Sleeps With Monsters: Martha Wells’ Wheel of the Infinite

A new column post at Sleeps With Monsters: Martha Wells’ Wheel of the Infinite:

There are two ways I can go about writing this instalment of our Martha Wells focus….

…No, wait, there’s really only one way. Because I cannot pretend to be anything other than utterly in love with Wells’ Wheel of the Infinite, her fourth novel. Originally published in 2000, by Eos (HarperCollins), I first read it in some dim, misty far-away past… possibly in my second year in college, so not really that long ago. I don’t remember having such a strong positive reaction on my first reading, which explains why this is the only the first time I’ve reread it since. Perhaps, like many things, it improves with time.

Linky has a headache lately

Marie Brennan on G.R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons:

Let me say this up front: I do not think this is as bad as Crossroads of Twilight, the absolute nadir of the Wheel of Time. Unfortunately, I do think it’s worse than, say, The Path of Daggers — which I consider to be the second-worst book of that series.

Just to give you a sense of scale.

Also up front: Martin faced a very large problem here. As I understand it, he had originally planned to jump ahead five years, to give Dany’s dragons and some of the human characters time to grow up. The more he thought about it, though, the less feasible that seemed, so he decided to write a bridging book, which then turned into two, Feast and Dance. Makes sense, in a way . . . but it creates its own problem.

Strange Horizons rounds up discussion on the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Particularly interesting: Pornokitsch with The 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist: An Imaginary Judgement.

Juliet E. McKenna at The Fantasy Book Café, “Inequality of Visibility for Women Writers”:

Lack of visibility by way of reviews matters because that’s the information which so often guides the non-fan book-seller making disproportionately influential choices. Just last month I went into a local branch of Waterstones to be confronted by a display promoting epic fantasy tied into the new series of A Game of Thrones on TV. Below the George RR Martin titles were a selection of very good books, many of which I have read – and every single one was by a male writer.

When a bookseller saw me standing looking thoughtfully at this fixture, she asked if there was anything she could help me with. I said she could promote some of the many books by women who write epic fantasy on those shelves. ‘Do they?’ she asked, sceptical. ‘Like who?’ When I gave her a list of names (yes, including my own), her answer was to shrug and say dismissively. ‘Well, I don’t read science fiction’. No, so where did she find those authors to showcase? From the review pages or perhaps in one of the recent articles recommending other writers to A Song of Ice and Fire fans, so often and so infuriatingly only listing men.

That bookseller may not read the genre but her choices can skew SF&F purchases in favour of male writers, so when someone higher up the chain is looking at sales figures to pick those safe bets for front-of-store promotion, they will apparently see proof of the insidious myth that SF&F by women doesn’t sell. If it won’t sell, there’s no profit in promoting it. So those books aren’t among those offered for people to buy at those insidiously attractive discounts and thus the self-fulfilling prophecy is reinforced.

Jaine Fenn’s Queen of Nowhere, reviewed at Strange Horizons

Being distracted, I missed acknowledging the publication of my review of Jaine Fenn’s Queen of Nowhere, at Strange Horizons:

I don’t remember where I first heard, in relation to science fiction and fantasy, the axiom that the world of the novel’s action is as much a character as the personalities in the narrative. World-as-character is the reason that “sensawunda” remains a term to conjure with in science fiction, and part of the reason, it seems, behind the journey/quest narratives in the fantasies of Jacqueline Carey, Elizabeth Bear, Steven Erikson, Robert Jordan, and others too numerous to name. In Queen of Nowhere, Jaine Fenn opens a window on a fascinating and vivid science fictional world, seen through the lens of an intriguing character—a world which, ultimately, proves more vivid and coherent than our protagonist.

Review at Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian

I’ve a review up at “Very Much a Series Novel: Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian:

There’s a small problem with reviewing a series that has run (thus far) to eight instalments and an ancillary spin-off: by the ninth volume in direct descent (to whit, this one, The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Guardian), the reviewer can assume that unless the author has chosen to do something radically different, readers who’ve come this far already have a fair idea of whether or not they want to keep going.

