Two stories, an essay on depression, and some links

Aliette de Bodard’s short story at Subterranean Press, “The Days of War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile,” is marvellously bitter and affecting.

While at Clarkesworld, Seth Dickinson’s “Morrigan in the Sunglare” makes an interesting counterpoint. Both are stories about war and loss, but they approach their subjects from widely divergent angles.

They’re both pretty good, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.


Libba Bray has a long essay on depression, “Miles and Miles of No-Man’s Land”:

Depression is hard to understand, because it is not a consistent state. Depression is rather like a virus, but like a virus, it has its manageable days and its acute, life-threatening flare-ups. You can be in a depression and still laugh at a friend’s joke or have a good night at dinner or manage low-level functioning. You grocery shop and stop to pet a puppy on the corner, talk to friends in a café, maybe write something you don’t hate. When this happens, you might examine your day for clues like reading tea leaves in a cup: Was it the egg for breakfast that made the difference? The three-mile run? You think, well, maybe this thing has moved on now. And you make no sudden moves for fear of attracting its abusive attention again.

But other times…

Other times, it’s as if a hole is opening inside you, wider and wider, pressing against your lungs, pushing your internal organs into unnatural places, and you cannot draw a true breath. You are breaking inside, slowly, and everything that keeps you tethered to your life, all of your normal responses, is being sucked through the hole like an airlock emptying into space. These are the times Holly Golightly called the Mean Reds.

I call it White Knuckling it.

When it’s White Knuckle Time, you will have to remind yourself to stand in the middle of the subway platform, well away from the edge.

Yep. That’s a thing. That’s a thing that’s happened to me.


Jonathan McCalmont has a perspicacious review of Ender’s Game, many of whose arguments are paralleled in Cory Doctorow’s Sunday essay at Locus Online, “Cold Equations and Moral Hazard.”

Mary Beard talks about women’s voices.

Sarah Rees Brennan writes trenchant critique of the ways women are judged for writing fanfiction.

And here is a discussion on the popularity, or lack thereof, of lesbian romance.

μῦθος δ᾽ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει πᾶσι

μῦθος δ᾽ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει πᾶσι, μάλιστα δ᾽ ἐμοί: τοῦ γὰρ κράτος ἔστ᾽ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ.
Homer, Odyssey, 1.358-9.

I’m resolutely ignoring the misogynistic and racist bullshit seeping up from the bottom sediment of some of the SFF genre conversation’s nastier pools in the wake of a certain Dave Truesdale’s ridiculous petition to SFWA. I have a thesis to write: there is only so much mental energy for stupidity left over.

But I thought Mary Beard’s piece in the LRB on “The Public Voice of Women” might prove interesting at this juncture:

Ancient women were obviously not likely to raise their voices in a political sphere in which they had no formal stake. But we’re dealing with a much more active and loaded exclusion of women from public speech than that – and, importantly, it’s one with a much greater impact than we usually acknowledge on our own traditions, conventions and assumptions about the voice of women. What I mean is that public speaking and oratory were not merely things that ancient women didn’t do: they were exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender. As we saw with Telemachus, to become a man – and we’re talking elite man – was to claim the right to speak. Public speech was a – if not the – defining attribute of male-ness. A woman speaking in public was, in most circumstances, by definition not a woman. We find repeated stress throughout ancient literature on the authority of the deep male voice. As one ancient scientific treatise explicitly put it, a low-pitched voice indicated manly courage, a high-pitched voice female cowardice. Or as other classical writers insisted, the tone and timbre of women’s speech always threatened to subvert not just the voice of the male orator, but also the social and political stability, the health, of the whole state. So another second-century lecturer and guru, Dio Chrysostom, whose name, significantly, means Dio ‘the Golden Mouth’, asked his audience to imagine a situation where ‘an entire community was struck by the following strange affliction: all the men suddenly got female voices, and no male – child or adult – could say anything in a manly way. Would not that seem terrible and harder to bear than any plague? I’m sure they would send off to a sanctuary to consult the gods and try to propitiate the divine power with many gifts.’ He wasn’t joking.