Tag Archives: feminism

on Joanna Russ

UnknownI’ve had this book on my shelf to read for a good few years now. I didn’t read it at first because I hadn’t read enough Russ, and then I put it off because I thought the book itself was going to be scary. The other day I finally decided it was Time, and I’m so glad that I did. Because this book is fantastic.

It’s not a book to read if you are completely unfamiliar with Russ, in my opinion. There are a few of her works that I haven’t read and when they were discussed, I was definitely a bit less engaged and a bit left out of the conversation (my fault, not that of the writers). So you really want to have read “When it Changed” and The Female Man, and The Two Of Us and We Who are About To… before coming to this. That said, that’s not exactly a hardship. Well, The Female Man might be; it’s not linear, it’s very 70s-second-wave-feminism in its attitude towards trans women (ie not very positive), and it’s playing rough with a lot of literary conventions. BUT it’s still worth reading and then you can read THIS set of essays and that’s great!

The first five essays deal with Russ in her context, and I found this deeply amazing and exciting to read. Russ as reviewer, Russ in community, Russ being all edgy and spiky and much as I wish I could have met her I think she would have intimidated me! I also loved this section for helping me get deeper into an appreciation of what it was like to be a feminist and a female SF fan in the 60s and 70s. Things are still not always great today but things have, largely, improved – at least in my experience. These essays are all beautifully written, too, and use such a fabulous array of sources from the period that it makes me want to tell everyone to keep their ephemera! Store it safely! Print your emails!

The second, bulkier section includes essays on Russ’ fiction. Some of these go deeply into literary criticism territory – like Tess Williams using Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnival theory – and I haven’t read much lit crit in… quite a few years. So there were definitely a few bits where I did not get as much out of the essays as I might have when I was still studying and had practise. Nonetheless, the ideas that the essayists present are fascinating and intriguing and gave me new ways of thinking about the different stories. They also made me want to go and read Kittatinny, for instance, which I had thought I didn’t really need to. The essays use a range of devices and theory and ideas to get at the meat of Russ’ stories, to look at what they’re saying about society and gender and people and literature. It was actually really exciting to read.

The other thing this book gave me was a love of my feminist foremothers, Russ and the others that she was bouncing off/working with/ inspiring later. It made me really, really appreciative and fiercely grateful and amazed, too.

I’m so glad I got around to reading this book.

Muriel Matters

UnknownThe short version is that Muriel Matters was an Australian actress and acclaimed elocutionist who went to Britain and ended up participating in the suffrage movement in the early 1900s, and went on to work with underprivileged children, among other things. She was also one of the first women in a flying machine, and was – as far as we can tell – the first person to engage in aerial leafletting: she tossed Votes for Women pamphlets over the side of the airship basket. She was amazing and this biography captures her wonderfully.

The longer version… is basically going on about some of the other, remarkable parts of Matters’ life. Like chaining herself to the Grille, part of the screen that stopped MPs from seeing the women who were in the tiny little room where they could watch parliament. Or the things that she endured while on her endless speaking tours, such as constant heckling and having eggs – and other things – thrown at her. The stays in prison. And her magnificent speeches about suffrage – which was not an end in itself, for Matters, but merely the beginning of women coming to full participation in social life and the fabulous consequences that would have for society. At the moment, it’s all too tragic to read some of Matters’ hopes and dreams for how women would be able to participate once they had the vote. Because yes, there were some positive changes made in SA, for example, once women were voting, around labour laws and the like. But we still see the ways in which women are hampered from full participation and the consequences of women’s voices not being taken seriously.

Wainwright, who also wrote Sheila, has done a remarkable amount of research here. Matters has never had a biography written before – and I’ve read quite a few books about English women’s fight for suffrage and she has never featured significantly in any of them. Matters died a widow, and with no children, and most of her family gone and overseas, so most of her own papers have been lost. So there’s a huge amount of reconstruction from newspapers, from early accounts of the suffrage movement, and other such sources to find out what can be found out. There are gaps, of course – in particular around Matters’ personal relationships – and Wainwright offers speculation but is clear that that’s what it is.

