Pick any story I've written, or, in the case of my longer, chaptered works, any chapter from any story I've written, and comment to this post with that selection. I will then give you the equivalent of a DVD commentary on that snippet: what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it in the first place, what's going on in the character's heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the context of the rest of the fic, lots of awful puns, and anything else that you’d expect to find on a DVD commentary track.
My fic can be found here or here
As with the first two volumes in this series, all profits go to benefit Con or Bust.
Here’s the full table of contents:
- Introduction by K. Tempest Bradford
- Heroes and Monsters, by T. S. Bazelli
- Notes from the Meat Cage, by Fran Wilde
- What Color Are My Heroes? by Mari Kurisato
- The Zeroth Law Of Sex in Science Fiction, by Jennifer Cross
- Our Hyperdimensional Mesh of Identities, by Alliah
- Erasing Athena, Effacing Hestia, by Alex Conall
- Not So Divergent After All, by Alyssa Hillary
- Skins, by Chelsea Alejandro
- The Doctor and I, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- My Family Isn’t Built By Blood, by Jaime O. Mayer
- Lost in Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes, by Carrie Sessarego
- Decolonise The Future, by Brandon O’Brien
- Natives in Space, by Rebecca Roanhorse
- I Would Fly With Dragons, by Sean Robinson
- Adventures in Online Dating, by Jeremy Sim
- Of Asian-Americans and Bellydancing Wookiees, by Dawn Xiana Moon
- Shard of a Mirage, by MT O’Shaughnessy
- Unseen, Unheard, by Jo Gerrard
Huge thanks to the contributors for sharing their stories and experiences. I’ve learned so much from earlier volumes in this series, and this one was no different.
And hey, if you haven’t seen the previous volumes…
If you’re a reviewer and would like a copy, please contact me and let me know your preferred format and where your reviews are published.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Friday's show was a matinee, so we grabbed a quick lunch beforehand, then an early dinner after. The show was just as wonderful the second time, and in some ways I feel like it was better -- when I went in April, this particular troupe had been together for less than a month. Now that they've had two more months to work together, the ensemble gelled more, and I saw more nuances in some of the performances. I also saw a couple of different actors, in particular a different Angelica, and although her voice wasn't quite as powerful, I loved the acting choices she brought to the role. Another thing I noticed overall is just how funny this performance was -- this particular cast plays up the humorous moments in the songs and the choreography in a way I found really effective.
All three of my co-attendees loved the show as well, despite bringing very different levels of familiarity with it (one who has listened to the album a million times, one who'd never heard the music but read all the lyrics in advance, and one coming in almost completely cold), and it was fun to talk about how their various expectations colored their watching experience.
On Saturday, justira and I met up with forestofglory to wander the Ferry Building and Farmers Market. We noshed our way through, one of my favorite ways to eat breakfast in the city, including some breakfast ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (taking advantage of the lack of line). After that I met Kay for a Giants game; our boys lost (not unsurprisingly; the team is TERRIBLE this year), but we still had fun. Then we all (minus forestofglory, who had a prior engagement) gathered at my place for more chatting and hanging out until far too late, chattering about fandom and everything else under the sun, driving poor T to distraction I'm sure. I was particularly happy to see how well everyone clicked, considering that my two guests didn't really know each other before the weekend. There's nothing better than introducing two friends and watching them develop a quick rapport. :)
As Kay said a couple of times over the weekend, our parents were wrong: always make friends with strangers on the Internet. Sure, there's a risk, as people are always a risk, but the rewards are one thousand percent worth it.
A few links on healthcare:
- Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey went through the bill, line by line, to point out some of its more terrible effects.
- Politico reports that the Senate Democrats will be playing hardball. Placing our calls in support of this tactic is one of the important things that blue-staters can do.
- With the urgency of our desire to kill this bill, I've seen a resurgence of the desire to call Senators from other states. Here's a good Twitter thread on the importance of NOT doing that, tempting as it may be, especially when there's evidence of Astroturfing from the other side. I know it's scary, but this time, fighting fire with fire would do more harm than good.
