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Update: Mark is now out of the hospital and doing as well as he can be.

Mark Greyland, aka the son of Marion Zimmer Bradley, needs your help. He’s currently in the hospital; he entered the ICU with diabetic ketoacidosis a few days ago. His doctor had never seen a blood sugar reading that high. Thankfully, he’s been pulling through, though he is still in the hospital.

Here’s what he needs help with:

  1. Housing in a sane, stable, safe environment within 15 miles of Berkeley, California. He can’t drive due to poor eyesight. He does have funding for this.
  2. Counseling. He’s never had any. This interview is the most he’s ever said about what happened to him.

  3. Help with getting permanent disability. The hospital is working on this in part, but he could very much use some kind of advocate who’d help him.

  4. Any kinds of resources you might be able to think of in the Berkeley area. Frankly, I don’t even know what to ask for.

  5. Your love and affection, kind thoughts, prayers.

Ideally, if there’s some kind of existing charitable foundation that can help, pointers would be amazing.

He simply hasn’t been able to cope with everything going on.

His Space Kitten! shirt has cheered me up quite a few times. I’ve worn it in Ireland and at Worldcon in London and most recently in Gibraltar. His more recent work is here.

(Please repost or forward to any interested parties. Thank you.)

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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First, congratulations to all the winners!

Wow, what a rush.

None of my four outlier recommendations made the ballot. Except one of them won in a different category, and I could just do jumping jacks about that.

Campbell Award

I’m entirely unsurprised that Sofia Samatar won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I remember vascillating between her and Ramez Naam, my own two personal favorites out of the five.

Best Fan Artist

Sarah Webb is someone I should have known would win eventually.

The first of my recommendations, Randall Munroe, came in 9th.

Best Fan Writer

Kameron Hurley takes it! Her acceptance speech. She likely mostly won for the post that also won “Best Related Work” (below), but my personal favorite is When to Persist… and When to Quit.

Best Fancast

SF Signal. Which I should totally listen to more often. Interesting quirk: No Award had the highest number of first-place votes in this category.

Best Fanzine

Aiden Moher’s beautiful A Dribble of Ink.

Best Semiprozine

Lightspeed Magazine. Given their recent success in Kickstarter campaigns, this surprises exactly no one.

Best Professional Artist

Julie Dillon becomes the first woman to win the Hugo for Best Professional Artist as a solo artist. (Diane Dillon co-won with her husband in 1971.)

Best Editor, Long Form

Ace’s retiring editor Ginjer Buchanan won, though she didn’t have the largest number of first-place votes. Baen’s Toni Weisskopf did, but she also had less support in other places, and also had more people rank No Award higher.

Best Editor, Short Form

Ellen. Datlow.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

I was really hoping for Orphan Black, but Game of Thrones won for “The Rains of Castamere.” I’m peeved that Sharknado wasn’t on either the long list for either the long or short form ballot. It was robbed!

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Gravity. So, so, so happy about this.

Best Graphic Story

Randall Munroe, XKCD, Time.

In 2011, I first suggested Randall Munroe for Best Fan Artist. As a result of my lobbying, he got on the ballot that year (and the next), but he didn’t win.

Randall’s acceptance speech.

And Cory Doctorow accepting, dressed as an XKCD character (also a later XKCD):

Cory Doctorow accepting the Best Graphic Story Hugo Award for Randall Munroe's "Time.". Photo by Jim C. Hines

Cory Doctorow accepting the Best Graphic Story Hugo Award for Randall Munroe’s “Time.”. Photo by Jim C. Hines

My work here is done.

Congratulations, Randall!

Best Related Work

“We Have Always Fought”: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley on A Dribble of Ink. Very much worth reading. In a related note, here’s how the lemming myth was perpetuated.

I also have a soft spot in my heart for Writing Excuses as I’ll be on an upcoming episode.

Best Short Story

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu published by Tor.com.

Best Novelette

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal also published by Tor.com. I loved the audio version last year, and love the text version as well.

This was the category that Vox Day was also in, so I note that he lost fifth place (of five) to “No Award.”

Best Novella

“Equoid” by Charles Stross also published by Tor.com. I love Stross’s work. Though I preferred his Best Novel entry to this one, I’m glad he won in a category.

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This book won the Hugo, the Nebula, the Clarke Award, and the Locus Award, as well as tying for the BSFA Award. That is a very rare combo, especially for a debut novel.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson came in 4th, and, Warbound by Larry Correia (of the voting slate) came in last, somewhat above “No Award.”

Overall

Wow, a lot of women won! (Dramatic sigh re: Orphan Black not being among them.)

The two nominations I was most excited by won. w00t!

Tor.com really did a great job.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Amazon invokes World War II. (Do Not Linkified because why should they get all the Google juice?)

Except, of course, they said “World War II” rather than 1939 because that carries so much more emotional weight. It’s Godwin’s Law by proxy.

Also, as a technical point, this was an innovation in the US, and the US wasn’t involved in WWII in 1939 (not until Pearl Harbor in December, 1941). Not only that, as Andrew’s article points out, the paperback started in June, 1939, and World War II is generally considered to have started with the Invasion of Poland on 1 September, 1939.

So not only did they invoke WWII for all the emotional baggage it carries, their email opening is factually incorrect.

Then Amazon gives the email address of Hachette’s CEO, but not their own.

Because Amazon wants to play fair, right?

No.

Cora Buhlert Has an Even Better Point

Edited to add Cora Buhlert’s fabulous tweets:

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Catherine Schaff-Stump has a great post: she’s got a copy of Mists of Avalon, and would like to see people donate to RAINN because of the recent revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s abuse of her children.

Here’s her post.

Thanks Cath!

