beccastareyes: (Together Again)
So, this is an entry that's probably a bit late, and spawned by last month's announcement of the nominees of the Hugo Award, a voted award for science fiction and fantasy stories. Basically, an author encouraged his fans to vote for a nomination slate to fight the liberal-feminist-diversity hold on SF fandom. Because most other people don't coordinate their nominations en masse, they got some works on the ballot. And, now, as a Hugo voter, I have to decide if I want to read them. Especially given that at least one of the organizers got booted from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America organization for using SFWA's official twitter to promote his essay insulting a fellow SFWA author in particular and non-white people and women in general.

Now, I know that an author is not the same as his or her works. On the other hand, I think an author's view of the world shapes his or her writing.

For instance, if I am writing a romantic couple that consists of two women, and I want a happy ending, that is shaped by what I find happy. Since I like romance and don't find anything wrong with any sort of sex between consenting adults, I can totally write them riding off into the sunset together as a happy ending. On the other hand, an author who genuinely doesn't believe that a same-sex couple is a good thing probably wouldn't write the couple staying together (or wouldn't write it as a good thing, or is writing erotica and is aiming more for 'hot' than 'emotionally satisfying').

So, if I know someone is racist and sexist (and also a jerk), I know that at best, I get 'good but problematic', but... well, there are too many books out there to read things that the best I can think of is 'good but...'. I'd prefer to take a chance on things that could be good with no qualifier and aren't going to lead me to wonder if the author's worldview is bleeding through.

Also, I don't like the collusion. Thankfully, it's harder to do on the award, since everyone votes on the same five works.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
Inspired by a twitter conversation with [livejournal.com profile] beanbunny.

Most fantasy series don't capitalize nonhuman species (elf, dwarf, hobbit, etc.). Most science fiction series do (Klingon, Vulcan, Wookie, Ewok, etc.). My theory is that fantasy is working from myth and biology, where we don't usually capitalize other species (dryad, angel, crow, jackalope, etc.). Science fiction is working from something like nationalities, where we do capitalize different groups of people (American, Russian, Indian, Chinese, etc.).

Related idea: a lot of SFnal aliens have either planetary-wide cultures*, or two cultures, one of which is a Persecuted Minority. In that sense, the analogy makes a lot of sense: if you start going 'Space Soviets', 'Space Japanese', 'Space Jews'. Which has really Unfortunate Implications, now that I type it out.

Fantasy isn't immune to that, but fantasy also occasionally has a more narrow geography to work with. If you have only one group of elves who all live in the same woods, then it makes sense that all of them share a culture as much as all New Yorkers have things in common that even folks from New England don't get. When your Space Elves have forty planets and there's no regional variations between them... it starts to get weird. (Especially if humans still retain ethnic and regional identities.)

* If not one culture across all planets that a species owns. Maybe related to the whole 'one climate per planet' thing.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
I actually finished all the novelettes for the Hugos last night, meaning I've read for four awards. I might do the novelettes and short stories in one post, rather than do these.

Hey, it's a story involving time travel (sort of) and WWII and not Nazis!

'The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary' is told as if we're watching a documentary from the near future, the ever classic 20XX. )
beccastareyes: (discourage dreams)
First off, Cat Valente has incredibly rich prose, full of imagery. Silently and Very Fast is basically a story told in stories to describe the relationship between machine intelligences and human intelligences.

(The first part is here)

Elefsis is a machine intelligence that used to be a house, modeled by his creator as a lares familiar, a 'god of the household' like the Romans worshiped.  )
beccastareyes: Image of man (Kain Furey) doing something electronic.  Text: geek at work (geek at work)
I'm into the Hugo novellas! Hooray! Yes, I'm cheating and skipping A Dance with Dragons. If I finish everything else in two months, maybe I'll go back and read it.

Anyway, Countdown is a prequel to Mira Grant's (aka Seanan McGuire's) Newsflesh trilogy telling the story of how we accidentally made the dead rise. It was originally published as a series of short pieces on her LJ running up to Deadline's release in May 2011, and you can still read it like that. Orbit did release an ebook version of it, and a paper copy is coming out from Subterranean Press (as When Will You Rise).

One of the things I appreciate about Grant's zombie books is that while scientists can be the bad guys, science isn't. )
beccastareyes: Image of spacecraft from PlanetES.  Text: One more word and I WILL turn this spaceship around and damn the delta-v (turn the ship around)
So, I mentioned this previously, but I was able to enjoy Leviathan Wakes, despite me critiquing the orbital mechanics and realizing that recent science* would throw a monkey wrench into the plot. But I'm used to that; sometimes things shape out that way.

So, Leviathan Wakes hits a sweet spot in SF for me by being about the time when humankind has the Solar System as its playground but hasn't moved to the stars.  )

* Recent science that a member of my research group is doing!
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, I decided to do the [livejournal.com profile] 100things_index, a challenge to write 100 blog posts on a topic or topics. Mine is going to be 'stuff I've read'. There may be some repeats from my book reviews, since I'm on the 'reread until I get the Hugo voter package'.

