Celebrating the Best of Supernatural

@4: Monster Movie was another one I was forced to cut! And it caused me actual physical pain to not include Just My Imagination and Faith.

Celebrating the Best of Supernatural

@2: There were so many episodes I had to cut that I really wanted to include, and LARP and the Real Girl was one of them. Otherwise the list would be twice as long.

“We Are Each Other’s Harvest”: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

@2: It's YA, so officially 12-18, but it really depends on the kid. There's no strong language and no graphic depictions.

Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: August 2019

@3: I don't cover anthologies, but many of the magazines I review offer print subscriptions, not just digital. You don't have to only read them on a computer.

Hugo Spotlight: The Devastating Alternate History of Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation

@1:

***SPOLIERS***

 

 

We don't find that out until the very end, so for most of the book Jane interacts with the world as the Black biracial daughter of a white woman.

Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: July 2019

@2: great to hear! If you want more short spec before the end of the month, you might check my prior columns as well as the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile. So much more good stuff!

The Toll by Cherie Priest Is the Southern Gothic Horror Novel of the Summer

@1: I definitely don't think the book shouldn't be read, and I'm not big on stressing over plausibility when it comes to fiction. It just struck me as odd and unnecessary to try to tie it to the local Indigenous populations. It didn't throw me out of the story, but it was jarring enough that I thought it merited discussion. It's a critique, not a cancellation.

Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: April 2019

@5: Gah! Sorry! I had the correct name in my notes page and totally mucked it up on the write-up. Won't happen again.

Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: April 2019

@3: please do! My contact info is on my blog (see link in bio)

“And the waters prevailed”: Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

@2: Yes, you're right - too many "C" names! Hopefully my moderators can make that change...

We Need More Roswell, New Mexico in Our Lives

@4 I mean, hyperbole is the way the internet works, right?

We Need More Roswell, New Mexico in Our Lives

@1: I had literally no memory of the original past season 1 until my rewatch and then I remembered why I wiped it from my brain.

@2: SAME. I need this show. I rarely watch anything live, but I have changed my entire evening schedule just to watch this damn show.

A Question of Heroes and Villains in Children of Blood and Bone, Chapters 74-85

@1: Don't know if I'll be doing another reread, but I am going to review the sequel when it comes out.

Betrayal, Torture, and Bad Romance in Children of Blood and Bone, Chapters 61-73

@1: Exactly. His lack of self-awareness is epic, and it gets more frustration with each page. On one hand it makes sense that he's unwilling to change - he's basically Zelie in that sense. If she's the hero and he's the villain, their parallel journeys work in theory. But for me as the reader it makes him (and Zelie, frankly) a fairly static character.

Love, Lust, and Loathing in Children of Blood and Bone, Chapters 53-60

@1, 2: Hadn't heard the Binta theory before and I really don't care for it for reasons stated by Maac. Yikes.

A Steampunk Mystery with Real Bite: P. Djèlí Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015

@1: Just to be clear, Clark absolutely doesn't write YA. Not sure where you got YA, but nope.

Pull List: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and DIE and the Lure of Nostalgia

@3: accusations of Whedon being sexist and misogynistic go back to his Buffy and Angel days. They aren't new. I suggest doing some googling.

A Travel Guide to the Worlds of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series (Updated!)

@4: We haven’t gotten those distinctions yet. I only wrote down what was in the book.

@5, 6: I can see Logic being there. But I definitely think it’s a more fluid world than a rigid definition could cover. What the Archivist would define the Goblin Market as versus what Vincent would say versus Moon versus Lundy would all be different.

Pull List: Best Comics of 2018

@11: Again, I’m an American reviewer based in America who reviews (mostly) American-printed comics. Yes, there are many great international comics out there - of the list you provided, while many of them are great, none meet the qualifications for this list - however they aren’t all easily available at LCS, libraries, or bookstores.

Manga is a whole 'nother beast from comics. They share a similar medium, but operate under very different rules. I think manga is worthy of it’s own best of list, hence me not including it here.