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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C.A. Starfire has an interview with Mark Greyland, the son of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen.

I thought everyone knew and that I was such a bad person no one would speak to me.

And, later, addressing the inheritance issue:

I was disinherited by language that sounded so unlike my mother that I knew she never wrote it, as was my sister and my half-brother who is now deceased.

The money went to the opera and to her lover.

Heartbreaking stuff.

In addition to the links C.A. Starfire provided, Mark previously permitted me to share two of his Zazzle links: Stringbreaker and Geofractal.

I bought the Space Kitten! t-shirt (partly from the proceeds of Scalzi t-shirts, so thank you for your support).

Space Kitten!

It doesn’t make up for the hurt I inadvertently caused Mark, but I really do love that piece.

New Post Category

In other news, given a significant number of my website hits are about Marion Zimmer Bradley and are likely to continue to be, I’ve added that as a category. Previously, it was just a tag. So I’m going back and re-categorizing older posts on this matter.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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There have been some super-interesting conversations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s work in the context of larger discussions on the artist vs. their art. I think we all know that all artists are flawed, but clearly some flaws are larger than others.

For those of you who don’t yet know, I broke the news about Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s child abuse of her daughter Moira last month.

I haven’t heard the artist vs. art argument said quite this succinctly, so I’m quoting Broomstick from The Straight Dope boards:

When evaluating a novel it doesn’t get better if the author is a saint, and it doesn’t get worse if the author is a sinner, it’s the same book either way.

Every art contains, to some extent, the artist’s worldview. How could it not? And yet it is a thing distinct and unto itself, though with a context. The meaning you read into it depends on the context you bring into it, too.

And the context you miss depends upon your own life context, too.

When I was 11, Jane Fonda’s movie Klute came out, and my parents took me with them. I can cheerfully say that most of the movie went “whoosh” right over my head. If I saw it today, I’d see a completely different film.

It’s that old Heraclitus quote:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

And that may be one reason not to re-read a previously-loved book, like a Darkover book or Mists of Avalon, after finding out Marion Zimmer Bradley’s failings.

Because the context is different for you even though the book hasn’t changed.

And then there’s the other killer comment, from ShipperX on LJ:

With MZB it’s the sexual nature of her work combined with the sexual nature of her atrocities that has me backing away. ::shudder::

Yes. That.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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From William H. Patterson’s book Robert A. Heinlein, Vol 2: In Dialogue with His Century Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better, p. 263.

At just that moment, in fact, science-fiction fandom was tearing itself apart over the preemptive cancellation of the membership of a suspected pedophile by PacifiCon, the most recent world science-fiction convention, in September 1964. This conflict might have passed the Heinleins by, except that the suspected pedophile was the husband of one of Heinlein’s more intimate correspondents, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Heinlein never commented on the “Breen Boondoggle” publicly, but to Bradley Heinlein wrote:

The fan nuisance we were subjected to was nothing like as nasty as the horrible things that were done to you two but it was bad enough that we could get nothing else done during the weeks it went on and utterly spoiled what should have been a pleasant, happy winter. But it resulted in a decision which has made our life much pleasanter already and which I expect to have increasingly good effects throughout all the years ahead. We have cut off all contact with organized fandom….I regret that we will miss meeting some worthwhile people in the future as a result of this decision. But the percentage of poisonous jerks in the ranks of fans makes the price too high; we’ll find our friends elsewhere.

Fortunately, not all their fan contacts were so unpleasant.

(end excerpt)

You know, I’ve never been a Heinlein fan either, but this takes my non-fandom to new depths. Guess they never cared how pleasant the winter of the kids would be. Patterson’s a piece of work, too.

For context, Mark D. Eddy adds:

For context, though, Heinlein had already had a series of negative experiences with fans and conventions (including a fan who was harassing friends and family to try to write an unauthorized biography for a publisher Heinlein wouldn’t write for), and was already distancing himself from the “poisonous jerks” — so all he apparently knew about the situation was filtered through MZB, who was hardly an uninterested party.

Which is a fair point. While it’s always good to get as much of both sides of the story as possible, there’s a real human failing believing the predator’s side of the story. (See also: STK’s comment on the deirdre.net version of this entry.)

Hat tip: RPG.net commenter The Scribbler.

Note: I’m also tagging all of the posts with the breendoggle tag to make it easier to find in the future.

Also: When asked, Can this be true? The MZB click thrus are upsetting., Deborah J. Ross, author of many books set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover universe, replied, Only half the story is being told. Please be careful about believing sensationalist rumors online.

Note: I’ve edited out a couple of paragraphs from the original post as Deborah has apologized for her ill-considered tweet.

In light of that apology, I’ve deleted my unnecessarily harsh snark but am leaving the context above intact.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Trigger Warning: child rape

Just when I thought I was done with this….

One thing that’s come out of shining light into dark corners is that the original “Breendoggle” from 1963 has now been posted online. If it was online before, Google couldn’t find it, only documented references to it.

Bill Donaho wrote the original piece in 1963.

What this gives is contemporary accounts, some second- and third-hand, of recent events as of that time.

You know, the year before Marion Zimmer Bradley married Walter Breen.
Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Responding to this comment about the timeline on the MetaFilter thread about MZB’s abuse and Breen’s case.

More correct timeline:

  1. Tor.com publishes their tribute piece on MZB’s birthday. (Now removed, see #3)
  2. I write my response piece and post a link to it on the Tor.com piece’s comments.

  3. When looking at my own comments, I notice a lot of hits coming from this File 770 piece that says Tor.com took down the MZB article.

  4. I’m not proud of this, but here it is. I post a childish gloat. I’d rather the original piece at least mentioned the bad stuff. Even a cursory sentence and we probably wouldn’t be here right now.

