Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exciting Syllabus!

Mary Anne Mohanraj is teaching a course on minority writers in speculative fiction, and she's been posting her process for choosing a syllabus. Check it out, it's a good survey from someone who cares deeply about the topic.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ursula K. Le Guin

If we're making a list of authors I'd like to grow up to be, Ursula K. Le Guin is always near the top. It's probably surprising to many people who know me, but I never managed to read the Earthsea Cycle. Left Hand of Darkness, however, was very big for me, and The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is one of my favorite books in any genre. I've also gotten a good deal of use out of Steering the Craft and Dancing at the Edge of the World. I highly recommend both.

Le Guin has been hugely prolific, both in terms of fiction and essays, many of which you can find either on or linked from her site.

So the thing about Le Guin is, first, that's she's brilliant. Not just in terms of her prose, but this is a woman with a tremendously expansive mind, capable of keeping track of and treating subtly dozens of interconnected imaginary mores and social nuances, while never losing sight of all the things she has to say about real society- and she's always struck me as someone using her immense creative power for good (and by good, I mean social justice, greater understanding between cultures, gender equality, basic human dignity, and so on, roll your eyes if you must, Jonathan).

As a point of trivia, Le Guin's father, Alfred L. Kroeber, was a student of Franz Boas and one of the first and foremost American anthropologists. Her mother was also an anthropologist and biographer, particularly noted for her english recountings of native american myths and legends.

Here are some of the awards Ursula K. Le Guin has won:
-five Hugo awards
-six Nebula awards
-Gandalf Grand Master Award
-SFFWA Grand Master Award
-nineteen Locus awards
-Lifetime Achievement (World Fantasy Awards)
-National Book Award for Children's Books
-Living Legends (Library of Congress)
-PEN/Malamud Award
-Emperor Has No Clothes award (Freedom From Religion Foundation)

So, yeah, basically she's my hero.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ojibwe Rap

I know you probably don't speak Ojibwe, but if you're at all like me, you're delighted that there's someone out there rapping in it.

If you've got time, the whole Media Indigena site is pretty cool. Check it out.

Friday, July 22, 2011


To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing."
— Macbeth

That actually has little to nothing to do with this post, I just like the quote.

Tomorrow. It's so ridiculously easy to put things off. For example, I am sitting at my lunch break at work thinking to myself "tomorrow. Tomorrow I will have the whole day all to myself, and I'll lock myself away and just write until I'm exhausted." I've planned out the rewards I will dangle before myself to encourage productivity.

Because it's so much easier to plan something than it is to follow through on it. I'll still need to go to the store, to do laundry, to sleep after a 60 hour week. All of this stuff still needs to happen at some point.

But the plan, tomorrow, is to write.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spitting Science

A fun article about futurism and science fiction relative to black identity and especially music.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress and Controlled Rape

Journalist Mac McClelland wrote a very painful article about post-traumatic stress disorder and her way of dealing with it. If you have rape triggers or have been through some hard horrible stuff, you might want to steer clear of this. If you want to write PTSD you might consider giving it a read.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Because John Skipp is a Wonderful Man

John Skipp has an editorial on women in horror. He's also putting together a Zombie Puppet Musical, which, if you know me on any social media site, you should have gotten several links toward already.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Nose Dive

I'm not going to lie here, my productivity has been way down these last two weeks. I have a couple of candidate causes, all of which I think do contribute in some fashion.

1. Adjusting to my work schedule. I have a new-ish job, at which I'm scheduled for four eleven hour shifts per week, with three days off, which you would think would be something approaching ideal, but lately I've found I'm exhausted at the end of my work days, and not terribly well rested when I begin trying to cram a week's worth of socialization into my off days.

2. New social and family obligations, at a distance. My old friends and my family are an hour and a half drive away, and I've been doing my best to meet some new people locally. I don't mind the long drives terribly, but it does eat a three hour chunk of my day each time I drive back to Austin and home again.

3. I really like my job. This sounds terrible, but I think part of the reason I'm writing less is that I'm not sitting around at the end of the day going "well what was the point of that?" I certainly don't want to feed into that myth of tortured artists, but more of my fulfillment is coming from work than it used to, and I think the fulfillment I get from writing has become slightly less vital because of it.

4. Post-editing jitters. While I think I got better at editing, I think I've also come away with the idea that I wouldn't have to do so much of it if I'd just write better in the first place. There's a spiral of crippling perfectionism there I'd like to avoid.

5. Research for a specific science-heavy story.

6. Retreat and regroup time. I do feel like it's kind of critical to step back from what you're doing and analyze what about it is worthwhile and what probably needs work. I need to draw myself some more firm goals so I'm not wandering aimlessly through writing.

7. Plain and simple laziness. You know, if I'm done making excuses.

I need to just get over it and get my butt in gear. I'm going to try giving myself an hour in the mornings to work. I'm not particularly good at getting up, but we'll see what I get out of it.

Good night out there, internet, and good luck.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day-Old Baby Rats

"Day Old Baby Rats" by Julie Hayden (published 1972) is one of the most beautiful ugly stories I've ever heard. Again, this is one you can listen to for free, pay about $6 to read for a month, or pay $60 to have access to, along with the whole New Yorker fiction archives, for a year.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Blog

A year ago today I put up my first post! And since I'm never one to pass up a chance to celebrate arbitrarily, happy birthday to Skull Honey! Put on your hats and blow into a little roll-y noise maker!

I'm still fiddling with the layout, but I've drawn myself a little mascot, and I'm going to get it up onto the blog here attractively at some point.

I feel like I ought to be rhapsodizing about blogging, or having a moment of quiet yet dramatically public self-reflection, but I did all that back with the 100th post.

So, here instead is a series of terrible pirate jokes:

"Hey, did you hear about that new pirate movie?"
"Er, no, I-"
"It was rated 'Arrrrrr'!"
"Hey! What's a pirate's favorite school subject?"
"Do I know you?"
"Language Arrrrrrrrrts!"
"....Please stop."
"Hey! What's a pirate's favorite sock pattern?"
"Really, this is just silly now."
"I have mace."
"Hey, what's a pirate's favorite letter? Eh? Eh?"
"No. They've given their hearts to the C."
"...I hate you so much."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Delightful Vandalism

A wonderful friend sent me this article, which features a picture of a painted-over Soviet statue. The statue's all cleaned up now, and there's no permanent harm done, but there's a cheeky, wonderful picture out there running free across the digital landscape now. As far as I know, police have not yet apprehended the artist.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

On Genocide and the Understanding Thereof

I tried to look for a full text online of "The Reverse Bug" by Lore Segal. You can listen for free, you can read it for a nominal fee in the New Yorker archives, or if you are inclined to patronize the art you can purchase the story collection Shakespeare's Kitchen, in which it appears (or, I suppose, check the same out of a library). It's a very good story.