News, views, disillusions

I have finished my third week at a RealJob. The paycheque is nice, but I woke up this morning sick as a dog. Ah, well. It could be worse.

There’s a lot of news to catch up on. In my case, the most exciting piece is that, along with Mahvesh Murad, I’ll be editing Speculative Fiction 2016:

Call for Submissions: What You Need to Know

The Speculative Fiction series is a not-for-profit publication. All net proceeds will be going to charity.
The anthology seeks non-fiction reviews and essays (“works”) specific to some aspect of Speculative Fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything and anything that falls under the broad genre umbrella), including but not limited to: books, movies, tv shows, games, comics, conventions, genre trends, and so on. No short stories or original fiction, please.
The works MUST have been originally published online during the calendar year 2016.
Any pieces chosen for the publication will be paid a flat fee of $10 per work (in lieu of payment, contributors may choose to donate their fee to charity in their name).
Nominations are accepted for works published by anyone online. (This includes bloggers, friends, bloggers who are friends, authors who blog, bloggers who are authors, alien life forms, cats, etc…)
People may submit their own work or someone else’s.
People may submit as many works as they like. (There is NO limit on submissions!)
Submitted works ideally should be between 800 and 1500 words (but that’s not mandatory, we may consider longer and shorter pieces).
While submitted works can be from anywhere in the world, although we do need an English translation for consideration.
Submissions are open through December 31 2016.

Submit your nominations here. Deadline is 31 December 2016.


There are some links hanging out in my tabs:

The Church’s Lingering Shadows On Sex Work In Ireland.

Jane Austen to Cassandra.

Lesbians of 1916 are the Rising’s “hidden history.”

Carrie Fisher interviews Daisy Ridley.

Wonder Woman, Amazons, armour and history: the best thing on Tumblr.

Poem: “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up.”

Database of Public Monuments in Roman Greece. Lovely searchable database.

Doctoratus in Philosophia

Yesterday I attended the commencements ceremony for my Ph.D. I wore a waistcoat and bowtie.

100_1854

The Ph.D. robes are red and yellow silk, and very swish. I had a great day, for the most part. My mother and my academic supervisor both attended the ceremony, and I had dinner with them and some other people, and then cocktails. TWO WHOLE COCKTAILS.

100_1876

There is a downside to attending a formal ceremony in gender-noncomforming formal garb, though. Perhaps more than one.

Ph.D. graduands must line up and process in to the Public Theatre. The line is alphabetical by last name, and a person goes down the line with a clipboard checking that one is in the right place. This exchange occurred when that person — by appearance a woman — got to me:

“Elizabeth Bourke?” said they.

“Yes,” I said.

“Nooooo,” they said.

“Yes,” said I.

“Nooo – Oh,” they said, and wandered off further down the line, causing the person next to me to remark, in commiserating fashion: “I expect you get that a lot.”

During the ceremony itself, when the pro-chancellor went to hand me the parchment, he said, “Mr. Bourke, congratulations -” and the professor sitting next to him pointed out his error, since the name on the paper was Elizabeth – “oh, I’m sorry. Ms. Bourke, congratulations.” Mic’d live to the whole hall.

It would’ve taken a lot more than that to put a damper on my enjoyment of the day, but, y’know, I could’ve lived without either. Although being contradicted when I answered to my own name was extremely irritating.

Still. I am DR. BOURKE now. For good. No one can take it back.

Long overdue update!

Before anything else, there’s a new post about The 100 over at Tor.com.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve caught up on the second season of The 100, the post-apocalyptic murder-fest television show of our time. Somewhere around halfway through, and definitely by episode 2.12, “Rubicon,” I started having a vague niggling itch: it was reminding me of Xena: Warrior Princess. “But that’s not right,” I said to myself. “They’re completely different: tonally, stylistically, structurally, in all ways. Have you been sniffing glue, self? Just because people are bringing Xena back is no reason to have it on the brain!”