Pull List: Best Comics of 2018

@3: DIE took me by surprise. I mean, I love Gillen, but I'm not at all into RPG/D&D. But it's phenomenally good.

@4: Well, since I'm based in the US, I generally only have access to comics printed in the US. I don't read any other languages besides English, so I wouldn't be able to review them even if I could get them.

Pull List: Best Comics of 2018

@1: Yep, Mister Miracle is excellent, which is why it made my best of last year - didn't debut in 2018 so that's why it's not here.

Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is Enchantingly Spooky

@6: Kind of? It uses familiar terminology but isn’t an exact match for Satanism. Or, I guess it’s Satanism with magic maybe? Technically I’d guess the mortals of this world are Satanists while the witches have their own similar yet different religion. Sorry I can’t be more specific without spoiling the comic book and potentially the show itself.

Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is Enchantingly Spooky

@3: I get where you're coming from, but I still think if instead of trying to do everything in 10 episodes and failing, the series would be tighter if they did fewer things in 8 episodes. There was a lot of padding and wheelspinning despite the abundance of subplots, and fewer eps would cut that problem down substantially.

@4: Oh, I definitely appreciate Coyle and have seen Coupling several times (back before it made me cringe with how awful the politics are). That's actually my issue with Sabrina, that it doesn't utilize his full talents. He's more than scenery chewing and bad fingernail prosthetics, but the show doesn't let him explore that fully. Given how the season ends, I think he'll get more time to shine in Part 2.

The Secrets We Keep and the Lies We Tell: Anna-Marie McLemore’s Blanca & Roja

@1: Yes, Page identifies as a boy and uses she/her pronouns. I made the choice not to call that out for a specific reason. I did not get into detail about the non-enby characters' gender identities, so to do so for Page felt very othering to me. Although I also see how it might be interpreted as misgendering, so I do apologize if my over-cautiousness caused any harm. And I appreciate your willingness to speak out on this, especially as an enby person.

Killer Obsessions: V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful

@1: I appreciate your comment. I don't think Victor (or Schwab) need to use ace terminology for him to be ace. Yes, I say I don't date or not interested all the time. But if I were trying to explain how I feel about myself and my identity (as Victor does in that particular scene), especially one as misunderstood as asexuality, I would not reduce a vast and varied community of experiences down to "sex, meh."  

I also don't think saying he's disinterested in sex us the coming out moment we were promised. My issue is that we were promised canon, and that Schwab specifically pointed to this scene as that canon moment...and it didn't work for me. Other aces/aros feel different, and that's totally fine!

Taking the whole canon conversation away, I think it's clear he's ace/aro from the implications in the text. But that particular scene on it's own doesn't cut it. 

Magic, Superpowers, and the Undead in This Autumn’s Upcoming YA SFF

@1: Sorry! However, there are no spoilers in these descriptions that aren't in the official book description or in major publication reviews (such as Kirkus or PW).

Home Sweet Home: Nova Ren Suma’s A Room Away From the Wolves

@1: But that's exactly my point. If Suma intended it to be something Bina dabbled in as a straight girl, then that needed to be said. Without it, her dual gender kiss is jarring for me as a queer person. Suma needed to do something with that kiss, whether it be making it clear that it was a one-off (which is totally fine - teens experiment all the time) or that she's queer (even if she's still in the questioning phase). Namedropping queerness smacks of Katy Perry and often does more harm than good for baby or closeted queers. 

Queers! In! SPAAAAAACE!!! Emily Skrutskie’s Hullmetal Girls

@1: Short answer – it’s complicated. Long answer – the queer community has largely reclaimed the term. It is often used as an umbrella term (like LGBTQ+). And some people identify as queer. I often say I’m queer because saying I’m ace/aro often has to be explained, and I don’t always feel like doing that. Some members of the community don’t like the term, but in my experience younger people consider it reclaimed. But if someone says they don’t like it, respect that. Always good to check. And remember, someone is queer, they aren’t *a* queer. The former is an adjective, the latter a noun. 

