Books arrived!

"This is my chair, human. I don't care what you put on it."

“This is my chair, human. I don’t care what you put on it.”

Courtesy of the magnificent folks at, more books for me to talk about in my column have arrived. That’s Melinda Snodgrass’s EDGE OF RUIN and EDGE OF REASON, Mary Robinette Kowal’s VALOUR AND VANITY and OF NOBLE FAMILY, Alex Bledsoe’s LONG BLACK CURL, and Fran Wilde’s excellent UPDRAFT.

You might notice that the picture also contains a smiling villain. The cat insists the chair is his. I had to work around him.

More MAD MAX: FURY ROAD linky bits

Jezebel: “Ridiculous Mad Max Makeup You Can Only Wear In Private.” FURIOOOOOOSSSAAAAAAA!


Lovely Fury Road fanvid.

Shaun Duke, “Mad Max: Beyond Patriarchy – On Fury Road’s Visual Rhetoric and Apocalyptic Social Rebirth.”

Yes, I’m a complete fangirl for this film. Yes, I am completely okay with this.

Interesting linky bits

Verso Books, “Judith Butler on Gender and the Trans Experience.”

Harvard Magazine, “The Science of Scarcity: Behaviour and Poverty.”

Irish Times, “Legislation to prevent schools and hospitals discriminating against current or future employees because of their sexuality will be in place by summer.” Good on you, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, but make sure it’s solid and your colleagues don’t gut it, aye?

Averil Power on the lack of support and vision of her former Fianna Fáil colleagues – including for the marriage equality referendum – in the Irish Independent. Power’s resignation from the party leaves Fianna Fáil’s Oireachtas members with a sad case of Smurfette syndrome.

The Times of Malta on Roman columbaria rediscovered during work on Gozo’s Citadella.

Tansy Rayner Roberts, “‘Fake Geek Girl’ and the Review of Australian Fiction.”

Salon, “Rape in Westeros: What ‘Game of Thrones’ could learn from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road'” – solid.

Jeanne the Fangirl, “A Song of Ice and Fire has a rape problem.”

Do you want to cry happy tears? Watch this:

*pets David Norris* A REPUBLIC OF DIGNITY.


Laurie Penny, “Mad Max Is A Feminist Playbook For Surviving Dystopia.”

Patriarchy, it turns out, is prettiest when it’s on fire.

Hello Tailor, Mad Max: Fury Road.

Also, before I go any further into this Very Serious Review: THROW ME IN THE TRASH, FURY ROAD IS AN EXPLODING MUTANT MASTERPIECE OF LIZARD-CHOMPING, FLAMING GUITAR-PLAYING GENIUS. I spent the first third having heart palpitations over Max’s mask and blood tube, the second third thinking, “WHAT THE FUCK!? DUDES ON POLES WITH CHAINSAWS!?” and the final third having some kind of religious experience where I wanted to cry because Tom Hardy made a quizzical grunting noise or the Motorcycle Matriarchy had shown up to save the day, or simply because We Are Not Things, dammit!

Tansy Rayner Robert, Mad Max as Feminist Ally.

I still don’t know if I can put into words how amazing it felt to see a movie like Fury Road that was not getting it wrong. It wasn’t just putting one strong, powerful, interesting woman into a genre that so often uses women as scraps and baggage and window dressing. It was telling a whole story where women were the centre, women were everywhere you looked. Different women. Surviving terrible things and living to tell the tale, or sacrificing themselves nobly for other women.

Me, at

Equal Marriage Referendum Links – YES YES YES

Claire Hennessy, Good Girls Vote Yes. Made me cry happytears. Read it.

I know it won’t make a difference. On the way out I pass by a white-haired lady with a cane, accompanied by an almost-bald man looking just about as decrepit, and my heart sinks. These are the people who grew up in the days when the church ruled everything. These are the people who wish the church still did.

“Won’t it be great if Martin and Tony can give us a day out after this,” the woman says to the man, and he clasps her hand.

I stand there, frozen.

Oh my God.

Consider the Tea Cosy, How Love Took On A Monster, And Won. *sniffle*

C.E. Murphy, Love Conquers All. *more sniffling*

Paul Anthony Short, We said Yes! But we’re not done yet. Money quote:

But we all know this isn’t the end. There are still other issues to be confronted, more battles to be fought. We need gender recognition. We need women to have control over their own bodies. We need to make sure that no-one can be fired from their job for being an LGBTQ person. We need to stop future campaigns from being fought using lies and scaremongering, as the No Campaign did.

Going to be crying happy tears for a week.

Review copies

Nine of them?

Nine of them?

Courtesy of Gollancz: Lucius Shepard, LIFE DURING WARTIME; Brandon Sanderson, THE WAY OF KINGS; Robert Holdstock, LAVONDYSS; Anna Caltabiano, THE SEVENTH MISS HATFIELD; Hannu Rajaniemi, THE CAUSAL ANGEL; Pierre Pevel, THE KNIGHT. Courtesy of Night Shade Books: Loren Rhoads, KILL BY NUMBERS. Courtesy of Tor Books: Cecelia Holland, DRAGON HEART. Courtesy of Jo Fletcher Books: Sue Tingey, MARKED.


