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A Message from the Australian Chief of Army


I'm sorry if you have seen this everywhere else I have posted it but I am spamming this all over it is so good. One of the reasons I am posting this everywhere is because in the last fortnight or so has been a tough one when it comes to racism and sexism, what with the whole SFWA Bulletin fiasco and now the vile criticism of NK Jemisin after her fantastic GoH speech at Continuum last weekend.

While Lieutenant General David Morrison is talking directly about sexism, as you can see from the parts I quoted below, it talks equally about any form of denigration and injustice meted out on members of a group.



Some key quotes edited slightly to make them universal (in italics):

"Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place here"

"If that does not suit you then get out! You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable, but I doubt it. The same goes for those that think that toughness is built on humiliating others."

"No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances our community's viability."

"The Standard you walk past is the Standard you accept"

"If you aren't up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters."

I wonder who was really racist?


I was chatting with a friend about The Hunger Games movie and how much better it would have been if it had been a 13 episode anime, when the talk got around to the "Rue is not a black girl" controversy.

I had to admit that I hadn't really read Rue as being black. I had just assumed that people from her district were heavily tanned from working out doors all day in the fishing boats(yeah I got the district wrong. It has been a long time since I read the books). Of course to me it didn't really matter, I don't have a fixation with "colour" in that way.

So after I had got Rue's District wrong, my friend corrected me. Rue was from District 11 - the Farming District. Then, since we were both thinking about racism, the connection between racism and work broached itself.

"So how rascist is it to make all the black people farmers? Jeez, I hope they weren't responsible for the cotton crop."

Apr. 7th, 2013


There are some fights where no one wins, no one is right and we get to see the worst humanity has to offer. All to often these flare up on the internet and this April Fools day another such interfuffle broke out becoming the Outrage Of The Day(The capitalisation is because I think I will trade mark the term, start a web page with links to the juciest online dust-up each day and watch the web traffic flow. There is nothing more amusing than watching people squabble over issues you really don't care about. I am going to be RICH!)

The ControversyCollapse )

On My Right...Collapse )

And My Left...Collapse )

Feminists Relax. You have already Won!


Kate Paulk over at the Mad Genius Club - Writers Division blog assures all women in the western world that this battle is over and it is time to relax and take things easy.

Fighting the won war.

On related matters, an update on my post of July 8th "Things were better when...". I have continued my reading of public domain short stories from the 40s and 50s and have found no additional stories with a female lead in the last two months. I will let you know if things change(alhough I am not holding my breath).

AUTHORS SUE LIBRARIES!


I have never been in favour of the approach that various author groups have taken with the whole Google Books issue. Now I find that the US Author's Guild and other writers bodies (including an Australian one!) are now planning on suing the libraries associated with the project.

I just can't beging to describe how stupid this is.

Look at the headline of this piece. Doesn't look good does it? How can anyone expect to be able to spin the fact that author groups are so afraid of losing money from Life+70 years of copyright that they need to sue what most see as the bastions of knowledge, the organisations that preserve our history, creativity, science and culture.

When most people look at the headlines they won't see the complexities of the issues(asuming there are any). They will just see that the people who write books in the US and Aus want to sue libraries. They won't see that it is only a few industry groups or how limited the scope of what they really want is, they will only see that authors want to sue libraries.

This is a seriously idiotic move that can do nothing but alienate people against writers and creative people. Everyone who is even remotely connected with the industry will be affected by peoples perceptions that AUTHORS WANT TO SUE LIBRARIES!

Links:
Authors Guild sues universities over book digitization projects
Authors Guild, Australian Society of Authors, Quebec Writers Union Sue Five U.S. Universities

Oh My God! Look at the Tropes.


Just(1) before, I was looking for the first line of my favourite book online so I wouldn't have to walk out to the dining room, hunt for the book on my shelves and type out the line myself. I was going to save time!(2)


So I typed "The Dark is Rising first line" into the search bar and chose the TV Tropes link.(3)


The first thing I realised when I, somewhat glazed of eye, finally managed to draw myself from the page was never go to TV Tropes if you value your time; secondly, that anyone who tells you they are writing totally original fiction is talking out of their arses(the authors of The Dark is Rising page identified 168 major tropes plus any number of sub-tropes); and lastly that perhaps being unoriginal isn't so bad. As I said I was going to the page because the book and series are one of my all time favourite reads, and nothing that I read has changed my opinion. It is all about, I suppose, stopping that trope you are about to use from becoming a cliche, or at least using it cleverly so it isn't too obvious that you are using a Capitalised Contrivance.