Edited to add that rules aren't always hard and fast. I'm a queer person, and I chose this title and it directly contradicts my adjective noun thing above. So shrug emoji I guess.

Sorry to Bother You Is This Summer’s Must-See Dystopian Satire

 @1 and 2: I used Ali's own words: "Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me."

A Different Shade of Magic: Witchmark by C.L. Polk

@3 and 4: the sequel will be centered on Grace. I'm assuming post events of Witchmark.

A Different Shade of Magic: Witchmark by C.L. Polk

@1: Polk torments that poor cinnamon roll, but at least Tristan is there to patch him up.

About That Legion Season Two Finale…

@12: the start date can vary btwn 1961 and 1965 depending on who is defining it, and goes to 1981.

About That Legion Season Two Finale…

@1: Fair enough. For me, I could see your point as what the show *wanted* to set up, but it was undone by how they repeatedly told Syd her breaking up with David would turn him into the world killer. Remember her convo with Clark? The show wants the blame on David (rightly so), but the framing implicates Syd in ways I don't care for. And to clarify, I absolutely *don't* think Syd is to blame. She shoulders no burdern in David's assholery. But I also didn't need to have the show keep pointing at her and stage-whispering about how if she dumps him he'll destroy everything.

@4: I knowwwwww...preggo Lenny with a hitchhiking Amy is so creepy and gross, and not in a fun way.

@5: Yeah, I've been really uncomfortable with how the show talks about mental illness. It's really stigmatizing. He may be schizophrenic, but casting that as part-and-parcel with his evilness is unhelpful at the very least.

@6: Hawley was born in 1967 which makes him a Gen-Xer.

The Queer Webcomics Revolution

@3: Ooo...good question! I don't generally read MG stuff. That being said, M.F.K. is pretty great for younger readers. Also try Full Circle.

Usually I'd hunt around on Tapas for more recs, but their site is acting really weird rn.

John Scalzi’s Head On Stands Tall

@1: If Chris was adopted, it was never mentioned, implied, or even hinted at on the page or in subsequent author conversations. Transracial adoptions rarely happen with Black parents and a white (or non-Black) child. If that's what happened here, that's a MAJOR plot point that would need to be discussed. Scalzi is a good enough author that he wouldn't leave out something that important to know.

A Tale of Two Americas: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

@7: I heard about it from one of those 4 authors on Twitter. This, Children of Blood and Bone, The Belles, and A Blade So Black. And technically it's *new* YA fantasy, as there's at least one reprint by a Black woman author coming out.

A Tale of Two Americas: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

@2: This is going to sound more snarky than I intend, but I'm on a phone so I don't have the patience to craft something more nice sounding.

For one, they aren't arming them (read the book for specifics). For two, mass forced labor is LITERALLY how colonialism works. It is LITERALLY how this nation was built. In many parts of the South, there were twice as many enslaved Africans as white people. Yet because the entire system was structured against them, rebellions weren't successful. That being said, there were far more slave rebellions and runaways than what you learn in school. Even in Reconstruction, having an armed population didn't help fight systemic racism. The original klan began as a bunch of white dudes disarming Black Union soldiers. Anyway, not a plot hole, but rooted in historical fact.

Black Panther Is Far More Than Just A Comic Book Movie

Y’all are killing me here. In the context of the Black diaspora “ancestors,” doesn't necessarily mean literal direct blood relations. The definition of kinship is a lot more fluid for us (and many other cultures). Pre-colonial Africans are as much my ancestors as my actual grandmother, regardless of DNA or genealogy. I don't have to know whether or not my people were from a particular plantation to consider those enslaved Africans to be my ancestors. They just are.

Moreover, it's not like enslaved Africans who drowned at sea had no relations who survived long enough to have children on a plantation. Yes, Erik could have actual relatives at the bottom of the sea, but he's speaking metaphorically, as most African Americans do when it comes to our past.