As to her politics and passions, those seem quite clear from her speeches and from where she devoted her energies. After becoming disillusioned with parts of the suffrage movement, Matters works with striking workers and then eventually becomes one of the first Montessori-trained teachers in Britain, working with children in slum areas. Knowledge of her later life is sketchy because she disappears from public view, which is such a shame because surely this woman didn’t sit at home fuming, after her actions earlier on? It makes me want to encourage everyone to print their emails and keep them in secure vaults so that historians can find them later.

This is an engaging, thoughtful, and generally lovely look at a fascinating and important woman who was part of a historical struggle that most people know far too little about.

Galactic Suburbia!

WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERNET/WHAT DO WE CARE ABOUT THIS WEEK?

Julian May died

No more Writer and the Critic: announcement

Feminist Poltergeist podcast, from Ellenbutnotdegeneres:

Carmilla movie out

OUR DISCUSSION: Leisure, freelancing/part-time hours and guilt.

CULTURE CONSUMED:

Alisa: Otherlife; Stranger Things S2; The Trauma Cleaner, Sarah Krasnostein; Pop Culture Happy Hour; Friends Like These

Tansy: Podcasts: Uncanny 14b (To Budapest with Love by Theodora Goss & Some Cupids Kill with Arrows by Tansy; Kameron Hurley’s Get To Work Hurley #6 (how to write when overwhelmed by the world); Fangirl Happy Hour #100 (On Brand) & #101 (Howl’s Moving Castle); Thor Ragnarok – ABC Radio interview

Alex: Nexus, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti; Bold as Love sequence, Gwyneth Jones; Lord of the Rings; Glitch season 2

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon – which now includes access to the ever so exclusive GS Slack – and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 167

In which we launch new projects and Discover a new/old love for Star Trek. Bet you didn’t know how much we love Star Trek. You can find us on iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

What’s new on the internet?

Nebula Weekend means awards and other announcements!

Tansy announces the impending Kickstarter for Mother of Invention: A speculative fiction anthology of diverse, challenging stories about gender & artificial intelligence.

Alex reveals the cover of Luminescent Threads, the new book about Octavia Butler coming soon from Twelfth Planet Press.

Continuum Preview! Check out the program, because we’re all over it. The whole GalSub team will be at Melbourne for this year’s Continuum — if you’re planning to be there, block off three hours for our Galactic Suburbia-and-Twelfth Planet Press extravaganza including a fundraising bake sale and a pre-launch party for Luminescent Threads. (It’s like a baby shower but for a book, and you don’t have to bring gifts)

CULTURE CONSUMED:

Alisa: Santa Clarita Diet S1; Anne with an E; Luminescent Threads edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal, Twin Peaks.

Alex: Moana; Doctor Strange; Arrow; For the Love of Spock; Silent Invasion, James Bradley

Tansy: Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief; The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells; The Sarah Jane Adventures (check out Tansy’s appearance on the Sarah Jane themed Splendid Chaps here)

All of us: Star Trek Discovery Trailer! We have a lot of feels.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon – which now includes access to the ever so exclusive GS Slack – and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Mother of Invention

Mother of inventionTansy, Rivqa: I hear you have an exciting new project coming up. Care to share what it is?

Hi, Alex! We’re about to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a new speculative fiction anthology of artificial intelligence stories: Mother of Invention.

So tell me about this title. Who came up with it, what’s the point, and so on?

Artificial intelligence stories, from the very beginning, have always been dominated by the idea of a male creator ‘giving birth’ to robots or intelligent computers. This in turn means that we end up with a lot of artificial intelligence narratives with a sexy female robot, or a disembodied voice played by Scarlett Johanssen. Starting with Frankenstein (though even going back to the Ancient Greek Pygmalion/Galatea myth) the stories so often centre around the idea of what happens (or what goes terribly wrong) when men create life. Is Susan Calvin the only iconic female creator of artificial life in our whole genre? We’re happy to be ‘well, actually’d on this one, but she’s definitely outnumbered by her male counterparts.

To be honest, the ‘isolated dude builds/interacts with sexy robot girlfriend/daughter and/or angry robot/computer son who wants to kill him’ tropes have become the SF equivalent of ