Friday Book Club: The Art of Racing in the Rain

the-art-of-racing-in-the-rainHi everyone!  It’s time to start reading the book club selection for June:  The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Grant Stein.

Several people recommended this book to me.  It was a big hit when it came out and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection.  So I was pretty excited to read this book.  I presented it as an option to the Arden Dimick Book Club, they picked it, I started reading it and…

I hated it.

But, that’s OK.  Because sometimes the most interesting books are those we dislike.  It took me a while to figure out why I disliked the book so much and that process helped me figure out some pretty intense things about how women are presented in male narratives.  It also made me hug my daughter and my dog, both of whom seemed confused but pleased, so that was good.  There were passages that I loved and whole subplots that made me furious.  So I am very much looking forward to discussing this book with you all over the next few weeks.

A bit of background:  Most of what I review on Geek Girl In Love is science fiction or fantasy, but I also read quite a bit of contemporary fiction and non-fiction.  As facilitator of the Arden Dimick Book Club, I get a chance to stretch my reading a bit and try different genres and styles.  We work with one theme for three months.  In May, June, and July our theme is “Animals Among Us”.  If you live in the Sacramento area, come join us on June 22, 2014 at 2PM  for our in-person book club at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento!

Interview with Nalini Haynes, contributor to Invisible

Invisible-FullThis week’s interview is with Nalini Hayes, one of the contributors to Invisible, and anthology about representation edited by Jim C. Hines.  Over here at Geek Girl in Love we’ve invited the contributors of Invisible to share further thoughts about how representation in genre is important to them.  In her essay, “Evil Albino Trope is Evil”, Haynes talks about how representations of people with albinism have affected her life.  Haynes is also the editor of Dark Matter Zine.  My questions are in bold, her responses are in regular type.

Are there any media or literature portrayals of people with albinism that “get it right?”

I haven’t read or seen any portrayals of people with albinism that “get it right” so far although some people have recommended literature that I’ve added to my to-be-read list.

The best portrayal of an albino I can think of is Michael Pryor’s The Extraordinaires; his albino is a gutsy intelligent female protagonist teamed with a boy who has his own point of difference. The reason Michael’s albino hasn’t “got it right” is that she uses scientific gadgets – like special glasses – that fix her eyesight. This is problematic because people assume that, if I’m wearing glasses, my eyesight is fixed. It isn’t. Glasses can’t fix or replace the missing bits in my retina*.

There is a perception out there that science should be able to fix everything, either with glasses or surgery. It’d be great if someone could write an albino accurately, without magically healing the character, to help people understand this is real and it can’t be fixed. Not with current medicine, anyway.

*For a more technical explanation see Wikipedia. My eye conditions include macular hypoplasia (no fovea and an under-developed macular due to insufficient pigmentation),  photophobia, nystagmusastigmatism, iris transillumination and floaters; all of which are caused by albinism, either directly or indirectly. (My floaters developed very early, apparently caused by the nystagmus that was caused by the albinism.)

How has living with albinism shaped your thinking about people with other forms of disabilities?  

I grew up knowing I had a disability but I refused to accept I was disabled until 2005 when workplace bullying based on disability discrimination and refusals of disability access destroyed my career. Until then I tried to pass for ‘normal’. This ‘passing’ was also aided by the minimal contact I had with other people with disabilities.

People with disabilities can be quite disconnected from the community, from each other. We’re not a people group; we often grow up in families where we’re the only one, so isolation can be an issue.

I’ve seen communities develop and people come together over a period of time, aided by increased access to public transport (particularly for wheelchair users). Government funding for programs has helped develop communities and bring people together in programs to an extent although the usual focus is either for people with physical disabilities (wheelchair access) or intellectual disabilities.

Even when I finally started to accept that I didn’t just have a disability, that I am disabled, I found myself isolated in Adelaide. The Royal Society for the Blind was awesome in trying to help me find visual aids (that I couldn’t afford) and with programs to get people together, but most people with vision impairment are elderly. I didn’t know of any program or organisation that brought together people even remotely close to my age, people who were still of an age to expect to be in the workforce.

In 2007 I heard about Reins, Rope and Red Tape, a disability arts advocacy program run by Arts Access in South Australia. I applied and was accepted for the second semester program.

