June 9th, 2016
There's a big debate going on in the science fiction community going on about who feels welcome where and what that means. The sense of unwelcomeness originated with some older fen / pros talking about WisCON. Pretty much the most articulate summation that I've read so far on that subject comes from Sigrid Ellis: https://sigridellis.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/a-few-post-wiscon-thoughts-on-being-an-ally/
I've been thinking about the subject of aging and fandom on a more personal level. Nate Bucklin
is someone I've known somewhat tangentially since I first started trying to write professionally. In fact, Nate was at least partly, if not wholly, responsible for connecting me to my then agent (and now rather notorious, speaking of WisCON,) Jim Frenke
l. So, when Nate called several weeks back and asked if I'd be willing to help him with a writing project he's been trying to finish for years, I said yes.
Nate is currently living in a nursing home, the Augustana Health Care Center in Minneapolis (http://augustanacare.org
). Because Nate has no internet access, I've been going to see him once a week to talk about this project, etc. It's pretty much as abysmal as you might imagine, but no worse than many of these places go. Nate has a small bed in a shared room, but there are lots of common spaces. It reminds me of the place my father stayed when he was in recovery for so long, though I daresay my dad's was a touch nicer, but probably due to being in a smaller town, if nothing else.
At any rate, I asked Nate today if he was getting a lot of visitors. He said 'No, not really.' So, if you know Nate or know people who know him, please spread the word that he'd like more visitors.
These places are rough, even when you know your time there is limited. I think a lot about Gardner Dozois and his wife Susan Casper who are in a similar situation in another city. Gardner, at least, is able to post updates and such on Facebook, and that was something my father was able to keep up with too. I actually gave Nate a computer (it was given to me as a gift, so I passed it on and, if he's interested, I'll see if I can get him set up to use Facebook and Gmail too. I know how much having outside contact kept my dad feeling at least somewhat more connected.)
I have to run pick up Shawn and Mason, but I just wanted to be sure to get this out there. Friends of Nate Bucklin! Go see him if/when you can! (if you need more specific info as to how to contact Nate, please feel free to drop me a line at my gmail address: email@example.com.)
June 7th, 2016
It's Tuesday and there's a joke/not joke/tradition in my family that Tuesday are actually worse than Mondays, because with Monday's you're EXPECTING things to suck. Tuesdays always blindside you.
Today is not much of an exception.
I woke up this morning sometime around 3 am and I probably lie awake for a half-hour, which doesn't seem that bad, except it was punctuated by two cat fights and Shawn having several wake-up gasping nightmares. (Apparently, one of them involved wrestling someone to death on a highway. "Mason, too" she said, in that sleepy way that meant she was falling back to dreamland, and I wanted to say, "Wait, what? Were you wrestling Mason to death or was it that Mason also had to wrestle someone to death? And... why was it on the highway???" But, you know, nightmares aren't nightmares because they make sense. They're often the most terrifying because they DON'T.)
Because we are aware that Tuesdays have sneaking-suckage, we've written it into the fabric of our family life that we try to lighten the load by going to Bruegger's for bagels on Tuesday mornings. EVEN THOUGH we know that the Breugger's on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is chronically understaffed and has fairly poor customer service. I think we do this partly to ENSURE Tuesday will kind of suck, but also because even though it's a kind of a hassle the bagels are REALLY good.... so it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy but with bonus tastiness.
But, before we even left for Bruegger's I opened up my email and checked in on social media and discovered that on a my Facebook feed there was a couple of guys who decided they needed to jump in and comment on something I'd re-blogged. It was just a funny little poke at the Sad Puppies that said, "Sometimes I want to go up to the people who insist that feminism and progressive values are Ruining Science Fiction and remind them that their genre exists because a teenaged girl was stuck at a house party and decided inventing science fiction sounded more appealing than yet another tiresome threesome with Lord Byron." Which, admittedly is a very HARD poke at certain people, but yet, somehow, I didn't expect that what these guys were going to argue and get in a snit about was whether or not Mary Shelley was the first science fiction novelist.
As I said in response to their malarky, this is not a debate I usually see. Mary Shelley is fairly well recognized as the first science fiction novelist and thus its "inventor." (In fact, when I linked to the Wikipedia article entitled "the history of science fiction" her picture showed up! I didn't even know it would!)