Linky would rather be somewhere warmer

Kari Sperring, “Why I started #womentoread” (#womentoread):

Last week, [Juliet E. McKenna and I] found ourselves in a major branch of a major UK book-chain in Oxford and noticed a promo table for fantasy. We’re both fantasy authors, we took a look. The theme was clearly ‘If you like George R R Martin, try this”. It was a table about 4 foot x 4 foot square, piled high with fantasy. Great.

Except… all but three of the writers represented were men. And of the remaining 3 — the women — two were not epic fantasy writers but established Big Name Bestsellers — Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins and the books by them on that table were both sf. That’s fine. I love sf by women. But those two books — The Host and The Hunger Games weren’t there because they were ‘like’ A Game of Thrones; they were there because they’re already bestsellers in a related field. The other women present was an epic fantasy author and a good one — Robin Hobb. Who has a gender-neutral name.

I’m not saying the men on that table aren’t good: there were some excellent books there, by excellent writers. There were also books by men I’ve never heard of, which are quite probably also excellent books. But the overall impression was ‘This is A Man’s World’. Jules and I started making a list of who was *not* on that table, of women who are epic fantasy writers and published in the UK.

Kate Elliott
Judith Tarr
Freda Warrington
Gail Z Martin
Trudy Canavan
Karen Miller/K E Mills
Glenda Larke
Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Gaie Sebold
Juliet E McKenna
Tanith Lee
Amanda Downum

That was in about a minute.

Amanda Filpacchi in the NYT, “Wikipedia’s Sexism Towards Female Novelists”:

The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men. The category lists 3,837 authors, and the first few hundred of them are mainly men. The explanation at the top of the page is that the list of “American Novelists” is too long, and therefore the novelists have to be put in subcategories whenever possible.

Too bad there isn’t a subcategory for “American Men Novelists.”

People who go to Wikipedia to get ideas for whom to hire, or honor, or read, and look at that list of “American Novelists” for inspiration, might not even notice that the first page of it includes far more men than women. They might simply use that list without thinking twice about it. It’s probably small, easily fixable things like this that make it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.

The Border House Blog, “All Skulls On: Teaching Intersectionality Through Halo”:

The Halo Station’s primary purpose was to function as an engaging, interactive metaphor for students to think about privilege, oppression and intersectionality. I wanted the Casual Halo: Reach players to experience the seductive privilege of triumphantly moving through space as obstacles practically eliminated themselves. And I wanted the Legendary Halo: CE players to tacitly feel the compounding effects of intersecting forms of oppression. Beyond this basic metaphor, however, the activity produced three notable teachable moments.

Donna at Radish Reviews on “The Genre Dance”:

To give you another example, Dorothy L. Sayers subtitled her final Peter and Harriet novel, Busman’s Honeymoon, “a love story with detective interruptions.” But here’s the thing: Peter and Harriet have had a rocky 5 year courtship for a variety of reasons. When they finally do marry, there are adjustments to be made and they have to make them, to figure out how to live with each other without making the other one a lesser person. It all starts out as playing houses for them, until a murder interrupts their honeymoon. And wisely, that’s where Sayers laid her conflict—at the heart of their relationship, their working as a team, their varying attitudes toward their responsibilities for the people involved in the death of a not very likeable man. Without the mystery, there would be no conflict—they’d just continue to play house. She uses the genre to get to the very core of her characters, just as Bujold uses her genre to get to the center of all of hers. But A Civil Campaign is not “A love story with science fiction interruptions” any more than Busman’s Honeymoon is really “a love story with detective interruptions”. You can’t cherry pick them out of their home genre because that genre is what shapes the romance.

Linky brings a fine selection for your delectation

Maureen Kincaid Speller on Beasts of the Southern Wild:

Several days later, it’s still weird, I still like it in some ways, but having had time to think about it, there are things about it that make me uneasy. In many ways it defies categorisation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not sure whether that’s because it is actually sui generis or simply because it doesn’t really know what it is all about.

On reflection, my unease really began with the aurochs.

John Scalzi, Big Idea Gender Breakdown:

I see that Strange Horizons has done a gender breakdown of reviews in SF publications, and learns that more sf/f by men is reviewed than sf/f by women. This made me curious as to how my Big Idea feature here at Whatever has been doing, gender-wise, in terms of authors/editors featured.

So I tallied up the gender of writers who contributed Big Idea pieces between 4/23/12 and 4/24/13 (I’m counting tomorrow’s Big Idea piece, as I already have it in hand). Here’s how it turned out:

44 men wrote or co-wrote Big Idea pieces during that span of time;

48 women wrote or co-wrote Big Idea pieces.

Natalie at Radish Reviews has some data (and commentary) on the SFF reviews in RT Book Reviews:

The question really is this–why is RT consistently ignored when it comes to these annual surveys, both by VIDA and within the speculative fiction community?

I suspect that it actually has to do with the fact that RT‘s primary audience is women and that the bulk of what they review is romance novels. In the past, I’ve had to clarify repeatedly that there is absolutely no romantic requirement for the science fiction and fantasy section, often while there was snickering happening.

Linky will sing to you about starships

Except maybe not today. You don’t want me to sing.

Niall Harrison at Strange Horizons releases the 2012 SF Count:

VIDA started it. In 2010, they published the first iteration of “The Count”, a straightforward analysis of how literary coverage is affected by gender. For a range of notable publications, VIDA calculated the proportion of books reviewed that were by women, and the proportion of reviewers that were women, and published pie charts illustrating their findings. They published similar analyses for 2011 and, most recently, for 2012. Each year, a consistent imbalance has been observed: more books by men are reviewed, and more book reviewers are men.

Following VIDA’s lead, for the past two years Strange Horizons has published “SF counts”, looking at the same parameters as VIDA for speculative fiction review venues.

…This article presents the results of the SF count for 2012.

Cécile Christofari, “Tourism, From Inside and Out”:

[I]it’s always very surprising to hear that the place where you live is not authentic enough. I don’t know what that makes of its inhabitants—am I supposed to be a paid extra, or something?

Nalo Hopkinson in the Los Angeles Review of Books, with a review of Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds:

KAREN LORD’S NOVEL The Best of All Possible Worlds put me in mind of Junot Díaz’s brilliant novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Not stylistically: while Oscar Wao is an experimental pelau of modes served up in Díaz’s distinctly Dominicano and in-your-face voice, The Best of All Possible Worlds is a beautiful shape-shifter. It reads like smooth jazz comfort food, deceptively familiar and easy going down, but subtly subversive.

Sleeps With Monsters: Martha Wells’ The Wizard Hunters

New column post up at Sleeps With Monsters: Martha Wells’ The Wizard Hunters:

I’ll tell you three things I love about The Wizard Hunters. I love that Wells’ Ile-Rien has changed since The Element of Fire: it’s not technologically static, and now there are automatic firearms and motor vehicles and airships, and the atmosphere of wartime Vienne feels analogous to WWII Europe, with blackout curtains and telephones and rationing and periodicals having ceased production. I love Tremaine, and how she’s unsure of herself and bloody-minded all at once. I love the deft characterisation of other characters, like Florian and Ilias and Gil. I love how all the cool shit comes together, cleverly, with meaning.

Wait, that’s four things. Oh, well. I could keep going, but that’ll do for now.

Books in brief: Hartman, Smith, Lidell, Malan

Rachel Hartman, Seraphina. Corgi, 2013.

So Foz Meadows praised this and Aliette de Bodard criticised it. It sounded interesting. It turns out that me, I think it’s pretty bland, a fluffy faux-medieval arabesque that soft-pedals its more difficult questions and ultimately favours the conventional over the provocative. (In the thought-provoking or any other sense.) Enjoyable YA, but it doesn’t live up to its praise, and the specialness of its protagonist is rather irritatingly predictable. (Magical half-breeds, sigh.)

Sherri L. Smith, Orleans. Putnam, 2013.

This, on the other hand, is a book I really enjoyed. YA, playing with a similar sense of mood and character to The Hunger Games, although the secondary protagonist is a little too much cipher, a little too little person (a consequence, I feel, of privileging aesthetic over consistency, which all YA does at times). Its worldbuilding feels vivid, if not always entirely solid, and the emotional tones and driving desires of our protagonist Fen are very well-sketched. Good pacing, and good writing: Smith deploys dialect in narrative with a sure-handed deftness.

The conclusion leaves something to be desired as a conclusion, but since I’ve no idea whether or not there’s to be a sequel, I’ll place my money on a continuance. This is the kind of book that makes me eager to see a) what else the author’s written, and b) what she may write next.

Alex Lidell, The Cadet of Tildor. Penguin Dial, 2013.

Another YA, and one which I fear I may be too generous towards, for it reminds me of much that is good in both Sherwood Smith and Tamora Pierce. (Such things I am inclined to enjoy.) Lidell is a debut author, possessed of one of those gender-neutral names. The author bio claimed for her a female pronoun, up to which point I had been rather uncertain – but Cadet Renee de Winter is too much an adolescent girl to have been written by someone who wasn’t intimately familiar with having been one.

A bunch of the worldbuilding and details annoyed my suspension of disbelief. On the whole I’m inclined to give benefit of the doubt, and call it worthwhile and entertaining, though.

Violette Malan, Path of the Sun. DAW, 2010. Copy courtesy of DAW.

I really, really like Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno novels. They’re just fun, in a sword-and-sorcery, epic-ish fantasy sort of way: implausibly competent, decent heroes Thwart Bad People and Have Excellent Fights. (If this is not a genre, it ought to be one.)

Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, The Rapture of the Nerds

Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, The Rapture of the Nerds. Titan Books, 2013. Copy courtesy of Titan Books.

This is a case of right book, wrong time – or possibly wrong book, wrong time, although I normally enjoy everything Stross writes and tolerate Doctorow’s (entertaining, if thinly-disguised as didactic, moralistic tracts) technophiliac agitprop novels. Huw, the protagonist, is an entertaining if unpleasantly self-righteous wee Luddite, but I keep bouncing from the second chapter. I’m really not in the mood for futureshock and posthuman stuff lately. (Shocking, I know: stress sends me towards staider, simpler fare.)

I’ll try this again sometime, though: it’s definitely the wrong time, and so I’ve no way of judging whether or not it’s the right book.

Linky is home, home from away

Julia Rios interviews Rose Lemberg at Strange Horizons:

RL: I’ve been constructing languages on and off since I was six! Unlike many conlangers, I am not really interested in generating a large body of finely detailed work on every aspect of lexicon, phonology, morphology, and syntax. I am most interested in cognitive categories, which is to say a relatively limited set of concepts central to our cognition and pervasive in human experience. Examples are possession, gender, space, time, motion. Languages encode these categories in incredibly diverse ways. Russian, for example, is very rich in motion verbs. There are multiple prefixed verbs recording tiny details of motion trajectory (e.g. pereprygnul, “overjumped”; podnyrnul, “underdove”). English verbal inventory is rich in verbs denoting manner of motion, so for “jump” people can hop, skip, leap, bounce, bound, spring, hurdle, vault, and quite possibly caper, while in Hebrew they can only likfots (jump) and lekapets (hop). When I work on a constructed language, I want to know interesting things about how it expresses cognitive categories, and how this correlates with culture. I was fairly inclined to do this early on, even though I had no idea why I was doing this.

Alec Austin, “Some thoughts on interpretative protocols and the reader’s 50%”:

I strongly suspect that one of the things that’s silently dividing the SF field internally, as well as dividing SF from YA, is the degree to which different audiences’ reading protocols skew towards privileging aesthetics and emotion vs. intellect and pattern-matching. (I don’t feel like this maps precisely or even closely to the Fantasy/SF split at this point, though people keep on trying to make the conversation about that, which I feel does a damn good job of obscuring what’s actually in play.)

