First of all, here is a signal boost. Ben Wolverton, the 16-year-old son of writer and teacher Dave Farland/Dave Wolverton, has been critically injured in a longboarding accident and is currently in a coma. The treatment costs are enormous and like so many in the US, the family has no health insurance. If you want to help, you can donate for a fundraiser here and/or buy one of Dave Farland’s books, such as Nightingale, a YA paranormal from the man who was Stephenie Meyer’s teacher. If you’re a writer, Dave Farland also has two great books on writing, Million Dollar Outlines and Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing. If you manage to buy one of those books on Wednesday, you will contribute to the “book bomb” organised by friends of the Wolverton family to benefit Ben. But if you buy them later, you can still help.
I’m interviewed by fantasy writer Scott Marlowe at his blog. We talk about writing, inspiration, ideal readers, sockpuppets and whether the review system is broken. So come on over and say “hello”.
The Hugo/Worldcon debate seems to be winding down, though artist and Hugo winner John Picacio points out that Worldcon is open to everybody who is willing to pitch in and do the work and the the WSFS is actually pretty democratic. The delightfully named I’m wasted potential also shares his or her thoughts here.
Fantasy Book Café has honoured a lot of female fans, critics and writers during their “Women in SF&F” month. Today’s post is by Lois McMaster Bujold, who expresses her frustration that discussions about the death of science fiction and about women in genre not just reoccur every year, but that they are almost the same discussions every time as well. This is quite fitting, particularly in the light of the recent Hugo and Clarke award debate, which would probably have to be filed under “Discussions that reoccur every year” as well.
At Galaxy Express, Heather Massey comments on the prevalence of sexual violence committed against the heroine in science fiction romance and how annoying this trope can be, particularly en masse and done in a way that trivializes sexual violence. The discussion in the comments is interesting, particularly in the light of the recent grimdark debate. Word of warning though, a troll rears his ugly head in the comments as well.
Aliette de Bodard has a great post at her blog about how complaints that a certain work of fiction is overly political or preachy on the one hand and dismissing other works as escapist entertainment or “mindless fluff” on the other hand both miss the point, because all fiction is political. Even the so-called “escapist fluff” promotes some kind of message, usually one that reinforces the status quo.
In fact the reply that “It’s just entertainment. Don’t overanalyze it”, whenever I complain about sex scenes in supposedly contemporary romances and erotic fiction that don’t involve condoms, about stone age gender relations and men treating women like crap in certain popular romance novels, about the fact that any Asian or French person ever to show up in an episode of NCIS or NCIS: LA will inevitably turn out to be a villain* (Germans don’t necessarily fare any better, there just aren’t very many of them), about the fact that the otherwise enjoyable German crime show Der letzte Bulle (The last cop) had two episodes almost back to back, where a lesbian suddenly fell in love with a man and her female partner then proceeded to murder said man in a fit of jealousy. Because these things are not just entertainment, they also send a message, a message that can be actively harmful.
*In one case, this even included a recurrent character who had been on the show for several years before suddenly being revealed as a murderess and traitor and being “accidentally” shot by Leroy Jethro Gibbs in a scene that was cut in a way to make the shooting look anything but accidental.