I’ve been silent here for quite a while. February was A Month, friends, full of Interesting Life Things All Happening Close Together. (I joined a social club, went back to rockclimbing, had some developments happen that might change the shape of my life for at least the rest of the year. Etc.)

I haven’t been blogging because I haven’t been reading: reading for an award jury (the Clarke Award, which I’m not really supposed to talk about much?) has about killed my ability to not hate fiction.

It’s not so much fun taking about books when you read the first three pages and just hate everything, even if it has obvious merits.

I’ll probably be continuing quiet here for the foreseeable future, with the odd update when I have something new over at Tor.com or somewhere else online.

In the meantime, I entertained myself over the weekend by watching THE SHANNARA CHRONICLES and tweeting about it. Here are some of those tweets:

In conclusion, only watch that show for a drinking game.

Linkpost!

From “The Journal”: “Britain to return 1916 banner seized as war trophy.”

[T]he Na Fianna Eireann banner which was seized from Countess Markievicz’s home by the British army as a war trophy will be returned to the Irish State for the 1916 centenary.

 

From “Fusion”: “Hiring managers are less likely to call an LGBT woman back.”

After sending out 1,600 resumes to apply for more than 800 jobs, the study found that women with an “LGBT indicator” on their resume (represented in the study as work experience at an LGBT advocacy group) were about 30% less likely to receive a call-back than women who didn’t have those indicators.

 

From Al Jazeera English: “Hip Hop Hijabis.”

By inhabiting the intersection between cultures whose values on the surface seem so conflicting, Poetic Pilgrimage challenge a plethora of dearly held convictions from all sides of the cultural spectrum. Many Western feminists believe that promoting women’s rights from within an Islamic framework is a futile exercise, while in the eyes of some Muslims, female musicians are hell-bound.

 

From Foz Meadows: “PSA to people who menstruate.”

If anyone tries to make a dumbass sexist joke about your being more [insert stereotypically negative feminine quality here] while on your period, you can tell them that actually, menstruation raises testosterone levels, not oestrogen. (Telling them to go fuck themselves with an angry cactus can also be therapeutic.)

 

From Max Gladstone at Tor.com: “On Alan Rickman, Loss, and Mourning Our Heroes.”

No one among us exists as a thing in herself, alone and complete as she appears from the outside. We’re all collages of art and memory and friendship and family, struggling and striving together. Places and people we’ve encountered endure within us. And when those places or people pass away in the outside world, within us something changes too. When we mourn, we trace the shape and magnitude of that change. We find, sometimes—often—to our surprise, the depths at which we were formed by others. There’s little logic to the architecture of our souls; we like to think blood matters, and time, but sometimes a glance or a touch, a half smile on a movie screen, a cover song, a piece of lightning bolt makeup, a Christmas card, an afternoon’s conversation, a book read once in childhood, can be a pillar on which the roof of us depends.

 

This article at Buzzfeed will make PERFECT sense to a lot of people I know:

Click on the image for the link to the article, “13 charts that will make perfect sense to people with imposter syndrome.”

 

From the Economist: “Referendum madness.”

ONE dodgy referendum lost Ukraine Crimea. Another threatens to lose it the European Union. On April 6th the Dutch public will vote on the “association agreement” the EU signed with Ukraine in 2014. The deal cements trade and political links with one of the EU’s most important neighbours; the prospect of losing it under Russian pressure triggered Ukraine’s Maidan revolution. But last summer a group of Dutch mischief-makers, hunting for a Eurosceptic cause they could place on the ballot under a new “citizens’ initiative” law, noticed that parliament had just approved the deal. Worse luck for the Ukrainians.

 

And finally, Foz Meadows again, this time on: “UPROOTED: Abuse & Ragequitting.”

Tonight, I started reading Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED. It was a novel about which I’d heard only good things from people I trust; a novel I was hoping would break me out of my current reading slump, wherein I’ve started a great many books, but am struggling to finish any of them. To borrow the parlance of memes, cannot tell if too depressed to read or just fed up with exclusionary, derivative bullshit – or, alternatively, if reading so much fanfiction has utterly wrecked my internal yardstick for length, structure and content.