  5. A commenter on my original piece calls me out about my motivations, and, for the first time in 3 years, I re-read MZB’s depositions. Twice. Note that at this point, I haven’t yet read Lisa’s deposition. I thought I had three years ago, but no.

  6. I respond to my commenter with items out of MZB’s deposition. No further comments from them. (Given the family history there? I truly hope they’re okay. My heart goes out to them.)

  7. I write to both Moira and Stephen Goldin. I receive a response from Moira, which I asked for permission to post, and received that permission. I received no response from Stephen. (Update: he was offline at the time and has since commented.)

  8. I posted the followup piece with Moira’s emails.

  9. Only after I read the MeFi thread did I read Elisabeth Water’s deposition, unaware that I’d missed possibly even more significant content. Ugh.

I’ll promote a paragraph from one of my comments into this post:

Many of us have been through some really dark times, and we have the pieces that spoke to our hearts that got us through those times. It genuinely gives me no joy to know that, for those whom MZB’s works were those pieces, I’ve dislodged that for them.

And I’ll add:

In addition to the lives she harmed, MZB’s works saved the lives of other people by speaking to them when other works and other people would not and/or did not.

Truly.

Rachel E. Holmen, who worked as an editor for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine said about Marion:

When she visited cons, ten or twenty young women an hour would stop by with stories along the lines of “Your books saved my life.”

There are other writers being published now who may speak to those same hearts, but if MZB is still the author that would help them, then I think it’s important that her work be available to do so. This doesn’t diminish her very real (and very severe) failings.

Rachel’s quote points out why we need diverse books by diverse writers that speak to diverse audiences.

Additionally, MZB gave a start to a lot of women writers—a higher percentage than anyone else in the genre at the time. Those writers helped pave the way for even more female voices in the genre.

Including me.

“A Sword Called Rhonda” was in fact a parody of Mercedes Lackey’s works (specifically, Rhonda was a parody of Need), and Lackey was first published by MZB.

I think the Carl Sagan quote about books is a great way to end this.

0z6lz-carl-sagan-quote-on-books

See also: Paul St John Mackintosh’s article, “More on Marion Zimmer Bradley and the ethics of artists”, which takes a more intellectual approach.

Janni Lee Simner discusses what she and her husband did with the royalties they’d earned from sales to Marion’s anthologies. Thoughtful.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Moira Greyland (Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen’s daughter) has agreed to let me share her email.

This is really hard stuff to read, and I’ve just thrown up my lunch. I knew about none of this part of things until a few minutes ago.

Hello Deirdre.

It is a lot worse than that.

The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away.

I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy. I had tried to intervene when I was 13 by telling Mother and Lisa, and they just moved him into his own apartment.

I had been living partially on couches since I was ten years old because of the out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out of our family “home.”

None of this should be news. Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse. She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls.

I wish I had better news.

Moira Greyland.

Followed up with:

It should also be noted that Walter was convicted on 13 counts of PC 288 A, B, C, and D.

Oral sex was the least of anyone’s worries.

Link to the California Penal Code for context.

No. Words.

Mother’s Hands

I’ve updated this post to add two pieces by Moira Greyland with her permission. This is the first.

Reprinted with permission.

Mother’s Hands
© 2000 Moira Stern (Moira Greyland) in “honor” of my mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley

I lost my mother late last year
Her epitaph I’m writing here
Of all the things I should hold dear
Remember Mother’s hands

Hands to strangle, hands to crush
Hands to make her children blush
Hands to batter, hands to choke
Make me scared of other folk

But ashes for me, and dust to dust
If I can’t even trust
Mother’s hands.

They sent me sprawling across a room
The bathtub nearly spelled my doom
Explaining my persistent gloom
Remember Mother’s hands.

And hands that touched me way down there
I still pretend that I don’t care
Hands that ripped my soul apart
My healing goes in stop and start

Never a mark did she leave on me
No concrete proof of cruelty
But a cross-shaped scar I can barely see
The knife in Mother’s hands.

So Mother’s day it comes and goes
No Hallmark pretense, deep red rose
Except blood-red with her actions goes
It drips off Mother’s hands.

The worst of all my mother did
Was evil to a little kid
The mother cat she stoned to death
She told to me with even breath

And no remorse was ever seen
Reality was in between
Her books, her world, that was her life
The rest of us a source of strife.

She told me that I was not real
So how could she think I would feel
But how could she look in my eyes
And not feel anguish at my cries?

And so I give you Mother’s hands
Two evil, base, corrupted hands
And lest her memory forget
I’m still afraid of getting wet.

The bathtub scene makes me see red
With water closing over my head
No little girl should fear to die
Her mother’s fury in her eye!

But both her hands were choking me
And underwater again I’d be
I think she liked her little game
But I will never be the same

I’m still the girl who quakes within
And tries to rip off all her skin
I’m scared of water, scared of the dark
My mother’s vicious, brutal mark.

In self-admiring tones she told
Of self restraint in a story old.
For twice near death she’d beaten me,
And now she wants my sympathy.

I’ve gone along for quite awhile,
Never meant to make you smile
But here and now I make my stand
I really hate my mother’s hands.

They Did Their Best

By Moira Greyland

The cry of our day is to smile as we say
Something pat that sounds like understanding
And those of us left who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing

Something pat that sounds like understanding
So the ones of us left Who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing

For the party line now Is to claim that somehow
Everybody somehow did their best
So the ones who did wrong Goes the new New Age song
Aren’t to blame, we should lay this to rest.

But it’s lies, there are villains who are still out there killing
Or else for our courts there’s no need
Our jails are not filled With innocents willed
By a system corrupted with greed.

