Tag Archives: SF fandom

Cage match

Author Info: Quixotess is a geek of wordplay, numberplay, names, history, easy logic puzzles, IRC, various works of fiction (particularly speculative fiction), certain aspects of theatre, and local geology. Not computers, though. She blogs at Reconcile and has an IRC channel which she would like you to visit.

This is the Suvudu [Cross-Verse] Cage Match, where we may vote on how characters from various speculative fiction works may fare when fighting each other, tournament style. The order and initial matches were chosen randomly.

I think it’s worth looking at, first because you all ought to have a chance to vote. Second, because of the dynamics surrounding the tournament that i think merit feminist examination.

Some questions: How many of the characters are women? How many of the characters are characters of color? How many of the authors are? Now, how many of those characters are winning?

I think it’s pretty clear that in some cases, as with the Jaime Lannister vs Hermione Granger match, the white male character is winning at least in part because of sexism on the part of the voters. Jaime’s a handsome man, oldest son of a great lord, and an experienced warrior (a very male-dominated profession) and Hermione Granger is a girl whose parents are dentists. In fact, look at what Jaime’s author Martin has to say about the pairing on his livejournal.

[Jaime’s] opponent? Well, he’s really pissed off about that. He wanted Conan or Elric or Aragorn. Instead he’s drawn (they CLAIM it’s random)…

Of course Martin frames it as his character wanting to fight one of these kingly heroes (more on that later), but even if Martin himself didn’t care, you can bet that many of his readers–gritty realism fans, a realm also dominated by men–identify with Jaime.

Speaking of gritty realism, Martin’s written up a little ditty on how he thinks the match would really go [TRIGGER WARNING]:

He’s not going to waste time and effort swatting at birds with his sword, either. He’s encased in gilded steel. What are they going to do, crap on him? He’ll rush right through the birds, and go straight for Hermione. A sword is not a knight’s only weapon. While she’s watching the blade, he will slam his shield right into her face, knock her off her feet. Let her try and mumble those spells with a mouthful of broken teeth.

Martin’s well known for putting a lot of violence in his books, where it fits, but I find it shocking when applied to characters from another verse, especially a young woman. As this piece is written to convince readers that Jaime would beat Hermione in a fight, the effect is not so much “gritty realism” as “alarming glee.”

I don’t mean to pick on Martin (even if he deserves it) because I know that various fandoms as boy’s clubs is familiar to all of us. I see that pattern playing out here.

I think it’s equally interesting to look at those cases in which there is a genuine imbalance of power. For example, see Hiro Protagonist vs Gandalf and Lyra Belacqua (called Silvertongue) vs Cthulu. No points for guessing who’s winning those fights.

Look at how many of the characters in the tournament are gods, messiahs, patriarchs, or kings. I don’t know all of these verses, but I see Aslan, Dumbledore, Gandalf, Cthulu, Conan, Aragorn, and Rand al’Thor. The women and characters of color are likely to be knocked out in the first round here because they’re going up against characters who their authors made all-powerful.

How much we enshrine ultimate power! Most of those with unconventional powers are going down to a very male idea of strength or intelligence; those who win are those for whom sheer power is a big part of their characters. (for example, Arthur Dent lost, narrowly, to the Shrike.) Look also at how many of these characters have some sort of Grand Destiny–that trope which makes it okay to have been born a farmboy, or living in exile, because in reality you are still more important than others in the fabric of the universe. In this sense it’s worth looking not just at the characters’ demographics, but at their abilities and means of power, and the intersection thereof. I’m talking about the difference between conventional marks of heroes and villains–destiny or control over the cosmos–and unconventional powers–like access to information and lying, as with Lyra, or improbable luck, as with Arthur Dent.

Many people in the comments have complained about the inclusion of Cthulu in the contest, predicting that it will come down to a battle between him and Aslan, because who can stand against those two? They might be right, but why? What’s with our preference for these mighty male forces of nature or chosen ones of gods?

What do you think?

Wiscon panel brainstorming post

Those of you who attend WisCon probably already know that they are seeking program ideas. For those who have never attended WisCon before, it is a Feminist Science Fiction Convention held each May in Madison, Wisconsin. I went for the first time last year, and met many of the GF bloggers there for the first time, not to mention many of our regular commenters. It was a great experience, and one I look forward to repeating this year. If you’ve never been to an SF convention before, I can recommend this one to first-timers.

Anyway! My point! I had one!

Program suggestions close on the 22nd. What are you going to suggest? Got any half-formed ideas you’d like to bounce around? Do any of the geek feminist events of 2009 suggest panels? And the most important question: GF Party Y/Y?