Reins, Rope and Red Tape was a program run by people with disabilities for people with disabilities. This was an eye-opener. I made friends, all of whom had disabilities and all of whom were different in the challenges we faced. We learnt everything from the hierarchy of disability (which reflects the emphasis of government funding for various disabilities) to disability advocacy action in various countries.

One of the worst things about leaving Adelaide was leaving those friends behind. Afterwards I learnt Arts Access and the (separate) disability library/centre had both been defunded so these programs and focal points for people with disabilities vanished.

It was my disability that brought me in to that program, that gave me the opportunity to make those friends. It was my disability that made me acutely aware of the fracturing of the disability community as funding dried up and programs closed.

These days most of my contact with people with disabilities is via facebook. I have some kick-ass facebook friends out there rattling cages, moving and shaking for change. I have some other facebook friends I’ve never met that I just want to hug, to say ‘thank you’ and to break down some gates – like the ones withholding catheters when my friends need them.

Some of the most awesome people on this planet have disabilities. Some of the people who suffer the most in our society have disabilities. It’s a two-edged sword: enlightenment comes with great empathic pain as I see people suffer.

What would you like to see change in our culture to make it a more equitable environment?

If people really truly understood that there are two kinds of people in this world – the disabled and the not-disabled-yet – and that the karma fairy will come back to bite them, THEN I believe we might see some genuine change.

If you had total control over the filming of any book, what would you film, and why, and who would you cast?

I’d film the Children of the Black Sun trilogy by Jo Spurrier because it is the best portrayal of disability, gender issues and society combined that I’ve read. Once Isidro, one of the central characters, acquired his disability, I expected him to be magically healed or to disappear from the story with only a cameo appearance at best. Not only does neither happen, Isidro continues in this story with a totally convincing disability – his crushed arm causes him immense pain, he engages with the issue of ‘to amputate or not to amputate’ and every time he performs a task he has to work around his disability. No other author I’ve read is so convincing in a portrayal of disability. While I’m not physically disabled, I suffer headaches from eyestrain and bright lights; Isidro’s pain and work-arounds are totally convincing to me. Isidro doesn’t suddenly get up and use two hands like characters who’ve been shot in movies.

Not only that, the women characters are awesome. Several central characters provide different viewpoints including experience of an equitable polygamous society and a contrasting, more traditional monogamous society where women are subjugated. There’s a truly three dimensional villain whose acts are truly evil yet he becomes a – somewhat – sympathetic character. There is romance with complications.

Basically, Children of the Black Sun HAS IT ALL. (Note: the 3rd in the trilogy is in my TBR pile.)

Who would I cast? I’d cast an actual person with a disability as Isidro. SFX could cover him up until the point of his injury and then he’d be the most kick-ass believable disabled character on screen. Apart from Isidro, I’d cast actors oozing talent who genuinely represent the various ethnic groups relating to the characters: Siberians, Arabs and the like.

I’d get the crew from Boy and What we do in the shadows to work on it so it wouldn’t be some Hollywood clone. It would be the most epic, the most awesome movie ever.

What draws you to science fiction/fantasy?

When I was very little I think it was the adults around me reading and watching science fiction that started attracting me to science fiction. I remember hiding behind my uncle’s chair watching Doctor Who.

When I was maybe 4 or 5 I found a book of poems by C J Dennis in a corner store and my father bought it for me. He read ‘The Triantiwontigongolope’ to me; I remember laughing, saying it was silly. He challenged me to think about a world where the grass was purple and the sky was bottle green, to really think about it. I did.

‘Could I belong there too?’ I asked.

After a pause he replied, ‘Yes.’

From that day onwards I loved and adored that poem, learning it by heart.

Science fiction and fantasy offers the promise of escape from this world and the possibility of being accepted or fixed in some other time or place. I don’t see myself in the worlds I read or watch so, these days, I build mental walls to protect myself from the albinos and albino-types I see in books and on screen. Instead I try to find little things to identify with or hope for healing for some other ‘me’ in generations to come.

How has being part of an online community affected you?  

It’s been very mixed. I have very few friends here in Melbourne; I count ‘friends’ as people who I at least meet for coffee. The online community is my social life. Some people are supportive; those people are like diamonds in the mud. They’re worth picking up and treasuring! Others, not so much. I’ve learnt the value of the ‘block’ button, not to visit certain websites and never to read the comments. Again, I’ve built walls to protect myself.