Black Panther Is Far More Than Just A Comic Book Movie

@22: As far as North Africa is concerned, just off the top of my head - the Tuareg live in part in North Africa, and Bastet is ancient Egyptian. I'd bet good money that if we dug through all the cultures referenced by the costumers and set/production design we'd probably find more. 

Black Panther Is Far More Than Just A Comic Book Movie

@14: You’re right that I didn’t notice they were speaking Arabic, and that’s on me. I don’t hear Arabic enough to recognize the language. But I didn’t pick out anything that specifically identified the human traffickers as either Muslim or Boko Haram. Covering the head isn't just a Muslim trait, and human trafficking isn't just a Boko Haram thing. Arabic is spoken across the African continent, and not just by African Muslims.

I disagree with the accusation that I don’t care about positive Muslim or Arabic rep because those aren't my personal backgrounds. I care very deeply about positive rep for all groups, especially those who are treated the worst. You're right that pop culture needs to stop casting Middle Eastern people as terrorists and villains. It's harmful and hateful. The MCU has done the barest amount of diversity and patted itself on the back. And yes, it needs to do better not just on positive rep but on not doing bad rep. Which is exactly why I called out the MCU for it’s lack of intersectionality in the first place.

Coming Home: Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti Series

@4: The astrolabe and history of alien interactions gets a lot more detail in Night Masquerade.

As for Star Trek, yes it was diverse for its time, but we’re still using those same metrics. It’s like people who think Joss Whedon’s work is feminist. Sure it was feminist in the 1990s, but what worked then doesn’t work now. Star Trek in the 1960s had one Black woman as a secondary character. And Star Trek today (up through the movies) still only has one Black woman as a secondary character, that’s a problem for me. More to the point, ST’s version of the future - which is now basically the default template for utopian space futures - is derived from the white American/European perspective. Okorafor presents a different interpretation of the future.

“Real” Is a Four-Letter Word: Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series

@2: Funnily enough, your constant recs for this series was what made me sign up to review it. I really wanted to read it, so figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. I retroactively dedicate this article to you.

@4: I hear you. I didn't hear about asexuality until a few years ago (came across it on Tumblr). Am so glad I never heard it connected with Lovecraft or Rand, otherwise I might never have come 'round to it! Anyway, I prefer to keep Tim Gunn as my ace celebrity representative. He's so kind and wonderful.

The Top Spec-Fic Comics of 2017

@5: Damn me and my bad cut and paste habits. Yes, it's DC, I missed that when I moved the titles around in edits.

The Top Spec-Fic Comics of 2017

@2: Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree on America. Sorry you had such a negative reaction to it.

And even though the other comics you mentioned don’t qualify for this list since they didn’t debut in 2017, they are all *definitely* worth reading. I am in love with Backstagers and Lumberjanes, and Doom Patrol has been consistently interesting. Haven’t read the rest of your list, but will check them out!

The Top Young Adult SFF of 2017

@5: Thanks! The Marrow Thieves should be on *every* Best of YA list, frankly.

All the Known Portal Worlds in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series

@5: Gah, yes! This is what comes of copy and pasting and not confirming with your (very detailed!) excel spreadsheet before posting. Double-checked the rest and they're accurate (to my notes, anyways).

All the Known Portal Worlds in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series

@2 Yep, you're right. I had book 1 in my notes, but typed book 3 by accident here.

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: Lila Bowen’s Shadow Series

@1: Yeah, I also enjoyed the last third. Rhett got his schadenfreude in.

Pull List: The Unholy Horror of Sabrina and Redlands

@3: It's hard to specify, but as a woman and former teen girl, I know what women and teen girls sound like, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn't it. Even without knowing the authors of either that or Redlands, I could tell without a doubt that Sabrina was written by a guy and Redlands by a woman.

The only thing I can suggest is to read how women write women and teen girls, and listen to more women and you'll pick up the difference pretty quickly.

Pull List: The Unholy Horror of Sabrina and Redlands

@1: Understandable. The lack of diversity in Sabrina is annoying, as it is in most properties, historical or otherwise.

