Linky will never catch up

Madeleine E. Robins, “How Feminism Killed Cooking”:

Valorization of a better, simpler, more wholesome time drives me nuts. Because it’s fantasy. I love the gorgeous, candy-colored rendition of small-town turn of the last century Iowa in The Music Man, but I don’t confuse that with real life, which included diptheria, weevil-ly flour, bedbugs, and food that often teetered on the edge of spoiled. Taking on some of the tasks of yesterday, while using some of the tools of today to avoid the nastier work, and disdaining people who cannot or don’t want to do the same, is a mug’s game. It makes it all about aesthetics, when what most people 100 years ago, and many people today, are worrying about is survival.

At Strange Horizons, Abigail Nussbaum begins the first in a two-part review of The 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist, looking at The Dog Stars, NOD and Dark Eden:

What’s been missing in all this is any discussion of the shortlist itself. Which is particularly unfortunate since—and I’m indebted to Niall Harrison for first calling my attention to this fact—lost in the shuffle of the consternation over the absence of female authors from the shortlist is the parlous state of its female characters, and the fact that in most of the nominated novels, these characters are sidelined, viewed from the outside, treated as the male protagonist’s reward, or made subservient to his heroic journey. This strikes me as a more cogent, more urgent criticism of the shortlist than the outrage surrounding the absence of female authors from it—though there is, presumably, a correlation between these two problems—and it is a shame that that outrage is obscuring, and perhaps making it difficult to have, a conversation about this second issue.

All that having been said, we’re still left with one crucial question: is the shortlist any good? As might perhaps have been predicted from the old school tenor of the selected books, the 2013 shortlist is solid. Not very exciting, and with no small amount of room for improvement—lost in the shuffle of the outrage over the shortlist’s gender imbalance are two other books by men that oddsmakers were expecting to see here, M. John Harrison’s Empty Space and Adam Roberts’s Jack Glass, either one of which might have raised the tone considerably if brought in to replace any of three or perhaps even four of the current nominees—but on the whole, not a bad bunch of books. There’s much to be said for, and often against, each of these nominees, and with that we should perhaps close this preamble and begin.

Linky has been doing the devil’s work (idle hands)

At Tor.com, Amal El-Mohtar is talking about How To Read Poetry:

Part of me is perpetually astonished that I need to explain to people why they should read poetry. The mainstream perception of poetry in the anglophone West is fundamentally alien to me. Over and over I encounter the notion that poetry is impenetrable, reserved for the ivory tower, that one can’t understand or say anything about it without a literature degree, that it is boring, opaque, and ultimately irrelevant. It seems like every few months someone in a major newspaper blithely wonders whether poetry is dead, or why no one writes Great Poetry anymore. People see poetry as ossified, a relic locked away in textbooks, rattled every now and then to shake out the tired conclusions of droning lecturers who have absorbed their views from the previous set of droning lecturers and so on and on through history.

Cora Buhlert on Hugo Nomination:

Odd. I’d have thought that this year’s Hugo shortlist was pretty much uncontroversial. I mean, we have a healthy representation of women and writers of colour, most of the nominations went to works and writers that are popular or at least talked about, there are very few “What the Fuck?” nominees compared with other years (e.g. last year’s nominees included a filk CD and a Hugo acceptance speech from the previous year). Sure, there still are issues, particularly with certain categories, but there always are issues.

Which is why I was surprised to find that this year’s Hugo slate is apparently considered highly controversial in certain corners of the SFF community.

Everything Is Nice on Clarke Award Data:

Unfortunately, we can’t compare submissions historically but we can compare with the shortlists. So, in the first 10 years of the award 30% of nominees were female, 50% of winners were female and there were three years when there were as many women as men on the shortlist. Whereas in the last 10 years 22% of nominees were female, 20% of winners were female and men made up the majority of the shortlist every years.

So the record of the Arthur C Clarke Award is getting worse. I think this has to reflect the worsening situation for women in British science fiction publishing over this period. The fact that this year’s shortlist is made up entirely of men is a symptom of this and we need to address the root cause.

There’s a lot of talk about Night Shade Books’…thing.

Kameron Hurley, Deal/No Deal.

Tobias Buckell, Night Shade Sale Summary.

Staffer’s Book Review, Night Shade Books: What Went Wrong?

Michael A Stackpole, The Night Shade Books/Skyhorse Publishing Deal.

Phil Foglio, Publish & Perish.

JABerwocky Literary Agent, The Night Shade Writers of America.

Shaun Duke of the Skiffy & Fanty Podcast invited me to join himself, Paul Weimar, and Stina Leicht to kvetch about the Hugos and the Clarkes. So that’s available over there. Apparently I can be counted on to go on, and on, and on at length.

(And also to do some research first.)