 

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print…

Well, no, it isn’t, but I have to keep some links for next week. *g*

Passion

I’ve been thinking about passion. (Not in the erotic or romantic sense: minds out of the gutter, people! More on the line of intellectual passion.)

I had an interview today for a job in an area that is, at best, tangentially connected with my degree (either of them). One of the interviewers said to me, “It’s obvious you have a lot of passion for your degree subject,” or words to that effect. And I might be reading too much into that, but the implication seemed to be that passion was a finite thing, that having one compelling interest meant having less capacity to be passionate about other things.

I’m passionate about ancient history because that’s where I ended up. But I ended up with a specialism there as much by accident of circumstance as design: it was in front of me, and there would always be more to learn.

I like knowing things, understanding how they fit together, making sense of people and themes – I’ve been known to spend hours learning how volcanoes work, or geomorphology, or the genesis of the space programme, or 19th century medical science; about medieval China and India’s North-Western Frontier under the Raj, about Dutch and Portuguese mercantile colonialism in South-East Asia and its effect on European market capitalism; about social relations in modern Malaysia and the anthropology of taste and class in 20th-century France. About economic relations between states and between people – economists rarely make it legible to ordinary people, but once you relate the numbers to relationships of people and interests and power, it becomes fascinating.

I like language. I like knowing how it works, the varied language groups with their different grammatical structures and the way different languages encode different ways of viewing and interacting with the world in their own ways. I like science, the way new developments have different ramifications for human life and experience and potential, for individuals and communities.

My capacity for passion is no more limited than my capacity for love, or grief. It’s limited only by time and resources. There is very little with a human element I find boring, for crying out loud.

(Data-entry is boring. But you have to do the boring shit to get to the good parts: if a PhD taught me anything, it was that as the prime law. Also the importance of organising your logistics in advance.)

I know there are people who are only interested in one or two things, and the rest of the world can go hang. But I don’t know many people personally of whom this is true. The capacity for passion – for enthusiasm – for taking delight in the topic at hand – seems to be a key component of geekiness. We constrain our passions according to how much time there is in a day, and the ratio of effort:reward, but still.

…I guess I might be passionate about the capacity for passion. Who’d have thought?

Linkpost!

Here are some things that have been hanging out in my tabs:

 

Max Gladstone, “A Year of Reading Differently.”

 “Why the hell,” sez I on the train, gasping, exhilarated, overcome with awe, “did it take me this long to read To the Lighthouse?”  “The Fire Next Time is every bit as brilliant as people have been telling me for a decade, and it’s only like eighty pages long.  Why did I not—”  Midnight’s Children!  Fucking Midnight’s Children, which is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed literary novel about the X-Men, what was I waiting for.  I knew I loved Woolf.  I loved Satanic Verses.  So why did I read [stack of mediocre novels] before these?

… Oh.

Oh.

oh.

One exists, of course, within a karmically determined universe.  One’s choices, even at the most minute level, are shaped by overlapping fields of power arising from the movements and injustices of history.  If we’re not conscious in the way we engage with those fields and manipulate them, we perpetuate them.  But it’s scary to see that face to face, to recognize its presence in one’s migration of one’s library.  (I owned all the books I mentioned in that paragraph already, and had for at least five years.  I just hadn’t read them.)

 

Max again, with a magnificently geeky piece on Star Wars: The Force Awakens: “The Force Awakens RPG Madness.”

I think part of my excitement stems from how open the universe feels.  A lot of the setting power of the Original Trilogy rises from its focus on the Imperial Periphery.  We see the edges of power, where the Empire projects force and interesting stuff happens, where the destinies of nations hinge on a single battle or moral choice, rather than the metropole, which corners more slowly if at all.  The prequel trilogy’s political ambitions tangled its story with the engines of power that drive the Galaxy Far, Far Away—and limited its characters to maneuvering within those engines, rather than “taking the first step into a wider world.”