And other things:
- The Brookings Institution put out a scathing editorial on voter suppression in the United States, a good overview of recent court decisions with some damning statistics.
- The Associated Press published a report on the effects of gerrymandering, and it's not pretty.
- It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the Democrats lost the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, and in fact the narrow loss continues the trend of being competitive in districts that ought to be safe GOP, but given how much effort and money we poured into that district, it's also understandable that people were disappointed. But the rush of pundits and BernieBots to blame Nancy Pelosi for the loss is both a headscratcher, and almost unbearably stupid. Charles Pierce explains why.
- And maybe before you get too invested in demonizing one of the most powerful women in the Democratic party, maybe you should consider who is in the trenches, doing the actual work in places like the Georgia 6th.
- Meanwhile, another Congressional special election flew completely under the radar: the South Carolina 5th. The Republican won that seat as well, but by an even smaller margin. This is not a seat that any polls suggested ought to be competitive, and the Democrats spent almost no money here. This ought to scare the GOP; we'll see if they heed the warning.
- Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued Donald Trump for violations of the emoluments clause and other conflict of interest laws.
(The most interesting thing which happened recently in the legal world prior to Quizgate was the merger between Bond Dickinson, a firm memorable for one associate complaining that "I have more chance of being savaged to death in the gents loos by a walrus than I have of making partner at Bond Dickinson" during a RoF Quality of Legal Life survey, and Womble Carlyle , a US firm, creating a "transatlantic giant" to be called Womble Dickinson which, as per a lawyer I bumped into at a recent course on digital rights confirmed, is as a result in the middle of a mass exodus of talent, since it's bad enough being expected to work US legal hours on a UK legal salary, but having all your peers at other firms singing, "Remember you're a womble" at you on every conceivable opportunity puts the cherry on top of the shit sundae.)
Anyway, Holman Fenwick are a traditional shipping firm, and those always have a bit of a reputation for excessive machismo, especially the "wet" shipping specialists, and as per people chipping in in comments, the partner in question has the reputation of being the biggest wanker in a tough field. When his team won the Christmas quiz by a large margin, it was whispered in the ears of HR that there might have been dirty work at the crossroads, and, indeed, it transpired that the quiz question and answer document had been opened on said partner's computer hours before the quiz commenced.*
Where things then took a turn for the worse is that the partner alleged that it wasn't him, squire, his computer must have been hacked. And while cheating on the Christmas quiz barely registers on the list of batty things I've heard of partners in law firms doing in my thirty-odd years in this profession (in no particular order, these include but are not limited to: ordering one's trainee to iron one's jodhpurs in time for hunting at the weekend, throwing a Company seal at the head of a trainee, ordering a trainee to mouth-siphon petrol out of another car in the office carpark during a fuel shortage, resulting in hospitalisation of said trainee, asking a dark-skinned and a light-skinned secretary at a Christmas party, "Well, girls, how do you feel about cafe-au-lait?", inviting two interviewees to a brothel as soon as the interview had finished with the words, "Well, now that's over, let's go and get our nobs polished" ....) allegations of hacking into partnerial computers** get the IT team really interested, officially because it threatens the integrity of client communications, but really I suspect because it gives them a chance to give the thing a right going over in the hope of being able to go "Good God, I'm glad you brought us in. The same person who framed you for the Christmas quiz must have also tried to frame you for the possession of porn! Look, this file here --and here -- and here -- there's terrabytes of the stuff! We'll have to extend the search to all your mobile devices too, I'm afraid."
Anyway, I'm going with "watch this space."
*HFM clearly take a Kingscote-like approach to security of examination questions and the like. It would never have happened in the Airedale Quiz league, in which I played for about five years.
** Which is usually like taking candy from a baby, tbf; I once many years ago took advantage of the habit one of our partners had of leaving his computer logged on and unlocked while he went off on hours-long gossip sessions with the other team partners to send round an email warning the department of the dangers of leaving one's computer logged on and unattended, and then departed on holiday before the fallout happened.
Friday is almost finished with this first draft…
- Dogs acting weird
- Glass blowing/glass art video compilation (I find this stuff ridiculously soothing to watch.)