I loved Mindhunter, and they made some very specific points about race about halfway through that put the FBI in a poor light intentionally. I’m ok with the lack of diversity there because it’s a historical point that they don’t shy away from - most serial killers are white men and most feds were white men. There are some subtle comments about white women as well, but it’s clear the point of the show is to deal with toxic masculinity specifically with white men. It’s not commenting on men as a whole.

Unlike Mindhunter, Sabrina’s lack of diversity is just laziness. There’s no point to it other than that Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack simply didn’t. There’s one Black girl (Josie) who vanishes after only a couple of panels. And it didn’t need to be that way. Sabrina isn’t aiming for historical accuracy or to make a point about it’s pervasive whiteness like Mindhunter is.

New Young Adult Fiction: Fairytales, Dystopias, and Life Lessons

@8: Those authors weren't "relegated" to an "also ran" section - I'll refer you to the third paragraph in the intro specifically stating my intent regarding diversity. The authors in the intro are all great authors, and those are some great books! But, again, the focus of *my* list is diversity, and adding non-diverse titles into this would've defeated the whole purpose. There's nothing wrong with non-diverse books or authors, and I'm practically vibrating with excitement about reading the three books I mentioned in the intro. However, they're not my particular focus for this particular column, as I've made explicit.

I'll also add that I haven't read Language of Thorns yet, so if one of the stories within the collection has LGBTQ and/or POC content, please let me know. I couldn't find any mentions of diversity in any reviews, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

New Young Adult Fiction: Fairytales, Dystopias, and Life Lessons

@4: I made a personal decision a few years back to make the majority of my pop culture consumption (books, movies, tv, music, etc.) centered on non-white, non-straight voices. It means my movie consumption has dropped precipitously, but overall I'm very happy with the results. Of course, I still enjoy white/straight stories and creators, but I love hearing from different voices so much more.

New Young Adult Fiction: Fairytales, Dystopias, and Life Lessons

@5: It sounds like a great book! But this list is just for YA, and Bloodprint is adult.

New Young Adult Fiction: Fairytales, Dystopias, and Life Lessons

@1: I did mention some books with straight white protags in the intro. They are still definitely the majority of protagonists (and authors) in YA, which is exactly why I didn't feature them here. As a not straight, not white person, finding diverse fiction would've changed my life as a teen. So I think it's especially important to highlight diversity whenever possible. That's not to say non-diverse books/authors aren't important, but they tend to get way more attention than diverse books/authors. In other words, my list is intentionally skewed toward diversity.

Invasion of the Heart: The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

@1: Eh, it stops being confusing the more time you spend with genderqueer people. It doesn't bother me for 2 reasons. 1) they, in this case, isn't plural but singular. It's grammatically correct and has been for hundreds of years. 2) and most importantly, people can choose whatever pronoun they want. What harm does it cause to use a pronoun someone wants? English does have many forms of third person pronouns - see: https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/ But again, people get to choose how they identify. Why should anyone be forced to conform to a term they find harmful, inaccurate, or offensive?

Midnight, Texas Is Magical Trash

@5: Def check out Harper Connelley. And try her cozy mysteries as well. Harris is silly but fun. And we all need some quickie summer reads :)

@2: I am a regular Supernatural viewer, have been for years. And even though I still tune in every week, it's been a disaster for more seasons than it's been good.

@1 and @7:Thing is, the sex and gore are pretty integral to the books. The finale in the third book especially - which is why I'm concerned about how they're going to play that. The thing under the floorboards doesn't make an appearance until Night Shift, so if they're bringing it up now (and apparently getting rid of the Audrey murder mystery), then that shifts the hell out of the final showdown. Especially if they keep network television tame. Not that it couldn't work as is - Sleepy Hollow and Grimm did just fine without all the smexy, bloody spice - but it's an adjustment on my end.

