Tag Archives: connie willis

Galactic Suburbia 56

In which Alex falls by the wayside and Alisa & Tansy soldier on to talk about awards, Connie Willis, Tina Fey and Chicks Digging Comics. And more comics. You can get us from iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.
Yes indeed, I came over all sick and blergh so I had to sneak away. I was very sad!

News

The Galactic Suburbia Award has landed
.

Manfire: the latest exploration of genderbending comics protest through artwork

Ditmar nominations open (wiki with things eligible; how to nominate)

Cool comment about understanding Aussie fiction awards from outside our country.

Aurealis Awards nominees: press release

Brit Mandelo new Strange Horizons fiction editor

Pinterest for Galactic Suburbia! Thanks, Celia

Swancon Program is out – Perth SF convention this Easter.

Tansy’s Creature Court books now available on the Kindle internationally! Should be available on other platforms too – ibooks etc. If you see them for sale somewhere in your country please let us know. Fly, my pretties, fly!

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alisa: All About Emily, Connie Willis; Bossypants, Tina Fey; Hunger Games Movie
Tansy: Astonishing X-Men, Joss Whedon & John Cassaday; Saucer Country by Paul Cornell, Chicks Dig Comics, edited by Lynne M Thomas & Sigrid Ellis.

We’ll be giving away a copy of Beyond Binary, edited by Brit Mandelo (and featuring a Tansy story). Tweet us with the name of your favourite queer/genderqueer/QLTBG character in SF or fantasy to be in the draw!

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 51

In which women aren’t funny, don’t write important books, but come in handy as assassins and thieves. You can get us from iTunes or download us from Galactic Suburbia.

News

Connie Willis named SFWA Grand Master

Liz Bourke on Strange Horizons & the art of the mean review

Survey shows that men (as well as women) often play characters of the other gender while gaming – in many cases, men are bored with or alienated by the big musclebound male characters, which game designers think they want. Sound familiar?

Hoyden about Town are asking for guest bloggers to crosspost their Australian Women Writers Challenge reviews on Hoyden (ASIF also keen to do so)

More on feminine tosh
: a good solid article in the Australian media (shock!) about the women in literature issues of recent months (and, you know, decades).

Have we been following the “Women aren’t funny” stoush that played out in NYT? This interesting development.

DC Comics – cancellations & new titles – Tansy is especially excited by World’s Finest (featuring the Earth 2 Huntress & Power Girl)

Stranger with My Face – Women in Horror film festival in Hobart, Tasmania – 17-19 February

Tansy’s book launch for Reign of Beasts
(Creature Court Book Three) on 2 February at Hobart Bookshop, 5:30pm.

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alex: Ashes to Ashes season 2; Dr Who season 1; Rocannon’s World, Ursula le Guin; The Declaration, Gemma Malley; Grey, Jon Armstrong; The Collected Works of TS Spivet, Reif Larsen. BBC 4 “Cat Women of the Moon” podcast

Tansy:
Destination: Nerva (Big Finish, audio), Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, DVD Extras Include Murder, by Nev Fountain

Alisa: absorbed in novel submissions; The Big Bang Theory; Swordspoint Audiobook, written and performed by Ellen Kushner

GS Award will be proclaimed… in a short while!

Winner of Alex’s Yarn giveaway: Jo

Tansy: Creature Court trilogy give away!
Email to tell us about one book you read after we talked about it on GS to be eligible

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 48

After our producer went to the effort of getting this out almost minutes after we finished recording, this is a belated set of show notes…

In which we save the Tasmanian Devils, take on the Classics, review cars, discover that toy fandom exists, plan to read LOTS of Australian women writers, and Wonder Woman still doesn’t have pants. You can get us from iTunes or from

News

Coffeeandink on The Erasure of women writers in SF and Fantasy

Mur Lafferty – My Problem With Classics

Open letter to publishers: book bloggers are not your bitches

Kate Gordon’s Devil Auction – help to save the Tasmanian Devils! (kitten pictures with TEETH)

Australian Women Writers Challenge – sign up now

Jason Nahrung posted a list of the books he plans to read for the challenge – let us know what yours are!

In association with this, Tansy produced a list of award-winning SF/Fantasy books by Australian women.

Please keep sending in your suggestions for a Galactic Suburbia Award – we hope to have a plan for this by our 50th episode and are loving reading the tweets and emails so far.

