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.