WWWednesday: March 13, 2019

Books and Writing:

Joshua Bilmes founded Jabberwocky Literary Agency. In this interview with the Odyssey Writing Workshop, he provides some valuable information on the role of agents and dispenses writing advice.

Nerds of a Feather spends a few minutes with writer and editor Catherine Lundoff, who shares some book recommendations.

According to the U.K. Guardian, the release of Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale will be a media event, complete with a live broadcast.

D.W. Pasulka has a new book coming out. A religion scholar, Pasulka theorizes in American Cosmic; UFOs, Religion, Technology that belief in extra-terrestrials is a form of spiritual, or religious, belief. Some true believers, either in established religions or in UFOs, may be irked by this profile.

Publishers Weekly also provided this intriguing review of a short story collection.

Space:

NASA may be seriously considering a sample recovery mission to Mars, but there are very few details. Here is some more info from NASA.

This particular ultra-diffuse galaxy (UDG) is different even from its counterparts. (Don’t you love the expression “dawn of the universe?” It’s so geocentric!)

Earth:

Locals pointed archeologists toward a discovery of intact Maya artifacts in Chitchen Itsa, Yucutan, Mexico.

Movies and TV:

Captain Marvel scored big box office last weekend: $153 million domestically.

Speaking of Captain Marvel, here are some spoilerish observations about the end-credit scenes, courtesy of Syfy Fangrrls.

From Syfy Wire, here is a little background on the Kree-Skrull war.

But wait! There’s more! Here is a person with strong opinions (Abigail Nussbaum) writing about the movie. Warning: May contain spoilers (I haven’t seen the film yet so I don’t know).

David Castenada talks about his character Diego on The Umbrella Academy.

The CW has cancelled Arrow after this fall’s eight-episode Season 8. Stephen Arnell, who plays Oliver Queen AKA the Green Arrow, made the official announcement as everyone does these days, via Twitter.

FOGCon:

(l) Karen Joy Fowler, with Becky Chambers at FOGCon 2019. Photo by Marion Deeds

(l) Karen Joy Fowler, with Becky Chambers at FOGCon 2019. Photo by Marion Deeds (Yes, Chambers did cut her hair.)

FOGCon is an intimate speculative fiction convention held in the East San Francisco Bay Area every March (daylight saving’s weekend). Terry Weyna and I attended this year. We both participated on panels. I spoke on “Just What is She After?” a panel that looked at the mapping of the “hero’s quest” and explored whether that model applies to women. Karen Joy Fowler, one of the two guests of honor, was also on the panel.  On Sunday morning, in the early session, I was part of “It’s Never Too Late to Write,” or, as I called, the Old Writers Panel.

Terry participated on “Finding Short Fiction” and one other which I discuss in more detail below.

I took very few pictures, but I’m happy about this one. Hearing Karen Joy Fowler and Becky Chambers each read from their works, and then just talking, was a high point of the convention.

FOGCon takes inclusion and respect seriously. One way they address those values is by requesting that people add their pronouns of choice to their ID badges. This is to help transgender and gender non-binary people feel more comfortable, and help cis-het folks also feel comfortable because they won’t accidentally mis-label somebody. In some cases, however, good intentions can go too far, can’t they? On one panel, the moderator insisted the panelists introduce themselves “and give their pronouns.” When two panelists failed to give pronoun choices, the moderator returned to them and said “And your pronouns?” Later, this moderator corrected a panelist who referred to Goyle and Crabbe in the Harry Potter books as “henchmen.” The moderator thought “minions” should be used instead because henchmen is a gendered term. To me, this felt like a moderator who was carrying their zeal a bit too far. Am I wrong? Have I missed an important point on this issue? I would really like to know.

Woman with Symbol, the dragon she crocheted. FOGCon, 2019. Photograph by Marion Deeds

Woman with Symbol, the dragon she crocheted. FOGCon, 2019. Photograph by Marion Deeds

(By the way, is the gendered term henchmen ever used in the singular? I can’t recall seeing “henchman.”)

The woman with the crocheted dragon told me I could find patterns  on the internet, so I looked and I did.

One FOGCon panel, inspired by the Becky Chambers book Record of a Spaceborn Few, discussed green burial practices. Terry participated on that one. The panel discussed having the loved one’s cremains mixed with cement, shaped into sculpture and used to build up an artificial reef in Florida, already a home for forty varieties of sea life. Another fascinating alternative was promession, where the body of the deceased is freeze-dried, pulverized, the powder sieved to remove metal bits (teeth fillings, etc), then used as compost. It may not be in use currently, according to this older Wikipedia article, but this article is more recent and talks about a re-emergence in Sweden.

This is a fun, low-key convention in a pleasant venue. If you are in Northern coastal California, I recommend it.

 


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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