 

A friend of mine has written a glorious CYOA fanfic for Sunless Sea (I don’t even play Sunless Sea! I haven’t played Fallen London in years!) which you should all go look at: “The Virulent.”

I can’t remember who passed me the link to this piece on Dorothy Arzner, a director in the early years of Hollywood, but it makes for fascinating reading: “Dorothy Arzner, Hidden Star Maker of Hollywood’s Golden Age.”

Type the name “Dorothy Arzner” into Netflix’s search bar and you’ll get zero results.

It’s an odd outcome, considering Arzner, a prolific golden age film director, has 16 feature films—among the most of any woman in Hollywood, ever. She gave Katharine Hepburn one of her first starring roles. She navigated the transition from silent films to talkies with panache, inventing the boom microphone in the process. And yet, she is largely unknown today.

 

And finally: the best picture on the internet:

  Is this not the most magnificent red carpet image ever?

Happy 2016!

How long has it been since I updated? Not since 24th November last, which is quite a while. In my defence, I spent December rather thoroughly distracted by trying not to die of the Chest Infection From Hell.

(No, really. From hell. I couldn’t stand up or talk for a week. And then I could only shuffle slowly for another two. It was the nineteenth before I was capable of going for even a short walk.)

And then there were the Mandatory Togetherness Times, which worked out unusually well this year. And, of course, the Briefly Returned Emigrés got together with those of us still living here for a bang-up evening of gossip. And the occasional exchange of gifts.

My friends, apparently, know me as well as love me.

But I have goals! And plans for this space – for example, to be more regularly entertaining in the coming year.

We shall see how well I succeed…

Books in brief: Alexander, Hunter, Stark

There is nothing I can do about the news. So I may as well talk about books.

Mardi Alexander, Spirits of the Dance. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. E-ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Lesbian romance. Better than many of its ilk. Set in Australia, on a cattle ranch/in a small town, starring a leg-amputee ex-military officer and a young local with an abusive father. Lots of horses. Extended description of attempted (hetero) rape. (And when the barn goes on fire, I asked myself – homophobic foul play, or just Australian summer?) Somewhat off-balance in terms of pacing and structure, but nonetheless rather satisfying.

Cari Hunter, Cold to the Touch. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. E-ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Crime novel set somewhere around about Sheffield, as best I can tell. Starring lesbians, because Bold Strokes Books. It’s a pretty solid crime novel: with this and her last novel, Hunter has taken a step up in terms of structure, pacing and tension. There is murder, winter, relationship drama, and occasionally kissing. It is a very enjoyable novel.

Nell Stark, The Princess and the Prix. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. E-ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Lesbian princess romance is apparently a subgenre of its own now? Formula 1 driver meets Monagasque princess! Hijinks ensue! Batshit, and yet a ridiculous amount of (ridiculous) fun.

Gender and Genderqueerness

If you’re here for the talking about books, this post is going to bore you. Fair warning.

I spent part of the weekend at Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention. (It was supposed to be the whole weekend, but I got home on Saturday night, slept 15 hours straight, and woke up still unsure which way was down. I think no one would have got any sense out of me on Sunday.) I participated in four panels, and had an immense amount of fun with all of them – even the last, “Genderqueerness as a Marker of the Other,” about which I was perhaps excessively anxious.

That panel was very interesting. It also brought me to a realisation about my own attitude to gender, my own relationship to gender identity. It is really weird talking about gender, and gender identities, because I can’t escape the feeling that other people experience gender-as-a-property very differently than I do.

Because for me, gender is not an inherent property of selfhood. It doesn’t inhere in the body, but neither does it attach to any other part of being. It’s a social construct, not an objective entity; a performance whose rules change over time and from context to context. When I think of myself, I only think of gendering myself when it involves interacting with a social context that requires a kind of performance, that genders bodies. Gender is play. Gender is roleplay. (Performing femininity – now that’s a role whose rules I’ve never been able to figure out.)