Midnight, Texas Is Magical Trash

@2 and @8: Thanks for that, Michael. The reason I'm so against using that word and insist that it's a slur is because the Rroma have. When a marginalized community, especially one I'm not a part of, takes offense at something, it's my job as an ally to listen. Moreover, that term has been used to oppress and subjugate Rroma for hundreds of years, not just culturally but legally as well. As a queer Black woman, I can relate to that. So since I have a platform to talk about how that word is offensive and harmful, I intend to do so. If Manfred and Xylda were Rroma, they would probably rather be called that than the G-word. If they're simply travellers (a la Irish Travellers), then just call them that instead. We don't need to use a derogatory term as a catchall for magically inclined wanderers.

Destiny Schmestiny: Aditi Khorana’s The Library of Fates

@3: I do! It's called The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. Just because it's YA doesn't mean adults can't, don't, or shouldn't read it. A good book is a good book, regardless of who it's aimed at.

Destiny Schmestiny: Aditi Khorana’s The Library of Fates

@1: No, I'm comfortable with that B. I don't look at the elements of a story - plot, characters, setting, background, description, etc - as individual components. How they work together (or don't) is really what I'm concerned with. While some of the elements are weaker than others, they blend together pretty well.

I do agree about the romance stuff, especially love triangles. I'm sick to death of them. Too often a writer just sticks in a love triangle and does interesting or subversive with it. Just once I'd love to read a YA fantasy story with a girl lead that *doesn't* have a love triangle or romance subplot.

The End Is Only the Beginning: American Gods, “Come to Jesus”

@26: I have no control of what goes in the newsletter, so don't get grumpy at me.

@27: I'm still undecided. I love Chenoweth and get why Fuller/Green wanted her (she was specifically asked to play the part), but I can't really see the logical reason for casting her. Changing her into a Southern belle is fun, but I think it does a disservice to the character. It makes Easter more of a Christian hangers-on deity rather than a pagan deity. Perhaps that's intentional, though? It was implied she sided with the new gods, so her persona should match their new role for her. TV!Easter is commercialized WASP Christian Easter than Book!Ostara pagan Easter.

The End Is Only the Beginning: American Gods, “Come to Jesus”

@11: Thanks fo the correction. I hadn't heard of his wife and should've taken the time to Google.

The Odd Thomas Movie Is Better Than You Think (Because of Anton Yelchin)

@1: Just started the 1st book in the series and I'm...not a fan. I'll finish it, but I just can't stand Koontz's writing style. Love the story and the characters, but Koontz undersells everything by writing as the straight man instead of just giving into the weirdness of the story. Also, it's straight up offensive. Like at every level. Fat jokes, sexist comments, and ableism abound. I cringe at least once a page. Now I know where the movie got it's less savory elements. I'd love to see Odd Thomas written by literally anyone other than Koontz.

@2: There's really only two ways to take a story like this, The Mummy (1999) or Constantine. Either way has it's flaws, but for a story this silly - and despite it's heavy themes, it is awfully goofy - I prefer the former.

The End Is Only the Beginning: American Gods, “Come to Jesus”

@1: Ah, but Wednesday knew the new gods would be there, 1) because he killed Vulcan and made a lot of noise about going to Kentucky so they knew he'd turn up, and 2) for spoilery reasons.

@3: TBH, I don't have any additional thoughts on Anansi. He hasn't done much thus far. I like this Anansi a lot better for the age we're in, and he has less colonial overtones - Neil Gaiman is a lot of things, but good at writing from diverse perspectives he's not. His Mr. Nancy was pretty cringe worthy at times, in a "bad stereotypes" way. Anyway, Anansi doesn't do anything in the book until House on the Rock, so I suspect next season we'll get more of Orlando Jones. But I disagree that he isn't hinting at larger things, it's just not the larger arc but character development. His slave ship speech directly tied into Shadow's lynching and reaction to it, and his story of the fallen queen directly foreshadows Easter and how she turncoats.

As for Easter's manipulation, I get it, but the particular reasons Wednesday and Media use are dumb. Easter has lived in the US long enough to know better. For a show supposed to be discussing American spirituality, it completely misses Amercian spirituality. That worked (somewhat) in the novel, but fails here.