My mother did her best, yes she really did her best
To drown me for not being her willing lover
My daddy did his best, oh he really did his best
And forced his preteen boyfriends to bend over.

Some people are sick, like to make people suffer
Some people just turn a blind eye
But pretending a monster is ribbons and lace
May condemn a small child to die.

My husband was a cop and much child abuse had stopped
Like the mom who put her baby on the stove
She threw him out of sight but the smell she couldn’t hide
And she didn’t come out smelling like a rose.

Did that mommy do her best? Would you tell that little one
“Forgive her dear, she must have been insane”
Would you tell that to those burns, To that lie will you return
And hurt those shining eyes so full of pain?

A victim does his best, a victim does her best
To love and live and give up grief and malice
But when we had no love, but what came down from Above
It’s surprising we have not become more callous.

And how to learn to cope And not give up all my hope
Is painful far enough without your lies
But if you had seen me then With blood pouring off my skin
Would you have turned a deaf ear to my cries??

And told me “Mommy did her best, yes, she really did her best
So stop crying and stop bleeding and forgive her
To cut you she’s the right, and to throw you out of sight
And not love you till you sexually deliver!!

The Guardian Covers this Story

The Guardian has covered this story here.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Thanks to Mike Glyer at File 770 for the heads up.

Before the post was yanked it drew a blistering response by Deirdre Saoirse Moen[...].

Go, me!

My post was here, in case you missed it.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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marion-zimmer-bradley-bph

Leah Schnelbach wrote a piece on Tor.com for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s birthday. I’m not going to link to it.

In this case, I feel that what’s most important about Marion Zimmer Bradley isn’t that she wrote a bunch of stuff.

I feel that what’s important to remember about MZB is what she enabled that was unconscionable.

Let’s pull some tidbits of MZB in her own words out of her sworn testimony at two of her three depositions on the matter. Docs are up at my mirror of Stephen Goldin’s site.

Q. And to your knowledge, how old was [Victim X] when your husband was having a sexual relationship with him?

A. I think he was about 14 or possibly 15. I’m not certain.

Q. Were you aware that your husband had a sexual relationship with [Victim X] when he was below the age of 18?

A. Yes, I was.

And:

Q. Can you tell me why you would publicly state that Walter was not a pedophile when you knew that he had been having sex with a minor child?

A. Because, as I said, [Victim X] did not impress me as a minor child. He was late in his teens, and I considered him — I think he would have been old enough to be married in this state legally, so I figured what he did sexually was his own business.

[Editor’s note: In point of fact, the boy was 10 and 11 at the time in question.]

And about Elisabeth Waters, two quotes from her own diary:

Q. Elisabeth Waters in her 10-8-89 diary, which was given to the police, indicates the following: Quote, “And I feel like a total idiot for not having said anything back when I thought Walter was molesting [Johnnt Doe 3] ten years ago. I guess it was just another case of,” quote, “‘Don’t trust your own perceptions when the adults are telling you you’re wrong.’

Q. I’m going to read to you from the 10-9-89 entry of Elisabeth Waters.

“Marion always said she’d divorce Walter if he did this again. She seems to think that he molested both [Victim X] and [Johnny Doe 4], but she was rather startled when I told her about the letter to Dr. Morin about [Johnny Doe 3]. She said that she thought Walter thought of [Johnny Doe 3] as a son.”

For me, the following is the real kicker.

Q. Where did you have this discussion with David where he thought he was too old for Walter?

A. When he was 15 or so.

Q. So at the time that David was 15, David informed you that he believed that your then husband was not propositioning him because at that point David was too old for Walter’s tastes?

A. I think that’s what he said. To the best of my memory, that’s what he said.

Q. So you were curious enough to ask your own son whether your husband had made a sexual proposition to him?

A. I wouldn’t say I was concerned enough. I would simply say the matter came up in conversation.

Now, I have to say that I didn’t know about this until three years ago, because people don’t talk about it. Stephen Goldin asked to be a panelist at Westercon, and I looked at his site.

(edited to add the following 2 paragraphs before the end)

I have pretty strong feelings about this in part because I had a roommate (and a friend) who had molested his own child in the past and who had been on the relative straight and narrow after a good deal of therapy. But part of why he’d come around is that no one was enabling him and he felt that he needed to change. I don’t know that he never relapsed, but I know how much of a struggle he had with it.

So he had the perspective of someone who knew what he was doing was wrong. I don’t see that MZB had that attitude. At. All.

Why do we give MZB more of a pass than we gave Ed Kramer? She defended her husband when he was (rightfully) thrown out of a con for being a child sexual predator. [Note: I conflated two events significantly far apart in time in this sentence. As many people have read it, I’m keeping it as written and adding a note. See this comment. At the time of the Breendoggle, most people did not know of Breen’s 1954 conviction, and thus many felt it was libel.]

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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(excerpted from a longer piece)

Ken said there was a science fiction convention coming up over Easter weekend. There would be gaming, which I was looking forward to. He was volunteering and said I should too. So I did, claiming that I was in fact over 18—required for volunteers at that con at that time—when I was still 17. Ken vouched for me, so I was trusted with tasks not ordinarily trusted a newbie.

It was 1977.  Science fiction and fantasy films had been so awful since 2001 that I was severely underwhelmed. At that point, there had been only one Star Trek series. Star Wars wasn’t out yet. There hadn’t been a truly great science fiction film since 2001.

I hadn’t seen many fantasy films that hadn’t embarrassed the hell out of me to even have been in the theatre with them. Well, except for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was a movie that I actually disliked the first few times I was dragged to it by friends. Eventually, I grew to love it. There were well-intended box office successes like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, but I remember it being cringeworthy, even apart from the Ray Harryhausen animation I never warmed to. The Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit and the Bakshi film Wizards weren’t out yet. Nothing had touched what I felt was possible in books.