I speak of myself as a woman because the social context is unlikely to ever open up to me the role of man. (I don’t particularly want to perform manhood, either.) And it’s still easier to chafe at the confines of woman-as-role than to define myself as different to either. I don’t want to have to define myself in gendered terms – even if those gendered terms are “I reject your categories entirely!” – in order to live as myself.

(Let us do away with all the fraught baggage attached to gendered roles! Be rid of it completely! Let us tear down the patriarchy and default to singular-they.)

I don’t know how common this view of gender is, or selfhood. I don’t know how odd this makes me, or if it’s more ordinary than I know. It’s something the panel brought me to articulate to myself about how I see the world and my place in it, though.

Recently arrived review copies

Note to self: do not photograph books with reddish covers against the reddish rug. This is bad strategy.

Seven? Seven.

Seven? Seven.

Courtesy of DAW Books (which reminds me that I must get in touch with the nice person at DAW Books who has been sending me things to thank them, and perhaps make one or two more specific requests), Jacey Bedford’s CROSSWAYS and Phyllis Ames’ FROZEN IN AMBER.

Courtesy of Angry Robot Books, Alyc Helms’ THE DRAGONS OF HEAVEN, Danielle L. Jensen’s HIDDEN HUNTRESS, Ishbelle Bee’s THE CURIOUS TALE OF THE BUTTERFLY GIRL, and Susan Murray’s THE WATERBORNE BLADE and WATERBORNE EXILE.

Another year older and still not dead!

Today I’m twenty-nine years old. Another year older and still not dead!

It has been my habit on my birthday, the last couple of years, to send messages to people telling them how much I appreciate their presence in my life. This year, I think, there are too many people to make that entirely practical – and I don’t know all their emails. So I’m just going to write here what I want to say.

Dear friends,

It’s been a tricky year, since this time in 2014. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. Without you, I wouldn’t have a PhD all but in hand. Without you, my life would be so much poorer and smaller, and contain so much less joy. I am honoured by your acquaintance, and your friendship, your hospitalities and your support: your presence in my life is a gift and a blessing, and it humbles me.

Thank you. Never stop being awesome.

Books in brief: David W. Anthony, THE HORSE, THE WHEEL, AND LANGUAGE

David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped The Modern World. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 2007.

This is a lot less populist than its title implies. It is a solid and engaging work of scholarly synthesis that brings together evidence from historical linguistics and archaeological excavation to investigate the geographic origins of Proto-Indo-European, and the spread of Indo-European languages, and what kind of material culture Indo-European culture groups might have had.

The first section concentrates more on the historical linguistics, and is a lot more accessible than the latter sections, which requires one to keep track of the names of a lot of archaeologically distinct culture-groups, type-sites, and other sites. And pottery, and bones, and a gloriously detailed treatment of prehistoric steppe cultures. I liked it a lot, but it’s not my period or area and even though I’m used to keeping track of these kinds of details in other contexts, I did find it quite hard to follow in places. (This might be, in part, because I was reading it a little at a time over a long period, and not making notes.)

It’s a lengthy tome, and detailed, and more readable than this sort of detailed survey often is. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it if you have an interest in prehistoric steppe cultures.

Books in brief: Cari Hunter, NO GOOD REASON, and Karis Walsh, MOUNTING EVIDENCE

Somehow it came to pass that a certain publisher of queer fiction auto-approved me on Netgalley, which means that I received access to a tranche of new or forthcoming lesbian novels.

The best of that tranche, by me, are the novels by Cari Hunter and Karis Walsh.

Cari Hunter, No Good Reason. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. Ecopy courtesy of the publisher.

This is a crime novel set in the Lake District. The two protagonists, cop Sanne and doctor Meg, are best friends and occasional lovers. When a badly injured young woman is found by hikers, who appears to have escaped from an abductor, both Sanne and Meg are drawn into the hunt for the perpetrator. It’s a very readable novel, with very appealing characters, albeit with some pacing issues, and for that reason I went out looking for everything else Hunter has written when I was done. It transpires that No Good Reason is her fourth novel: the others aren’t quite as good but they’re still solidly enjoyable.

