Why the Hell Are These Books Out of Print?

Russell H, that's often true, but based on my experience, it does not apply in John M. Ford's case.

Marvel Body Mass Index Study Reveals Nearly 1/3 of Female Characters Are Underweight
Emily Asher-Perrin, Why the pass on muscles? If you're a superhero, your strength is not natural. Muscles are only a symbolic representation of a traditional kind of male beauty that's older than Greek civilization. Colin R, regarding disparities, don't forget that most male superheroes are dickless. And more women go bare-legged than men in many places—even in Minneapolis when it's below freezing, which croggles me, yet some women do it.
The Thrice-Done Film of the ’90s: What Jim West, Zorro, and Mrs Peel Have in Common
@ EmilyAP, have you seen Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead? One of my guilty pleasures. It has a character who could be interpreted as a black James West, though he owes more to Lee Van Cleef, I suspect. I'm very curious about Tarrantino's Django Unchained.
The Thrice-Done Film of the ’90s: What Jim West, Zorro, and Mrs Peel Have in Common
Crossposted with fcoulter. Which gives me an excuse to add that I haven't had the heart to watch either the Wild Wild West or the Avengers movies.
The Thrice-Done Film of the ’90s: What Jim West, Zorro, and Mrs Peel Have in Common
As a fan of all three TV shows: The Avengers movie should've starred Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. A black cowboy could've worked fine in The Wild, Wild West, given that so many cowboys were black, and there were black field officers in the Civil War and black officers with the Buffalo Soldiers. Hasty research reminds me that the first black West Point grad was in 1877, a fine time for the Wild, Wild West. Zorro would've been better if the director hadn't over-ruled the writers on a few bits, but it's loverly.
Three Ways to Make an Improved Rocketeer Movie
Small quibbles: 1. It ain't the actor's fault. He really wasn't given much to do. They need someone like Whedon to make a pass to insert a few great lines for the star. 2. Yup. 3. Kind of yup: The movie felt as if it was held back by the assumption that there would be a sequel. So I think they need a new origin that goes further with the menace. And I'll add one more: 4. Restore Betty. She was both more risqué and, to use the word of the time period, spunky in the comic. The tension between the naive Cliff and the more worldly Betty should be one of the sources of fun in the remake.
Star Trek, Pong, and Class Struggle
"To put it bluntly, you can't get there from here." You can never get there from here. You always have to build the way. "history doesn't offer us a lot of hope that it's possible to run a highly complex, industrialized society along egalitarian honor-based lines." History tells us that people are willing to share, so long as they're not desperate and institutions are in place to keep the greedheads from grabbing too much. As for your minimaxers, they play that way all the time. They're most likely to back off when exposed to criticism--look at the early history of the income tax.
Star Trek, Pong, and Class Struggle
"respect is privilege." I've begun to think "privilege" is the least useful word in political discourse. Privilege implies that something is unearned. How is the respect given to artists and inventers unearned? (Assuming, of course, they're actually the creators, and not businessfolk taking credit for what their employees created.) I'm not claiming hierarchies of respect for one's accomplishments are wrong, only that respect must be earned, not bought. "Nonetheless, your point is correct that not all social hierarchies are closely tied to wealth. Is there a strong moral reason to prefer the ones that aren't?" Yes. Then no one dies from the many things associated with poverty. Two recommended links: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616193627.htm http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/is-poverty-a-death-senten_b_960598.html
Star Trek, Pong, and Class Struggle
"if you peel off one set of hierarchy and privilege, you just get another." You assume all hierarchies are equivalent, but economic hierarchies are fundamentally different than hierarchies of respect. In a sharing society, I would expect hierarchies of respect based on things like people's love of a creative person's work. But it does not necessarily follow that more respect would take the shape of more privilege. Respect is its own reward--as shown by the number of rich folks who try to find some way to buy it.
