Links: Tuesday, January 14th

January 14, 2014 Links 6

An African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and daughters between 1863 and 1865.Picturing freedom: How former slaves used photography to imagine and create their new lives after Emancipation

  • SFF in Conversation: Women Write SFF (Andrea K Höst’s Keeper Bookshelf ) – There seems to be a lot of overlap between romance readers and SFF readers, and lots of people in Romancelandia have recommended Höst to me, so I thought I’d share this post. I need to get around to reading some SFF one of these days. My husband’s been trying to get me to read The Left Hand of Darkness for ages.

    When I make lists myself, I tend to produce a short selection of favourites, despite the possession of bookshelves full of many more SFF books by women: books I’ve accumulated through decades of reading, and chosen to keep and lug about (despite moving house on average every two and half years). My criteria for keeping physical books is simple: “Is there a vague chance I’d want to read this again?”

    Many of these books never seem to pop up on any list, despite their undeniable existence, and the fact that I liked them enough to keep. And it becomes one of those self-defeating circles: many of these books were not talked about, didn’t get enough buzz or sales, and never show up on any lists.

    When asked to write a post recommending female SFF authors, I decided to remove my own self-imposed bias of favourites, and stick simply with “authors of books I kept”. And so here is a list of “Female authors with a physical book on my SFF bookshelves”.

  • Boomers need love, too – This is an older post from 2012, but it has some interesting readership figures and closes out with some examples of books with older protagonists.

    AARP’s 2009 “Sex, Romance and Relationships” survey of nearly 1,700 Americans age 45 and older indicate there is definitely interest in romance the subject. Respondents most satisfied said they needed: a sexual partner, regular intercourse (once a week or more—but not necessarily daily), both partners in good health, low levels of stress and no financial worries. They also discussed what was necessary to keep romance alive. The most recent readership survey conducted by Romance Writers of America (RWA) in 2011, states women between 45 and 54 make up the bulk of the romance-buying public.
    However, romance novel heroines are generally in their 20s and 30s and female characters “of a certain age,” when they exist, have been relegated to secondary roles—as the wicked stepmother or mother-in-law or as the kindly neighbor or relative who offered sage advice or babysitting services when needed.

  • Such DFW. Very Orwell. So Doge. Wow. – I loved this post about David Foster Wallace, George Orwell, standard written English and how the internet has moved the goalposts on what style of writing best conveys authority on a subject. My takeaway is that including F-bombs and NOPE in my posts makes my writing more authentic, so I’ll just run with that.

    Easy enough to perpetuate when only a tiny elite were writing the words that most read; but now is different. Now is the era of social media. Now people are both reading and writing more words, by far, than they ever have before — which is great, right? — but only a small and diminishing fraction of those words are written in SWE.

    Once upon a time, high-school teachers and broadsheet newspapers and their ilk defined how English was written, and the few semantic scofflaws were the linguistic equivalent of outlaw renegades. No longer. Now that definition is provided by Reddit. Nowadays we have different online dialects for cats and dogs, and people actually use both. Nowadays even scholarly articles may include a “tl;dr” summary.

  • It Is Expensive to Be Poor – I want to slap the romance genre across the face with this Barbara Ehrenreich article. I’ve just about had it with every character with a poor background coming from a broken, abusive home with shiftless parents. It is hard fucking work to be poor in the US.

    The Great Recession should have put the victim-blaming theory of poverty to rest. In the space of only a few months, millions of people entered the ranks of the officially poor—not only laid-off blue-collar workers, but also downsized tech workers, managers, lawyers, and other once-comfortable professionals. No one could accuse these “nouveau poor” Americans of having made bad choices or bad lifestyle decisions. They were educated, hardworking, and ambitious, and now they were also poor—applying for food stamps, showing up in shelters, lining up for entry-level jobs in retail. This would have been the moment for the pundits to finally admit the truth: Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.

  • Social Media Is a Conversation, Not a Press Release – This post on Medium about the disgusting think pieces in the Guardian and New York Times chiding Lisa Adams for handling her stage IV breast cancer wrong is the best analysis I’ve read on the topic. It’s a must read.

    In short, both Kellers miss every point Lisa Adams makes—and write articles unrelated to her actual experience, or the community around her. Emma Keller seems to treat Lisa Adams’ social media presence like a car accident and ponders if it is ethical to look. That’s Emma Keller’s problem—and the piece could have been written as a first-person reflection of her own issues without bringing up a particular patient, as the piece is clearly not about this particular patient, Lisa Adams, but is about Emma G. Keller’s existential anxieties.

    Bill Keller, on the other hand, has something he wants to say about how end of life is perhaps unwisely prolonged in small, painful increments with massive technological intervention in this country, so he projects this situation to Lisa Adams—except that is not applicable in this case. Lisa Adams is not prolonging her last few weeks of life with a cascade of interventions. She’s getting treatment for pain in her bones—the type of tumors that won’t kill her till they spread elsewhere, which may be soon, or may be years away.

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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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6 Responses to “Links: Tuesday, January 14th”

  1. nu

    Interesting SFF list. I have to mine it for recs. I’d probably nix Elizabeth Moon and Holly Lisle though, given their views.

  2. Ridley

    @nu: I know Moon said some fucked up stuff about Muslims, but what did Lisle do? What do I need to Google?

  3. Meoskop

    Moon made me so sad. I dropped SFF mid 90’s – maybe I should take another look too.

  4. nu

    @Ridley: Same, unfortunately. Was really hurtful considering I really respected Lisle’s work. I seem to remember a 2008 post that did it, but I don’t know if my memory’s faulty or she deleted it. Her views permeate her blog. Horror stories and conspiracy theories about “what happens” when Muslims are in your country, including links to JihadWatch (don’t go there, anti-Muslim site according to Southern Poverty Law Center):

    “And a Bit of Supporting Evidence”
    “How We’ll Play the Game”
    “White Males, the Only Remaining PC Scapegoats”

    Threw the last one in too for kicks.