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: Bellwether by Connie Willis; American Horror Story; Yarn by Jon Armstrong

Tansy: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor; Jingo & The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett, Shortpacked, a webcomic about toy fandom, obsessed people, lots of GLBTQ characters and feminist commentary on pop culture such as this strip about False Equivalence.

Alex: Coode St podcast with Ursula le Guin, and also with Ian McDonald and Alistair Reynolds; Spook Country, William Gibson; One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde; Pirates of the Caribbean 4!

Feedback from Kitty of Panel2Panel:
Reasoning With Vampires
Kitty’s post about why Marvel has no equivalent hero to Wonder Woman

TANSY RECS for DC comics that don’t treat women appallingly:
Birds of Prey (start as early as possible, either with the Chuck Dixon issues which are pretty good, or the Gail Simone run which is #56-108)
Power Girl: A New Beginning & Aliens and Apes – Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner
Catwoman run by Ed Brubaker
Stephanie Brown Batgirl: Batgirl Rising, The Flood etc.
Secret Six, Gail Simone
Batwoman. Anything with Batwoman.
I HAVE NOT YET FOUND THE PERFECT WONDER WOMAN TRADE TO RECOMMEND. But I do think anyone interested in comics history could get value from reading her first year of adventures, available as Wonder Woman Chronicles Vol. One

Marvel dude saying we don’t have to have female characters

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 29!

In which we rant about feminist issues and gender disparity (are you shocked?), Alisa proclaims the death of bookstores and publishing, we look at branding and internet dramah, plus a million zillion award shortlists, TANSY BEING A TIPTREE JUDGE, a Swancon preview, and… um.  It’s a bit long. But full of crunchy Galactic Suburbian goodness. We can be downloaded from Galactic Suburbia or from iTunes.


News
Diana Wynne Jones passed away.
Shaun Tan wins the Astrid Lindgren Award: 5 million Swedish kroners, approx $750K Australian.
Carol Emshwiller’s 90th birthday celebrations.
25 Angus&Robertson franchises in Australia go indie.
Strange Horizons: dealing with the low numbers of female reviewers.
The Age on the poor numbers of women’s work being reviewed (in the literary “mainstream”), and coverage of a panel on the gender disparity, again in the mainstream.
Prometheus Awards nominees, from the Libertarian Futurist Society.
Authors, editors, and controversy: Running Press, Tricia Telep and Jessica Verday (links not necessarily linked to individuals).
Our very own Tansy becomes a Tiptree judge!! (and had a book released)
… and the Aussie awards that we nearly forgot to talk about:

Livejournal not so live this week.

Feedback and Competition winners!

Swancon Preview

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Doomsday Book: the sf and the medieval

This is the April book for the Women in SF Book Club. I’ve been trying to read each book a month ahead of time, here at the start of the year, because I just know I’ll fall behind at some point… and those who know me know that I am nothing if not a completionist and a perfectionist. It’s a failing. Eh.

I’ve never read a Connie Willis. I know, I know; another failing. Anyway, I picked this up from the library without knowing anything about it. The first thing I thought was OMG THIS IS HUGE (669 pages, to be exact). The second was HEY, this is actually a medieval book! I didn’t realise that… and it made me a bit wary, to be honest. I’ve just finished a masters in medieval history, and while that by no means makes me an expert in the time, it does make me wary when I don’t know how expert authors are, and whether I can trust them or not. I knew a few of my friends – especially Tansy – thought she was a wonderful author, so I wasn’t entirely dubious, but… you know…

So, I began. And to be honest, the first chapter did not work for me. I don’t mind being thrown into a world headfirst, but this was a bit nuts. And I’m not sure why, but none of the characters were immediately engaging, so I neither knew who they were nor (immediately) cared to find out. I was worried that this was going to be another book to struggle through so that I could an informed and scathing commentary when the Book Club came around (which is what will happen with Darkship Thieves tonight…ETA: now!).

But I kept reading.

At the end of the first chapter, Mr Dunworthy has seen his star pupil, Kivrin, sent off to the Middle Ages via a time machine (basically). In the second chapter, Dunworthy and his friends go off to the pub, concerned but trying to be positive about Kivrin’s chances; there’s some worry over how the whole event has been organised. And all of a sudden… I cared. I don’t know why. I can’t pinpoint a moment when the people began to matter, or when I began to be engaged with the individuals and their concerns. But I think it was in this second chapter, with the minutiae of life in Oxford; and then the third chapter, with Kivrin recalling how she got the gig to be sent back in time and then waking up in the Middle Ages. And the description of the environment, Kivrin’s reactions to it… it grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and forced me to keep reading. And keep reading. And I read the 669 pages in two days.

Some spoilers.

I really, really enjoyed the book. Obviously.

I initially expected that after the sending-back-in-time experience, there would be occasional flash-forwards to Dunworthy, but that mostly the book would be focussed on the medieval. I was wrong, of course. I’m not positive, but I think the book is almost evenly split between the near-future (from our perspective; it’s set in 2055, or so) and the past. I think I may actually have enjoyed the near-future section more than the medieval. It is riveting because there’s an illness – an influenza, perhaps the most obvious modern corollary of plague – rapidly taking hold of Oxford. When I first read the book I thought it was a much more recent publication than it actually is (1992) because of the way it  imagines a population dealing with disease; it feels exactly like a book written post-swine flu. At any rate, it’s fascinating because although the disease is taking over the city, Willis is most interested in a couple of individuals and how they go about trying to ignore the disease and carry on with life – and, particularly, trying to figure out what has happened to Kivrin 700 years in the past. I enjoyed Dunworthy, and sympathised with his attempts at dealing with bureaucracy, and his concern for his student – although quite why he was just so concerned was unclear, and in fact a couple of times it made me a leedle uncomfortable, because it almost skirted the bounds of propriety. (Maybe that’s just me….)

The other reason I liked the near-future sections was for their utterly normal feel. The futuristic elements were quite muted: “the net”, whereby Kivrin was sent back in time (and others, too – it’s regarded as nearly normal); some aspects of government, such as the quarantine measures; and a few medical things that hardly warrant much attention. But it would be easy enough to ignore those, and read it as set in our contemporary world. It’s very believable and enjoyable.

Of the medieval sections I was, as mentioned above, more suspicious. I was beyond annoyed, by the way, with my copy of the book, which says on the front “Kivrin wanted to study the Black Death, not live it…” because actually NO, she was not interested in the Black Death, and by the way SPOILER!! since she only realises that she’s in the 1340s – twenty-odd years off the time she was expecting – MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH. Gah.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the medieval village Willis created. She didn’t try to do too much: staying in one village, with a fairly small number of people, and not really getting into the politics or anything was sensible on many levels, not least of which was allowing the reader to get to know and care about a smaller number of characters. I liked that Kivrin’s interpreting software didn’t work perfectly and that there were many surprises, large and small, about the realities of medieval life – things that historians do squabble about. Kivrin as a character didn’t really do much for me; she was likeable, and I sympathised when things went badly, but I didn’t ever entirely identify with her. Of the others, the only one for whom I felt much sympathy was the priest, Roche. The others were not developed enough for me to desperately want to understand. Perhaps the most telling part of my reading experience was that when the book flicked to the 21st century, I wasn’t that impatient to return to the 14th.

Tansy warned me that I would cry because of this book (actually, she told me to buy a box of tissues). I understand why she said this. However, I did not cry. There are probably a few reasons for this. The first might be that I was warned; the second may be that I am cold-hearted, as several people suggested! But third, and perhaps most to the point: I am a medieval historian. I know the reality of the Black Death. Nothing that happened to Kivrin, nothing that she experienced, was a revelation to me; there was no surprise in any of the events nor in people’s attitudes. I felt most sadness at some of the events in the near future. And fourth, I was also prevented from bawling because I read it too fast. I had to read it fast because I had to know what happened, but it meant that I didn’t form the emotional bond with the characters that I might have with a more leisurely read-through. Not that I’m regretting it; I thoroughly enjoyed the book and had enough of an emotional connection that I certainly regretted deaths and rejoiced at survivals. It’s also possible there’s a fifth reason that I didn’t cry: that Willis didn’t give me enough of the characters to make me want to cry. I think this is probably most true of the medieval characters; at least, they’re the ones I felt least attached to. I was closest to tears when I found that Dr Mary had died; that it happened while Dunworthy was unconscious, and that young nephew Colin has been so stoic through it all, was closest to being heart-breaking.

I think I understand why people rave about Willis. I have Blackout/All Clear on my to-read list, and it will definitely stay there… but it won’t get bumped up to must-read-or-will-cry level.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 462 other followers