001: Deadline by Mira Grant )
beccastareyes: (OHNOES!)
Day 19 - Change you’d like to make to any one anime: Fix the pacing problems in Crest/Banner of the Stars.

I've mentioned this before -- there's a lot of anime adaptions I hate because the writers made them boring. It's one good thing about Slayers, IMO -- even the seasons/arcs that keep a lot of the novel elements in play while not trying to make them carry more than they're able.

Crest of the Stars has this problem.  )
beccastareyes: Image of woman (Sheska) with UFO, text: The Truth is out there.  Way out there (way out there)
I'm currently reading C J Cherryh's The Foreigner. In a nutshell, it's about a human colony ship that gets marooned somewhere far from Earth and where they are supposed to be. With their constructed space station failing, they are forced to land on a planet with an Industrial Age civilization -- which goes fine, until some years in, they nearly get wiped out because the aliens don't think like humans. The meat of the book is about the human ambassador to the aliens and both the internal politics that are looking to get him killed, and his own tendency to anthropomorphize alien thought processes*.

Cherryh and Octavia Butler, and probably others are authors I enjoy for playing with alien psychology. I mean, if you want a little alienness, a lot of people just go for the Planet of the Hats approach and have the Logical Ones, the Honorable Ones**, the Sneaky Bastards, etc. while some SF authors question a lot of universals of human psychology -- what if we weren't a hierarchical species, or if we were more of a hierarchical species? -- which gets a lot of weird aliens.

I mention this because something today made me realize that we don't always have to go into SF literature to find alien thought patterns.  )

--
* Doesn't help that he's the only human living off the island humans settled. Personally, I'd think that's a horrible setup and rife for trouble, but the aliens might not have agreed to multiple humans, and they probably wouldn't have gotten why humans would need a group.

** Actually read an interesting Star Trek: The Next Generation spinoff novel. One of the side plots advanced the idea that the Klingons were one of the few naturally-solitary species*** that achieved starflight without killing themselves, and the whole TNG-era strict honor code was essentially a cultural adaption to allow people who evolved from violent predators to get along without killing one another (too much). Not sure if I buy it, but it's at least an attempt to think about Klingon psychology other than Honorable Warrior Race or Those Guys that Shoot at Us.

*** Read: if humans are lions, Klingons would be tigers. Lions raise their young in groups, and even low-ranked males without a pride will sometimes form small groups. Tigers on the other hand, are rarely found in groups, outside of a mother and her cubs.

**** Okay, poorer and living in the United States, where poor means uninsured or underinsured.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
Saw Avatar with Ben today. Now we will get needlessly confusing, since we have the movie with the blue aliens and the cartoon with the kid with the blue arrow. I saw a review that describes the plot as Dances With Wolves meets Fern Gully, which is fair enough -- a predictable plot, but it was a pretty, pretty movie and an interesting setting.

Does make me wonder about something. See, the plot of the movie is basically 'guy goes Elsewhere, guy is adopted by locals, guy discovers he prefers the locals* and his bosses are jerks**, guy helps his new friends kick his old bosses' butts'. It's not a new plot. But there's always a guy -- okay, maybe a gal. What I mean is that we never get the aliens (or, indigenous humans, for that matter) without a human with them. Especially in visual media -- I can maybe think about a book example.

Rambly, and this might not even make sense. )
beccastareyes: Image of woman reading.  Text: hopeless bookworm (bookworm)
Okay, I've got Invoking Urania over on DW (here. Mainly because I decided I prefer a place where all my friends are for blogging, and I can tell it to crosspost things to InsaneJournal anyway -- overall, since more people use OpenID to leave comments, since IJ is a bit of a ghost town, it doesn't make much difference. If things work out, I'll get a paid account and start crossposting to Invoking Urania on LJ again.

Plus, there's nesting tags. Look at this. Snazzy. (Yes, I still have a default layout. Give me time, folks.)

I still miss my icons, though. I care less in fic journals, though.

All the content over there is stuff I've already posted to the Internets. Except a trio of fanart pieces, which have been up on DevART and Elfwood and my site and various LJ comms and... okay, I don't know if anyone's seen them, but here . (I'm not gonna start posting my massive backlog of original and exchange art there, but I'll do it as I go.)

In other news, I have taken custody (legally -- I was sworn in on my Slayers Premium DVD and everything) of the CJAS anime archive. This means I have half a closet (a big closet) of anime, mostly from the 1980s to mid 2000s. (About when people started downloading anime). Plus a VHS and Laserdisc player. Yes, you need that to watch some of the stuff in the archives. There's also stuff like several projectors, a table and chairs, the Weekly Get Rid of It! box*, raffle (well, ROFL) prizes, and our banner.

* Filled with free stuff anime companies send us that we regularly give away to members.

Star Trek tonight! Yay for Star Trek!
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (way_out_there)
Of all things, this was inspired by a MPreg rant on [insanejournal.com profile] fanficrants...

One series of Lois McMaster Bujold's books is set in a future space-opera setting. One of the technological advances is the 'uterine replicator', a device that mimics the human uterus, allowing babies to be born without anyone having to be pregnant. And I started thinking about how many different ways this shows up in the series. So I made a list.