Star Trek, Pong, and Class Struggle
"Far from being "the game" in this analogy, "class struggle" is the insight that the economy is the game." Indeed. The problem with this discussion is we haven't identified the game. Is it Life 2012, the USA version? Is it Neoliberalism! (Now with more personal liberty and greater profit for the elite!)? Then it's better to start off as the daughter of Herman Cain. Or is the game The Path To Socialism? Then economic privilege may be a hindrance, because self-interest so ofen trumps the greater good. No answers. Maybe you have to be a computer gamer to make the metaphor work. But I think the problem is we don't know what game we're playing. Okay, the 1% must know, 'cause they're winning.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
Agreed that Mukesh Ambani does not come from a poor background; my point is that he's not from a princely caste. Looking for examples of rich untouchables in India, I found this: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/18/world/la-fg-india-caste-20120419 This is also worth a look: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/world/asia/indias-boom-creates-openings-for-untouchables.html?pagewanted=all The money quote: "Because of the new market economy, material markers are replacing social markers. Dalits can buy rank in the market economy. India is moving from a caste-based to a class-based society, where if you have all the goodies in life and your bank account is booming, you are acceptable." Well, I'm also looking forward to Doug's next post.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
Mayhem, you've got a feudal understanding of class. Yes, there are still countries that have nobility, but the nobles who still have wealth have become capitalists. In India, capitalism is shaking up caste—see Mukesh Ambani. A poor person from the ruling class is still poor. A rich person from the working class is still rich. Of course gender and race complicate the picture, but really, Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey have far more power than you or me. They don't have to worry about what will happen to them in a month if they lose their job or their welfare benefits. They know their medical needs will be met. They have the power that matters most under capitalism—capital.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
Doug, as often happens in these discussions, we don't disagree, but we put our emphasis in different places. The first question is whether the game is Class or Life. You're proposing the former. Scalzi, whose understanding of power was shaped by an expensive prep school and an expensive private university, was proposing the latter. I'm suggesting that Scalzi's privilege caused him to overlook the fact that in the US, we're playing Life 2.0, Now with Less Feudalism, More Capitalism! I don't follow your point about reducing class to a matter of poverty. Class ain't about poverty; it's about wealth. Poor folks are the lowest rung of the class ladder, the original proletariat, the Capite censi who only mattered as heads that were counted because they had no wealth to count. Hmm. Or maybe that metaphor works better if poor folks are the base the damn ladder is propped on, because they provide the cheap labor that everyone else benefits from. We agree that thinking of poverty in racial terms misses the point: making the class system racially proportionate is as silly as making the Titanic racially proportionate. My point is that playing someone in the economic middle, whether a richer working-class character or a poorer bourgie character, is much better than playing anyone in the bottom 50% of the US population, who effectively have nothing. But if you really want to clean up, start off as one of the guys in the 1%. That's how Bill Gates did it.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
"All the authors ask is that you be more aware of this, and know that the woman/indian/chinese guy beside you has had to try harder to reach the same position." Actually, before the crash of the housing market which disproportionately affected Asians who had invested in homes along the West Coast, it was more likely that the "chinese guy beside you" was richer than a "white guy beside you." And today, the "indian guy beside you" is statistically more likely to be richer: Indian-Americans, as a group, are richer than European-Americans.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
"The problem is that everyone is pretending that the game only has one set of rules, but identity can be switched out as long as position is maintained." I sympathize with this take, but I must note that not everyone pretends that. More importantly, the people who pretend class is something that's added on are the ones assuming a single position. I realized things in America had changed significantly when OJ Simpson won the kind of case that any rich white man or woman would've won, but poor people of any hue still automatically lose. When you level up in the game of US Capitalism, your color turns green. The election of Obama did not prove that racism was over, but it did prove that any man with neoliberal politics who had learned the ways of the upper class at schools for the rich could become President and keep propping up Wall Street.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
My favorite comment on Scalzi's post was "I'm thankful for all the advantages I have over Herman Cain's daughter. I really dodged a bullet there." Because it points to a truth: the easiest setting in the game is rich. In a society where some are rich, the rest of us are like Ginger Rogers in a Fred Astaire movie: we've got to do everything the rich do, only backwards and in high heels. There's a meme in the social justice community: "Don't play oppression olympics." I think it's because they know that if they played, they would lose, because the privilege of wealth is huge. Condi Rice had hard odds against her, but she still had much better odds than a poor white guy born in Appalachia or Montana. Now, because, as Adolph Reed Jr. and others have noted, bringing up class makes antiracists claim you think racism is over, I'll agree that there are still plenty of racists out there. The only person I've been able to find who has said racism is over was Bill Bennett on the eve of Obama's election, and he may've just gotten carried away in the moment. A note for TNH: If there's any evidence that Noam Chomsky would've been treated better by the cops if he'd been shouting on his front porch about the treatment of leftists in America, I would happily believe Gates was a victim of institutional racism. But to the best of my knowledge, no one who smarts off to cops walks away without paying any price at all. At least, if that's part of the white privilege package, someone shorted me on it, and shorted an awful lot of white protesters through the years as well.