- Redditors design the worst volume sliders possible (The curling one made me laugh)
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Senate Republicans have finally released what appears to be the draft text of H.R. 1628, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”
It’s 142 pages, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time deciphering it all. (Not a lawyer or a legislator.) But here are some things that stood out at me…
Elimination of the individual and employer mandate. (Pages 10-11)
Tax repeals on medications, health insurance, health savings accounts, etc. (Pages 25-29)
This includes the “Repeal of Tanning Tax” on page 29.
The continuing attack on abortion rights.
“Disallowance of small employer health insurance credit for plan which includes coverage for abortion.” (Pages 8-9)
“No Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity,” which is then defined as an entity providing abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. (Page 35)
According to a USA Today analysis, this bill would:
- Reduce or eliminate most subsidies for individuals and families
- “Eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what younger customers pay for the same coverage. Instead, those in their 60s could be charged five times as much, or more.”
- Eliminate penalties to large employers who choose not to offer health insurance. (Elimination of the employer mandate.)
- Make it easier to drop coverage for things like maternity care and mental health issues.
CNN points out that the bill would also:
- Defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
- Require coverage of preexisting conditions. However, it also lets states “waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover… This would allow insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered.”
A PBS article says the bill would:
- Cap and reduce Medicaid funding, and allow states to add a work requirement for “able-bodied” recipients of Medicaid.
- Provide $2 billion to help states fight opioid addiction
- It preserves health care for people with preexisting conditions (with the potential exceptions noted in the CNN bullets, above), and allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
- It expands health care savings accounts.
- It provides a short-term stabilization fund to help struggling insurance markets.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their report on the senate bill next week. The CBO estimated that the House-passed bill would result in 26 million fewer insured Americans by 2026, and would cut the budget by $119 billion over the same time. (Source)
Nothing here is particularly shocking. I’m glad I and my family can’t be kicked off our insurance for our various preexisting conditions…though some of those conditions might no longer be covered, which sucks. It would hurt the poor, the elderly, women, and the mentally ill, among others. None of my readers will be shocked to hear that I think this is another step backward. The ACA was far from perfect — it’s like a patient with a broken leg, but instead of trying to fix the broken leg, we’ll just throw them through a woodchipper, because hey, it’s cheaper!
It looks like this may be a tight vote, which would make this an excellent time to call your Senator.
Please keep any comments civil. I’m angry about this too, but I don’t have the time or the spoons to moderate fights and nastiness today. (Which probably means I shouldn’t have posted this in the first place, but I never claimed to be that bright…)
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Anyway, I'm still reading Ninefox Gambit and enjoying it a lot. My health is better. Not "healthy person" better, but definitely better than it's been in say, two years. I'm going to London soon, which is so, so exciting.
The thesis has been... awful, but awful in the usual academic-grind sort of way.
This morning my maternal grandmother's youngest sister died. I couldn't make it to the funeral, but weekend plans (mostly thesis plans) will have to be altered to go grieve with family. Her granddaughter just got married a few weeks ago.
I'm sad, even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her in recent years, since my grandparents died and we stopped celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries as big family events.
My grandmother was 12 when she and her sisters and her mom and her grandma and two of her female cousins were all living in a Nazi concentration camp. This sister, the youngest, remembers that time the least, but she was old enough then to help with the missions, where their mom would send them out in pairs to try and escape the camp illegally and get food and supplies in the nearby village.
Every outing meant risk of capture and death, so the girls always went in pairs with a cousin, not a sister. My great-grandmother wanted to ensure that she could never be blamed for putting her own children ahead of her nieces.
Anyway, it's a sad day. My own grandmother in New York just got out of a 3 month stay at the hospital, and I'm grappling with the fact that it's very likely I'll never see her again.
The sun is shining, and there are flowers outside, and I still have a bed and a kitchen and a closet that are entirely my own. I suppose that's something.
I went into this playthrough with three goals in mind, besides the obvious ones of seeing how the game plays out for a Qunari and with a mage, and wrapping up my Garrett Hawke's canon: 1) an F/F romance; 2) seeing a different outcome at the Winter Palace (both of my previous Inquisitors put the same person on the throne); and 3) befriending Solas, something that neither my Cadash nor my Trevelyan remotely managed. Other than that, I let Nazlin make all her own decisions, which may be why I enjoyed her so much.