There may be, as I said, other people who dabbled in writing science into their fiction, but who the f*ck has heard of them? Frankenstein
is a book that EVERYONE knows, to the point that they think that's the name of the monster. Therefore, Shelley is the default inventor. I mean, if we want to quibble then people need to stop saying that Eddison invented... well, pretty much anything people think he did, because what he did was PATENT things. To the victor go the spoils. This is, after all the argument women have to put up with all the time when there were women in the shadows or as support.
One of the commenters seemed to want to discount Shelley because he wasn't fond of Frankenstein.
That's not how it works.
So, yeah, that rilled me up. Then I got stuck in about six different traffic jams due to construction I didn't know about, including one on Maryland Avenue where I swear to god the "go/stop" sign guys were just randomly assigning which lane of traffic got to go by some arbitrary means rather than looking at the HUGE LINE OF CARS in my direction and the fact that there WERE NO CARS COMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.
It was, quite frankly maddening, the lot of it. The people on my Facebook feed reminded me of climate change deniers. They were denying something that every one else finds REALLY F*CKING OBVIOUS and not able to come up with an answer to "Okay, who then? Who else wrote something this influential BEFORE Shelley?" And, that's really the key. I mean, it's a matter of influence as well.
Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot. In preparation of our once-every-other-year (bi-annual?) trip to Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail, I took my car into Dave's. So, I'm stuck hanging out at the Dunn Bros. coffee shop in Roseville. Again, none of these things that happened this morning were THAT big of a deal, but I kind of feel like I'm suffering from a thousand pinpricks, you know?
And... screw you deniers, Mary Shelley invented SF. Full stop.
Oh, but I was going to say, I have a couple of things I should tell folks about. 1) I will be signing books at the Mall of America's Barnes & Noble on Saturday, June 11 as part of their B-Fest Teen Book Festival. (Here are a few more details: https://stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780061787270-0
) 2) I was gathering up things to DO while up in the land of no Internet and I discovered that I've nearly finished the PLOT part of UnJust Cause, the book I was posting as a work-in-progress on Wattpad. So, I cut and pasted all the chapters into a Google Doc and then printed it out. My plan is to revise the book while we're up North so that I can have a really good start on finishing it and turning it into an e-book. So, if you've been patiently waiting for the sequel to Precinct 13, it's coming very, very soon!
May 18th, 2016
Again, I'm a bit behind, but I thought I should say a few words about the Nebula Conference that I went to last weekend.
I've never gone to a Nebula Award weekend before, but this year my friend Naomi Krizter's short story "Cat Pictures, Please
" was nominated. (You can listen to the audio here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_01_15b/
) So I went with the sole purpose of being Naomi's wingman, because these things are always better when you have someone to share them with, win or lose.
Naomi didn't win--which was a disappointment for her, I'm sure. On the other hand, there's a new tradition at the Nebulas that legitimately takes the sting out of losing. For the past few years Henry Lien has organized the "alternate universe acceptance speeches." The idea being that the people who didn't win get to still get applause and read their speeches. Maybe it sounds corny, but it wasn't... not a all. In fact, I'm not sure there was a dry eye in the house when Kelly Robson got up and talked about her first moment of stumbling across science fiction in Asimov's magazine and... experiencing 'intellectual curiosity' for the first time in her life. Then Charles E. Gannon just about killed me when he talked about how the cliche about it being an honor to be nominated should really be thought of like this: when you go to a museum you don't go into a room labeled "Renaissance" and see only one picture. You see a gallery. And, they all represent the best of their time, no single picture does that in isolation.
And then I cried some more because it's all true, and it makes me remember what is awesome about SF/F fandom and prodom.
The rest of the conference was a bit of a blur. I got to see "Zootopia" with my friend Kyell Gold, which was awesome. I might have cried through some of that, too. But, mostly what stood out to me about the Nebula Conference in comparison to other cons was that people knew who I was. I never really had imposter syndrome because everyone seemed genuinely aware of my work. That happens a lot less at "regular" cons. Thing is, I think writers are more aware that careers have fits and starts and fallow periods and very few people there think that writing is magical and without bumps and scraps. What was amazing about that was how welcoming it felt. It made me want to always go to the Nebula Weekend...
And maybe I will.
May 16th, 2016
Archangel Protocol is now available as an audio book: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Archangel-Protocol-Audiobook/B01FEI3EIM/
This is actually a project I undertook myself with the help of a voice actor recommended to me by a friend, Jack Evans. Jack produced the book via ACX
, which is audible's creative exchange program (and was a big subject of panels at this year's SFWA Nebula Conference, which I've just returned from.)