This year has been a year of building bridges and reaching out to people who value diversity. It’s been a year of growth. Because of studying at university, it’s also been a year of challenge and change. How do I balance the needs and wants of the community – especially the community that visits Dark Matter Zine – with the advice of lecturers and my desire to build a career? I’m walking a tightrope; I’ve never been good at balance exercises. My yoga ‘tree’ is AWFUL.

I’m looking for a way forward for my life and my career. I feel like Gretel after the bird ate the breadcrumbs. I’m hoping that the online community may light the path to some kind of purpose and goal, a means of making a genuine contribution.

What motivates you to put so much work into your website?

After losing my job at CNAHS (Dept of Health in South Australia) I looked for volunteer work to get a reference to find paid work. It’s surprisingly difficult to get volunteer work as a person with a disability, especially because I need disability access for low vision.

In 2010 I edited one issue of a zine for a club in Melbourne before being told my services were no longer required. That one issue gave me insight into the enormous potential of a zine. An online zine had similar huge potential with no outlay of money, hence the online-and-not-printing part of Dark Matter Zine in the beginning.

As Dark Matter Zine took on a life of its own, it took over my life. Demonstrating skills and dedication alongside a strong work ethic has to be good groundwork for getting a job, right?

Dark Matter Zine runs on WordPress and has a social media presence so the technical aspects of running both should demonstrate sale-able workplace skills, right?

Dark Matter is still online, it’s still not printed (usually), but these days it’s grown so big we have to pay a hosting service for a small business package. Donations are few and far between, not nearly covering basic running costs. I need better equipment to do a good job – like a decent camcorder. I had to discard video of a launch because the sound and visuals were so very, very bad. So why am I doing this?

My mentor in the Willing & Able Mentoring Program told me Dark Matter won’t help me get a job in the publishing industry. Challenges like this shake me to the core – what else can I do to convince people I have skills and abilities? – but they also reinforce that Dark Matter Zine isn’t just about getting a job. It’s become a part of my life, it’s my baby that I’ve grown.

One thing of which I NEVER tire is talking to creative people. I love the interviews and panels I’ve had the privilege of running as part of Dark Matter Zine. I love hearing about creative people’s loves, their journeys, their insights. I love the fact that, in my own small way, I’ve made a bit of the ‘convention experience’ accessible to those for whom conventions are not accessible.

Recently a fellow student commented that a Penguin employee had been reviewing books on her blog but, after starting work at Penguin, she was told she couldn’t do that anymore. That challenged me. While I love losing myself in a good book or movie/TV program and I enjoy sharing reviews, I confess I get “all reviewed out” at times. In contrast, I love talking to creative and interesting people. Now I’m concerned that, if I’m successful and get a job in the publishing industry, I’ll have to give up Dark Matter Zine. It’s a dilemma.

So, why am I putting so much work into my website? It started out as a means to sell myself to an employer. Now – I think it’s an addiction.

An Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

TheLostCover_HiResToday we are thrilled to be interviewing author Sarah Beth Durst.  Her latest book, The Lost, comes out tomorrow (May 27, 2014).  I got to read an advance copy and I loved it.  The beginning creeped me out so badly that I couldn’t read it at night.  The middle was like a strange fairy tale, full of mingled beauty, horror, and romance.  The last section was deeply moving.  This is the first book in a trilogy.

I met Sarah Beth Durst last year at the Nebula Awards Weekend when her book Vessel was nominated for the Andre Norton Young Adult Science Fiction Award.  Her thoughts on fantasy as a literature of hope stayed with me so I was thrilled that she wanted to do an interview for Geek Girl in Love.  If you’d like to read the 2014 interview, it’s at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

In this interview, my questions are in bold and Sarah’s answers are in regular type.

The Lost is your first book that isn’t YA.  Was the experience of writing it different than your other books?  Was the publishing process different?

Whether you’re writing YA or adult or whatever, it’s all about telling a story the best you can.  The key is to stay true to the character.  If you have a twelve-year-old protagonist and you are faithful to her worldview, then the novel will come out as a middle-grade.  If you have a twenty-seven-year-old protagonist and you stay true to her, then you’ll have an adult novel.