@5: I dunno, a lot of people don't know enough Norse mythology to start picking out gods on the street. Hell, a lot of people don't know where the names of the days of the week come from. And there's a major difference between the Western "belief" in God (as in they don't go to church or pray but believe in a vague sense of a higher power) and being directly confronted with gods plural. Gods that exist outside the parameters of the Judeo-Christian God and are more mercurial than benevolent. I think it'd be easier for an American latent Christian to be cool after seeing multiple Jesuses yet be in total denial when confronted with ancient polytheistic deities.

In the Old Country: American Gods, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”

@26: I can't speak for the whole queer community, but in general I think as long as you're using it as a descriptor rather than a definition it's fine. As in, a queer person or member of the queer community rather than "that person is a queer." The former makes a trait part of who they are and the latter makes that trait the entirety of their being, if that makes sense. But as with every descriptor, always good to ask the subject their preference. Personally, I prefer queer because it's an umbrella term that also accommodates sub-communities like straight trans people, and it's less formal than LGBTQIA+ or QUILTBAG.

There's a lot of disagreement on using "queer," mostly drawn along generational lines. A lot of baby queers don't like the term because they find it offensive, whereas us older members remember the fight to reclaim the word. Here's a good recap on that issue.

In the Old Country: American Gods, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”

@20: Ah, there's the problem. A lot of (white) people think "privilege" is individual when it's really systemic. You don't have slaver ancestors? Great! You never hung Coloreds Only signs? Good for you! I'm not going to get into how offensive it is to demean 400 years of my people's history of brutalization, subjugation, decimation, and rape perpetrated by white people onto people of color across the globe into a "culture of victimhood." Nor do I especially care what any non-African American person has to say about the use of the "n-word," just as I don't care what any non-queer person thinks about saying "queer." Those words belong to us now and we decide what they mean and how they're used.  

As @21 says, no one is asking you to shoulder the guilt of your past (individual) but to help better the future (systemic). Overall, it doesn't so much matter that not all white people had slaves or that abolitionists wanted to end slavery (they only fought for freedom, not racial equality or equity) when all white people benefited from slavery. America literally only exists as the powerhouse it is today because it was built on the blood and bones of Africans.

Privilege means that had Shadow been white he wouldn't have feared the cops at the hotel in the same way as Black Shadow, who knows police brutality (systemic) is lynching gone modern. White Shadow would know the cops would hassle him but wouldn't fear for his life, where Black Shadow knows there's a good chance he might not even make it out of the parking lot alive. That fear is obvious on Ricky Whittle. It's not some political agenda grafted on by some angry critic. His identity as a Black man and his place in an America of white privilege is central to the show and the book.

Essie's good life in Virginia is rooted in benefiting from the labor system set up by other white people. There may have been white indentures when she first arrived on that farm, but I'd have to be wholly ignorant about American history to think by the time she died there wasn't a single Black slave on the property. Essie's life sucked for a while, sure, but she had options that not only other groups of people did not, but were actively denied. Essie, like all white people, had the option of indenture. Africans and Natives were not. Laws were passed not only to deny them those options but to prevent individual privileged (white) people from offering those options.

And *that's* white privilege. Again, systemic not individual. An individual white person may support Black Lives Matter, but that doesn't change the fact that they are far less likely to be accosted by the cops than a Black man. That structure of harassment is systemic. It's created and fueled by white supremacy, meaning those responsible for breaking it down are white people.

In the Old Country: American Gods, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”

@JasonD: I agree with @8 that American Gods, like nearly all SFF, is inherently political, both the show and the book. But I'd also point out that marginalized people didn't turn our identities into politics, those in power did. When the majority gets screen time it's "normal," but when a marginalized person get highlighted suddenly the majority accuse it of being political. Bit of a double standard there.