If you’d asked me in Easter 1977 what my favorite science fiction or fantasy film of the seventies had been thus far, I’d probably have answered Woody Allen’s Sleeper. For science fiction films, we’d had Silent Running, which at least was interesting despite being too slow. Then there was Zardoz, which regularly makes worst-of lists. Some of the choices were differently compelling, like Rollerball. I didn’t like it at the time, but came to appreciate it many years later. One could argue that The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a science fiction film in that it involved aliens. There was a bunch of crap like At the Earth’s Core and Journey to the Center of the Earth and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.

What there weren’t, however, were good space-based science fiction films. It just hadn’t been done since 2001.

When I arrived at my first science fiction convention, I wasn’t at all drawn by the media-related opportunities, of which there were many, including airings of some relatively recent science fiction and fantasy films.

So naturally, being young, personable and female, I was assigned to escort media guests around, to manage the situation if they were overwhelmed by fans, and to help them get anything they needed. Most of them got a few polite expressions of fannishness, but nothing that actually needed a escort. Still, it made them feel valuable, and it was interesting enough.

Many of the convention’s VIPs were guest actors from Star Trek episodes, and many of those actors were truly great people. Some were from even older shows, like Kirk Alyn, the first actor to play Superman. Over the times I volunteered at the con, I enjoyed being Kirk’s VIP guide the most. I remember him being charming and generous with his time.

This first time, though, I was assigned to accompany an actor whose big film was coming out later that year. He was quite the comic fan (where I was not), and I just remember that he was completely unremarkable to me as a person. I spent a lot of time standing next to him as he geeked out with various comic vendors about things coming out and favorite issues in common. Even though I read comics at the time, I genuinely didn’t understand his deep interest in the subject, and we had no favorite comics in common. Back then, I read Spiderman and Nova mostly, occasionally dipping into other books.

The next morning, I sat alone in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast while I listened to people describe said actor as dreamy. Oh, he was decent enough looking, blond and somewhat geeky, which normally was my thing. Just—not this time. Thus, I found the interest in him fascinating.

It wasn’t until the fifth time I saw Star Wars that it hit me that I’d spent my day accompanying Mark Hamill around the con. You know. Luke Skywalker.

Hamill is now older than Alec Guinness was when the filming of Star Wars began.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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But still, you’d have much better odds at the craps table in Vegas than you would betting me to show up at WorldCon in 2014. Jay Lake, 2009

I found that while I was looking for a post I remembered, probably from 2009, about the depth of his fear that he’d have to go through a second round of chemo (he wound up going through several more than that—five?). I couldn’t find it, nor could I stand to look through the archives any longer just now.

I’ve never been able to say before, on the day someone died, “I had a great time at his wake last year.” That’s the kind of person Jay was.

I can’t remember exactly when I met Jay, but I think it was in 2002. It was definitely at a con, and I remember being in a low-density party room with Jay and Cassie Alexander, the only two people in that room at that time where I knew who they were.

Though I felt invisible, I became something of a fan. Later, when BayCon had invited Frank Wu (or, actually, I extended the invitation in person at Worldcon) for BayCon’s guest of honor, I started lobbying for Jay for Writer Guest of Honor. Kathryn Daugherty, who’d gotten to know Jay through the Worldcon circuit, thought that was a good idea, though generally BayCon was looking for higher-profile writers than Jay was at the time. (Specifically, they looked for a Hugo award or NY Times Bestseller. At that time, he’d had a bunch of short stories published, but no novels, though he’d won the Campbell award for Best New Writer.)

The singularly awesome moment, from my perspective, at that BayCon was Jay’s participation in “A Shot Rang Out.”

I invited my long-time friend Martin Young to speak. I knew he’d be fabulous at ASRO, but I also knew that I couldn’t tell Martin in advance what the concept was because he’d overthink it. So, a few minutes prior to the start of the panel, I stood in front of him and told him what it was all about.

“I hate you,” Martin said, not meaning it.

From a 2005 BayCon report.

Easily the highlight of Sunday (being one of two panels I got to sit in the audience for) was BayCon’s traditional “A Shot Rang Out” panel. It’s a simple concept and it depends so much on the people involved. This year, we had Hilary Ayer, Jane Mailander, Martin Young, Writer Guest of Honor Jay Lake, and Lee Martindale.

The concept: The story begins with “A shot rang out.” Each panelist must draw a slip out of a box and end their turn with that line. Anything in the middle goes. Jay Lake, when pulling one of his slips, asked, “Does this have to make any sense at all? The other panelists assured him not.

A few moments were especially worth noting.

Once, Martin ended his turn so spectacularly that Jay Lake, master of improv writing, couldn’t find a way to follow him. Jay ran across the stage and kissed Martin on the head, saying, “I have come to pledge my love for you, for no man has ever left me in such a hard place.”

Later, Martin pulled a slip and said, “Oh, f*, that’s a long one!”

Jay quipped, “Are you sure you said those words in the right order?”

For a few moments, no one could continue on, they were laughing so hard. Perfect retort.

He went on to publish Mainspring (which is an example of the kind of book I love but could never have written) and other novels.

Kathryn Daugherty and Jay Lake were diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer about the same time. Kathryn and I had never been best friends, but she was very influential in my life.

We’d recently been through a couple of rounds of cancer at the house: my mother had had endometrial cancer in 2006 and our cat Scruffy had a leg amputated after the reappearance of cancer.

