At Slate, M.R. Carey gets into the neverending literary versus genre fiction debate, belatedly responding to the attacks on genre fiction by Arthur Krystal (see my posts here and here) and Edward Docx (see my post here).
At Bookworm Blues, Jamie Lee Moyer writes about women characters in her own work and how depressing it is that one still needs to point out strong and well realized women in novels, films, etc…, because there are still way too many that treat women only as walk-on characters. Indeed, “there are no women in this” is pretty much an instant dealbreaker for me in anything longer than a short story. It’s also troubling how many works there are, several of them acknowledged classics, that can’t even muster a single female character. And no, it’s set during a war/on a ship/on a space ship is not an excuse.
Juliet McKenna wonders whether it’s time for a women’s speculative fiction prize to raise the profile of female speculative fiction writers, since books by women are still less reviewed and less promoted, particularly in UK bookstores. The inspiration for the post for the all-male shortlist for this year’s David Gemmell Award, which is nominated and decided by popular vote. In case you wonder you won, Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence won in the best novel category and Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan in the best debut category. Pornokitsch also offers their take on all the finalists.
I must confess, I never bother with nominated or voting for the Gemmell Awards, because I don’t read a whole lot of epic fantasy and the books that tend to end up on the shortlist are so not my thing. Maybe I should, if only to provide a counterpoint to the grimdarkness and blokes in cloaks that dominate this award.
At The Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw points out that the protagonists of upcoming videogames all look remarkably similar, namely they’re all angry, unshaven white guys. Which is highly problematic, sincer gamers are somewhat more demographically varied than angry white men. And what’s with the lack of shaving anyway? Are unshaven videogame characters supposed to show off animation detail? Which makes the whole “women are difficult to animate” uproar surrounding the latest Assassin’s Creed game seem even more like a sad excuse.
At The Guardian, Jessica Valenti theorizes whether the relative scarcity of rape scenes might be the reason why The Walking Dead is so successful with women. Now I’m on record as not liking The Walking Dead at all. I don’t care for zombie stories in general and The Walking Dead is not even a particularly good or original example of a zombie tale or at least it wasn’t when I still watched it (up to the end of season 2, though I missed a few episodes in the middle). I also found the show extremely problematic on the race and gender front and I do recall at least one rape/high dubious consent sex scene, but maybe it has gotten better since then.
Also at The Guardian, Nicholas Barber wonders whether the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie heralds a come back for the space opera genre on the big screen. I can only hope so, since I like space opera a lot (hell, I even write it) and the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer look like a lot of fun, especially considering that my initial reaction to the announcement was “They’re filming what?” Even my Mom was impressed when she chanced to see the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer on my laptop recently. That is, she was quite enchanted by Rocket Raccoon.
Nicholas Barber also offers an interesting theory why there was so very little space opera available in the past ten to fifteen years and why what little there was often so violent and depressing. Now I’m not a fan at all of blaming every social or cultural trend of the past 13 years on the “war on terror”, especially since the “war on terror” has never been such a big deal here as it is in the US/UK. But in this case, Barber’s theory makes sense, since space opera is a generally optimistic genre that is as much about exploring and encountering the other as it is about colonising and killing them. And it is notable that post-2000, space-based filmic SF mostly turned into more or less thinly veiled analogies on the “war on terror” such as the new Battlestar Galactica or the crappy later seasons of Enterprise (Deep Space 9 was also a notable offender and largely predates the “war on terror”), while literary space opera was mostly confined to the “rah, rah, space marines” stuff that is the bread and butter of Baen Books. And if like me you don’t happen to overly care for Earth-based marines, let alone space-based ones, there was something of a dearth of good space opera. Luckily, you could still find space opera in the science fiction romance subgenre and indie publishing has also given the space opera subgenre a boon, even though a lot of indie space opera seems to be yet more of the “rah, rah, space marines” type (because apparently there isn’t enough of that stuff around already). However, last year has seen the publication of two high profile space operas that don’t fit the “rah, rah, space marines” stereotype with Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Rachel Bach’s Paradox series.
The Cover Café has released the results of their annual romance cover contest and this time around my votes even match the majority opinion in all but one category. This hit rate is unprecedented, since my tastes in cover design very rarely match those of the majority of romance readers.