Sleeps With Monsters: Martha Wells’ The Element of Fire

Over at, Sleeps With Monsters: Martha Wells’ The Element of Fire:

Many critics, many reviewers, I think, find it difficult to talk plainly about the things that they love and the reasons why they love them. The temptation exists to direct your attention primarily to its flaws, to minimise or to justify the ways in which it falls short of objective perfection. (Not that objective perfection is a thing that exists, except theoretically.) It is possible to speak of flaws objectively, and of technique. Speaking of what you love and why you love it—speaking honestly—exposes yourself. It’s a form of intellectual nakedness.

This lengthy preamble is my way of talking myself around to confronting Martha Wells’ first novel, The Element of Fire.

Linky is footsore

Natalie at Radish Reviews, “Sexism, SF, and Me”:

Ultimately, what I’ve learned from this most recent misogyny flare-up in science fiction fandom is that if you’re a woman in genre and if you speak up in a way that’s unacceptable to someone with more power, then you may find yourself being threatened with humiliation and sexual assault. Just so you know what your place is.

Kate Elliott, “Katharine Kerr’s Deverry sequence” (LJ):

Kerr’s world is not static. Her technique is subtle but assured as she unfolds how a culture changes over time. Villages become towns become cities. Warbands expand into armies. The political structure of the early kingdom shifts from more localized centers of regional power to a more centralized kingship. The spinning wheel is invented. When my spouse, an archaeologist, read Daggerspell, he said, “This is the best depiction of a chieftain-level society I’ve ever read.”

Everything Is Nice, Divided By A Common Language.

Linky wants to see Oxford Castle

Inasmuch as there is a castle there, anyway. Or perhaps wander Dead Men’s Walk. If it doesn’t rain too much.

Aiffe at Tumblr on women, fandom, and female characters:

I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t this horrible, deep-seated idea that men have more personhood than women do. Men in fiction get to be people. They get to be sympathetic even when they make bad choices. They get to be forgiven. We love them, and I’m not sure if it’s sexual love or idealism or that, flying completely in the face of #4, we identify with the default, and therefore love men like we love ourselves, but see women as the Other.

The Guardian Games Blog: Diversity challenge for developers:

Picture this: after saving humanity from the aggressive forces of the Locust Hordes in hit shooter Gears of War, grizzled, gun-toting hero Marcus Fenix sweeps team-mate Dom Santiago into a tender embrace, and the pair kiss passionately as the credits roll.

The Mary Sue, Starz Might Do an Aliens-Inspired Military Sci-Fi Show With a Female Lead and Same-Sex Relationships:

The show’s called Incursion, it’s created by Spartacus showrunner (and Whedonverse/Smallville writer) Steven S. DeKnight, and it sounds freaking amazing.

DeKnight describes the show as “an R-rated, military show set in the future [and they’re] fighting aliens on different planets,” with each season taking place on a new world. He counts Band of Brothers, Halo, and Black Hawk Down among the show’s influences—and, most notably, Aliens. Keeping with that vibe, the military in the show will feature men and women serving alongside one another. But Incursion, unlike most military sci-fi stories, won’t have a male lead: “I definitely wanted to avoid that,” said DeKnight. “I wanted to go down a different path.”

Could we please have (something like) this?

Linky has been wandering around the Pitt Rivers Museum

Shrunken heads are amazeballs, people. The Pitt Rivers is like an incredible bazaar of LOTS AND LOTS of random COOL SHIT. And so is having an argument about C.S. Lewis’s theology in the Eagle and Child.

I’m namechecked in the same incoherent rant as John Scalzi:

I will say by the end of it you may come to realize, as I did, that the essay says far less about me than it does about the author. Bless his heart.

The incoherent rant in question is here. I think this is the same person as a person who was verbally offensive/abusive in comments to one of the posts and moderated in consequence.