At any rate, if audible books are your thing, you should be able to find it at all your favorite places to buy audible books including iTunes, Amazon.com
, and, of course, Audible (as linked above.)
May 13th, 2016
I'm here in a Starbucks in Chicago, waiting for the SFWA Nebula Conference
to wake up, so I thought I'd finally write down a few thoughts about Captain America: Civil War.
Generally, I liked it. There are a few things I think I can say about the movie 'above the cut.' as it were. Without spoiling, I want to talk about one of the fundamental differences between the movie and the comic book arc. In the comic book, like the movie, there is an event that triggers a public outcry about the unchecked destruction that superheroes cause when they come blundering into situations, do their best, but sometimes civilian lives are lost. In the comic book arc, the difference is that the destruction is caused, quite accidentally, by random "new" superheroes. That's to say, "powered" people who have no affiliation with a superhero group like the X-Men or the Avengers. As a result, part of what the public demands is a "superhero registration act" which not only requires any people with powers to offer themselves to the government, but ALSO requires long-standing superheroes to expose their secret identities as part of registration.
I think you can already see why, in the comic book version, someone from World War II might stop and say, "Uh... wait a minute... You gonna ask us all to wear stars next?" (He had other really amazing observations which really resonated with everything that was happening during the time Civil War was written, which was during the Patriot Act, which DIRECTLY commented on things happening in the US.)
In the movie (and this isn't much of a spoiler, because, in many ways the movie is actually about Bucky's past), the accords only require the superheroes to subject themselves to oversight. Now, the question is a lot more nebulous: who is in charge, what decisions do they get to make... ?
But, what's missing in the movie is Captain America being far more articulate and CLEAR about why he, specifically, finds this situation squicky. The thing that drove me absolutely buggy (later... because during the movie my only thoughts were: bam! crash! zap!) was that it was certainly all set up in the previous Captain America movies. All we would have needed is, during the scene where the gathered Avengers are looking over the accord (I do love that it's clear Captain America read EVERY PAGE) to have Cap say, "Guys, really? We're going to put our trust in a governing body... WHEN HYDRA WAS SECRETLY IN CONTROL OF S.H.I.E.L.D. FOR THE PAST FIFTY YEARS??"
MCU Captain America has a LEGIT reason not to want to sign something that gives away his decision making power to an organization he knows nothing about.
But, so. like, *I* thought of that, but it was _never_ said out loud by ANYONE in the movie.
Which to me, made Captain America seem like a war-mongering vigilante.... which is... super not Captain America.
That's not to say there weren't things I loved. Again, no spoilers, but I thought Black Panther moved EXACTLY RIGHT. I was having flashbacks to comic books I barely remember reading every time he did a jump or a four-point landing or a swipe with his vibranium claws.
Also, I loved Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Okay, a couple things I can't say without a spoiler block...( Read more...Collapse )
So, those of you who saw it, what are your thoughts?
April 26th, 2016
So, if you're local to the Twin Cities, I'm going to be at Dreamhaven Books & Comics
tomorrow night starting at 6:30 pm. I'll be there not just for shopping (though I'm sure I'll do some of that), but also to read to anyone who shows up from Sidhe Promised
(my newest release from Tapas Media
) as well as my current work-in-progress.
It'd be cool if you could come.
April 11th, 2016
So... I have a brand-new book out! It's called Sidhe Promised, and it's available through https://tapas.io
The way Tapas Media works is that you download their free app, and then, from there, you can sample all of the novels and other works they have available. Search for me, and you should be able to start reading right away!
"I'm a dyke, not a fairy!"
"When a lesbian college student is magically transported to a fairy-tale Ireland full of mythic creatures, mystery and intrigue, she discovers the boundary-crossing nature of love that respects not the limits of gender or sexuality."
Go! Go get it!
March 9th, 2016
...of being nearly 50, and still being surprised by my period.
Happy International Women's day (belated), everyone.
March 7th, 2016
So... my big plan to talk up MarsCON?
I CAN'T DO IT NOW, NOT WHEN CRAP LIKE THIS HAPPENS: https://www.facebook.com/MariePorterCostuming/posts/528923627286996
Seriously, how can any of us wonder why it's so difficult to get women and PoC and NEW BLOOD to come to conventions, when an emcee decides that not only is the costuming contest all about him, but also is an opportunity to drag out all the sexist, sexualizing "jokes" that stopped being funny in 1983.
