Mixed Links – mostly SFF but not necessarily Hugo related

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.

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3 Responses to Mixed Links – mostly SFF but not necessarily Hugo related

  1. Daveon says:

    I’d argue that the Germans have had a better non villain decade or two in popular media than the British…. In fact the shear number of British bad guys dating back to Alan Rickman failing to be German in Die Hard is just amazing.

    I think there a space for a new award for the most genuinely cringe worthy bad sex scenes in genre literature..

    • Cora says:

      Well, there is Christoph Waltz, who holds a dual German and Austrian nationality. But as I said elsewhere, I’m happy to let the Austrians have him and Hollywood, too.

      However, the reason you’re seeing fewer German bad guys in the popular media is largely because German actors are increasingly unwilling to take such roles, because playing Nazis in Hollywood can cause a backlash in the domestic film and TV industry. Christoph Waltz really is the exception here and he got lucky. Not that an actor who starred in The Roy Black Story, played a religious fanatic crowning himself king of a German town during the 30-years-war as well as the kidnapper in a mini-series based on a particularly vicious real life case seems like the sort to have scruples about taking any kind of role.

      So instead, British actors ended up getting the Nazi roles and eventually playing villains in every second US film and TV show. I sometimes think that all the treacherous or downright villainous CIA agents in Spooks (who may or may not be played by actual Americans) were the UK’s revenge for all the British bad guys Hollywood has given the world over the years.

  2. Tabitha Joyce says:

    Book Flap Description Space is not the only void… In AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature’s boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp. But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal’s chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it “The Reality Dysfunction.” It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history. Night’s Dawn is a modern classic of science fiction, an extraordinary feat of storytelling on a truly epic scale. If you like your science fiction with heavy waistlines, give this series a shot. It’s epic space opera Science Fiction that’s about as big as they get: big battles, grand plots, and lots of characters. Hands down, this is one of the best space opera series out there. Peter Hamilton has a certain style of writing: his books tend to be massive with fully realized universes and complex characters. I usually find that Science Fiction is all about the world and not about the characters, but Hamilton is able to find a happy compromise between the two: you get grand worlds, epic plots, and complex characters — talk about having your cake and eating it too! It’s enough to make the sci-fi buff weep with joy. Peter Hamilton is one of the best science fiction writers and Night’s Dawn is one of his finest works; it’s a great segue into his other, compelling science fiction novels.

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