Tag Archives: SF fandom

Death by a thousand links (20th April, 2010)

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.

How John Scalzi invented fanfic

So the other day John Scalzi posted on his blog that he is writing a “reboot” of H. Beam Piper’s science fiction novel “Little Fuzzy”. He says:

Why did you do this?

Because as far as I know it’s never been done before. Science fiction TV and movie series are rebooted all the time — see Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek for recent examples of this — but I can’t think of a significant, original universe in science fiction literature in which this has been done, at least, not by someone who is not the original author. So I thought, hey, this seems like it could be a fun thing to do. So I did it.

If your eyes aren’t rolling enough already (because, hello, fan fiction?), melannen pointed out to me that Ardath Mayhar, a female author, had even written a professionally published retelling of the Little Fuzzy story (a fact that’s mentioned on the Wikipedia page for Little Fuzzy, so it’s hardly obscure.)

Is it time for another round of How To Suppress Women’s Writing?

  • She didn’t write it.

(But if it’s clear she did the deed. . .)

  • She wrote it, but she shouldn’t have. (It’s political, sexual, masculine, feminist.)
  • She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. (The bedroom, the kitchen, her family. Other women!)
  • She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it. (“Jane Eyre. Poor dear, that’s all she ever. . .”)
  • She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (It’s a thriller, a romance, a children’s book. It’s sci fi!)
  • She wrote it, but she had help. (Robert Browning. Branwell Bronte. Her own “masculine side.”)
  • She wrote it, but she’s an anomaly. (Woolf. With Leonard’s help….)
  • She wrote it BUT. . .

When women do it, it’s just fan fiction. When men do it, it’s a reboot. Right.

ETA: I’ve been pointed at a subsequent post in which Scalzi admits he’s writing fanfic.

For those who are new here, I’d like to point out that we have a comment policy which asks you to “Be at least one of: feminist, friendly, amusing, or perspicacious. Two is even better.” Comments along the lines of “She wrote it, BUT…” (it wasn’t commercially published, it wasn’t called a reboot because we hadn’t invented that word yet, she didn’t have permission from TPTB…) will be bitbucketed.

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.