As far as the publishing process, the primary difference is timing.  In YA, the manuscript needs to be complete a full year before it hits the shelves.  In adult publishing, the time between manuscript and finished book is more compressed.  Other than that, it hasn’t been so different.  I have worked with amazing people in both the YA and adult worlds.

Within the genre of YA, you’ve written in a lot of sub genres including fantasy, humor, suspense.  How would you characterize The Lost?  Do you have a favorite genre, and if so, why?

THE LOST is magical realism.  It’s about a woman who is trapped in a town full of only lost thing and lost people.

On the surface, it’s dramatically different from my other books — CONJURED (a sort of psychological thriller), VESSEL (an epic fantasy), DRINK SLAY LOVE (a vampire meets were-unicorn comedy), ICE (a modern fairy tale retelling), etc.  But at its heart, it is still me.  All my books have the same core: magic, adventure, and romance — just combined in different ways.

I consider myself a fantasy writer, no matter what subgenre sandbox I’m playing in.  For me, fantasy embodies all the reasons that I love books.  It takes you on a journey to places you’d never go and then brings you safely back again… maybe a little bit changed.  It’s a literature of empowerment and hope.  It has the capacity to restore a sense of wonder in a jaded world.  And I love that.

I think it’s important to write what you love to read.  A lot of times, I decide what to write next by asking myself, “If I were to walk into a bookstore or library right now, what book would I want to find?” and then I try to write that.

On your blog, in a post titled “18 things”, you write that creativity can come from a place of joy as well as pain.  Can you talk more about that?  Are there particular moments or aspects of joy that inform your writing?

Incredible art can be born from pain.  And there are wonderful artists who have suffered terribly and risen above it, and I admire and respect them.  But there are also artists who had fine childhoods and just really, really loves stories.  And that is valid and good too.

I believe that writing can come from joy as well as pain, and that writing can cause joy as well as catharsis.  Writing makes me happy.  The more I write, the happier I am.  And the happier I am, the more I write.

I am in love with writing, with stories, with words.  I love how you can craft a story out of nothing.  By arranging letters on a page, you can cast a spell to transport a stranger to another world, to touch someone’s heart, to cause laughter or tears, to comfort, to heal.

I believe that books can heal.  Books can take you away from whatever is hurting you.  Books can help you find your way past pain.  And I think it can be that way for the writer as well as the reader.  There’s joy to be found in the act of stringing sentences together — in the act of trying to make magic.

What do readers need to know about your upcoming projects?

THE LOST is the first book in a trilogy.  It will be followed by THE MISSING in December and THE FOUND in April.  In between (in October), my next YA book is coming out.  It’s called CHASING POWER, and it’s about a sort of Indiana Jones / Jumper kind of adventure about a girl with telekinesis and a boy who can teleport — and who lies as easily as he travels.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

DURST_AuthorPhoto_HighRes

 

Friday Book Club: Jack London and Science Fiction

SWT-Book-ClubsWelcome to Friday Book Club!  This month we’ve been reading The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

Jack London is most famous for stories of adventure and for social commentary.  But he was also a science fiction writer.  In fact, the first paycheck he ever received as a writer was for his story “A Thousand Deaths”, about a mad scientist who kills and resurrects his son, which was published by The Black Cat in 1899.  He wrote fifteen short stories that contain some science fiction or speculative fiction element.

In “The Red One”, a scientist discovers a tribe of people who worship a giant red sphere that seems to come from outer space.  n “A Relic from the Pliocene”, a man in the northern wilds discovers a real-life wooly mammoth”The Shadow and the Flash” is about brother who are bitter rivals, and who race each other to develop a means of invisibility.  “The Unparrelled Invasion” is about germ warfare.  In most of his stores, the peril is human in origin, with mad scientists and unstoppable weapons abounding.  There were apocalyptic scenarios, dystopias and utopias.

London’s science fiction short stories have been collected under the title The Science Fiction of Jack London.  

 

An Interview with Jim C. Hines

Invisible-FullI’m so happy that Jim C. Hines, editor of the anthology, Invisible, was available to be interviewed on Geek Girl In Love. Confession – it took me two days to answer his email because I knew I should answer it in a professional manner but every time I realized that I had an email from Jim C. Hines in my inbox I started doing this:

Jeremy-RennerShhh, don’t tell him I was totally spazzing out!  Let’s let him think I’m cool and calm, Okay?  My fangirling can be our little secret.