The Twelfth Doctor Probably Won’t Be a Woman. But If She Was….
Though if I was in charge of casting, my first offer would go to Michelle Yeoh.
The Twelfth Doctor Probably Won’t Be a Woman. But If She Was….
Whoopi Goldberg said decades ago that she'd like the part. There've been Doctors who looked older than she does now.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Martians: John Carter and the Zeitgeist
People who say the John Carter books are racist are missing something that would've been obvious when they were written: Carter is avoiding "redskins" when he is transported to a planet of "redskins" and falls in love with one.
Saladin’s Sundrarium: Four of Jack Kirby’s Most Ethnically Adventurous Creations
sps49, highest casualty rate is highest casualty rate. No one's asking for a pedestal, but folks shouldn't ignore their service, which the government did. Dad was too young for the other services, so he joined the Merchant Marine to do his part in WW2. Then, during the Korean War, everyone who had served in WW2 was exempt from the draft--except for those who had been in the Merchant Marine. Which is why I was born on an Army base. Sgt. Fury was awesome, and so was Agent of SHIELD in Kirby's hands. Now I'm wondering about the history of black supervillains. I don't associate any with Kirby offhand, but Centurius from Steranko's run on Nick Fury may qualify.
Saladin’s Sundrarium: Four of Jack Kirby’s Most Ethnically Adventurous Creations
My dad was in the Merchant Marines. Which, I just verified, was integrated during WW2: http://www.usmm.org/african-americans.html The Merchant Marines are the great neglected branch of the services. During WW2, they had the highest rate of casualties of any service. Here endeth the digression.
Saladin’s Sundrarium: Four of Jack Kirby’s Most Ethnically Adventurous Creations
And the quick Googling says the Nazis did segregate black POWs, so a retcon of the movie would require a bit of a backstory.
Saladin’s Sundrarium: Four of Jack Kirby’s Most Ethnically Adventurous Creations
Just to stress how remarkable including Gabe in the Commandos was, here's a bit from Wikipedia: "Although colorist Stan Goldberg knew that Jones was African American, the company that made the engraving plates for Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 thought a mistake had been made and colored him the same color as the rest of the Howling Commandos." I'd argue that including Gabe in the movie is more easily explained than the comic: Captain America put together a special team of people who had been captured by the Nazis. Now I need to find out whether the Nazis segregated US POWS....
Rereading Bordertown
Because your B-town posts have been so insightful, I'll make a tiny quibble with this one. The obvious metaphor in B-town is racism, and there are B-town writers who don't go deeper than that, but what I've always loved about B-town and tried to address in my stories is that racism is part of a bigger pot: the haves include elves, humans, and halfies, just as the have-nots do. Ultimately, the stories aren't about the pot, of course. They're about the folks tossed into it. At least, that's one writer's take.
Name Pluto’s New Moon After Neil Gaiman
Neil's a damn fine fellow, but don't we have enough things named after white guys? If you want an f&sf writer, why not name it Octavia Butler?
Raise Your Glass to Cosplay
Tor needs G+ +1 buttons. (I'm sure they're coming.) I'd share that.
Such a Man is Blackhawk: Then and Now
James, Wikipedia says you're right. It's possible my intense dislike for his Shadow colored my opinion of his Blackhawk.
Such a Man is Blackhawk: Then and Now
Ron, thanks for confirming my memory. I should look up whether Chaykin's Shadow came before or after that, 'cause I remember it as lacking any admirable women also. Now, Chaykin may've gotten over whatever he was going through then--Eisner sure realized his youthful take on Ebony sucked. But I would argue that Ebony and Chop-Chop, in their racist incarnations, were more admirable than Chaykin's women. Ebony and Chop-Chop had virtues, like loyalty and the occasional bit of cleverness and, well, pluck. Chaykin's women at that period in his art were only out for themselves. Eisner's take on E & C was condescending, but it was also fond. Chaykin didn't seem fond of any of the women in his stories then. Tim, yep, that was mine. It's not the depiction of sex that I object to. As a character says in Treme, "Cosmically speaking, the more cocks that get sucked in the world, the better for humanity." But Chaykin in the '80s was writing characters in a world where there were no admirable women. After American Flagg, the first 12 issues of which I also loved, I was very disappointed. I'd been a Chaykin fan since his Cody Starbuck and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. His men may not have been extremely admirable either--he was working in a noir tradition--but the men were the POV characters, so they seemed more sympathetic than the women. To go further with this, I would have to reread his Blackhawk and Shadow. I may've missed something, but I what I remember, I did not like.
Such a Man is Blackhawk: Then and Now
Huh. Dunno why my comment was blank. Take two: Man, there must be a gentler way for me to say this, but I'm failing, so I'll be blunt: I think the unexamined racism of the young Will Eisner in the 1940s is far less reprehensible than the blatant misogyny of Howard Chaykin's Blackhawk. Chaykin's a bright guy, and I loved his early work like The Scorpion, but something soured around the time he was assigned Blackhawk. ETA: I see I could've solved my posting problem using the edit function. Apologies for posting much too hastily.
Professor X is Not Martin Luther King
John, I gotta disagree, 'cause I was eight and I got the metaphor. Mutants were feared. That was why the X-Men had secret identities. But I agree no one began to push the metaphor until the '70s. Hmm. Now I want to reread those first issues and see how much eight-year-old Will was projecting, based on his knowledge of the civil rights struggle. Could be I protest too much.
Professor X is Not Martin Luther King
Morningstar, I gotta disagree. Addressing the folks you cite: Desertpaladin, anyone who doesn't want to be ruled by a brutal tyrant would have wanted to stop the Magneto who appeared in X-Men #1. Xavier always seemed to have a strong democratic streak to me--and a streak of pride that wouldn't let him bow his head to a tyrant. Also, self-interest applies: Magneto makes mutants look bad, so the best way to make humans judge mutants as individuals is to stop him. Nick, King and his followers put themselves in harm's way and did not fight back when they were attacked. That ain't Professor X and his gang. But Malcolm X maps onto Professor X much more neatly; he believed in self-defence and in defending others. Once he became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, he said, "I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being, neither white, black, brown nor red. When you are dealing with humanity as one family, there's no question of integration or intermarriage. It's just one human being marrying another human being, or one human being living around and with another human being." That doesn't sound like Magneto to me.
Professor X is Not Martin Luther King
John, maybe that's what he said, but that's not what I read. Sometimes a metaphor is richer than its creator knows. Didn't humanity fear mutants from the beginning because they were different? Didn't Xavier give them a place that was a refuge, a "separate but equal" place? Sure, baddies were bad, but that was just how baddies were written in the early '60s. Total agreement that Len Wein and especially Chris Claremont took something drawn in very broad strokes and made it grand.
Professor X is Not Martin Luther King
A PS to my post at 15: I don't mean to knock DC. The Doom Patrol came out at the same time as the X-Men, and it also said a lot about prejudice. Though there was a difference: The point of the X-Men was that they were born different. The Doom Patrol's metaphor was what some people call ableism today: they were all the victims of freak accidents, and only Elasti-Girl could pass unnoticed in society. Hmm. Elasti-Girl's nom-de-do-gooding was sexist, but her powers were far more kick-butt than the original incarnations of Marvel Girl and Invisible Girl. I think I could argue that Marvel was ahead on racial issues, while DC was ahead on feminist ones.
Professor X is Not Martin Luther King
Excellent point about Professor X mapping onto Malcolm X, not MLK. Of course the metaphor is imperfect, but their position in 1963 was the same: leave my people in peace, and know that we're prepared to meet violence with violence. The analogy gets shaky after that, when Malcolm became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. That's the fellow Nick quotes above, the man who left the Nation of Islam and began to criticize capitalism. As for Magneto, yes, it depends on who is writing him, but he's much closer to Elijah Muhammad. Magneto's early beliefs about homo sapiens map fairly well onto NOI comments about white devils. But Magneto also had a strong streak of fascism in him, too, with his belief in the superior man. Mutants are a rich metaphor. Though Lee and Kirby weren't subtle artists and weren't working in a subtle medium, I do think they knew the implications of writing about outcasts. For one thing, they were both Jews. And, at the time, Marvel was far more supportive of civil rights and the feminist movement than DC. And maybe it was just because I was aware of the civil rights movement then, but as a third-grader in '63, I understood that the X-Men was a series about how you should treat everyone as your equal, no matter how different they might seem.
Border Crossings
McZavis, like most series, Borderlands evolved from its first stories. The town became an amalgam of many cities, some with sea coasts and some without--magic works strangely there, after all. I tried to address Boyett's very L.A. vision in my second B-town novel, Nevernever, but someday another writer might take his devastated Los Angeles in another direction, or it may never come up again. Series are like that. I'm not sure who's in charge of the site, but I bet the misspelling will be fixed ASAP.
Remembering Diana Wynne Jones
The paper on the ceiling, with its giant bubble of water, was remarkably cinematic. If anyone else had been there, I'm sure the water would've simply poured through. But because it was Diana, the universe provided a moment of dramatic foreshadowing so no one would be hurt and everyone could laugh.
The Customs Of His Tribe
Foxessa, I agree with your point, but isn't that spamming? DD-B, if you're curious about your implicit beliefs, try the race test at Project Implicit: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/ I'd always assumed I had some subconscious racism going on. Turns out that's so. I have an implicit bias for black folks.
Heinlein’s contradictory views on race
"Tagging a character as black or Filipino or whatever in a way that most readers won't notice probably accomplishes little. " DD-B, is there any evidence that he didn't expect readers to notice? Writers have two choices when presenting information: 1. Make it screamingly obvious. 2. Let it be as important as it is to the POV character. This is especially tricky in first-person stories. If you're setting a story in a future in which the concept of race has little or no importance, having the character focus on race will not be true to the character or the setting. It would be as false as having a Roman or a Persian being obsessed about race. My suspicion is that Heinlein expected the reader to notice and go "Ah." He simply underestimated the number of readers who skim books and miss important clues.
Racism in Fairyland: The Silver Princess in Oz
I think people exaggerate the effect books have on kids. What resonates in a story is always what's around them: If you have moderately enlightened parents or black friends around, racism in a book is just going to seem like something that happened far away, and the reader will come away with the bits like "Strong women are cool." The reverse is true, too: bigoted jerks can be given the most enlightened books imaginable, and they'll grow up bigoted jerks. Hmm. The Bible is a fine case in point. That said, if I owned the Oz franchise, there are definitely parts that would get rewritten, and if I had kids reading these, we would have long talks about those books.
