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???
March 4th, 2016
Except it isn't. We're not due for another bout of Mercury Retrograde this year until April 28th, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Unfortunately, this means I have no one to blame, but myself.
I had a hell of a day yesterday. It started out quite nicely, but then quickly spiraled into a very retrograde kind of day. The Loft contacted me about teaching a writing workshop on the craft of writing science fiction and fantasy short stories (to adults) in August. (Don't even ask me about how many times I went back and forth with her about the dates, because I apparently am determined to have only MIScommunications with people).
I've had a handful of short stories published, many of which I'm very, VERY proud of, but... you know, I also I happen to be rather close friends with a person who has won the Asimov's Reader's Choice award and who is CURRENTLY UP FOR A NEBULA AWARD IN THE SHORT STORY CATEGORY.
So, I said to the Loft coordinator: Yes, of course I will teach, but I think the class would be a much bigger success if I can coerce my friend Naomi Kritzer into co-teaching with me. Naomi has foolishly said yes, and yesterday, I went to talk to her about how we might structure the workshop and maybe start figuring out a course description and all that sort of jazz. Anyway, we met up at the Dunn Bro's attached to the Roseville Ramsey County Library. We're talking and all of a sudden my phone rings.
It's my boss at work.
Can I work at the Roseville Ramsey County library today? I think... I guess so, I mean, ironically, I'd have to go home long enough to change into more work appropriate clothes and grab my ID badge, but you know, sure? I mean, part of the problem with saying 'no' too much this month is that I somehow completely spaced on getting any FIRM hours this month. Usually, as a sub, I get both firm shifts, where I know in advance where I'm going and when, and fill-ins, like this one. My boss calls one day a month with a schedule and if I miss that call, I kind of miss getting any guaranteed hours. This would be a bigger problem if we were really hurting for hours/money, but it occasionally happens and I still tend to pick up enough fill-in to make it all work. Anyway, feeling the pressure of no guaranteed hours, I said, "Oh sure, I can work 11 to 3!"
I hung up and instantly had to dial back. Because, somehow, once again, I forgot that I can't teleport. I have to actually BE at Mason's school AT 3... Roseville isn't that far away, I could MAYBE make it in ten minutes, if I broke the speed limits and had perfect traffic conditions, but, yeah, NO. My boss was apparently already on the phone to Roseville, because I rolled into her voice mail. I said that I would talk to the local branch manager and see if it was okay for me to start a little early and end a little early and that she should call me back if that's not an okay thing to do.
I didn't get call back, and so I drove home briefly, and then back to the library. I actually brought Naomi with me so she could see the new kitty, and since I was basically going back to where we were....because, yeah.
I show up at work a few minutes early, make my deal with the branch manager, and go along with my day. When I call Shawn to let her know that I got called into work, she asks, "Uh, so... I should cancel my B12 shot for today at 2 pm?" I'd totally forgotten I was meant to take her to that appointment... so she cancels. AND THEN I SEE THAT I'M ONLY SCHEDULED UNTIL 2. (I figure my boss must have called back and said, "Lyda can only work until 2" but neglected to tell me, figuring I'd figure it out, but that would require me NOT TO BE COMPLETELY STUPID.)
So, yeah... I could have maybe taken Shawn in?
Especially since I ended up arranging to LEAVE EARLY FROM WORK at 2 instead of 3....
Oh my God.
And it was kind of like that all day. I never did entirely recover. *checks Mercury again* *still not retrograde.*
March 3rd, 2016
Last night when we came home, a very skinny, friendly orange striped kitten was loitering around outside. We stopped to pet it, like you do,figuring it would head home after a few friendly pets.
When we opened the door, the kitty hopped onto the porch like he thought he lived here.
And... I think he might be right.
We let him stay on the porch for a while. Mason kept him company and instantly named him "Buttercup." As the evening wore on, he ended up inside, in our downstairs bathroom, away from the other kitties with food and water (all of which he gobbled up.) I gave him a box and blankets to sleep in, and... our family debated about what to do with "Buttercup." We decided to put out signs letting the neighborhood know we have found a cat. We haven't done that yet, but we will. But, I think it's no coincidence that several weeks ago a neighborhood kid knocked on our door and desperately asked if we would take in the family cat because his mom was pregnant and can't have cats around any more. Someone has also snipped this kitty's whiskers, deliberately. I highly suspect, given how hungry and thirsty this kitten is, he was dumped.
So... I think we have a new kitty. We're trying not to attach, while simultaneously doing all the things you do to slowly introduce a new cat into a pre-existing household of cats. This morning, I've moved Buttercup upstairs to the TV room, and have left his overnight room, the downstairs bathroom, open for inspection by the other kitties. He's basically going to get a tour of the rooms in the house that have doors that close, so that everyone can get used to everyone else's smells. Of course, if he stays everyone goes to the vet. We've been very careful not to let the cats get within nose-touching range (and they were all inoculated against feline leukemia and everything else), but you know, it pays to be careful. Plus, I don't think Buttercup has been neutered yet. He's very little, all ears and eyes at this point.
If he ends up staying, I'll try to post a picture.