Jim C. Hines has written some great books (I love Libriomancer and Codex Born) and he’s been a vocal advocate for the rights of women, people of color, and people who identify as LGBTQIA both in and out of the literary world.  You can find my post about his calendar here, in which he attempt to strike the poses women strike on book covers.  He’s also the editor of Invisible, a collection of essays about representation in science fiction and fantasy.  We’ll be having several interviews and guest blogs from contributors to this anthology.  Starting us off is an interview from Jim C. Hines himself!  My questions are in bold, his responses are in regular text.

How did the idea for Invisible develop?  Before you started the anthology, what inspired you to have authors write guest posts about representation in SF/F?

The project started with Alex Dally MacFarlane’s essay “Post-Binary Gender in SF: Introduction” at Tor.com (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/01/post-binary-gender-in-sf-introduction). In her essay, MacFarlane says she wants an end to the default of binary gender in SF. She wasn’t saying every story must now be some sort of “politically correct message” or meet some mythical quota of gender diversity. She asked people to recognize that gender is complex, and to stop automatically and unthinkingly defaulting to that “rigid, unquestioned gender binary.”

You’d think she’d threatened to unleash an army of rabid were-skunks on the world. Her article was attacked as “angsty emo bullshit,” an example of how modern SF/F “has its head stuck up its ass,” and so on. All because someone said she was tired of stories assuming non-binary people didn’t exist. Because she was tired of such people being invisible in fiction.

As you might have guessed, I’m very much in favor of literature that recognizes and acknowledges the diversity of the world, as opposed to presenting an artificially narrow and limited view. I blogged about the response to MacFarlane’s essay, but I wanted to do more. I have a moderately popular blog, and I figured one thing I could do was to use that platform to spotlight other voices. So I asked people to share their personal stories about representation in science fiction and fantasy.

I was blown away by the power and honesty of the stories I received. To anyone who’s ever wondered why representation matters, these stories will answer that question.

The idea to preserve the guest blog posts in a single electronic anthology came along in the midst of the process. The original posts are still available for free on my website, but Invisible adds several bonus essays, raises money for a good cause, and hopefully gives those stories a longer life.

 Was there anything that surprised you from the submission?  Was there anything you learned?

I was consistently surprised and impressed by the honesty of these authors, and I learned a great deal. Nalini Haynes’ essay about the Evil Albino trope in fiction and the struggles she’s faced as a result of societal attitudes toward her own albinism was eye-opening. Nonny Blackthorne wrote about how finding characters like her in SF/F stories literally saved her life. There’s not a single essay in the book that didn’t make me think about something new or challenge assumptions I didn’t realize I had.

Can you tell us a little bit about Con or Bust and why this organization is important?

Con or Bust (http://con-or-bust.org/) is an organization under the umbrella of the Carl Brandon Society that helps people of color to attend science fiction and fantasy conventions. The stated mission is, “simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.”

Why is their work important? Because so many SF/F conventions are still overwhelmingly white. Because I still have conversations where people try to explain to me, “Oh, black people just don’t read” or “People of color just don’t like or understand science fiction.” Because it’s not enough to say that conventions aren’t consciously and actively refusing to let non-white people attend. Historically, there are many ways we’ve sent a message that certain groups just aren’t welcome at the convention scene. Con or Bust is one of the ways we can actively start to send a different message. 

Several people have pointed out that there is more diverse representation in written media than in film.  If you could make a movie from any book other than your own, and you knew that you would have total control over the screenplay and casting, what book would you want to adapt, and who would you cast, and why?

That’s a hard question. There are books I’d love to see for the screen, but not all of those are books I’d trust myself to do the best possible job of adapting. Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon would make a great movie. Pretty much anything and everything by Nnedi Okorafor. Tobias Buckell’s Crystal Rain and sequels. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books. Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi (though I have no idea how you’d effectively bring baseball bat-wielding kids vs. zombie cows to the big screen).


I don’t think I’d be the best person to adapt any of these books, but I’d love to see the right person try.