Karis Walsh, Mounting Evidence. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. Ecopy courtesy of the publisher.

A romance between a cop who comes from a family of dirty cops, and an environmental activist/single mother. Abigail Hargrove is a lieutenant with the mounted police unit. Kira Lovell is a wetlands biologist. They meet at the state fair, and murder and kidnapping and underhanded dealings interfere in their awkward courtship. Fun, although the prose is a touch clunky and the pacing on the uneven side.

Recently arrived review copies

Two here.

Two here.

From Skyhorse, Melissa E. Hurst’s THE EDGE OF FOREVER, and from Tor, Ilana C. Myer’s LAST SONG BEFORE NIGHT.

One here.

One here.

From Tor, the final book in Jaime Lee Moyer’s debut series, AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY.

And three here.

And three here.

And from Titan, Abbie Bernstein’s THE ART OF MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, Rhonda Mason’s THE EMPRESS GAME, and Robert Brockway’s THE UNNOTICEABLES.

C.T. Adams’ THE EXILE (Patreon Review)

The Exile by C.T. Adams Tor US, 2015. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

C.T. Adams is one-half of prolific urban-fantasy duo C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, who have also written in tandem as Cat Adams. The Exile is, apparently, C.T. Adams’ first solo novel, and an oddball of a novel it is: it opens looking like a fairly straight variant of urban fantasy, and gradually takes on more of the shape of a portal fantasy. The world on the other side of the portal is called “Faerie,” and — let’s be honest — it’s a spot on the bland and generic side.

Brianna Hai is a moderately successful shopowner in a North American city. She sells curios, magical and otherwise, with the assistance of her employee and friend David. She’s also the daughter of King Leu of Faerie and his late human lover. Brianna’s mother was exiled from Faerie for sealing the veil between the human and fae worlds so that the natives of Faerie can only cross with the help of a human. Brianna has no intentions of returning to her father’s court, where most of her siblings and half the court nobility would be happy to see her dead. But unbeknownst to her, there are forces mobilising in Faerie and the human world against her father, and King Leu has received a prophecy concerning his impending death. When enemies from Faerie raid Brianna’s apartment, she — accompanied by her friend and protector Pug, a gargoyle; David; and David’s cop brother Nick, who has only just learned of the existence of magic — pursues them back to her father’s realm, and ends up right in the middle of a court full of traitors and people who see her human friends as potential toys.

And in conclusion, all hell breaks loose and Faerie goes to war. The Exile is, it seems, only the first novel of a series.

If you don’t mind a certain amount of narrative carelessness, a multiplicity of point-of-view characters to a degree more usually seen in 700-page epic fantasies than in 320-page not-quite-urban-fantasies, and a jarring spot of racism/narrative validation of police violence, The Exile is an undemandingly readable piece of fiction. But should we settle for “undemandingly readable”? I cannot muster more enthusiasm: while the characterisation does succeed in reaching beyond mere bland types, the ways in which the narrative fails to take advantage of its potential undermines my enjoyment to no small extent. The reader has no sense of the conflict and the stakes for which the factions in Faerie are competing until too late — and how closely this conflict will affect Brianna likewise remains opaque until very late. And how this Faerie-driven conflict fits in with the potential threats to Brianna in the human world is hinted at, but never made clear. Nick comes into contact with her because his bosses suspect her of being the mastermind of some unspecified criminal enterprise, but this plot thread is dropped, only to be dragged back up again at the close of play, when Brianna’s position has undergone sufficient change of state that one imagines criminal charges will be the least of her worries.

As for Nick himself… well, what is the point of Nick? He’s one of the (many) point-of-view characters, and seems to be being set up as a romantic interest for Brianna. He’s the good cop who kills a black fourteen-year-old in a justified shooting,* and Exposition Man who needs all of Faerie explained to him. Nick is a combination of boring and annoying.

