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. Â 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?
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.
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,Â 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.
One of my formative geek experiences was watching Star Trek with my Dad, so when the reboot came out this summer I watched it with a huge mob of friends and a childlike glee. That moment where a young James Tiberius Kirk looks out over the Iowa cornfields to what will become the USS Enterprise? The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
Zoë Saldaña’s kickass reinvention of Uhura was another big part of that delight. I was a bit surprised to find that not everyone shared my neo-Uhura love, and greatly relieved when Rebellious Jezebel and Rawles laid out strong arguments in favour.
Much more problematic (=bullshit) were the characterizations of Kirk’s and Spock’s mothers, both swiftly consigned to refrigerators to give Our Heroes matter on which to brood. You may imagine how much I appreciated Latropita’s open letter to Winona Kirk: “Who wouldn’t want to hear your stories?” That plaint inspired a whole LJ community, Where No Woman, dedicated to those untold stories.
In her provocative and memorable meta-fic, Bravecows reminds us that however shiny our future may be, our stories will not all be the same.
“Don’t think I don’t believe in Starfleet,” said Sharanjeet. “I think our kind of job is very important also. But a lot of you young people just come in thinking about all the holo-movie you see. You think you’re going to have adventure like all the starship captain you hear about. You don’t really know what to expect. But you know, when you come onboard a Starfleet ship and the computer cannot understand your accent, you really have to start to wonder.”
I saw the political satire In The Loop a few days back. Â It passes the Bechdel test — how novel — and it struck me as a fairly geek-oriented film.
We geeks like our entertainment as plot/banter firehose with subtle, unspoken worldbuilding. That’s what In The Loop (and its predecessor TV show, The Thick of It) deliver — that and social engineering. Â You get to watch people scheme, performing ad hoc systems analysis to solve the puzzle of their immediate predicament. Â It’s like Leverage without the wish-fulfillment or Hardison, Elliot or Parker. Â (In the geeky-banter category, In The Loop has characters mock Toby (Chris Addison) by calling him “Frodo,” “Ron Weasley,” and “baby from Eraserhead.”)
One of my geekeries is politics, specifically organizational behavior and the power of institutions. In The Loop argues that the media/governing apparatus functions as one homeostatic institution, where any demonstration of the pettier human weaknesses (e.g., status-seeking, frustration, lust, loathing) leads to an instant barrage of bad press and gives your enemies leverage. It’s a marvelous system, really, and ultra-efficient: if you think you’ve found some room to maneuver, some opportunity for arbitrage, you’re wrong and your audacity will be punished. It’s a power structure that guards itself against change, and will only ever pay lip service to feminism and anti-racism. A dark vision, but the film left me laughing.
Warning:Â Sexist and homophobic insults pervade the dialogue from start to finish.This would have bothered me more if I’d thought the insults were more substance than form; the viciousness was so over-the-top that I couldn’t take it seriously. But some people will find it distasteful or triggering.
Software geekery: Late in the film, two users across the Atlantic from each other open their laptops and work on the same document simultaneously, one telling the other via phone what to delete or rearrange. I immediately thought,Â If only they were usingÂ AbiWord’s document-sharing plugin, they couldÂ collaborate in realtime usingÂ Telepathy integration!