How much is that linkspam in the window? (13th December, 2009)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Quick hit: nominate recent fantasy and scifi for awards

If you love scifi and fantasy, especially works that “assert one’s right to be in the world, even if one is not One Standard Unit Straight White Man”, consider recommending your favorite recent works for awards.  I’ll specifically draw your attention to some awards that encourage work that explores issues of sexuality, gender, race or ethnicity:

  • The Gaylactic Spectrum Awards “honor works in science fiction, fantasy and horror which include positive explorations of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered characters, themes, or issues”
  • The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is for speculative fiction that addresses gender
  • The Carl Brandon Awards are for works by people of color or dealing with issues of race and ethnicity

All three of those welcome nominations from the general public (that’s you!).

One source of recommendations: the 50books_poc SF/Fantasy list and metabooklist.

What are you nominating?

Link Roundup: The Geekening (Sep 5th, 2009)

The link roundup will not be televised (September 3rd, 2009)

Daughter of Link Roundup (August 31st, 2009)

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr

One of the reasons I’m not particularly looking forward to Stargate: Universe

I can’t remember how I found this post (probably looking at linkbacks from FeministSF), but I’m so glad I did. It breaks down the number of women who’ve directed episodes of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis and reveals that, behind the scenes, women don’t play much of a role. Some years there were only one or two eps directed by women and, after SG-1 Season 8, none. Fantastic.

I used to love Stargate SG-1 and would still sit and watch many of the episodes in the first 8 seasons with happiness. (Seasons 9 through whatever do not exist because they are filled with shame and stupidity.) I even gave Atlantis a try for a season or so. But both shows slowly chipped away at my love for them due to their portrayals of women and people of color.

The fact that both shows have women and POC in lead roles is great, believe me. I am a fan of Samantha Carter and definitely heart me some Ronon. But in the end I loved them despite what the Powers That Be did in terms of writing and directing. Looking at their dismal record of including women behind the scenes, this is not surprising. And though they have a very smart and competent guy as a creative consultant (John Scalzi), I am not sure even he can stem the tide of ickiness that has flowed from the Stargate franchise lo these 6 years at least.

Geeks Love Lists: Awesome Science Fiction By Women

As this is my first post, I’ll offer an introduction before I begin. Hi there, I’m Tempest, and am indeed a geek. A rare unicorn of a geek since I am not only a woman, but a Black woman besides. I’m a writer,  both of science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction and of non-fiction. During the day I write about laptops, web apps, Linux, eReaders, gadgets, and other such exciting subjects. At night (or, really, any time I can spare) I write or write about or read or read about or watch spec fic. And that is mostly what I’ll be talking about here.

Anyone who has ever been involved in the SF community knows that there are issues surrounding women and people of color in media and in fandom. I’ve spent the last, oh, four or so years dealing directly with it, often to the detriment of my zen state. Ranting and getting angry is satisfying, but I find it much more so to then make a positive step toward change. Thus, after a recent heated debate about an anthology that included no stories by women or people of color, I decided to ask genre fans to tell me what science fiction stories, books, or authors blow their minds. Then I took those suggestions and collated them into this massive list.

People are still adding to the original posts and to the one at Tor.com, which makes me happy. It shows that even when you’ve named dozens of works and authors, there are still more to name. It shows that we are out there creating amazing stuff and to ignore us is to cut out a huge swath of great fiction. Helping people understand this is a major goal of mine. But it’s heartening that more and more people are noticing, speaking up, and creating positive change themselves.

Link roundup, 2nd Impact (August 27th, 2009)

  • The Free Software Foundation will host a mini-summit on women in Free Software on September 19. Seth Schoen notes that “I guess the venue and timing could be a challenge for some people (it doesn’t seem to be colocated with, or right before or after, anything else in particular)”. See LWN for some discussion, some much of it probably will cost you some sanity points.
  • OMG! Girlz Don’t Need Games or Features! — A review of the new Lilac PSP demonstrates that Sony, like many companies before, could use some lessons on how to market games and gaming systems to women.
  • Anna Filina offers her take on women in IT saying (among other things) that she hates working with women. Um?
  • Late business at the Hugo Awards in which Yonmei proposes a small modification to the nomination procedures for the Hugos to help redress the gender imbalance. Result: “There was certainly considerable SMOFFISH outrage at the idea that there could be anything imperfect or biased about the Hugo nomination system which might need to be remedied.” Links to LJ discussions at the bottom of the post.
  • ROSE blog interviews Erica Brescia (BitRock), Angela Brown (Linux Foundation), Stormy Peters (GNOME Foundation), and Dru Lavigne (BSD).
  • Another round of technology and gender images at Sociological Images, including a woman tied to a bed as an inducement to buy Gameboy consoles.
  • Melissa McEwan (via M. LeBlanc) on how puzzled privileged people get when they have fun intellectual devil’s-advocate conversations about our oppression and we get personal about it.
  • The GNOME development community is planning an outreach program for women similar to the 2006 outreach program. They are looking at funding women developers to work on GNOME Shell.