It was a fairly light playthrough, all things considered -- I didn't quite finish Jaws of Hakkan (even with difficulty turned down to Casual, it was clear that I was never beating the final boss with the team I wanted), didn't even start Descent, and left a lot of the optional areas only half explored. And I'm okay with that, considering how little bearing most of the sidequests, even the major ones, have on the outcome. Even the ones that are interesting for their own sake tend not to differ from Inquisitor to Inquisitor. I doubt I will ever play a thorough game again, which is kind of too bad, but I feel like that's the best way to feel like I'm seeing different stories each time: concentrate on the content that can change.
Next up is DA2, where I will continue Loral Mahariel's universe. I started that game awhile back and got a little into Act 1 (meeting Merrill and her clan). This Hawke is a female mage, mostly aggressive so far but with a side of snark; I want her to romance Isabela, but otherwise I don't have much of a concept for her yet. That will set up my elf Inquisitor, probably my first male, probably to romance Dorian or maybe Cassandra. Since Loral was my Morrigan romance, I'm pretty much dying to see that play out in DAI, but I do need to get through DA2 first. It'll be nice to get back into that story -- it's been quite awhile.
“We’re so conditioned to believe that white is the default that we write ourselves out of the worlds that we create.”
Dawn Xiana Moon is one of the contributors to Invisible 3, which comes out on June 27 and includes 18 essays and poems about representation in science fiction and fantasy. You can preorder the collection at:
(It will be available for Nook as well, but we don’t have that link yet.)
Any profits from the sale of the collection go to Con or Bust, helping fans of color to attend SF/F conventions.
As with Invisible and Invisible 2, the contributors to this third volume have shared work that’s heartfelt, eye-opening, honest, thoughtful, and important…not to mention relevant to so much of what we see happening in the genre today.
Of Asian-Americans and Bellydancing Wookiees, by Dawn Xiana Moon
We have always existed.
In the early days of the internet, back when we were on Prodigy or CompuServe and email addresses were long strings of numbers with a comma in between, I was answering distress calls on derelict starships. America Online (because it wasn’t yet AOL) launched an ad campaign that envisioned an internet with graphics; I dodged Borg at Warp Six. I outsmarted Q when he appeared on my bridge, launched photon torpedoes at Romulans, and flirted with fellow Starfleet officers in Ten Forward. I was thirteen. And like a good overachiever, I wondered if I could list being second-in-command of the CompuServe sim group Fleet 74 on lists of my activities and accomplishments, right next to years of piano lessons, parts in theatre productions, dancing and singing in the community show choir, and the environmental and video game clubs I’d started (and of course led as president).
My father is an aerospace engineer; by the time we moved from Singapore to the US, I was five years old and already lived in a world where discussing wrap drive was normal. My AP Biology teacher was shocked when I mentioned a singularity in class one day, surprised that a high school senior would know the term (which she made me define in front of the class before she was satisfied), but I’d been raised on a steady diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and every science fiction and fantasy novel I could get my hands on—my father handed me Isaac Asimov books in elementary school and I read them, wondering why I didn’t have a robot nanny or automatic food-making gadgets. I am a native speaker of technobabble.
All that to say: I’ve always been a nerd. And proudly so. But growing up I rarely saw people that looked like me onscreen—sure, we had Sulu, but George Takei was closer to my grandparents’ age than mine. Asian characters were few and far between, and girls? Girls didn’t like Vulcans or computers. Girls especially didn’t like dancing and princesses and talking about the space-time continuum all at the same time. Or so I was told.
But I was Asian. And female. And I existed.
I was the girl who hung out at the arcade playing Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, first surprising boys who saw a girl in front of a fighting game, then shocking them when I won. I was the foreigner who walked into first grade in the middle of the school year, a Chinese kid from another country but a native speaker of English. I was the founding member of the high school forensics team who learned quickly that judges gave higher ratings to performances of minority stories by minority students than they did mainstream stories by minority students—so while the handful of black students I competed against performed passages from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, I lent dramatic flair to Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club. I often won.