Long, and spoilery... )
beccastareyes: (have a nice sol!)
First off, nary a day after I give my note about 'Not reading SF until November', Ryan makes a post about how someone got the rights to Red Mars (by Kim Stanley Robinson) and is going to be doing a TV series or miniseries. Ryan mentioned the fact he read the Mars Trilogy in high school when he was just getting into planetary science. So did Briony, another friend (who shares the blog and her advisor with Ryan). So did I.

So, I had to go out and order all three Mars books, plus the short story book.  )
beccastareyes: (have a nice sol!)
It says something about me that I saw this post on metaquotes, and knew where each of the quotes .

Clarke's "The Star" was also one of the first SF stories I read that stuck to me. Sure, I had read a lot of forgettable YA SF as a kid, and we had a unit of SF lit in 8th grade*. And I was a Trekkie space geek. But that story actually gave me the punch to the gut that made me realize that you could do some amazing stuff with SF (and short stories -- I was a novel kind of gal, the longer, the better). That was also around the time crisi83 started loaning me Heinlein**.

* I remember two stories from that. One was Ray Bradbury's "The Sound of Thunder". The other was a cute little story about gender roles and how worked up people get about them that was called something along the lines of "Project X". Come to think about it, I'd like to track that second one down.

** Whatever else I think about him now, Heinlein gets credit for cluing me in that (serial) monogamy or stereotypical harem-style polygyny is not the only way to run a culture.

I didn't quite get 2001 (the book is a lot clearer than the movie, but still left me with the 'okay... what?' impression), but I did read Rendezvous with Rama and was impressed -- here was this mysterious ancient spaceship that everyone was making a fuss over, and it was NEAT, and it was just here for our Sun, and not us at all. (Yes, I read the sequels. No, I didn't care for them. Except maybe for the aliens, which were neat.)

Now that i think about it, I think maybe I should try rereading 2001, and read Childhood's End, though I don't think it's my thing at all.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
INspired by comments from [livejournal.com profile] limyaael's latest rant, on arranged marriages.

The play Romeo and Juliet (or a translation of it) actually became quite popular on Daryn. Instead of a tragedy, however, it is usually played as a morality play -- 'See, kids, when you let your hormones decide your marriage prospects instead of your common sense, Bad Things Happen.' Daryn really doesn't have arranged marriages (at least now), but they don't really marry for love -- basically you pick someone you know well, know you can live with without being driven batshit, who would make a good spouse/parent, and of good enough character to get your family's blessing. Some things don't translate well -- for one thing, Montegue and Capulet's parts would usually be rewritten as female ones, as it would be unusual to have a male head of the family, even in modern Darynese culture -- family is one of the areas Darynese culture is most conservative about, and they were a matriarchy.

And, hell, now I need to figure out what pressures brought the Equalist movement into play on their planet. Which means finding out more about the women's rights movement (and aspects thereof) on Earth. AND get their damn government fixed in my mind.

My worldbuilding muse is a harsh mistress.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
Have been trying to work out the history of one of my alien species in my current writing world. Mainly because it explains why they don't have psionics and didn't really take to them quickly. Humans were at a disadvantage with psionics because the ability most common in them is the ability to sense them being used. Having a psi on Earth before psionics was formally recognized by modern science (and some level of schooling in shielding was put into place) was like having a Christmas tree at a star party -- a very bright thing near a large number of people who don't like light right now.

Story time )

Pick apart, offer suggestions, etc.
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
Okay, so I am thinking of turning my webcomic's story into a novel, since I want to do NaNoWriMo this November, and that means revamping the plot, because I am a far different person than I was when I came up wiht the plot in freshman year of college.

The basics: The Ankaa is a small FTL ship owneed by the Star by Star Exploration Company, an organization devoted to mapping the heavens, selling colonization/mining rights to new planets/systems to pay for upkeep. Original plan was to have them be a non-profit organization, but they might be an international collaboration (feel free to point out flaws to either). They are based out of Earth, and are mostly human, though Starsailors aren't that rare (Maybe 1 in 20 crewmen -- Starsailors would rather cooperate with other species than start their own in competition.) There might be a few Darynese in the organizaiton, since the Darynese don't have a formal space-exploration program and Daryn has the best relations with Earth. Possibly a few other aliens that have emigrated to a human world.
The crew consistes of Phillee, who is the captain and ship's surgeon (and token Starsailor, form oen of the few mixed colonies); Melody (who needs a last name), her human niece/'adopted daughter' (I can explain their family structure -- it would make more sense them) and communications spacialist (thy have a sort of Universal Translator that requires telepathy to use -- this position is disproportionalty filled by a Starsailor); Rikayo Darenka, the ship's engineer and a Darynese; and Alriai Aborin, the ship's pilot and also Darynese. Melody, Riki and Alri are all in their early 20's -- This is Melody and Riki's first misison, Alri might have done something before. Philee is very experienced and in her early 40s.

Plot happens )

Am leaning towards mission #2 and victim #3

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