The more I think about The Exile, it strikes me, the less I like it. It can’t quite make up its mind what kind of book it wants to be — and for all its numerous point of view characters, it gives no space at all to the antagonists who become vitally important in the final 80 pages. The reader never sees who they really are or what they really want, and in consequence they’re a blank space filled up with cliché evil. They have no motivations beyond evil and ambition — none, at least, that the reader is permitted to see.

That’s a pity, because I wanted to be able to recommend this book. But I can’t.

*In a gratuitous section of the novel — what does that even add to the narrative except racism and police violence?


This review has been brought to you courtesy of my Patreon supporters.

For those interested in accounting and full disclosure, what follows is a summary of Patreon support and income to date.

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Interesting linky bits

Verso Books, “Judith Butler on Gender and the Trans Experience.”

Harvard Magazine, “The Science of Scarcity: Behaviour and Poverty.”

Irish Times, “Legislation to prevent schools and hospitals discriminating against current or future employees because of their sexuality will be in place by summer.” Good on you, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, but make sure it’s solid and your colleagues don’t gut it, aye?

Averil Power on the lack of support and vision of her former Fianna Fáil colleagues – including for the marriage equality referendum – in the Irish Independent. Power’s resignation from the party leaves Fianna Fáil’s Oireachtas members with a sad case of Smurfette syndrome.

The Times of Malta on Roman columbaria rediscovered during work on Gozo’s Citadella.

Tansy Rayner Roberts, “‘Fake Geek Girl’ and the Review of Australian Fiction.”

Salon, “Rape in Westeros: What ‘Game of Thrones’ could learn from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road'” – solid.

Jeanne the Fangirl, “A Song of Ice and Fire has a rape problem.”

Do you want to cry happy tears? Watch this:

*pets David Norris* A REPUBLIC OF DIGNITY.

Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill

GANDALF: Theoden king stands alone.
Eomer: Not alone. ROHIRRIM!

Watching #hometovote on Thursday night and Friday, that was how I felt.

On Friday, 22 May 2015, the Irish nation voted overwhelmingly to give equal protection to all persons choosing to marry without distinction as to their sex. It – we – voted to affirm the equality of GLBT citizens in the eyes of the constitution.

Today we watched the returns come in. Today we saw history made. Today, in the crowds in the courtyard of Dublin Castle, cheering when every constituency went green for YES (and booing for Roscommon-South Leitrim, shame on you, you let the side down a bit there), today we began a new history.

I have now heard a crowd break spontaneously into the national anthem.

This is not a thing I ever expected to hear.

But when David Norris spoke a few words to the crowd in that courtyard – a rowdy, cheerful crowd that nonetheless went silent to hear him speak – ending on a note of liberté, egalité, fraternité, everyone. Just. Started.

Buíon dár slua
thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. There was a crush just to get in to the courtyard where the screen was bringing up the constituencies as they turned green for Yes. And every time another one went green the roar. Laughing. Crying. Hugging people met randomly. And when Leo Varadkar appeared, a Fine Gael government minister who only came out this year and turned into the most unlikely gay icon of our time… the whole crowd started chanting, “LEO, LEO, LEO.”

One of the highest turnouts for a referendum ever in this country. A landslide in the Dublin constituencies. A two-thirds majority across the country.

Everyone who canvassed. Everyone who came out on national TV, in the newspapers, on doorsteps all over the country, whose courage and compassion and generosity are an example to us all – thank you. Everyone who came #hometovote, that army pouring over the hill – thank you. THANK YOU.

It took me until this year to realise and admit to myself properly that I was bisexual – queer, primarily attracted to women, whatever words are the words that shape the place where a person fits. It took me so long because I was slow to realise it was even possible, much less normal. Much less safe. (My subconscious has some really odd narratives about sex and desire – and I blame being a bastard in nineties Ireland in part for that.)

And now. Now my heart hurts with gladness because this whole bloody country just turned around and said Ah GO ON. Turned out in droves to say Let grá be the law.

It’s in the constitution now, bigots. NO TAKEBACKS.