And now? I’m the bellydancer, firespinner, singer-songwriter, and nerd who designs and codes websites. I obsess with sparkles and sequins and makeup and then wrestle with merge conflicts in GitHub. I flirt with audiences and shimmy to Balkan brass bands and then debate backstage whether Daleks or Cylons would win in a fight. I sing 19th century French poetry layered on piano parts in 7/8 time inspired by traditional Chinese folk music, Americana, and jazz. I break stereotypes into tiny pieces and eat them like candy. I exist.
Growing up, the few Asians I saw in media invariably fell into tropes: the martial arts master, the submissive woman, the uber-nerd/scientist, the Dragon Lady seductress. None of these matched my personality. While I was able to beg my way into flute and voice lessons—in addition to piano—my father refused to let me study tae kwon do on the grounds that it would be “like handing a kid a loaded gun and telling him not to use it.” People told me I was bossy—my heroes were characters like Princess Leia and Babylon 5’s Delenn, forces of personality who were fully themselves and didn’t need rescuing. I was more Captain Kirk than Yeoman Rand. I was a geek, but I had far more interest in music and dance than I did in math or chemistry; science interested me primarily as story. And I had no idea what it would mean to be seductive—my conservative evangelical church preached “modesty,” and Bible camp banned spaghetti strap tank tops, two-piece swimsuits, and short shorts on the grounds that they would evoke lust in the boys.
I didn’t exist.
I grew up around Americans who discussed race in black and white terms, expressing couched racism with the assumed understanding that I was one of them. Those were the same Americans who complimented my English, told me my face was flat, and pontificated about how eating Chinese food was great except that you were hungry again immediately afterward. After the last election, CNN disseminated a chart of votes with breakdowns by both race and gender: Black men voted this way, black women this way, Hispanic men and women these ways. Asian-Americans didn’t appear on the chart—we were literally “Other.”
As an Asian-American theatre major, so often I was cast as that literal Other: I spent two summers performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in college. The first year, I was one of the fairies. So were most of the black students. The one who wasn’t a fairy was cast as Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. The second year, we reprised the show; I was cast as Hippolyta. All of the black students were fairies. The Greeks and lovers were uniformly white.
How often do we cast an Asian-American as the protagonist, the superhero whose origin story we follow? How often do we allow an Asian-American to lead a movie as a swashbuckling rogue, the resistance fighter who marries a princess along the way, the rockstar with thousands of screaming fans? Hollywood casts Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park in The Martian—with so few roles available to begin with, we’re often denied even characters who should look like us. We’re over 5% of the US population, but only 1.4% of the lead characters in studio films released in 2014. According to Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, the majority of media features zero named or speaking Asian characters. Zero.
Two years ago I attended a curated acoustic music showcase where every single one of the musicians was a white guy with a bushy beard. Most of them wore plaid. Producers often think of diversity in terms of instrumentation or musical style; I’ve released two albums of original music, toured 10 states, and performed hundreds of shows, but it’s rare to see another folk singer-songwriter of color. While the genre is dominated by white people, Asian-Americans are making this music. And making it well. We exist, but we’re not part of the narrative.
Living in a world where people who look like you are functionally non-existent yields odd fruit. As an ambitious elementary school kid, I wrote (what I considered then) a novel. Starring ninjas. Based heavily on the Ninja Gaiden video game. Of course I Mary Sued my way into the story. But I always envisioned my surrogate as white. And male. (Because, we’re told, the appropriate protagonist of an adventure story is white. And male.) Likewise, when I wrote other stories, every character—heroes, villains, NPCs—was white.
Bryan Lee O’Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame talks about how he never realized that he’d whitewashed himself out of his own story until seeing his comic in movie form and realizing that no one looked like him. As I’ve talked with other Asian-Americans, I’ve realized that I wasn’t the only one—many of us did the same thing. Even the excellent Ted Chiang—one of my favorite writers, and the first Asian-American I can recall encountering in science fiction—falls into this. We’re so conditioned to believe that white is the default that we write ourselves out of the worlds that we create.