It’s unusual for anyone with stage IV colorectal cancer to survive as long as Jay did; Kathryn died in 2012. He wanted to be there as long as possible for his daughter and went through hell to try to make that happen. He expressed so so many of his fears and doubts on his blog. If you ever need to know the pains and trials of being a cancer patient, so much of it is laid out in black and white on his blog. I think many of us had no idea what was involved in being a long-time cancer patient, and he blogged it in excruciating (and yet obviously incomplete) detail.

A little over a year ago, he was given his life walking papers in the form of a terminal diagnosis. For the first time, Rick and I made it up to the annual JayCon, then to JayWake.

In his wrapup, Jay said: “I have become medically interesting in two different ways, which is not really something you should aspire to.”

Other posts about Jay I’ve made:

Living vs. Dying
Fuck Cancer: New Art

Look, He Wasn’t Perfect

Because I believe OSC was right in telling the entire truth about a person after they pass:

K. Tempest Bradford makes a point.

The Clayton Memorial Medical Fund

Jay has asked for anyone wishing to make a contribution to do so to the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund.

Mary Robinette Kowal talks about having been helped by the fund.

Remember the Living

One thing I’ve noticed, especially after I was widowed myself, is that people talk a lot about the deceased, but tend to forget about the people still living.

Lisa Costello is an amazing person, and she has been blogging about her own life.

Bronwyn, of course, will miss her daddy.

And Jay left a widow, Susan Lake, whom he sometimes referred to as “The Mother of The Child.”

Jay’s parents are still alive.

And there are many other family members and friends.

His obituary can be found here.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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For those of you not tuned into the romance world, you may have missed the big kerfluffle over the RT Booklovers convention signing.

Like some of the smaller pro-heavy cons in SF/F that are open to all, namely World Fantasy and the SFWA Nebula Weekend, there’s a huge signing called the Giant Book Fair. At 1200 people, RT isn’t that much larger than a typical World Fantasy, but it does cost about three times as much and is far more program heavy.

I’ll tell you something: on the whole, no one buys books like romance readers. No one.

Furthermore, most of their favorite authors go, and most of them want to buy and get books autographed there at the con. A lot of the writers have giveaways (like samples of a new book or glossy cover cards for indie authors), so it pays to visit all the writers you care about.

I’ll tell you that, as an author, I’ve loved these kinds of signings. They can be awesome fun. Worst case, you wind up sitting next to an interesting writer you didn’t know before, give a couple of autographs, and talk to some people.

The problem: with there being more and more romance writers, and not enough space to set them all up in. So how did they divide them up?

By whether or not the books purchased were returnable, as Courtney Milan explains.

Now, if you were looking for a book in the computer section, would you think to look in an entirely different room because O’Reilly books aren’t (or at least weren’t, back when I worked in a bookstore) returnable?

Multiply that times 1200. Now add the fact that a significant fraction of the people who are writers and signing for people publish for both kinds of presses and therefore it’s not going to be clear to the average reader who is going to wind up where.

Worse, authors had to pick whether they were going to sign one kind of book or the other. So, if like Courtney Milan, you happened to have a number of books published traditionally, you had to decide if you wanted to be in that room or the other. The one where you might be perceived as not playing for the team with your traditional publisher, or where you’re not playing for yourself or your small press for your other works. It’s a horrible situation to put authors in, let alone trying to have readers find them.

Also, to give you an idea of the size of the rooms, one writer I follow on Twitter tweeted that her signing was in row 38.

There are no easy solutions on this one. I get that.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Note: I later changed the rule below due to the Amazon/Hachette tiff, putting Orbit books first.

Essentially, my policy is one Rick uses for other things: make it easy for me to help you. Orbit isn’t.

John Scalzi discusses Orbit’s decision to only include previews of their three nominees here.

This year’s kind of rare—I spent my year reading out of genre and have read exactly zero of the nominated novels.

My usual rule for book-length works is:

If it’s not in the Hugo Voter’s Packet, I don’t vote for it.

This year, I need to modify that:

If it’s not in the Hugo Voter’s Packet in complete form, I don’t vote for it.

Why? Because not providing a nominated book says to me that the Hugo Awards aren’t perceived as valuable by the publisher. Why should I reward that?

Meanwhile, this weekend attendees at RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans are getting a thumb drive with 349 books. Self-published books, granted, but who has more to lose (or gain) than they do? (I have one of those, fwiw, Felt Tips: Office Supply Erotica, edited by Tiffany Reisz.)

There are a few modifiers to my rules:

  1. I’ll consider voting for a work if I already own the book. So, of the Hugo Nominees for Best Novel this year, what do I already own? But, if I haven’t read it yet, it goes in line after the provided books.
  2. If the book’s not supplied in EPUB format, it’s not in the packet. None of this PDF shit.

  3. If the ebook’s on sale during the award reading period, I might consider purchasing it. (I will read the sample first, though, so providing one actually does help. I guess I should thank Orbit for that.)

If I read a book in a Hugo packet and I love the book, I will buy it if I hadn’t already. So, in that sense, being nominated already means I’m more likely to a) read the book and b) buy the book than any other random book published last year.

I no longer read print books, and not being a Kindle person, I don’t do ebook library loans.

In general, there are 1-2 Hugo-shortlisted novels per year that I’d buy. Stross wrote my favorite book, and the nominated book is the third in a series (and I haven’t read the first two in that series). Ann Leckie’s been getting a lot of buzz, I just hadn’t gotten around to buying and reading her book yet. And I’m so far behind on Mira Grant books that it’s not funny (though this one’s in a new series, so there’s that). All three are affected by Orbit’s decision not to put entire books in the packet. Here’s the joint post by the three affected Orbit authors.