A Fond Farewell to Ripley, the Borderlands Cat
Ripley was a grand cat. She sat on my lap when I read at Borderlands. I am sure she's on Shakespeare's lap in the Bookstore in the Sky.
The Last Airbender trailer
Eswana, I don't think anyone would've minded if they had cast one or two honkeys in important roles. But the important characters who had dark skin tones or wore very Asian clothes should've been true to the TV show. This isn't the same as making Nick Fury black in order to add diversity--they're erasing diversity that already existed and was commercially successful. But if the reviews are good, I'll see it.
The Last Airbender trailer
pablodefendini, that, or nepotism. Almost all young actors are second, third, or fourth generation Hollywood. Hmm. I'm embracing the power of "and" here.
The Last Airbender trailer
pablodefendini, yeah, I was excited about seeing the version by Ang Lee. Now I'm going to wait for reviews before I decide whether to see it. I wish I could go back to that alternate universe. I was just talking about the trailer with Emma, and she pointed out something that especially bugs us about casting honkeys: None of them are famous. It's not like their names will help sell the movie. So what the fuck?
The Last Airbender trailer
Oops, bad memory: Crouching Tiger was Ang Lee. Shyamalan did Sixth Sense, and nothing that's impressed me since then. But this does look pretty.
The Last Airbender trailer
Me. Yeah, putting a white kid in Asian clothes and buildings looks ridiculously wrong, but Shyamalan did okay with Crouching Tiger. Why punish a director for casting decisions dictated by the penguins (suits, execs, money guys, whatever you wish to call them)?
Firefly Re-watch: “Shindig”
Foxcessa, some folks just can't have fun if they can't quibble, so I respect your right to quibble, but damn, it makes for an unfun world. See, Firefly isn't just a space opera. It's a Bat Durston space opera. What you see as a mess, I see as a multiplicity of influences, some operating independently, in the sense that sometimes we're just supposed to think of a Frontier Tale or a War Story trope, and some operating simultaneously, in that we're supposed to think of the Old West and the Regency and pulp SciFi simultaneously. Sure, the goal in most art is to go for the latter, but if something only works on one level now and then, it's still working, and that's all right by me. I love this episode. gaijin, one of the things I love about Firefly is the implication that the Asians, the ruling race, stayed on Earth. Europeans and North Americans fill out the working class now, fighting the wars and expanding the frontier. But, yes, I would've liked more Asians in the cast. It is a weakness.
Rockets in Fairyland: The Yellow Knight of Oz
Don't think badly of Speedy for his politics. Republicans were the party of civil rights when that book was written--the two parties didn't change position on rights for black folks until the 1960s, when Kennedy and Johnson embraced the issue and Republicans began courting the racist vote.
Firefly Re-watch: Calling all Browncoats.
Best science fiction TV ever. Watched it from the beginning, but no one should feel bad for missing it when it was on the air, given the way Fox fumbled its launch. I think it might've been good for seven seasons. It was a rich universe with a great ensemble cast. Even if it slid, it would've had a magnificent three seasons, and the occasional great show right to the end.
My Favorite and Mostly Improper Items of Holmesiana: A Letter
I'm on the "see Holmes fail" side too. I enjoyed the new movie, but I wanted him to do the mental math before one of his fights and have to recalculate when he got something wrong.
Avatar is about transformation
Heresiarch, great link! I was surprised by the number of people who were effectively arguing they would rather live in the Matrix/Caves of Steel/Airstrip One than in Lankhmar/Pern/Arrakis. I still haven't seen the movie, but since it sounds like an anti-imperialist race-traitor film, I suspect I'll like it at least a little.
Red Light Properties
The click-panel is cool in concept, but I'm out in the boonies where the DSL connection is slow (1.5 mps in theory, two-thirds that in practice), so it would be nice to be able to just see the pages. I like what I read, but waiting for a reload to get the next word balloon got to be too frustrating.
