January 6th, 2010


the latest in female presence in SF ToCs

So, as I was working through the 70 odd submissions to Sprawl, I read each submission and I judged it on the quality of the writing, the execution of the plot, the tone of the piece and how close the work was to my idea of a suburban story. Just before I sent out my acceptances, I pulled out all the stories I was choosing and put them in a new sheet of the spreadsheet with their word counts to check how much I was going to buy and take a final look at the line up. At that point I had a look at the gender balance - which at that point was 50:50, this might shift a bit as I tie up a few loose ends.

I just don't seem to have a problem with the gender balance thing. And I don't specifically slush for it.

Here then is the latest in the ongoing attempt to deal with other people's issues of selecting stories: Realms of Fantasy is having an all female issue. Um, be warned that the submission guidelines are highly offensive, referring to professional female writers as "girl writers" (sorry I vomited a bit in my mouth typing that) whilst female artists are referred to as "ladies" (I always read that in a pimp-voice - layyydiees).

Catherynne Valente says it best here:

But creating Very Special Issues once in a 15 year run isn't the same as addressing the problem head on by understanding the psychology at play and changing the editorial paradigm. It's just a bone, thrown.

And she's right because it not only acknowledges that you have a problem, but it seeks out not to address the why, not even to address if it is somehow to do with how the editor reads and selects stories. Instead it sets up a series of assumptions - in the world where Douglas Cohen is only selecting from female submitters, he will select the best stories and put together a female-heavy ToC. But he is unable to do that under other circumstances. That says to me that the problem is not with the submissions.

I also like this comment from Valente, cause it sums up why I am no longer a buyer of this magazine:

I also shudder to think what the cover will be on this. It's gonna be bad, y'all. Bad.

Tansy Rayner Roberts discusses the issue of tokenism here. She says:

Publishing is a meritocracy. But merit is subjective, and it is fluid. Editors who read “without considering matters or gender, race or author background” and yet consistently publish work which is about the default white male gaze do need to be challenged by their audience, if that audience has an interest in diversity in fiction. Sometimes affirmative action, of whatever kind, is necessary to help editors (not necessarily male editors) find value in stories that they might have missed out on otherwise – not because they are deliberately creating a culture of sexism (or racism, etc, let’s stick to sexism for now) but because their actions and to some extent their personal taste are unconsciously supporting said culture.

Which, you know, if you’re only interested in an (aging) readership of a certain kind of bloke, is just fine. Slap a label on the magazine which says ‘SF/Fantasy for Men’ and be done with it. (or just put a cover on it where a madeuppy woman has her boobs falling out of chain mail, this has a similar effect) Sure, you might lose some audience – both male and female readers – but at least you’re being honest about where your priorities are.

Personally I spent a lot of 2009 thinking about the issue of sexism in specfic fiction, some of it was done here on this blog, some of it done offline with friends and colleagues. At the end of the day, I think that there is an enormous untapped niche readership market in specfic. I'm part of that market and I want to publish books that are the kind of books that *I* want to read. Books with stories that speak to me, represent me, explore the kind of issues I am grappling with and validate me as an equal, interesting and important part of society and the world. I don't want to be invisible in the future or not part of someone's magically fantastic world. I wanna play. And the older I get, and the more pressed for time I am, the less tolerant I am of outlets that don't care about the kind of reader that I am. Do I care that Realms of Fantasy will have an all female issue? Will it change whether I buy their magazine or not? No.


Kick a Jew Day

Now, I *am* tired today. I had a rough night. But I tell ya what, I'm getting damn sick of people constantly trying to place the blame for things onto other people. Why is it that people are so quick to avoid analysing their own behaviour to see if perhaps, maybe, they could have contributed to things that go wrong in society?

Take this: Kick a Jew Day:
Last month, students at Florida's North Naples School decided to launch their own "Kick a Jew Day", asking children if they were Jews and then kicking them if they said yes.

The 10 high school students who participated in this vicious assault were given one day "in-school suspensions".

Nice eh? Interesting article though which seems to want to blame the Family Guy and South Park for giving the kids the idea in the first place. Actually, it looks like it came from a Facebook page called "National Kick a Ginger Day are you going to do it?", modelled after a South Park episode called "Ginger Kids". The bit I don't get though is how these kids made the leap from kicking a red-headed person to kicking a Jewish one. And that's the bit that has me rankled. (Not that kicking a red-headed person is ok! I am very partial to red-heads!)