I’ve already established that I’ll be putting Larry dead last. (Edit: to clarify, I mean in reading order. Since I haven’t yet read his book, I’m not sure where I’d rank it on the ballot, but I can say it’s unlikely I’ll get to it during the voting period.) Why? I don’t mind hearing people say, “I liked this, it’s eligible, I think you could check it out,” but I think that putting together a slate crosses the line. (This is aside from any issues of what he did or didn’t recommend.) So he goes after the whole Orbit crowd.

…which leaves…

(cue dramatic music)

jordan-sanderson

I guess I’ll go about finally reading The Wheel of Time then. (Those books on the shelf? Rick’s. I almost never read incomplete series.)

Tentative reading order, possibly to be modified later:

  1. Wheel of Time
  2. Stross
  3. Leckie
  4. Grant
  5. Correia

If Orbit provided full books, my reading order would likely be:

  1. Leckie
  2. Grant
  3. Stross (as I want to read the other books too)
  4. Wheel of Time
  5. Correia

Mini-PDF Rant

I was asked on LJ what the problems were with PDF:

  1. I can’t read it in my font of preference.
  2. I like to read in white text on black because I read in bed (on an iPad) at night. I can’t control that with a PDF.
  3. I like to read it at my text size of preference.
  4. Which, if I do that, the page is significantly larger than the screen, so every single fucking sentence involves scrolling left and right.

Total pain in the ass.

I honestly can’t get into a book that takes that much attention just to read. I’ve tried before, and not voted before. The last time I tried was a Cat Valente nominee (Palimpsest).

No more.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Dante caught shit for writing in Italian instead of Latin.

My native vernacular comes across less in writing than it does in speech, but for those who have spoken with me and know the area, it’s totally obvious where I came from.

I’m a Valley Girl.

I can excise those speech bits when I wish to, and my accent has mellowed over the years, but it is still my “native” accent. Because a lot of Valley Girl is adverb usage, I’ve never really been aboard the adverb minimalization train.

My Valley Girl tendencies are modified by two other aspects of the time and place I was raised:

  1. I’m of Irish descent, and some aspects of Irish (not Irish English, but Irish Gaelic) remain. For example, there are no words in Irish for yes or no. If you ask me a yes/no question, you’ll probably get a 2-3 sentence answer that doesn’t contain either word. This frustrates Rick at times.
  2. I was born when there were 49 states in the US. During my childhood, Southern California was a walking tribute to Disneyfied Hawai’iana (e.g., Waltah Clarke), and that’s affected my speech, thought, and culture. So I have this weird relation to Hawai’ian culture despite not being of Hawai’ian descent.

The pressure to conform to “Standard English” in both writing and speech was very strong in both my father’s side of the family and in my education. The usual way this was done was insisting that non-standard usage is “illiterate.”

I still have non-standard usage that persists. In speech in particular, I’ll often muck up subject-verb agreement in longer sentences with this format: “one of the people who are.” I usually use the subjunctive in formal writing, but often don’t in speech, though I will admit that Gwen Stefani’s “If I Was a Rich Girl” really grates where “If I Were a Rich Man” does not.

When I first started hearing AAVE being given respect by literary and academic communities, I’ll be honest: it grated.

The thing is, I don’t want to sound like an academic with a Ph.D. in English. On the flip side, I actually like to feel comfortable enough with the rules that I know when I’m breaking them vs. when I’m not.

I like stories with a strong sense of voice. I like stories with a strong sense of place, which sometimes ties into a strong sense of voice.

As a fiction writer, I’ve learned that vernacular really can be about unusual (to the average white English speaker) speech patterns. In one story I wrote one character’s dialect using Irish Gaelic syntax, which is verb first and uses extra words for emphasis.

I got back one critique that said: “Sounds like Yoda, she does.”

Which is exactly Irish syntax. What bothered me more about the critique is that Yoda’s syntax was not consistently Irish, but at that time, that’s how most Americans had heard any such usage in English. One of these days, I might actually get the story back out and rework it, but part of that is just going to be affirming, “That’s how she talks. Deal with it.”

I remember, for example, Rick and I driving around Tahiti, noting that their usage of French was unfamiliar. Understandable, but different words were chosen than other places we’d been. I’ve seen this in English, too. I remember puzzling over a sign in Indonesia.

no-touting

It is exactly those differences in usage that tie us to places. I recently read a romance novel that had every Irish English usage correct—except the one mistake I’d made myself, and was therefore very aware that her hero used the wrong word. It threw me out.

Not Our Kind, Dear

Some years ago, Rick and I went up to Petaluma for some Linux thing. We wound up having a long conversation with a woman there, and wound up talking a lot about the rules enforced on women.

For example, no white shoes after Labor Day or before Easter. Sure, you can wear “winter white,” which isn’t really white at all, but not white white (unless you live in Florida).

If you dared to do such a thing, you were “not our kind, dear.”

That kind of policing every detail is what I (and many other women) grew up with, and it’s toxic to everyone. Maybe I want to wear white shoes in February. If you’re so small a person that you can’t accept fucking shoe color (or, worse, straps around the ankle) as an acceptable variant in dress, I don’t want to be your friend.

Which leads nicely into AAVE.

What makes AAVE so dramatically different as a political issue from, say, Spanish (also spoken in Oakland, by up to a quarter of the population) is its close relation to another language of much higher prestige. Most speakers of Standard English think that AAVE is just a badly spoken version of their language, marred by a lot of ignorant mistakes in grammar and pronunciation, or worse than that, an unimportant and mostly abusive repertoire of street slang used by an ignorant urban underclass. (link)

I was that person ridiculing Ebonics. There’s probably evidence of same somewhere in the bowels of Google.

And Then I Grew Up (At Least Imperfectly)

You know what? I’m allowed to have been wrong.