I cannot believe how much I love this film. I have seen it three times since last Sunday – fortunately the local cinema is cheap.

The Telegraph: Mad Max Fury Road George Miller cast interview.

Making Light: Mad Max SPOILER Road.

io9: The Making of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Emmie Mears: Why I Share: Living on the Fury Road.

Feminist Mad Max Tumblr.

Slashfilm: Eight Awesome Bits Of Mad Max Fury Road Trivia.

Vimeo: Fury Road Q&A.


Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill

GANDALF: Theoden king stands alone.
Eomer: Not alone. ROHIRRIM!

Watching #hometovote on Thursday night and Friday, that was how I felt.

On Friday, 22 May 2015, the Irish nation voted overwhelmingly to give equal protection to all persons choosing to marry without distinction as to their sex. It – we – voted to affirm the equality of GLBT citizens in the eyes of the constitution.

Today we watched the returns come in. Today we saw history made. Today, in the crowds in the courtyard of Dublin Castle, cheering when every constituency went green for YES (and booing for Roscommon-South Leitrim, shame on you, you let the side down a bit there), today we began a new history.

I have now heard a crowd break spontaneously into the national anthem.

This is not a thing I ever expected to hear.

But when David Norris spoke a few words to the crowd in that courtyard – a rowdy, cheerful crowd that nonetheless went silent to hear him speak – ending on a note of liberté, egalité, fraternité, everyone. Just. Started.

Buíon dár slua
thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. There was a crush just to get in to the courtyard where the screen was bringing up the constituencies as they turned green for Yes. And every time another one went green the roar. Laughing. Crying. Hugging people met randomly. And when Leo Varadkar appeared, a Fine Gael government minister who only came out this year and turned into the most unlikely gay icon of our time… the whole crowd started chanting, “LEO, LEO, LEO.”

One of the highest turnouts for a referendum ever in this country. A landslide in the Dublin constituencies. A two-thirds majority across the country.

Everyone who canvassed. Everyone who came out on national TV, in the newspapers, on doorsteps all over the country, whose courage and compassion and generosity are an example to us all – thank you. Everyone who came #hometovote, that army pouring over the hill – thank you. THANK YOU.

It took me until this year to realise and admit to myself properly that I was bisexual – queer, primarily attracted to women, whatever words are the words that shape the place where a person fits. It took me so long because I was slow to realise it was even possible, much less normal. Much less safe. (My subconscious has some really odd narratives about sex and desire – and I blame being a bastard in nineties Ireland in part for that.)

And now. Now my heart hurts with gladness because this whole bloody country just turned around and said Ah GO ON. Turned out in droves to say Let grá be the law.

It’s in the constitution now, bigots. NO TAKEBACKS.

No, it’s not the end of the road. No, it’s not a panacea. It will not solve quiet social prejudice, or erase Irish homo- and transphobia overnight, or address any number of other problems. But today, Ireland?


(And I was there to see it.)

What a day. O what a LOVELY day.

FURY ROAD Feminism

Anita Sarkeesian was critiquing Mad Max: Fury Road on Twitter. Me and a friend had ourselves a conversation on the ways in which we disagreed.


Liz: I think Anita Sarkeesian is being wrongheaded about Fury Road on Twitter

Jenny: I have to agree with you
completely and totally agree with you
and I think that
the lack of options for women who want to see movies that treat women as people is contributing to the problem

Liz: It draws so much of its arc from 1970s/early 80s feminist science fiction
I mean it sort of IS Suzy McKee Charnas. Its arc is a compressed version of the narrative arc of her Motherlines series (REALLY HORRIFIC DYSTOPIA) done as an action film with extra added DEATH CAR STUNTS.

and I think people are confusing the fact that YOUR HEART DOES NOT STOP WANTING TO ESCAPE YOUR CHEST throughout the whole movie
for gore
bc really
not all that gory
the camera moves away when the gore happens
that’s so very rare these days

Nope. Not particularly violent, either.


but it’s an aesthetic
(Eighties aesthetic).

I also think she’s maybe confusing viewers being all THAT WAS FUN AND AWESOME
with the movie showing it [violence] as fun and awesome
but fuck
there is nothing about that world that makes me want to live there
EXCEPT Furiosa and the wives.

The movie didn’t show it as fun and awesome.
The movie is all, “Out here, everything hurts.”
It’s pretty explicit.
And the arc of redemption isn’t killing things.
It’s liberating the means of production.

I feel like she’s confusing criticism of patriarchy with criticism of sexism
sexism in real life is not cartoonish, it’s often subtle (and sometimes cartoonish)
patriarchy is often very cartoonish
that’s how it survives
in part bc everyone’s like, “No, that can’t be the truth. that can’t be what the system really does.”
But yes, that’s really what the system does.