Invisible is available at the following sites:

The Nebula Awards Weekend: Smart People, Good Books, Bacon Donuts

Nebula Award LogoOnce again it’s that time of year where I rave about the Nebula Awards Weekend, hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

When I attended the weekend last year, I can truly say that it was a life-changing experience.  Not because of the events or the panels, although they were lovely.  This is a professional convention as opposed to a fan convention, and while the panels were fascinating they weren’t the reason that people were there.  The weekend was life-changing because of how people treated me, not because of any particular thing that I did.

A  year ago, I was already writing but I wasn’t sure how far I would be able to chase this crazy dream.  Last year the authors at the Nebula Awards showered me with so much validation that within twelve months I had started this blog, published one book, and submitted a second to my publisher.  Last year I was so nervous that I was seriously afraid that I might throw up on someone’s shoes and this year I was on a panel.  The assumption people have about me at this event is that I am a peer, and that writing is something that I can do and that I should do.  This assumption shaped my assumptions for myself, just as the work of authors I met reminded me that in order to be a writer, you have to actually sit down and write.

So what’s the weekend like?  Here’s a few highlights:

  • At the Nebula Awards Ceremony, Toastmaster Ellen Klages made us all laugh with her Scary Ham story and made us all cry by reminding us that we are each other’s tribe.
  • At the forensics science panel, we were all reminded that really, you just never should go into a kitchen.  Kitchens are scary.
  • I was able to interview Sofia Samatar, Nicola Griffith, Bennett Madison, and Helene Wecker, all of whom had brilliant things to say, of course.
  • Samuel “Chip” Delaney smiled upon us like a gay, black Santa Claus.
  • Charlie Jane Anders hosted Writers With Drinks and made up elaborate, fictional biographies.  Now we all want one.  I truly feel that if you were to offer me a Hugo, a Nebula, an Oscar, a Grammy, or a bio written by Charlie Jane, I would choose the bio.  No question.
  • At Writers With Drinks, I stayed up until midnight to hear a tattooed woman dressed in black read poetry about horror films beneath this weird tentacle lamp and I leaned over to Helene Wecker and whispered, “I feel so hip!”  Because I’m not, not at all.  The poetry, by the way, was disturbing and moving and haunting and was written and read by Daphne Gottlieb.
  • I missed the bar tending robot this year, although it was in attendance.  However, I did not miss the bacon donuts from Psycho Donuts.  WOW.
  • I sat on a panel about Young Adult fiction with Bennett Madison, Cynthia Felice, Erin Hoffman, and Ysabeau Wilce.  There are few plus sides to having Imposter Syndrome, but one is that when something like that happens, you feel like Cinderella at the ball.
  • I signed my ebook!  I was a signing author at the book signing!  Number of people I signed the book for…one.  Still a fun, fun time.
  • After a year of Internet drama about inclusion in SFWA (the cover of infamy, The Insect Army, etc), it was especially moving to see that the Grand Master this year was a gay black man (Samuel R. Delany) and the fiction winners were all women, including two women of color.  The world is changing, y’all.  As Ellen Klages said, “Keep trying, men!  Someday, if you work hard enough, you can make it!  you may have to publish under  female pseudonym at first, but you can succeed!”

Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” available online

Nebula Award LogoRachel Swirsky won a Nebula Award for her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”.  Her publisher, Apex Magazine, has posted it online so you can read it for free, although now that I have want to send Rachel Swirsky lavish gifts, like jewelry or possibly my car.  The only thing I want to tell you about the story is that it’s free online and it’s very, very short and beautiful and powerful.  Grab a box of kleenex and check it out from Apex Magazine!

And the Nebula Winners Are (with links!)

Nebula Award LogoThe Banquet is over and we are all taking off in different directions to different things, most of them involving alcohol. Here’s a list of Nebula Nominees and winners.  If I reviewed the book or film, you can click on the blue link to find my review either here at Geek Girl in Love or at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Best Novel:  Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

The other nominees were:

We All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Hild, by Nicola Griffith

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

The Red:  First Light by Linda Nagata

A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar

Best Novella: The Weight of the Sunrise” by Vylar Kaftan

The other nominees were:

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages

“Annabel Lee” by Nancy Kress

“Burning Girls” by Veronia Schanoes

“Trial of the Century” by Lawrence M. Schoen

“Six-Gun Snow White” by Cathrynn M. Valente

 Best Novelette:  “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette deBodard

The other nominees were:

“Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak

“They Shall Salt the Earth With Seeds of Glass” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” by Henry Lien