I'm not gonna argue with anyone over the existence of white privilege. There are countless articles, studies, and reports showing that the white privilege framework exists. If someone isn't going to listen to a queer Black woman with extensive personal experience suffering under the iron fist of white privilege, then I'm not going to bother trying to convince them with science and statistics.

@7, 10: Given the range of brick colors, it's not explicit (in the show) that she's Native rather than African. But even if she is Native, in 18th century Carolina that still doesn't preclude her from slavery. Native peoples were vastly enslaved prior to the introduction of African slaves. It changes the meaning of my point a bit, but by *adding* layers of context rather than invalidating it. Native people had their name, language, religion, culture, land, families, freedom, everything ripped from them for centuries, just as Africans did. Either way, it's more likely Susan was a name given to her by white colonists rather than a name she chose herself.

@5: Thanks for the translation!

Death Becomes Them: American Gods, “A Murder of Gods”

@9: Your second point is really more where I was going with the multiple Jesuses. There should be Conquistador Jesus, replaced later by Californio Jesus (of Alta California). The latter should theoretically still be around, unless he was later replaced by Mexican Jesus who comes up (repeatedly?) with undocumented immigrants. And does that mean Conquistador Jesus, Californio Jesus, and Mexican Jesus hang out? Do Mexican immigrants swap Mexican Jesus for Californio Jesus? Or do they ditch him for American Roman Catholic Jesus (as opposed to WASP Jesus or Evangelical Jesus or American Latent Catholic Jesus or Black Jesus)? And is Mexican Jesus really Latin American Jesus or do the different subcultures each have their own Jesus?

I know this is totally not the point of the show/ep, but the idea of multiple Jesuses raises some interesting points about the Old Gods and franchising out their beliefs. Do the multi-Jesues all bring the worship back to one main god or do they all contain their own independent belief-fueled powers? Are they like the United States of God/Allah/Yahweh, interdependent yet somewhat separate, or are they more like countries in North America, entirely separate entities united only by general circumstances?

The Wonder Woman Movie Is An Experience That’s Long Overdue

@21: I’m gonna disagree with you on the “humanist” thing. That’s nonsense, frankly, and basically "All Lives Matter"-s feminism. While I’m glad you were able to find aspects of the film that you could relate to, the universality doesn’t invalidate the feminism. Feminism is specifically about redressing gender inequity through an intersectional focus on women. (Just as Black Lives Matter works to redress racial inequity by focusing on Black people.) What you’ve basically done is erase women a the position of power. Now, I know you didn’t do it maliciously, so I'm treating this as a teachable moment. Check this article for more on how harmful it is to replace feminism with humanism.

@26: I’m bothered by smoke signals because they play right into stereotypes of Native Americans. Any time Indigenous people are put in Hollywood films, they often display a few characteristics (like saying “how” or smoke signals or wearing feather headdresses). But more importantly, I am bothered because many Native people are bothered. I saw a big conversation going on on Native Twitter about how they were annoyed by the film’s use of smoke signals, and so I listened to them. If Indigenous people are saying they don’t care for it, then I don’t care for it either.

Death Is Not the End: American Gods, “Git Gone”

@17: Prisoners are often shipped around depending on a lot of factors, mostly having to do with overcrowding in private prisons. There’s a whole cottage industry for for-profit prisoner transportation, and abuse is rampant.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World: American Gods, “Lemon Scented You”

@1: True. Both of them are assholes. I also like both of them. Laura’s selfishness and meanness is really interesting. It’s not often we get to see women being unlikable and mean. Mad Sweeney deserves to get the shit kicked out of him, but Laura also taunts and provokes him. She beats him up because she likes it and because she can, not out of any particular need to.

@4: As unspoilery as I can be, in the book, Laura wears the coin around her neck as a necklace. The end result between the show and the book are likely to be the same, but putting it inside her adds some wrinkles to how that plays out.

Death Is Not the End: American Gods, “Git Gone”

@14: Just the one book, but there are two versions, the original and the 10th anniversary author's preferred text. Highly rec the 10th anniversary one, but the original print is shorter and dense.

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