Dr. Jen Gunter, Expert in Savita inquiry confirms Irish women get lower standard of care with chorioamnionitis:

As the inquest into Savita Halappanavar’s death continues we have heard about delays and errors, all of which most likely contributed to her terrible outcome. However, along the way those who have tried to pass off her death as medical negligence and nothing to do with Irish law or Catholic ethos have rested on the assertion that she wasn’t sick enough to need a termination.

…Dr. Knowles’ testimony confirms for me that the law played a role, because her statements indicate the standard of care for treatment of chorioamnionitis is less aggressive in Ireland. This can only be because of the law as there is no medical evidence to support delaying delivery when chorioamnionitis is diagnosed. Standard of care is not to wait until a woman is sick enough to need a termination, the idea is to treat her, you know, before she gets sick enough. An elevated white count and ruptured membranes at 17 weeks is typically enough to make the diagnosis, so Dr. Knowles needs to testify as to what in Savita’s medical record made it safe to not recommend a delivery.

By the way, I also disagree with Dr. Knowles about her interpretation of Savita’s medical record, the chart doesn’t have “subtle indicators” of infection, it screams chorioamnionitis long before Wednesday morning.

In North America the standard of care with chorioamnionitis is to recommend delivery as soon as the diagnosis is made, not wait until women enter the antechamber of death in the hopes that we can somehow snatch them back from the brink.

If Irish law, or the interpretation thereof, had nothing to do with Savita’s death no expert would be mentioning sick enough at all.

secritcrush sums up Scalzi’s Redshirts:

Redshirts is star trek parody with a big pile of “characters confront the author” meta. After you’ve explored the thirty seconds of hilarity that is people dying for no reason, what’s left on the humor plate?

Linky can see the spires of Oxford from here. MY SPIRE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS.

Rushthatspeaks, The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subjects, Renée L. Bergland:

At this point Bergland made an entire set of things come together in my brain by explaining the difference between the American and the European Gothic in fiction. In the European Gothic, the uncanny, whatever it is, is attempting to tear down a previously constructed edifice (building, society, family) from which it has come, while the non-uncanny elements of the story are trying to preserve the edifice. In the American Gothic, the non-uncanny elements of the story are trying to create such an edifice (building, society, family), and the uncanny, coming from outside, is trying to destroy it. Suddenly everything from Poe* to Shirley Jackson to Anne Rivers Siddons’ The House Next Door made infinitely more sense. The difference in Gothic traditions is of course at least partially because of the difference between types of ghost.

Why the change in the American ghost? Well, partly because of the rise of the modern scientific method, and the development of ways to test the empirical validity of the supernatural. And partly because colonists in the Americas could not take their ancestors with them, moving from a built-up landscape full of folklore and traditions they understood to a landscape they could not see as fully settled, full of folklore and traditions they did not know. And partly because of the rise of interiority and subjectivity as useful societal concepts, and the intersection of interiority and subjectivity with the newly-minted American Dream. Bergland is literally the first writer I have seen mention that the United States began as a colonized country and became a colonial power, and that the second required systematic repression of the knowledge of what it had been like to be the first. This repression was produced at least partially via the myth of American exceptionalism: we won the American Revolution because we are just so gosh-darn special. Therefore, if we keep winning things, we keep on being special. A widespread mythology on both a national and a personal level– and this is where that intersection of interiority with national myth comes in, that particular Puritan-Calvinist slant which says that if you won you must deserve to win, and if not, not. The awareness that no one can win everything all the time, and that those who do not win are not worthless, remains despite its repression. The American Dream as a system for judging self-worth is a false consciousness, and therefore, as are all false consciousnesses, it is haunted. You see, then, why the new ghost is so nebulous: it cannot be entirely banished until the false consciousness is banished, but the pervasive national mythology does not allow societal awareness of the falsity. Nameless crimes, nameless shames, nameless fears of not living up to a value system which is beyond human capabilities.

Read the whole thing. It is brilliant.