“The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu

“In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” by Sarah Pinsker

Best Short Story:  “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky

The other nominees were:

“The Sounds of Old Earth” by Matthew Kressel

“Selkie Stories Are For Losers” by Sofia Samatar

“Selected Program Notes From the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” by Kanneth Schneyer

“Alive, Alive Oh” by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy:  Sister Mine, by Nalo Hopkinson

Other Nominees:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

When We Wake, by Karen Healey

The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Hero, by Alethea Kontis

September Girls, by Bennett Madison

A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation:  Gravity

Other nominees:

Doctor Who:  “The Day of the Doctor”

Europa Report

Her

Pacific Rim

The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire

I’ll be writing more about the Nebula Awards Weekend on Monday after I’ve gotten home and hey, maybe had some sleep.  I’ve been inspired and challenged and seen some friends form last year and made some new ones.  Being in the company of brilliant, kind, funny writers makes me so happy and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Friday Book Club: The Klondike Gold Rush

SWT-Book-ClubsWelcome to Friday Book Club!  This month we’ve been talking about The Call of the Wild, by Jack London.  The Call of the Wild takes place during the Klondike Gold Rush.

The Klondike Gold Rush is often said to have started when a huge gold deposit was discovered in 1896, but like many starting dates for historical events this one is open to interpretation.  Miners had already been mining along the Yukon River and had established a large town, Circle City.

In 1896 three men and one woman discovered a huge deposit of gold in the Yukon river.  News spread within Alaska and miners began heading to the area.  But it took the news a whole year to reach San Francisco and Seattle.  Once it did, the Rush was quickly in full swing.  Approximately 100,000 people tried to get to the gold fields.  Most didn’t make it, and of those that did, few got rich.

George Carmack and , the purported discoverer of the Klondike gold, and his wife, Kate Carmack.  She was born Shaaw Tia and was a Tinglit First Nation Woman.  She was with George Carmack when gold was discovered and some say she may have been the one to actually discover it.  They had one daughter together, Graphie Grace.

George Carmack, the purported discoverer of the Klondike gold, and his wife, Kate Carmack. She was born Shaaw Tia and was a Tinglit First Nation Woman. She was with George Carmack when gold was discovered and some say she may have been the one to actually discover it. They had one daughter together, Graphie Grace.

The area in which the Gold Rush took place was populated by native groups including the Tagish, Tlingit, and Hän Athabaskan Peoples.  In The Call of the Wild, Thorton is attacked by the entirely fictious Yeehat Indians.  Although I haven’t studied this time period extensively, I could find little mention of violence between indigneous Alaskans and miners of the nature described by Jack London.  Many of the Hän people were placed in a reservation downstream from the boom town Dawson.  In addition to losing fish and game, they suffered disease when the people of Dawson built a sewage system that emptied out into the river that flowed to the Hän.

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The rush ended in 1899, when gold was discovered elsewhere in Alaska and Canada.  The discovery of gold in Nome, Alaska led to a gold rush there that lasted until 1909.  Gold mining continues in Alaska today and the sled dogs of Jack London’s Klondike rush are still indispensable as racers and as work dogs.

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This Week’s Arrow: “Unthinkable”

Arrow Tv show logoOK, the Arrow Season Finale has come and gone and we can all discuss:  HERE BE SPOILERS.

I’m sure you all knew exactly when I was watching this because I kept emitting little shrieks of joy.  Lyla has a rocket launcher!  Nyssa is back!  Quentin is even more snarky than usual!  Thea is immune to bullshit!  Deadshot is even snarkier than Quentin!  Amanda Waller manages to spit out the line, “You’re about be a father” with the kind of venom people usually reserve for statements like, “You killed my girlfriend” (although during the holiday rush at the mall I’ve been known to use the same tone of voice when saying “You stole my parking space”).

So much joy was had during the finale, and overall I’m thrilled with it (although if they kill Quentin I’ll be annoyed – not just because I like Quentin, but because I think having older people on the cast is a true gift to the show and the audience).  This nicely completes Ollie’s arc into a true hero as opposed to a vengeance-fuelled vigilante, and it also completes his arc in healing from the traumas of the island.  I’m sure there are enough traumas to keep him angst-filled for many more seasons – but he seems to have released some of the guild for the death of Shado, he has found an ability to trust again, and although his family of origin has shattered he’s surrounded by family of choice.