No, it’s not the end of the road. No, it’s not a panacea. It will not solve quiet social prejudice, or erase Irish homo- and transphobia overnight, or address any number of other problems. But today, Ireland?

TODAY WE ARE LEGENDS WHO MADE HISTORY.

(And I was there to see it.)

What a day. O what a LOVELY day.

It’s about ethics in book reviewing!

No, really, it is.

So I started a Patreon about a month ago. It’s reached its basic goal already – which is a little startling to me – so as soon as I sort out a couple of things on the paperwork/back-end, it’ll be bringing More Book Reviews to an Internet Near You…

…ahem. Which brings us to the ethics part. It hasn’t escaped my notice that at least half a dozen of my patrons are themselves Publishing Professionals. That’s obviously a potential conflict of interest right there, so clearly I need to set forth a policy, or at least articulate my position on reviewing books that are connected to people who are providing me material support.

The thing is, book reviews are never objective. Responses to art are always personal and subjective, even when we find objective arguments to support our subjective reactions. And that’s even before we move into personal connections. I know – and feel sufficiently friendly towards – enough writers to be aware that how I think of them as people affects how I react to their work. I try my best not to let it affect how I present those arguments and reactions, but let’s be honest: if I tried to pretend it absolutely didn’t, I’d be either deluding myself or a lying hypocrite.

On the other hand, just because someone buys me a drink (or lunch, to take another example, or lets me sleep in their spare room for a couple of nights), it doesn’t mean I owe them anything other than a reciprocal drink or lunch at some future point – or if the opportunity for equivalent reciprocity never arises, to pay it forward.

With Patreon, supporters are paying for the production of reviews. The content? Will reflect my own tastes and biases, as always.

Just in case you were wondering.

James Tiptree Jr. and BSFA Award Winners

Congratulations to award winners!

The winners of the 2014 James Tiptree Jr. Award were recently announced. It’s a joint win for Monica Byrne’s The Girl In The Road and Jo Walton’s My Real Children, with an Honor List that includes Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Elysium, Emmi Itäranta’s Memory of Water, Jacqueline Koyanagi’s Ascension, Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon, Aliya Whiteley’s The Beauty, the anthology Kaleidoscope edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, and stories by Nghi Vo, Pat MacEwen, Kim Curran, and Seth Chambers.

It’s a list mostly full of stuff I haven’t read yet, and which I now really want to read.

In other recent news, the BSFA Award was announced tonight. The winner for Best Novel was Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (following up last year’s tie with Gareth Powell), with Ruth E.J. Booth taking the prize in Short Fiction, Tessa Farmer leading the field in Art, and Edward James winning Best Nonfiction. (Information sourced from Twitter, since the BSFA website doesn’t seem to have the winners up yet.)

As for the other science fiction award of which so much news has been heard this weekend, I have few thoughts. Last year was an outlier for me in terms of how much interest I had in the Hugo Awards – the Worldcon was taking place in London, which meant I could attend, and the shortlist turned out to include me, among a bunch of people that actually pretty much reflected what I am interested in. Most years, as far as I can tell, the Hugo Awards bear very little relation to Stuff I Am Excited About.

I wasn’t expecting it to be so effectively hacked by people who sympathise with actual hate groups as backlash, mind you, but I have very little emotional investment in the Hugo Awards and Worldcon as a concept. Well done, Puppy Slate and G*m*rg*t*, for successfully applying a party whip to pretty much open-access pay-per-vote award nominations! You’ve dented a toy some other people like to play with, good show all around, your parents and preschool teachers would be very proud of you. How very… tedious.

I read over 200 novels last year, and a good half of them were probably 2014-vintage-new. Remind me to do a weekly post about a thing from last year that excited me, between now and August? I still have things to read from last year, as well. This seems like a good excuse to maybe read them.

And maybe go through the forthcoming Speculative Fiction 2014 for the purposes of finding Things That Excite Me. And talking about them.

Oh, I should probably mention. I have a Patreon now. In case anyone wants to pay me directly for book reviews. (Money is useful for things like lunch. And books.)