- History in Color: A Black American Romance Roundtable – Alyssa Cole hosted a roundtable with romance authors on the Toast.
Although much has changed over the years in historical romance, including the rise of heroines who are more likely to save themselves than wait around for a hero, much has remained the same. Historical romance is often (though not always) shorthand for a romance set in England, with the Regency era being the most popular setting. In these books, the duke/earl/viscount hero is usually white (with bronzed or golden skin—because the British Isles are known for their great tanning weather and tawny-skinned inhabitants). The heroines are usually fair—like, really fair—with milky, lily-white skin mentioned often enough to cause concern about their health. While this description might seem playfully reductive, the books that garner the most attention within the genre are homogenous to the point that one author, Genevieve Turner, was compelled to start the Year Without A Duke project, in which she only reads romances that do not fit the description above.
In recent years, new areas of the historical romance landscape have been mapped. Much of the change has been pushed by Beverly Jenkins, the prolific author whose well-researched historical romances feature African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic minorities in America, and now several romance authors are following the path blazed by Jenkins. In this roundtable, you’ll hear from a few of them: Kianna Alexander (author of two multicultural historical romance series), Piper Huguley (author of inspirational historical romances), Lena Hart (writer of sensual to steamy interracial romances), and me, Alyssa Cole. All four of us have contributed stories to The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology (June 2015; now available for pre-order). Here, we discuss our personal experiences as romance writers, the current state of multicultural historical romance, and our thoughts on the future of historicals that feature people of color as the heroes and heroines.
- Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons: An Analysis of Theodore Beale and his Supporters – This post by Philip Sandifer on SFF, the Hugos, the Puppies and Vox Day is super long, but a great read on the situation. (I’m not keen on how he mentions Requires Hate at the end, but the rest of the post is spot on.)
Right. It’s probably about time to collect all the issues and discussion of the 2015 Hugo Awards into one big post that is, at least in terms of what I have to say, a definitive take on it. A long read, to be sure, but one that will hopefully manage to cover everything important and give a clear sense of the issues and their implications.
One note that is probably worth making before we begin – I am writing this with the assumption of a basically sympathetic audience who have heard bits of the disturbing story, but who aren’t clear on the whole picture. It’s meant to be persuasive to people who are, broadly speaking, left-leaning (or at least not far-right) fans of intelligent and literary science fiction, and who are not generally of the opinion that there was ever anything badly wrong with the Hugo Awards. This is not to say “someone who agrees absolutely with the Hugo Awards,” as such a person presumably does not exist, awards being like that, but it is to say “someone who thinks the Hugo Awards have gone to generally reasonable selections over the past five years.”
- How to Fail at Coming Out Stories in Comics – Bi erasure and biphobia is a pervasive problem, even in “progressive” quarters.
On April 22, 2015, comics retailers far and wide will be selling copies of All-New X-Men #40, which, spoiler, features the coming out of a major character from Marvel Comics’ original five X-Men (sort of): Bobby Drake, AKA Ice Man. On the one hand, I want to be loud and supportive, and to celebrate this wider diversity. But on the other hand, they do a really, really offensive crap job of it.
- Use of ‘African-American’ Dates to Nation’s Early Days – If anyone tries to claim “African-American” is a made up, PC term, roll this article up and swat them on the nose with it.
The term African-American may seem to be a product of recent decades, exploding into common usage in the 1990s after a push from advocates like Jesse Jackson, and only enshrined in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001.
The O.E.D.’s entry, revised in 2012, traces the first known occurrence to 1835, in an abolitionist newspaper. But now, a researcher has discovered a printed reference in an anti-British sermon from 1782 credited to an anonymous “African American,” pushing the origins of the term back to the earliest days of independence.
“We think of it as a neutral alternative to older terms, one that resembles Italian-American or Irish-American,” said Fred Shapiro, an associate director at the Yale Law School Library, who found the reference. “It’s a very striking usage to see back in 1782.”
- Policy and product updates aimed at combating abuse – While the update to introduce an opt-in feature where anyone could DM you was something no one wanted, this update to combat abuse on Twitter actually sounds promising.
First, we are making two policy changes, one related to prohibited content, and one about how we enforce certain policy violations. We are updating our violent threats policy so that the prohibition is not limited to “direct, specific threats of violence against others” but now extends to “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior. The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.
On the enforcement side, in addition to other actions we already take in response to abuse violations (such as requiring users to delete content or verify their phone number), we’re introducing an additional enforcement option that gives our support team the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people.
Second, we have begun to test a product feature to help us identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach. This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive. It will not affect your ability to see content that you’ve explicitly sought out, such as Tweets from accounts you follow, but instead is designed to help us limit the potential harm of abusive content. This feature does not take into account whether the content posted or followed by a user is controversial or unpopular.
- The Women Who Programmed The Future: A Brief History Of Female Computer Scientists – Interesting how what was once the domain of women is now predominately done by men.
Long before there were computers that could fit in your pocket – or your living room, for that matter – complex mathematical problems were solved by hand, in a long, tedious, and focus-intensive process of solving, re-solving, checking, then double checking. Mathematicians had their work cut out for them. Difficult problems could take weeks or months to finish, and many of them could never be finished – not with a human alone.
In the twentieth century, mathematics and science received the greatest boon to technological advancement in human history: the computer, a machine that could tirelessly crunch numbers at the fraction of the time of their human counterparts. These first computers, however, were large, unwieldy, mechanical beasts that required constant input and fact-checking from their operators to be effective. Women rose to the challenge, armed with mathematics and physics degrees, and programming was born.