I grew up in a house without censorship - mostly in terms of what we read, the TV was probably a lot more policed that I would have liked. But my parents knew what I was reading and they balanced the freedom to roam with open and frank discussion and with encouragement to be embracing of difference, diversity, opposing thoughts and view point and above all, tolerance. It seems to me that people (and maybe it's more Government than actually people) want to refer the role of "parent" to others - be that TV writers, internet content providers, librarians, whomever. What I want to know is, where did the kids in Naples get the idea to separate Jewish kids from others? How are they growing up in a community where that's a thought that occurs to them? Where are their role models to groom them to be the kind of people that the rest of us would like them to be? Why are they only being taught about sensitivity *after* this antisemitic attack? Why are the parents and community leaders not examining their roles in the upbringing of their own kids? If their kids watch shows like South Park, why are they not discussing the content and explaining how it's satire, rather than to be taken at face value? Just because it's a cartoon does not mean it is suitable for children.

It seems to me that the life lesson these kids are really learning is, when you fuck up because your default assumptions were flawed and you didn't carry out your role in society, blame someone else rather than looking within. After all, the punishment given to these kids by the supposed shocked authorities was a one day in-school suspension. Hardly a strong message being sent for what is actually a very abhorrent act.

ETA: I omitted the other act that occurred at the same time, not because it was unimportant but because these children followed the direct instructions "Kick a Ginger" and that was not the focus of my post. Kicking anyone is wrong and allowing that behaviour to go on is not ok. Noteworthy is that the kids who kicked redheads got booked by the police, the kids who kicked Jews got one day of in school suspension.

According to the Los Angeles Country Sheriff, seven red-haired boys and girls were assaulted because they were "gingers". The investigation revealed that the redheads were shoved, punched and bloodied; one 12-year-old boy was surrounded by 15 boys and was kicked in the stomach, groin and head. The boy is now scared to go to school. The offenders were detained and two were booked by police for battery.


5 lies writers believe about editors

I riff off the post titled as above by Jeremiah Tolbert over at twelfthplanet - here.

I actually did a lot of work whilst sojourning in Tasmania. I had a lot of time to mull and bounce and develop ideas about my press, about publishing in general and about the mechanisms of publishing delivery. It's gonna take me several months to work through it all and tease it all out. What fun!


the anti post

You know how people often say that lj is for kvetching? And how people tend to only blog when things are bad? I thought I'd just page mark today - a really fantastically brilliant kickarse cool day of AWESOME. More later but for the last 24 hours my heart has soared with happiness.

Life is good today. And I am smiling.

ETA: pthtt pthtt - it does feel a bit like tempting fates to make such a post. I'm just gonna spit in the eye of whatever it is to ward off whateveredness.


She's here!

Today we welcomed a totally new person into our family! Today my sister gave birth to my niece!

2 weeks early, 2.5kg and 47 cm long:

She's so TINY! I walked into the room and my sister had her sitting at her feet and I laughed out loud at just how darn little she is. Newborns are minuscule!!!

The genes in my family are strong, and there was little chance that she wouldn't have the almond shaped dark brown eyes and dark hair. My sister has olive skin and it looks like so too does the bubby. All along I thought she was going to be a she and she is!

I held her until she threw up on me. And then I gave her back to my brother in law who totally took care of her and even helped her whilst she threw up more (see above). I love how he is so natural at looking after her. I think it's AWESOME!

My sister and her husband have been together, gosh it must be 15 years now. And I love watching their relationship grow and deepen. We took him to get some dinner tonight and then dropped him back at the hospital and on the way he told us all about the birth and so on. That's her story to tell but I loved listening to how deeply he loves her in the way that he was telling it and in what was important to him through the whole birth process.

A truly happy day today!

The baby will named as is Jewish custom for girls at the next Torah reading - that would be tomorrow but will likely be Saturday morning in Shule (boys are named at their bris).


so tired

So it's been a wild ride these last few days. What with last night drinks with the peeps in Tas, and then having asthma for the first few days back and today, I am exhausted. I was supposed to be well rested and I am not. I was supposed to spend this week getting stuck into Sprawl edits and I haven't even started yet. Ah well. So far, The Grand 2010 is treating me damn fine! And if being tired because life is a whirlwind of awesome is my main complaint, well then ... it's all good!