July 14th, 2009


Rest in Peace Charles N Brown

A great man who led a life of great example and will be sorely missed.

Locus publisher, editor, and co-founder Charles N. Brown, 72, died peacefully in his sleep July 12, 2009 on his way home from Readercon.

Charles Nikki Brown was born June 24, 1937 in Brooklyn NY, where he grew up. He attended the City College of New York, taking time off from 1956-59 to serve in the US Navy, and finished his degree (BS in physics and engineering) at night on the GI Bill while working as a junior engineer in the '60s. He married twice, to Marsha Elkin (1962-69), who helped him start Locus, and to Dena Benatan (1970-77), who co-edited Locus for many years while he worked full time. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, working as a nuclear engineer until becoming a full-time SF editor in 1975. The Locus offices have been in Brown's home in the Oakland hills since 1973.

Brown co-founded Locus with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf as a one-sheet news fanzine in 1968, originally created to help the Boston Science Fiction Group win its Worldcon bid. Brown enjoyed editing Locus so much that he continued the magazine far beyond its original planned one-year run. Locus was nominated for its first Hugo Award in 1970, and Brown was a best fan writer nominee the same year. Locus won the first of its 29 Hugos in 1971.

During Brown's long and illustrious career he was the first book reviewer for Asimov's; wrote the Best of the Year summary for Terry Carr's annual anthologies (1975-87); wrote numerous magazines and newspapers; edited several SF anthologies; appeared on countless convention panels; was a frequent Guest of Honor, speaker, and judge at writers' seminars; and has been a jury member for various major SF awards.

As per his wishes, Locus will continue to publish, with executive editor Liza Groen Trombi taking over as editor-in-chief with the August 2009 issue.

A complete obituary with tributes and a photo retrospective will appear in the August issue.



The music poll that keeps on rockin' in a man's world

Many people have reacted with shock and dismay at the Hottest 100's male skew; many more have refused to react at all. It is, they say, just another radio poll.

But casually dismissing the result not only misses the point, it ignores the cultural power that Triple J still wields. This isn't any old golden oldies filler countdown wheeled out so the disc jockeys can have a night off — it is by name and nature definitive. People throw parties and take sickies to hear Triple J roll out its countdowns; the same can't be said for, say, the latest Gold FM walk-through.

But if every (or every second) list submitted featured at least one female artist for every nine males, why didn't the result reflect that?

Throughout the online debate of the morning after the countdown, I kept thinking of Kurt Cobain.

The sensitive Piscean who played with gender and proclaimed, "the future of rock belongs to women", who learned from riot grrrl and used entertainment as a tool to "blow (sexism) wide open".

What would he think, not of his band's top spot result, but of the near-total maleness of the Hottest 100 Of All Time?

Most people who voted for Teen Spirit would've done so from a sense of Cobain's having soundtracked their adolescent alienation. One of his major powers as a songwriter was the sense that Cobain understood what you were going through. But I doubt he would have understood this poll. Forgetting women's contribution to rock music is, as that famous last word of Teen Spirit rings out, a denial.

read the rest of the article in the SMH
Clem Bastow is a Melbourne writer and broadcaster

My addendum to the Sexism of the Hottest 100

I've started acutely listening to the mix of female to male artists on Triple J the last couple of days. Over the hour and a half that I have listened yesterday and today, I heard 3 female singers/bands. This morning they played a track off this week's feature album - Florence and the Machine. Turns out she is not only captivating but fantastic. And I was thinking how the last few female artists I have bought albums of in the last month, I was introduced to via Triple J - Gossip, Spektor, Blascoe. And I think I will go and buy this week's album too.

And that made me think, is this just like everything else, female artists need to be twice as good to get half the recognition?

Fuck that's depressing.

I'm declaring a month of celebration of women artists and writers in my house. And I shall post something every day in honour of it - one music and one writerly post a day.

ETA: I think this means I should finally get the fuck over the ex keeping my Missy Higgins CD in the divorce and buy a new copy :)


Female appreciation month

I personally prefer to listen to female artists, I think I will be hard pressed to whittle my choices down to just 30 to feature over the next month.

So ... since people seem like they want to share, how 'bout we create a registry here for a swap and share of recs.

Throw some names of female artists/bands to listen to and enjoy - any musical genre!

Hit me!


Female Appreciation Month Preamble

I'm about to post my first post for Female Appreciation Month and I thought I might preface it with a couple of notes.

I love that the readers of my blog, as diverse and eclectic as my interests and tastes, and who I interact with across an array of topics, have kind of all bonded over music. It's an awesome thing.

Musical taste is also personal and subjective and you know, there's no right or wrong answer. I hate snobs of any kind and musical snobs are kind of the most revolting - you know the kind (not us, obviously) who turn up their nose and snort over other people's tastes as not being good because they like different things. Or those who turn up their nose at very commercial music just on principle. I say we disband with cred or with ideas about who knows more or better about music and just take the opportunity to share, enjoy and maybe walk off with some new recs to go check out.

