments. A few folks requested their stories be removed and we saw what happened there. Another suggestion was re-posting the stories elsewhere, since Helix’s contract is non-exclusive internet rights, and changing links to point to the new location. So it’s been announced today that a group of both current and former Helix published authors have set up an alternative website to archive Helix fiction – Transcriptase

The Current Author List-
Elizabeth Barrette
Beth Bernobich
Maya Bohnhoff
Eugie Foster
Sara Genge
Samantha Henderson
Janis Ian
N.K. Jemisin
Vylar Kaftan
Ann Leckie
Yoon Ha Lee
Margaret Ronald
Jennifer Pelland
Vaughan Stanger
Rachel Swirsky

Go check out the stories, it’s what I’ll be doing.

Links – Female, Muslim & Mutant, Olympic Rumors, WoC & Beauty Carnival, Publishers Contract Issues – Deja Vu & Why Say No?

Links for today!

*Broken Mystic explores the position of Muslim Women in comics comparing the American-created Dust and super-heroines created by Muslims such as Noora, Hadya, Jalila and Aya in two parts – Female, Muslim and Mutant (Part 1, Part 2) . All characters are deconstructed and its a very interesting exploration of the true existence of Muslim women and the biased Western views of the lives of Muslim women. Also the comic he talks about “The 99″ sounds pretty awesome I’m picking up the English translations as soon as payday swings around.  

*Racialicious talks about black athletes being banned from bars in Beijing during the Olympics and the xenophobia and racism that’s been directed at Chinese since these unsubstantiated rumors popped up. It all exploded at Perez Hilton’s blog and the comments are really quite horrifyingly racist and soul-killing – Perez Hilton Hates Yellow People.

*A new carnival is looking for submissions. The Women of Color and Beauty Carnival looks to explore:

This Carnival is intended to focus on beauty and what it means to and about women of color. In particular, I would like to see discussion go beyond a focus on the ways in which women of color can internalize self hatred to the ways in which women and communities of color recognize and celebrate beauty.

Submissions from women and men of color are welcome, focusing on these areas:

What does beauty mean to women of color?

What is the difference between beauty and ethnically based sexual stereotyping? How does stereotyping and white supremacy affect our concepts of beauty, and how can we create change? What kind of responsibility do white women who identify as allies have to analyze and take ownership of their privilege in this area?

How do popular standards of beauty based on generalized whiteness affect our relationships with ourselves, each other, and between different groups of people of color?

The deadline for submissions is August 5 so hop to it, I’m gonna try to come up with something myself for this soon.

*If you’re even marginally involved with the publishing world in any capacity then you probably remember last year when Simon & Schuster and the Authors Guild went head-to-head over a change made in their contracts. If you didn’t hear about it or want a quick refresher go here. Pub Rants is a great blog by Agent Kristin who blogs about new writer mistakes, query letters, contract negotiation and more. This morning she brings us news that though S&S’s bid to change the contract failed here in the States the Random House Group is now trying something similar in the U.K

*Liz Henry over at Feminist SF – The Blog! asks:

Why are characters in SF so reluctant to Undergo The Great Change or quaff the vial of super-spice or be part computer or become immortal or have my DNA reengineered to be part-alien and merge with the giant group nanoconsciousness?

Then asks readers what they would do if offered that kind of choice. Head over and join the discussion. I’ll go into more detail in my reply over there but the simple answer is I would not hesitate to “quaff the vial of super-spice” at all.

Now I Have To Watch Law & Order UK? Unfair!

So yes I do like Law & Order, whenever there’s a marathon I am stuck to my seat for all 33 hours of it. It can also be a supremely problematic show, especially the Special Victims Unit- spinoff (which I stay far away from most of the time as much as it hurts ’cause I adore Olivia and Elliot), I know this and I deal with it the way I deal with other things I enjoy that are problematic. I dissect it.

But this post isn’t about that (maybe a later post), right now I’m just pointing out how much I love Crime dramas in general. This is so you can understand how odd it was of me to have had no intention of watching the new UK version Law & Order: London .

This was for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that the showrunner is Chris Chibnall. Now those who love Torchwood might recognize that name, he is the lead writer for Torchwood and the episodes he wrote are among the worst of each series. Just…bad, sometimes his build up was okay but he just did not know where to take it from there so it often fell into stereotypes and non-sensical endings. The actors and their interplay and the episodes written by other people keep me a Torchwood fan but I figured there were enough L&O spin-offs in the states to keep me occupied anyway.

The second reason was that I heard one of the leads for the series would be Jamie Bamber, who plays Apollo in the Re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. This was another strike against the show because honestly I know Bamber is a great actor but Apollo’s emo-manpain on BSG turned me off the actor for a while.

So what could counteract both these issues and make me vow to tune in for every episode?

Freema Agyeman!

That right, Martha Jones from the third series of Doctor Who has been cast as the main court prosecutor.

Damn it all to hell!

I love Freema too much to stay away from any series she’s a part of so it looks like I’ll have to watch. It was like the remake of the Bionic Woman series, no one really tuned in for any other reason than Katee Sachoff was kick ass as the evil first bionic woman.