Like swords, but awesomer: Made up words in science fiction and fantasy
"I first encountered those in Captain America: The Great Gold Steal when I was, like, ten" I totally forgot that book! My vague memory is great cover, mediocre story, but since it was by Ted White, I'd kind of like to try it again. Just googled it. Not quite such a great cover now.
Like swords, but awesomer: Made up words in science fiction and fantasy
"Acronyms aren't usually your friends, but SNAFU and FUBAR almost certainly are." That's because they contain real vulgarities. Most science-fictional swearing sounds like attempts to avoid upsetting neopuritans. "of course it won't always be called a video camera each time it gets invented" Maybe, maybe not. Do you dial people on your cell phone? Do you watch films that were electronically recorded? When the details change but the purpose does not, we tend to keep the old word. (My suspicion in that particular example is that we'll lose "video" but keep "camera.")
Twists of the Godgame: John Fowles’s The Magus
Add me to the list of males who think The Magus is all mood and no substance. I read it when I was in my '20s, though, so I might've missed a lot. Trying to decide if Fowles is the anti-Zelazny now. Zelazny's a democrat in the purest sense of the word, but Fowles seems envious of the people that society places above him. Zelazny seeks new structures, and Fowles embraces classical ones. Hmm. I shouldn't go too far with this. I've only read The Magus, The Collector, and The French Lieutenant's Woman, and all of those were decades ago, so, as always, I could be very, very wrong. I really wanted to like Fowles. His choice of subjects made me give him three tries.
Fantasy disguised as science fiction disguised as fantasy: Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light
Zelazny believed in unconventional art and tearing down class structures; it's no surprise he doesn't work for everyone. Doug M., I generally agree with and admire what you've said, but I'll quibble with the theory he didn't know the back story. One piece of his writing advice that sticks with me: the writer should know things about the past that are never revealed in the story. He said at least once that led to a short story. (Alas, I can't remember the example.) Now, writers lie to themselves at least as much as they lie to anyone else, so he may've just been a master of the retcon.
The Steampunk Cold War, Part Four: Alliances of Convenience, or “Autocracy is like democracy if you say it in Russian”
Okay, my "always" was a slight bit of an overstatement, but the US support for freedom and democracy gets mighty thin around the time its leaders decided to take a piece of Mexico. I should read more about the Monroe Doctrine to learn whether Monroe was sincere, or if he was simply warning the other mobs that the American continents were the USA's turf.
The Steampunk Cold War, Part Four: Alliances of Convenience, or “Autocracy is like democracy if you say it in Russian”
"the United States's fight to preserve freedom and democracy"? Where was that? It sure wasn't in Guatemala or Iran, where the US kicked out popular leaders and put in brutal puppets. Or in Vietnam, where the US prevented an election that the UN called for and instead sent the nation to war. Hell, look at the tepid support for Zelaya. The US has always been suspicious of freedom and democracy, because that doesn't lead to cheap labor.
Oz Revolts! – The Marvelous Land of Oz
I so need to read this book! When I was a kid, I didn't read anything that had been identified to me as a kid's book. Also, the movie's monkeys were terrifying. Purely based on the discussion here, it sounds like Ozma's post-Tip personality could be explained as the effect of having great responsibility. If she's presented as a wise ruler, it seems to me that's the most important comment by Baum. After all, the US has yet to give the highest office to a woman, or even a reasonable number of the major offices. Yet Baum was saying then that it would be good for a woman to rule.
Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Steampunk Edition: “Jasper Morello,” “The Aeronaut,” and “The Gentleman’s Duel”
Thanks for reposting "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello." This time I watched it, and I'm glad I did.
Happy Birthday H.G. Wells
How awesome was Wells? He was on the Nazi list of people to kill after they conquered England. If Hitler wants you dead, odds are you're okay.