March 6th, 2016
This weekend was MarsCON
As I mentioned earlier this week, I was a bit of a last minute addition to programming this year. MarsCON kind of snuck up on me, and despite getting all the appropriate emails, I almost didn't make it this year.
Generally, I had a good time. It was noticeable this year, however, that I was the only woman on a couple of panels (which, given my last minute volunteering makes this phenomenon, perhaps, more notable. Because had I NOT signed up late, there would have been NONE.)
The first one was the Marvel Cinematic Universe panel. I thought we had a great discussion, and it was a fun panel, in general. But it's sort of fascinating that my final panel was "The Rise of the Female Superhero," which had a very decent crowd for late Sunday, and the audience was was JAM PACKED with extremely knowledgeable, funny, well-read (younger) female comic book fans... and yet somehow MarsCON couldn't find more than one woman to fill a seat on the MCU panel? Given what I see on Tumblr and fan fic sites, women seem to make up a fairly large percent of MCU fandom.
The other one I really noticed the gender disparity was the Cyberpunk panel. Again, I have nothing but nice things to say about my fellow panelists. I really enjoyed our discussion. To be fairl, cyberpunk has always had a problem when it comes to women... which is to say, Pat Cadigan is _not_ the only female cyberpunk author to have ever lived, but many people seem to have no idea that plenty of women not only have written cyberpunk, but also really enjoy it.
I would like to think that mine was an isolated experience, but I heard from another female panelist that she ended up being the only woman on at least one of her panels, as well.
This is not a prelude to bashing MarsCON or its organizers in any way, shape, or form. I've been very proud and honored to have been one of their guests of honor, not once, but twice. I love the organizers and the programming is often quite spectacular. However, this is still a problem... and I feel like it's a problem that could get worse over time. Given the recent kerfuffle at CONquest with Mark Oshiro
, I feel like one of the big issues at stake here is how do we cultivate "new talent" and guarantee the survival of con culture.
One way is getting new and different faces on panels. We need more women, more PoC, more queer and non-binary folks, and more diversity of all stripes.
Of course, that's easy to _say_. This is why I don't feel like the blame can fall on programming. I'm absolutely sure that programming does the very best it can with what it gets. The problem, of course, is actually getting people to not only volunteer panel ideas, but also then follow-up and volunteer to actually be on the panels themselves.
This is an open process, but I don't now if people know how it works. Thing is, one of the reasons I nearly missed this year is that it's easy to miss deadlines for proposing panel ideas, and the deadline for volunteering for programming. You kind of have to follow a particular con fairly closely to know when to put in ideas, etc.
I wish that I had taken down some of the names of the interesting people in the audience of my "The Rise of the Female Superhero" and, like, actively recruited them to be on paneling next year. The thing about MarsCON panelists is that they're all volunteers (this is actually true at most cons). There is, as far as I know, no other requirement. You don't HAVE to be a pro writer or a pro anything, you just have to be willing to sit in front of other people and talk about the stuff you love. The thing that's nice about MarsCON is that it's not going to be a room of two thousand. The audience is usually moderately sized (sometimes even 'intimate,' as in only a few other folks). So, you don't have to even be HUGELY extroverted, just... enough.
But, probably, if a random person volunteered for programming they might get a bit of the "and... you are?" blowback--like what I got from WorldCON, which is legit to some extent because panelists are, in essence, the entertainment during the daytime hours, at any rate, and there should be some kind of vetting of expertise, etc. To counteract that, I would, in point of fact, be very happy to vouch for anyone reading this who wants to be on paneling at MarsCON in the future. You don't even have to be female, a PoC, or queer... so long as you're new, I'd be happy to help you figure out how to be on paneling.
Maybe I just need to get out there and talk up MarsCON more, you know? There are a lot of cons in the Twin Cities, so it may just be that people are choosing to go a different con. Given its musical bent, I suspect MarsCON will always survive, but, I'm not a big music fan, so I'd like the programming to continue to be vibrant, exciting, and relevant as well.
Perhaps this is a problem specific to MarsCON, since CONvergence certainly seems to have less trouble drawing in talent. On the other hand, I was also once the only woman on the Marvel Movie panel at CONvergence, too. So some of the problems are there, too, despite the size difference.
So... um, please come to MarsCON next year? Pretty please???