Self-published author Hugh C. Howey (who acquired a trad publishing deal and sold film rights to his novel) reveals himself to be a complete asshole who fantasises about sexually harassing people who annoy him.

The Daily Dot, Self-published wunderkind under fire for misogynist rant:

“I’m disturbed beyond reason by your use of the word ‘bitch’ and your fantasy about grabbing yourself to prove something to her,” young-adult fiction author Lauren DeStefano tweeted to Howey earlier today. “I know what it’s like to face condescending/rude people and challenges as an author, but that was a truly horrific response.”

“‘Crazy bitch who needs to be slapped’ are words that carry very different connotations than ‘rude, ignorant person who is wrong,'” noted romance author Courtney Milan.

Jenny Trout, Let me fix that for you, Mr. Howey:

And that’s how Howey’s post came off. “Look at me, I’m better than this ugly, possibly mentally ill, probably autistic (because autistic people act like that, amiright?!) bitch that my wife wanted to slap! I am validated!”

Seanan McGuire, I’d like to belong here. Do you think that I could?

“Teachers are often unaware of the gender distribution of talk in their classrooms. They usually consider that they give equal amounts of attention to girls and boys, and it is only when they make a tape recording that they realize that boys are dominating the interactions. Dale Spender, an Australian feminist who has been a strong advocate of female rights in this area, noted that teachers who tried to restore the balance by deliberately ‘favouring’ the girls were astounded to find that despite their efforts they continued to devote more time to the boys in their classrooms. Another study reported that a male science teacher who managed to create an atmosphere in which girls and boys contributed more equally to discussion felt that he was devoting 90 per cent of his attention to the girls. And so did his male pupils. They complained vociferously that the girls were getting too much talking time.”


“The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”

I am not a silent woman. But I am not louder than the men who are in my peer group. We’re all talking at about the same volume, some a little louder, some a little softer. And it would be nice if my gender would stop being the one factor that determined the worth, and appropriateness, of everything I did.

She is entirely right on this, you know, people.

Ursula Vernon is breaking the silence about lawn crayfish:

I did what anybody does when they learn that an aquatic creature is living in their flowerbed–I went to Twitter screaming “HOW IS THIS MY LIFE!?!”

Several people informed me that yes. This is a thing that happens.

Everyone else on earth assumed I was drunk or insane or being an artist or engaging in some obscure form of collaborative fiction, possibly with Seanan McGuire. (Which would be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but no. The crayfish really exists.)

Some species, apparently, live in lawns. Anywhere with a high water table, say. And at night they come out and walk around the lawn.

There is a five-inch crayfish walking around my garden on ten legs right this minute while I’m typing.

Not gonna lie. That kinda squicks me out a little. I mean, I love animals well beyond the point of sanity and reason, but…dude, it is walking around out there. A freakin’ LOBSTER is WALKING in my garden.

Jenny’s Library on Robin Hood’s Ship of Magic: Team Sea Serpent:

Which is how I found myself attempting to read Robin Hobb’s Ship of Magic. Despite my better judgement and the advice of friends whose opinions I trust.

I didn’t even make it through the first 100 pages. This is possibly because none of the characters make any bit of sense and the most interesting one so far is the sea serpent who tried to convince some poor sailor to toss himself overboard.**

Starships! Were meant to fly!

I was going to do a linkspam, but, you know, the sun is shining, I’m packing, my life is falling apart slightly less today than it was yesterday, and all the links can wait.

But you all NEED to SEE THIS.

It made me remember why I fell in love with science fiction in the first place. And oh, did I ever fall in love with science fiction. SPAAAACE! BOOM! Ships and stars and weirder wonders, and the great hope that we might still be human, and humane, and ourselves, against all that endless dark.

Oh bright rain, brave clouds, oh stars,
oh stars.

Two thousand four hundred fires
and uncharted, unstudied,
the hours, the hours, the hours.

(Video via Aoife O’Riordan at Consider The Tea Cosy, an admirable Irish feminist.)