June 4th, 2010

me

It hurts my brain, but also my heart

I tossed and turned last night. Really I need to switch off on a lot of this stuff. But ... some negative feedback came my way yesterday about Galactic Suburbia. And you know, I get that not everyone is going to agree with me, that other people have different frameworks, perspectives, interests and concerns. That's like the point - it makes up the mosaic that is this society. Yay. But, if you don't like something, noone said you had to read it, listen to it or buy it (hello me! Give up on the final book of Twilight already and move the hell on! You only have 3600 books left in your life to read at faster than current pace!!)

But it seems to me that with some people, we will never win an argument relating to feminism. On the one hand, when we raise an issue of gender disparity in SF, specifically say, we get the - that's just one instance, you can't use that to generalise. We want numbers damnit! And more examples!! This could be an outlier! Ie nope, you're wrong, it's all good here and nothing needs to change. So it seems that the obvious thing to me is to not just leave it for the big obvious instances that push us over the edge but rather to point out all the more subtle ways in which gender disparity exists and how the accumulation of these works towards creating the big obvious instances. If you see how it exists everyday and all around, how can you ignore it?, is my thinking. But then, when you do that, you get accused of beating people over the head about it.

Obviously I can't win with those sorts of people and maybe that needs to be ok, because they are never really going to be ones I would want to get into discussion with over a beer. But it does sort of scream of the worst kind of privilege - the one where you don't notice nor care when the default discussion is always masculine or about men or conducted by men and that you *get* to not notice who wrote what stories because they fit with your default view, ie you are the target audience and that world is constructed by, for and about you. *Of course* you don't notice! There's nothing *for* you *to* notice.

And I know I should let it go. And that person is welcome to just not subscribe - there's a heck of a lot of other things to do out there. And yet, the viewpoint is so infuriating, I did toss and turn all night about it with rage. Cause really, instead of just turning off, this person had to write to us and tell us how better to run our show (ie control and change the core focus and become a different show). That's um, kinda not how it works dude. Or maybe, I hope, won't work in the future?

(This is not about the podcast I was referring to yesterday)

Willow

and in other news

Yesterday I finally got around to getting my car assessed for insurance after the Hail Storm in March. I must say that the insurance company was really great to deal with - I was directed to the assessment centre and when I arrived early for my appointment yesterday, the whole thing ran like clockwork. They have still a couple of assessors working and people were constantly arriving with hail damaged cars. A very nice assessor came and looked at the car and then wrote it off. And he talked me through all the implications etc - I bought my car back at their assessed salvage value (it was that or clear the car out and be stranded). And I will reinsure it I guess and then figure out what I am doing later on.

Seemed relatively painless to be honest. And isn't that always the way? I tend to put off these kind of things - both because they require decisions to be made and also because they require taking time off work and driving to unknown places etc. But having finally done it and it not really being a big deal, I feel quite relieved.

The car needs a couple of repairs but I think it's gonna be fine for a bit longer.

Willow

Where to next when science fiction becomes science fact?

This post has been bouncing around in my head for a while now and it still might not yet be fully formed.

We have a phrase amongst my friends - isn't the future awesome?! - and we tend to use it to refer to things that 20 years ago science fiction imagined and 20 years later we expect as part of daily life. I see it all around me. Like when I tweeted in Dymocks that I had preordered my copy of Tansy's forthcoming book and they told me they would text me when it comes in. Or when I call the RAC for roadside assistance and instead of the endless, unknown wait of ye olden days, they text you just before they arrive. Or today when my mother (!!) received a referral for me to visit my gastroenterologist for my 5 yearly check up because my GP now has everything computerised and I can no longer dodge such things with shoddy paper record keeping. Or like being able to check my email and read slush for TPP whilst waiting for my takeaway to be ready. Or like being able to talk to my friends in distant cities and record it and upload it onto the internet for anyone in the world to listen to (this one I love - I was watching Dawson's Creek and the students were trying to get out a story from their side to the media and I was thinking, "why don't they just upload an interview onto YouTube?" and then realised that was 1999!). Or ... watching my counsellor swipe cards on a teeny tiny little machine that really barely has a keypad - just numbers - and yet she managed to bill me and reimburse me my claim from my private healthcare in 5 short minutes. Or the ipad - I always wondered what the hell would be useful about those pads on Star Trek TNG - no keyboard, how would they write their reports etc?

Anyway, you get my point. We live in a world where science fiction is becoming fact in ever increasing rates. This week scientists created the first completely artifical cell - life, in other words.

What intrigues me is ... where does science fiction as a genre go? And what do science fiction readers want from the genre. And I see these as related.

Fantasy has seen a big boom in both writing and reading and it is steadily producing a large variety of works spread across a large variety of subgenres spanning dark fantasy/horror through to romance fantasy and big fat fantasy and everything and anything in between. As a publisher, I find that I am submitted far more fantasy than science fiction and have made a shift in the themes for my annual anthology because I felt that there were more writers writing quality short stories in Australia in fantasy compared to science fiction. And that there was a criticism that local small press was not catering to the fantasy short story reader. Sprawl will be a very different book to 2012 and New Ceres Nights, though it would be hard to argue that theme/genre was the only reason for that.

But I actually think that science fiction is in a quiet identity crisis. I often come across readers who are getting frustrated with where science fiction is going - that it is less technologically plot driven and less focussed on predicting the next Thing that will change the world as we know it. Though I adore hard science fiction, I find that viewpoint a bit problematic. We live now in a world where things dramatically change in ever decreasing timespans. For example, it blows my mind to think how different indie press publishing is compared to even 5 years ago. The landscape has completely changed. So too the way media operates. The interconnectedness that we now share due to the change to communications networks. But none of that really is new to science fiction. And to write science fiction to guess what is the next big thing to change the way we live, whilst interesting, to me is sort of missing the opportunity presented to us now.

I think what is needed is a change in paradigm. We can read science fiction to predict what will come after the ipad or the complete breakdown of media empires or we can go online and read the same kind of article presented as news on a news website. In other words, I see that kind of science fiction blending so closely into science reality that it almost is no longer what the genre of science fiction was all about, say 100 years ago. It's too close to the future, maybe? Too easy.

Science fiction to me is about visionary commentators looking far out into sometime that we can hardly grasp and using that setting to explore who we are, who might become or who we might want to become. To dream of where we might go and what we might do. To use ideas of the alien to speak about the outsiders in our own time and space. To dream. Of the future.

That's just me anyway.