I say this cause whilst I'm gonna wax on for 30 days about female musical artists I love, there is also a heck of a lot in that repository that is still being compiled whom I have never heard of or have heard of but never taken the time to check out. And I thought I'd do that too over this month - and some of them are gonna be a bit shocking that they are new to me. Judge me not, eh?

Anyway, that's probably all for now.

pharaoh_katt is joining me in this undertaking so between us we should hit on a fair bit of appreciation.


Female Appreciation Month Day 1

Bit of a cheat, though not really. Today I will cover stuff I was already engrossed in, to begin.

Music for Men by Gossip has been on repeat on my CD player at work since I bought it, about two weeks ago. They were the feature album on Triple J a couple of weeks ago and I fell in love with a couple of songs - "Pop Goes the World" just has me dancing at my desk, it's so punchy and the chorus so catchy. It's boppy, I'll admit that. Other songs I am grooving to - Dimestore Diamond and For Keeps.

In Wikipedia'ing for this, I have discovered that I also really loved a song off their last album - "Standing in the Way of Control" which is a protest to the proposal of the banning of same sex marriage in the US.

Gossip was formed in 1999 in Olympia, Washington with vocalist Beth Ditto, guitarist Brace Paine, and drummer Kathy Mendonca. Since the formation of the band, Ditto has been considered controversial by the mainstream for being open about her weight and homosexuality, and not holding back when it comes to discussing fellow musicians.

What's not to love?

I should say up front, I'm coediting this book and Twelfth Planet Press is publishing it. That said, I have pretty much been reading Deborah Biancotti to exclusion the last couple of weeks and have been engrossed in this project for the last 18 months. I wanted to do this project because I love her work and I wanted to see it collected and presented in a classy package so that other people may also fall in love with her work. I also discovered this really cool thing about being an editor - you can use the position to make your favourite writers write new works.

Biancotti is not a hugely prolific writer. Sometimes you are lucky to get one new work of hers in the year. But when you read her work you can see why - her stories are considered, they are careful, they are layered and deep. And they are always always smarter than me. And that's why I so greatly admire her. As a writer she challenges me. Her work is not for reading at bedtime when you are sleepy.
And on rereading, you find that she works on several layers and any one of your readings will almost always be a separate and individual reading from the last. She keeps you on your toes and she challenges you to question all that you assume and accept about the world around you. She struggles with what it means to be human - she dares you to embrace humanity in all its ugly, flawed selfishness. She shows you the worst of us and then she shows you how even at our most ugly, we can be beautiful.

I was lucky to coedit 6 new works of hers and to see what she is like as a writer at work as well as to see her works as they got reworked. I was constantly blown away by seeing a draft, having a conversation about what worked and what didn't and then seeing a reworked version that was just totally unlike the original. It was so interesting to see what she saw as the heart of the story, which so often was not the details/plot. And it was so intellectually stimulating to be constantly running to try and keep up.

There are 6 new works by Biancotti out this year and I dunno if I can pick a favourite. I love that the story we hated the most, and that caused us the most pain, is possibly the best now of the pack. I also love how she constructed and completed a book by using these 6 stories to fill in the gaps around her body of work and paired up stories.

Joni Mitchell
And now for something new that I tried tonight - Joni Mitchell. Yeah, I know. One of my mum's favourites - though my mum will always be cooler than me, I'm at peace with this by now. Anyway, turns out, Big Yellow Taxi was covered by Counting Crows. And here is her version, I like. I'm told I should go get me Blue so I'll do that this weekend.

Link List
Female Appreciation Month Introduction - Pharaoh Katt - joining me in this event and covering another month's worth of Female Appreciation

Hottest 100 and Sexism
- the event that kick-started this.
My addendum to the Sexism of the Hottest 100 An addendum, and the first mention of Female Appreciation Month
Female appreciation month
- A call out to suggestions for the month

Classic Trek

catsparx sent me her boxed set of Classic Trek to distract and entertain me this week. And I have totally been enjoying myself! My thoughts in point form:

1. My those skirts are short.
2. I like Kirk best in his green kimono shirt uniform
3. Love love love the pensive Kirk pause shot
4. Benji likes Classic Trek better than Enterprise which he abandoned only a couple of eps into Season 1. I think it's all the "mood music".
5. Did I know it was a Desilu production and forget?
6. OMG OMG OMG!! Spock playing a harplike instrument and Uhura singing a song about the Starship Enterprise. This show is GOLD!

(And an aside, totally unrelated, best dog toy ever? One of my pink bedsocks. Got pounced on and stolen a couple of hours ago and is now being cuddled up to.)