I refuse to be invisible.
Faced with a culture that minimizes the existence of Asian-Americans in the arts, I’ve long created my own projects. In 2012, I founded Raks Geek, joining my love of geekdom and dance to form a nerd-themed bellydance and fire performance company that features a primarily Asian and LGBTQIA cast. While our society pigeonholes Asians as socially-awkward scientists, perpetual foreigners, and weak submissives, I’m determined to show Asians can be creative, tough, and unconventional.
“To dance is a radical act.”*
A body on a stage makes a statement. A female, POC body on a stage makes a statement. When I dance, I’m changing the narrative, the story of what an Asian-American woman is allowed to be. When I dance with Raks Geek, I’m making an audience laugh at the ridiculousness of a Wookiee shimmying, but I’m also bringing a new audience to an insular dance form, teaching them what bellydance looks like at a high level of technical and artistic proficiency, and defying a host of model minority and immigrant stereotypes.
Visibility matters. Few would conceive of an Asian-American bellydancer performing as a Wookiee. Or Mystique. Or the TARDIS. But I do, and I hope to challenge perceptions of who we are and can be every time. We exist, and we have always been here.
* “To dance is a radical act because doing so implies that there are forms of knowing that cannot be mediated to us in words, which give words their meaning.” -Kimerer LaMothe
Dawn Xiana Moon is a lifelong geek that has worked professionally in almost every area of the arts. She the Founder and Producer/Director of Raks Geek, a nerd-themed bellydance and fire company that’s garnered acclaim from WGN-TV, MSN, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Mail, and UK Channel 4 TV. As a singer-songwriter, Dawn has performed in 10 states and released two solo albums; her latest CD, Spaces Between, fuses elements from traditional Chinese music with jazz and alt folk pop. She performs with Read My Hips tribal bellydance, spins fire with Acrobatica Infiniti circus, works as a UX designer and web developer, and has written for Uncanny Magazine, The Learned Fangirl, and RELEVANT Magazine. Though she loves Chicago, she periodically needs to flee the US; her wanderlust has brought her to 20 countries (and counting!) thus far.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Rather than a straight up review, I'm going to tell you about my Sara Ryder and use her story as the framing devise for my thoughts on the game overall. Spoilers ahead.
( Pull up a barstool and settle in as I tell you a tale of a lady, her spaceship, and her traveling companions. )
Fandom: Mass Effect trilogy
Character/Pairing: Jane Shepard
Music: Ready for the Storm - Dougie Maclean
Content notes: Nothing beyond what's in the games. Some explosions, physical triggers-wise, but not particularly fast cuts.
Summary: "The lighthouse will keep shining out." (Or, Shep is the bravest little toaster.)
Notes: Thank you so much to beccatoria for the clips, to shinyjenni for technical help and endlessly patient beta-ing, and walkthegale and cosmic_llin for beta-ing and cheerleading! <3
Spoilers: Very big ones for all 3 games!
Download: here (3:48, 135MB)
Also on: YouTube|AO3|Tumblr
( Streaming and lyrics )
( deets )
I also spent Saturday, when I wasn't doing thesis stuff, reading Ninefox Gambit by yhlee.
Someone on twitter told me the book's first 100 pages were very difficult to get through, but after that it was worth it. I'd say that the first 50 pages are the exposition/introduction, and if I hadn't been prepared for them I might have indeed quit at that point because it just felt very dense in details and low on stakes, but after those 50 pages the story actually starts, and maaaaan.
I've missed just ENJOYING a science fiction book. Not reading for research, or an article, or a review, but just... reading. Purely for my own pleasure. And this book is so, so much fun. Usually when I wake up on weekdays I watch something on my ipad in bed for a few minutes, like a buzzfeed video or a daily show clip or whatever. I do it in between checking my email and whatever.
This morning I woke up, reached for Ninefox Gambit, read it for the 5-10 minutes I have for that stuff in the morning, and was SO SAD to put it down to go to work. I didn't even touch my ipad or my phone.