Scintillations of a sensory syrynx: Samuel Delany’s Nova
Ah, Nova. That or Babel-17 may be the reason Emma and I are together--two people who adore Delany are going to have a fair bit in common. Just in case anyone thinks they won't enjoy Nova until later in life: Emma and I each would've read it within a few years of it being published, when we were between twelve and fifteen. Odds are good that we missed a good deal, of course. I clearly need to reread it now.
Pioneer Fantasy: Patricia Wrede’s Thirteenth Child
I strongly second the recommendation of Charles C. Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and I recommend "From Jack Weatherford's "Indian Givers" from here: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/from-jack-weatherfords-indian-givers/ Based on it, I've reserved Weatherford's book at the library. That said, saying that Pat's premise is racist is like saying anyone who does an alternate universe in which the Nazis win is a Nazi. The important questions are: 1. How does Pat handle the Africans in her story? 2. What's going on in Asia if no one had the chance to come to the Americas long ago? One limitation of alternate history fiction is that answering all questions is impossible. All you're obliged to tell is what's relevant to your pov characters. And it is legit to answer the reader sometimes with "that's in the sequel." I haven't read Pat's book yet, but I understand it focuses on a kid. I strongly suspect the readers will learn about her world as the character does. (Apologies if a second comment like this one turns up. I posted something with links, and it might be in a spam filter, or I might've screwed up.)
The Leviathan Chronicles – Top-Notch Podcast Drama
The subgenre is secret history. And the podcast sounds like a very cool thing. Must check it out!
Neil Gaiman: I Don’t Get It
Just to stress a couple of things from the post I made that mentioned Neil: 1. No one can succeed for longer than a year or two on pure hype. I'm trying to remember the name of an annoying comedian from the '90s who illustrated that well--ah! Pauly Shore. With nothing but the right resources, you can have a brief career. You can't have a long one. 2. Neil doesn't "manage his tribe" cynically. He enjoys the things that managing a tribe requires. If those things don't sound like fun to you, the tribe you're hoping to cultivate will know you're faking it. As far as tribe management goes, Neil's in great company. Mark Twain was also great at readings and speeches and doing the things tribe management required in the 19th century. 3. If you're not in his tribe, no big. The reading world would be awfully boring if there was only one tribe. Neil keeps his tribe very happy, and that's what counts if you hope to make a living making art.
Saturday Morning Cartoons: ”Tes lacets sont des fees” and “Sebastian’s Voodoo”
If you can, fix the spoiler for Sebastian's Voodoo, please. I was lucky enough to see it without knowing the ending. As usual, delightful picks! (I almost typoed that "pics", which works, too.)
Hard Fantasy
An afterthought: Why "urban fantasy" should have been thought to be more realistic than fantasy where people wander around in the country a lot, I dunno. It probably said more about the readers and writers, who knew cities better than countryside.
Hard Fantasy
Yes, every generation invents sex and drugs. I think I first heard "hard fantasy" back in the '80s when it was applied to Niven's "magic goes away" stories. It's a useful phrase in a limited way: I would hardly say Le Guin or Tolkien wrote "easy fantasy" or "soft fantasy." "Realistic fantasy" goes way back. Along with "gritty fantasy." That was what was originally meant by "urban fantasy," which seems to have come to mean "Buffyesque fantasy."
Wu Cheng-en Ain’t Nuthin To Fuck Wit (1 of 3)
The Mahayanans gave a dismissive name to the Teravada Buddhists, and I've always admired the Teravadans for not giving the Mahayanas a name in return.
Here’s Hoping Alex Cox’s Repo Man Sequel Isn’t One Big Circle Jerk
In 1984, there were three fine indie films: Repo Man, Brother from Another Planet, and Night of the Comet. None of them made the ballot for the Hugo. Our silly genre....
We Are Wizards, Harry Potter fandom documentry
Noting that comments aren't the only measure of a feature's success. When something hits a consistent level of quality, there's little need to leave comments. This really shouldn't be an either cartoons or documentaries scenario.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.