Another thing I liked about the episode was that it refused to betray the fascinating, complex women in its cast.  Over and over again women are consigned to stay safe and silent i the background, and it never, ever works.  Thea runs off to be a super villain, thus making all my dreams come true.  I knew she would turn to villainy!  I just knew it!  I’m so excited!  Laurel gets held hostage (again).  Sarah left last week, but she’s back with a whole army behind her (it’s a small army, but very high quality).  And then there’s Felicity – which is where I feel let down.

Ollie tells Felicity he loves her, at which point in the episode I started screaming and jumping up and down.  But even though I was acting just like those people who attend the Oprah show and find out they won a new car, I felt a little cheated.  It’s too early for Ollie to tell Felicity he loves her.  I believe they are soul mates who are destined to ride off into the sunset surrounded by conversation hearts and glitter, but right now Ollie thinks of Felicity as a cute younger sister.  So I was both excited and not sure I believed it…

…which was lucky because it was a ploy.  It was a cool ploy.  It meant Felicity got to take down Slade, which was a moment I’ll certainly never get tired of.  There he is, whining away, and Ollie gives him a simply glorious “The Reason You Suck” speech and then Felicity depowers him with a well-placed hypodermic.  That’s my girl.

Then at the end, they have a cute conversation about how his declaration of love was fake, and I was all sad.  Not because they didn’t rush into each other’s arms, but because dragging out the will they/won’t they is so soap opera – even for this show, which has never been ashamed of having soapy elements.  They cheated the show and they cheated the audience.

But hey – did I mention the phenomenal amount of squee involved in this episode?  Seriously!  I have one gripe and that’s it.  Can’t wait for Season Three!

Thursdays will be empty on Geek Girl in Love for a while but we’ll still have new material on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and most Fridays.

Want to see my next Book Cover?

vampire heart on a black backgroundMy next book, Romance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is scheduled for release on July 7, 2014.  This book looks at romantic relationships in the TV Show.  I found that every season has it’s own theme.  Some of the relationships were great and some were train wrecks, but all of them served to reinforce and illustrate the theme of that season.

My hope is that this book will be a fun, though-provoking read for Buffy fans.  There are plenty of quotes to keep us laughing and some trivia as well.  I’m very excited!  The book is $.99 and is available for preorder at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Was Angel Buffy’s one true love? Or was Spike her destined one-and-only? Did she blow a good thing with Riley? Did Xander mess up and miss out with Cordelia, or was he meant to be with Anya? Which is the more tragic love story—Willow and Oz, or Willow and Tara? Was anyone rooting for Buffy’s mom to get it on with Giles?

Revisit the sometimes destructive and undeniably unforgettable relationships that make up the Buffyverse: Buffy’s intense, occasionally soul-destroying romance with Angel and why it never would have worked; her relationship with Riley, the Boy She Thought Was Normal (But Really Wasn’t); the on-again, off-again thing with Spike and why it might have been Buffy’s best bet; Xander, the jerk in nice-guy clothing, and why he and Anya were soul mates; why Willow had to lose the perfect werewolf boyfriend to find true love with Tara; and much more.

And here’s a larger look at the cover:

vampire heart on a black background

 

I have no control over the cover but I thought the art department did a great job.  Looking forward to July 7!  Of course while you wait you can always check out my first book, which also sells for .99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers:

Cover of Pride, Prejudice, and Popcorn

 

 

Wednesday Videos: Jane Eyre’s Bertha Sings!

WednesdayVideoSomeone shared this with me on Facebook and it is just the best thing ever.  The tune, of course, is from the movie Tangled.  This video, from Bertha’s point of view, is sad and funny and creepy.

This is a bonus video from a whole series about Jane Eyre, narrated by her on her video blog.  When I was in college, I thought perhaps I might bring down The Man by my revolutionary acts.  Middle-age has made me more subtle and now I bring down society by destroying productivity.  With this in mind, here’s a link to the entire Jane Eyre Vlog series.  The revolution will be televised in the sense that it will consist of all of us quitting our jobs to watch TV!  And shows online!  Whee!

And just in case some of you missed it, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the series that started this whole “Vlog a book” craze, is fantastic.  Don’t miss it!