In a way this book deserves to be read in increments, and I wouldn't actually recommend binging it, because it's so thick in details and nuance and worldbuilding, the details take time to settle, at least for me.
In other news, today is a special day in novella land. Instead of a chapter, there's bonus material! Specifically, a map that goes with the story.
Want to know why these folks think creativity goes away when people's needs are fulfilled?— Peter Coffin🌹🔑 (@petercoffin) June 12, 2017
They think the motive is specifically profit.
I retweeted it a couple of days ago, with a promise to come back and say more, and here we are. My thoughts are going to be less about capitalism vs. socialism and the many issues with this specific game (Peter and the rest of the Internet have that aspect amply covered) and more about the economics of creativity, specifically the economics of fandom, which is where my creativity has lived for the past decade and more. I said in my tweet that I have "literally never" been paid in money for creative work; there are some hairs to split (I've written freelance a little bit, mostly advertising copy, and ladybusiness launched a Patreon about six months ago), but I think it's fair to say for the creative work that's personally meaningful to me -- fiction, fannish meta, book reviews, essays like this one, etc. -- I have never received renumeration. I consider this to be choice, because I have immersed myself in fandom, writing fiction of a type that I legally cannot sell. I've chosen not to write original fiction, or file the serial numbers off my fic; I've chosen not to pitch essays or reviews to paying venues; and I've chosen not to set up a personal Patreon or any kind of tip jar. Within my corner of fandom culture, we mostly accept that we're creating for the love of it, and for the personal satisfaction of sharing our creations with others.
So I look at a sentiment like the one that Peter describes, and it's alien to me. Many years ago, at my first FogCon, I got into a brief debate with a professional author during a panel about fanfiction, and why anyone would put time into writing something you couldn't sell. (Perhaps ironically, it was a panel about cyberpunk and other "-punk" genres.) Although my comments were well-received in the moment, the pro who raised the issue admitted that he still didn't really get it; he offered to continue the discussion over email, but I was too shy to take him up on it, so it ended there. I still think about it sometimes, though. There are plenty of people who undertake creative pursuits with no expectation of making them into a career: crafters, home cooks, musicians. I've never made money off music, either -- I actually pay for the privilege of singing in my chorus. Amateurs often create for love, in all kinds of fields. Why should writing be any different?
Fandom has an economy, of course. Most often it's described as a "gift economy", meaning that you publish your work as a gift to the community, with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Another, in my experience more accurate description, is the "attention economy". Instead of money, creators get "paid" in attention: likes, kudos, clicks, reviews. Both of these models are somewhat limited, and the "attention economy" frame in particular is still rooted in the paradigm of capitalism, but I think there's something worthwhile in both descriptions. One of my favorite articles on the subject is The Economics of Fandom: Value, Investment, and Invisible Price Tags by saathi1013, which goes into detail about the "work" it takes to be in fandom, and the different ways in which we value and/or are compensated for that work.
On the other hand, there are signs that this may be changing. In this respect, there's always been a disconnect in fandom between fanfic and fanart -- unlike fanfic, there's a long tradition of selling fanart: at comics conventions, for example, or via commissions. In professional comics circles, there's an expectation of sorts that artists will cut their teeth on fanart and perhaps even include it in their portfolio. And increasingly, fanfic authors have been questioning why they can't benefit from selling their work, too. I've known fanfic authors to take commissions, or set up Patreons. And the practice of "filing off the serial numbers" has gotten more transparent with the success of authors like E. L. James and Cassandra Clare. Everyone knows that 50 Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight AU, and that Clare was offered a book contract on the strength of her following in the Harry Potter and LoTR fandoms. As IP holders have grown less likely to bring down the hammer on fanfic authors, fanfic is coming out of the shadows. Can a growing commercial acceptance be far behind?
To me, maybe it doesn't matter. Although I certainly appreciate no longer living in fear that I'll receive a cease and desist letter someday, I don't know that I would try to sell my fic even if I were given the opportunity. Essays and reviews might be a different story, further down the road, but for now I'm happier where I am, in (what feels to me) like the lower-pressure environment of fandom, where I can write for the love of it, and in the hopes of finding fellow travelers who will love what I love with me.