Some of the tropes listed I don't really agree with. For instance the writer suggest the Ho Yay(or Homoeritcism, yay) meme. Now the Ho Yay meme does allow that scenes which could at first glance be seen as Homoerotic may be less so in context, but really, the main characters are at most 12 or 13! Why are people even wanting to colour what they do with sexual sterotypes? They are still children for God's sake!


Some of the tropes I did like though(4) includes:



Chekhov's Boomerang - A plot device that gets reused. It must be pretty obvious that it would be easy to do this badly, but makes the pay-off even bigger when done right.

The Constant - A person or thing within time travel stories that lives through history while key characters or the readers jump around between points.

Death by Newbury Medal -"The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down." Wallace Wallace, No More Dead Dogs

Did Mum Just Have Tea With Cuthlu - A great name for the idea that someone comes home to find an enemy sitting chatting with the folks.

Nietzsche Wannabe - A nihilistic philosopher who always lectures about how morality, hope, or the general goodness and value of life are meaningless.This one dovetails nicely with the Despair Event Horizon

Nothing is Scarier - Where fear is not induced by some traumatic visual element or by a physical threat, but by the sole lack of event

San Dimas Time - despite time hopping, everything that happens has to fit in withing the timeframe of modern events.

Translator Microbes


I was going to include the Real Men Wear Pink trope but to tell the truth I think that while the example could be viewed that way(John Rowland plays the lap harp), I wonder if this is a cultural one. A US only(or mostly) insecurity issue. It is obvious from the story that John is highly respected within his community and really it isn't about him doing something unmanly. He is a modern day bard and keeper of tradition. Only people who don't understand how important that would make him in Wales would consider his harp playing as something lesser.


So TV Tropes. Leave it alone unless you have the whole day to kill, or if you must go there don't for the love of Mary, ever go the Tropes page for Lord of the Rings.



(1) For a very loose definition of "just"

(2) Goody, goody!

(3) That was a "real" smart move

(4) I'm not going to provide links for all the tropes I mention

Writer's Block: Once upon a time…


What is the first line of your favorite book?

View 1803 Answers

If it is the favourtie opening line wanted I will have to pass, but if it is actually just the opening line of my favourite book, I still couldn't decide but was able to narrow it down to three.


"Too many!" James shouted, and slammed the door behind him. - The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.


At dawn one still October day in the long ago of the world, across the hill of Alderley, a farmer from Moberley was riding to the Maccelsfield fair. - The Weirdstone of Brisengamen by Alan Garner


Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.


One thing I have learned while reserching this is never go to TV Tropes if you value your time. It won't have been wasted there, but will be gone none the less.


Goodbye William


The sad news is we will only get one more opportunity to read a new book by William Sleator. William passed away this week in Thailand leaving us with one final work to be published in October, The Phantom Limb (Amulet, 2011).

I have to confess I don't have many of his works, I am not sure what sort of distribution they get in Australia, but I do grab every story of his I happen along.

This habit started when I found some of his books in a bargain bin. One of the titles was The House of Stairs an amazing story about five young people who find themselves trapped in a Escher-like maze of stairs where all the rules constantly change except one: Every man for himself. After devouring that I nipped back and got the other two Sleator books still available, Singularity and The Green Futures of Tycho.

In the books I have read so far a recurring theme is a coming of age story. The books are aimed at teens and the characters usually come out of the story different than they were. I liked that William used the Fantastic to prompt this growth since I have never really been a fan of the "slice of life" books. While it is highly unlikely that we will come across an alien instrument while digging in the garden or find a shed where time runs 10 times as fast as it does outside, we all suffer from alienation, peer pressure and sibling rivalry, and William allowed his characters to explore their humanity by way of the bizarre.

So goodbye William Sleator, you will be missed.

NPR released a short {cough, cough} list of the best Science Fiction and Fantasy novels asking visitors to choose just TEN out of a selection of 238 books. Fortunately(?) I had only read 93 books on the list or narrowing the selection down would have been a lot harder.

Go here to make your choice: Vote For Top-100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Titles

 
The ListCollapse )

If you want to skip the long list(and the evidence of my woeful inadequacy when it comes to being well read) follow this link to my picks and the reason why I chose as I did.

The Top TenCollapse )

FootnotesCollapse )

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