It’s not film that deals with sexism.
It is a film that deals with PATRIARCHY as a system.
It reifies its metaphors
because that’s what SFF does

I mean, I go into schools that have leaking roofs and carpets so warped they are trip hazards
and then there’s a capitalist mogul that just had his sixth? heart transplant
patriarchy is depressingly cartoonish

Immortan Joe is the Patriarchy.
The warboys are his footsoldiers, men who the patriarchy hurts too. Furiosa is the woman who bought into the system, UNSEXED herself, and then rejected it.

yup yup yup

the wives and the – it’s obviously a LESBIAN SEPARATIST COMMUNE COME ON. The Vuvalini.
They represent two different perspectives on women vs. the patriarchy. The women who have fought to cast off their chains and discover that maintaining their liberation is a constant struggle and the women who have chosen to live apart but in choosing to live apart, they are… abandoning a different and just as important struggle.

as I was just saying on twitter
it’s actually really important thematically that they return back to the Citadel

I think it’s significant that there are no children and young women among the Vuvalini.
The fight for liberation involves a return to the place of enslavement.
They don’t run away.
They take their liberation and decide to spread it.

and that’s why it’s about patriarchy and not sexism

They decide to fight for a better world.

about systems
because they need to go back to the Citadel in order to destroy the patriarchy
the plot could have had them killing Immortan Joe in the process of escaping
but thematically he needs to be killed in the process of returning

But not to destroy the patriarchy so much as to… overthrow the local expression of it, I think. There’s no suggestion that you can destroy the patriarchy
because I think the barren world represents the systems of oppression, at some level.
I realise this is a very arguable reading
but it is significant that WHO BROKE THE WORLD is a refrain.

oh no
I think you are right
all three of those quotes
it’s not…
despite the detail, it’s not exactly a subtle movie?
like, he gives us the themes right there
and they all three work together

So the idea of the green place – the whole nurturement of seeds, the fact that they go back to the site of enslavement – the green place of many mothers is the feminist revolution. In a sense?
But seeds need to be planted. Seeds need to be tended.
“The soil’s too sour,” the Seed Keeper says
when the Dag (I think) asks her if any of them have grown.

not just who started this all
but who is still breaking it, even now?

Oh, it’s a very subtle movie.
But it achieves subtlety by hitting you over the head with its themes and then distracting you with explosions – the three thematic statements are shown, but briefly, and for all the attention Immortan Joe pays to them they may as well not be there.
And because the viewer is so used to parsing what’s on the screen through the gaze of a man, through the reactions of men, it half-tricks you into OVERLOOKING their importance
and because the frames, the set design, the costume design, the world design, they’re all filled up with detail…

it’s CLEVER is what it is
obvious and detailed and subtle and pared down all at the same time

…it does mental judo.
It uses your expectations against you – not just narratively,
it uses how it expects you to pay attention and makes a statement of that.

it does a fantastic job of getting you to focus on what it wants you to focus on

If you overlook these things – because Immortan Joe does – if you dismiss them as unimportant, the film puts you effectively in Immortan Joe’s place.

which means it does what Code Name Verity does
no wonder why I love it
ok so obviously people react to that book in different ways?
but I get the impression (based mostly on my uncle reading, which to be fair is not the largest sample size)
that part of how much of a twist the twist is, that how much you identify with Verity versus being judgy of her
is directly tied to one’s expectations about young women and what they are capable of
if you think they are capable of being Verity, as we know her to be at the ebd
you know her account is full of shit
if you don’t
well, then you read about her being a coward and traitor and take her word for it
because LIKE THE NAZIS that’s what you expect her to be
a silly girl in over her head who doesn’t know what she’s doing and ends up betraying everyone because of it

that’s it
that’s – if you see the women primarily as sexual objects
you’re being IMMORTAN JOE.

that’s how you are going to see them
it’s a litmus test

And when Max is staring at the women bathing
we’re set up to think it’s the WOMEN he’s staring at
but fuck me, he’s lusting after the water.

and to a certain extent the decadence of it all
SO MUCH WATER and people that look happy and healthy
but yeah
dude is not thinking about sexy times.
I would also like to add, regarding the scene when Max wakes up and sees the wives
that what you hear, very loudly, is the sound of water hitting the ground
loud enough, and at the right frequency that this is clearly A LOT of water hitting the ground

It’s all about water. And life – Fade was mentioning how the camera lingers not on breasts or buttocks but on Splendid Angharad’s pregnant belly.
This is a vision of life among death. Life out of death, out of the sandstorm, out of the dead lands.
It’s a profoundly life-affirming film, for a post-apocalyptic action movie.

Further reading:

Kameron Hurley, Wives, Warlords, and Refugees: the People Economy of MAD MAX

The Toast, Movie Yelling With Shrill And Mallory

Alix E. Harrow



Recently arrived review copies

Four here

Four here

That’s Liu Cixin’s THE DARK FOREST, trans. Joel Martinsen; Seth Dickinson’s THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT; Melinda Snodgrass’s EDGE OF REASON; and Greg van Eekhout’s DRAGON COAST, all courtesy of Tor Books in one way or another –

And four here.

And four here.

– and P.N. Elrod’s THE HANGED MAN, Cathy Clamp’s FORBIDDEN, N.K. Jemisin’s THE FIFTH SEASON and Kit Reed’s WHERE, courtesy of Tor Books and Orbit Books.