Scrap that reading list

6 03 2009

I was away from the internet for a few days, and when I returned, it had all gone to hell.  Again.

I no longer plan to read Elizabeth Bear’s Stratford Man books because of her unconscionable behavior in this post.  Unfortunately, I can’t return those books and get my money back.  So instead, I plan to follow Avalon’s Willow’s excellent suggestion: sell them (and a few others) and donate the money to Verb Noire, a new press for writers and characters of color.

And I want to be clear about some things.  I am white and privileged; I try to be conscious of and fight against the racism that permeates my environment, but I know that I fail sometimes.  And I am sorry for that.  I hope that I learn better, but — and this is important — I don’t believe it is anybody’s responsibility but my own to teach me how not to be an asshat.  I need to learn.  I need to try.  I need to make the hard decisions, adjust the ingrained attitudes, and be an adult about how I write about POCs.

My promise here is that I will always work toward that goal.  And when I screw up, I will not do what Elizabeth Bear has done: trivialize, insult, marginalize, alienate, and try to silence POCs.

I will listen.  I will research.  I will learn.

Elizabethan fantasy

21 02 2009

The next two books in my queue are Marie Brennan’s Midnight Never Come and Elizabeth Bear’s Stratford Man (i.e., Ink & Steel and Hell & Earth*), both set in a fantasized version of Elizabethan England. I’ve begun Midnight Never Come and am quite impressed so far: compelling story, well-researched, with a fascinating interplay between the faerie and mortal courts. Because I’ve done some work on the vagaries of patronage in early modern England, I’m really interested in the mirror stories of Lune and Michael Devan’s quests for favor; they’re sympathetic and fascinating. I have been looking forward to this book ever since I first heard about it over on the Livejournal community fangs_fur_fey. So far, I’m delighted to say, it is absolutely living up to expectations.

I have to add that my interest in The Stratford Man has spiked since Race Fail ’09, but possibly not in a good way. I already owned both before the internet exploded, so I see no reason not to read them. I’ll certainly be thinking about the way they talk about race in particular, although the handy thing about 16th-century England is that one can get away with not really discussing race very much. We’ll see.

* Ink & Steel is the third book in Bear’s series about the conflict between Promethean mages and the Faerie courts, although it’s set 400 years before the events of the first two.

And they’re all women

18 02 2009

As a corollary to my last post, I just realized that all the authors I talked about (Jensen, Willis, Monette, and Clarke) are women. In fact, although like many fans of SF/F I started off with Tolkien and Lewis, I find myself drawn primarily to women writers in current SF/F these days. As I think about the books I’ve read in the past year for the first time, these are the ones that stand out to me:

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