WWWednesday: October 15, 2014

On this day in 2001,  NASA’s spacecraft Galileo came within spitting distance of Jupiter’s moon, Io.  (Well, if you can spit 112 miles.) 

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Jupiter’s Moon Io

Writing, Editing, and Publishing:

If you’ve been thinking about picking up China Mieville but don’t know where to start, worry no longer: Jared Shurin has several recommendations. Only downside is, he gives the short stories short shrift, which is too bad: they’re where I started with Mieville, and never stopped.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder passed away this week. She wrote award-winning children’s books, often with fantastical themes, for decades. When I was a kid, I thought she was the bomb dot com, before dot coms even existed. My favorites were The Egypt Game and Below the Root. Also, she has what is possibly the best name ever for an author.

Tor has begun a new “reread”: Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, leading up to the BBC miniseries launching next year. I’m thrilled about this chance to revisit a favorite through another’s eyes. Kate Nepveu, the author, will also be covering Clarke’s short story collection, The Ladies of Grace Adieu.

Open Culture has posted links to six free Stephen King stories online, some of which are comics/graphic novellas. Enjoy!

And if you read all of those and are still jonesing for some more free books (oh, and you live near MIT), perhaps you can check out the world’s largest open-shelf collection of SFF at the MIT Science Fiction Society. This place sounds like a dream come true.

Finally, the Guardian discusses Hieroglyph, a short story collection championed by and featuring Neal Stephenson. The larger Project Hieroglyph is a deliberate attempt to showcase images of scientific progress, instead of allowing science fiction to become a wasteland of distopic fiction.

Galilean Moons of Jupiter

Galilean Moons of Jupiter

Movies and Television:

So, the big news this week is that the Jim Henson company may be working on a sequel to the Labyrinth! Despite Hollywood’s over-abundance of sequels, this is obviously very cool. I wonder if David Bowie will reprise his role. If not, who is your pick for filling (out) Jareth’s shoes (pants)?

Also, apparently Arthur Darvill is a) hilarious, and b) a bit of a singer. Check out some juicy tidbits from a recent Q&A in which he sang a few lines from the never-realized Doctor Who musical, or, as I like to call it, the Doctor Whosical.

Internet Stuff:

Two things this week, something fun and then something serious. First, the fun thing.

Um, you guys, the Department of Defense is prepared for zombie attacks. I thought only my friend Steve was obsessed with this stuff enough to come up with a multi-situational plan of action. Am I the only one who thinks this is kind of adorable? This may be the first time I’ve had the “Awwww” reaction to news from the DoD.

And the serious thing:

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist critic who studies portrayals of women in video games. She was scheduled to give a speech at Utah State University today; however, the school received some graphic anonymous threats of school shootings—specifically, a “massacre”—if Sarkeesian spoke. She has since canceled her talk, citing the failure of USU to prevent concealed firearms at the event.

This breaks my heart on a lot of levels. Yes, I’m a feminist. Yes, I’m an academic. But it’s also a feeling of being let down by my community. While we don’t specifically engage with a lot of video game culture, we here at FanLit are a part of larger “geek culture.” And geek culture is supposed to be a place of safety for people who feel marginalized, who feel like they don’t fit in.

This culture fails us sometimes, but it has usually been a place of hope for me. This news story shook me not only because the threat was so unambiguously violent, but also because it made me face the fact that perhaps geek culture isn’t the utopia we believe it to be sometimes. This is all in the wake of many threats made over the past few months towards women in the gaming industry; it’s so pervasive that it’s been given its own name, Gamergate.

Whether you agree with Sarkeesian’s views on video games or not, please join me and my FanLit family in fostering a geek culture of respect, kindness, and tolerance, so that we all have a group that we can call “home.”


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KATE LECHLER, on our staff from May 2014 to January 2017, resides in Oxford, MS, where she divides her time between teaching early British literature at the University of Mississippi, writing fiction, and throwing the tennis ball for her insatiable terrier, Sam. She loves speculative fiction because of what it tells us about our past, present, and future. She particularly enjoys re-imagined fairy tales and myths, fabulism, magical realism, urban fantasy, and the New Weird. Just as in real life, she has no time for melodramatic protagonists with no sense of humor. The movie she quotes most often is Jurassic Park, and the TV show she obsessively re-watches (much to the chagrin of her husband) is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her personal blog is The Rediscovered Country and she tweets @katelechler.

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5 comments

  1. I had never heard of Zilpha Keatley Snyder until I saw the memorial table for her at a local bookstore. Six or seven people were standing there, all talking about the influence she had on them. It was a somber and touching moment.

    I think Mieville’s short fiction is great. Kate, you should do a list!

    The incident at Utah State is baffling to me. You hear, “When X happens, the terrorists win!” so much it’s become a hipster catchphrase, but this was a terrorist threat, not only against Sarkeesian but against anyone who attended her talk. The reason given for not providing enhanced security was that doing so would infringe on people’s rights. I know this is always a difficult balancing act, but really, people. The college basically shrugging and putting the responsibility on her, like “Well, you can go on if you want, but we won’t protect you or *our own* students. It’s your choice,” is irresponsible.

  2. That Gamergate thing is despicable. Just unbelievable.
    Today I went to an academic conference where the keynote speaker was a female game designer. I spoke with her after her talk, but I didn’t know about the USU Sarkeesian incident at the time, or I would have asked her to comment on it.

  3. Oh, and I just love the images of the moons, Kate. They look like beautiful marbles.

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