I still have difficulty feeling that my own (white privileged) vernacular is “acceptable,” and it’s a recognizable (albeit ridiculed) variant of SE.

I can’t imagine what people who speak non-SE dialects feel when they’re minimized because of their native dialect.

So when @djolder posted links to this Storify version of his responses to this Strange Horizons review, I was horrified.

Strange Horizons reviewed a book, Long Hidden, specifically about marginalized cultures in SF/F stories. Then the reviewer calls out AAVE as “a literary trick”?

Writing in your own dialect is never a literary trick.

Saying that is othering and dismissive of the entire premise of Long Hidden. Rose Fox, one of the editors, said, “It’s an ethical and cultural error.” I concur. Strange Horizons has apologized. tweet one, two, and three.

I’m not even convinced that writing in another dialect is a literary trick. To me, “trick” implies deceit above and beyond the usual call of fiction. Sure, there’s the alternate meaning of “trick” as being clever without being deceitful (e.g., somersaulting on a skateboard), but that clearly wasn’t the meaning here.

So What Is a Literary Trick?

For me, a literary trick implies leading the reader to expect one thing, then delivering another. The classic “red herring” is a literary trick. “Who is Kaiser Soze?” from The Usual Suspects is a literary trick (sadly, I figured that out 15-20 minutes into the film). A wonderful quote from that link:

Kevin Spacey claimed that Bryan Singer managed to convince all of the major actors that they were Keyser Soze. At the first screening, an angry Gabriel Byrne stormed off when he realised the truth.

That’s a literary trick on an entirely different level.

Writing an unreliable narrator such that she tells one story on a literal level and a completely different story when you realize what way she’s being unreliable—that’s a literary trick.

But being honest and true about your own dialect? Nope.

I learn a lot from meeting people and reading stories by people who are quite different from myself. I love it when people take me unexpected places.

I think this bears repeating: Writing in your own dialect is never a literary trick.

See also: this great post from Troy L. Wiggins.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Tool-of-the-Matriarchy-Print-mockup
“Tool of the Matriarchy” is an expression mentioned in the series of John Scalzi’s tweets that led to the “Traitor to the Mens” t-shirts.

I’ve been working on getting the right look to try to communicate the intended tone with something that’d print well. I just haven’t been feeling really well (yay fibro), so I’m going to take the weekend off and have it ready Monday morning.

I’m really enjoying this t-shirt thing. Back in the day, I used to do abstract screen prints in like 5-10 layers and print my own shirts, doing all the photo separations myself. I’ve always enjoyed screen printing, though I haven’t done any in ages.

Then, once upon a time, there was a very limited series of Deirdre’s Pet Geek t-shirts.

I’ve designed other t-shirts, including a convention t-shirt for BayCon one year, and a couple of commissions over the years.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Traitor-to-the-Mens-T-shirt-dark

Available now: dark background t-shirt, light background t-shirt, and prints, stickers, posters, and cards.

If you need a size bigger than 3x or don’t like American Apparel shirts, then I also put them on Zazzle, which is slightly more expensive than Redbubble. dark background t-shirt, light background t-shirt.

John Scalzi said: I think I’m going to make a t-shirt that says “TRAITOR TO THE MENS” on it.

I offered to do the design.

He replied: DO EEEET

So here we are. Here’s John Scalzi’s background story for the phrase.

I offered in part because the very night before I was on a graphics site and had skipped over a free mustache graphic element because, and I quote, “I’ll never use that.”

When Scalzi mentioned the t-shirt idea, of course, it was the first thing that came to mind. As it turns out, I didn’t use that one I’d seen, I used one in a font I had.

Plus, thanks to Design Cuts and their awesome graphics bundles, I had—no joke—twelve gigabytes of new graphics toys chomping at the bit waiting to be used. I really wasn’t kidding about collecting grunge textures.

I want to give credit to the designers for the elements I’ve used, top to bottom.

  1. Sunburst, from Outdoor Logos by Ian Barnard of Vintage Design Co. (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.) Initially, I just wanted a sunburst as a design element, but then I realized the kind of people who think feminist men are traitors are just, well, puckery assholes. So there you have it.
  2. Fedora, from Shona Dutta’s Retro Hats collection. Hey, someone local to me!
  3. Veneer font, from Ryan Martinson of Yellow Design Studios. Purchased as a part of the Design Cuts Monster Creative Font Bundle which is a great deal. While it’s a past bundle, if you buy the current bundle, you can also buy this one if it floats your boat. I love this, so I’ll talk about it more below.
  4. Roverd font, from Dexsar Harry Fonts. (“to the”) Indonesia represent.
  5. Veneer Extras font, also from Yellow Design Studios. (This is the mustache.)
  6. Grunge texture is from Vintage Textures by Ghostly Pixels, used on the fedora and “to the.” (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.)
  7. (paper goods only) See the chalkboard in there? No? That’s the beauty of textures. It doesn’t have to be obvious to add to the whole. From Bruno Maioral/BMachina.
  8. (paper goods only) The book-like texture is from Cruzine. (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.) I tried a bunch of textures, but I liked the feel of this one.
  9. (paper goods only) The folded paper texture is from Simon Berkey Hartmann/The Shop. (Purchased as a part of a Design Cuts bundle.) Metaphorical nod to the well-worn arguments that follow only a few lines of thought.

Veneer and Why I Love This Kind of Font

veneer-demo

Bottom type layer: Veneer, color white.
Middle type layer: Veneer 2, color yellow.
Top type layer: Veneer 3, color red.

Cool effect, huh? That’s just three of the six variations. That said, I didn’t think multiple colors worked as well for the t-shirt. Usually, you’d use colors closer together, too, but I was illustrating the concept rather than using it in a larger design.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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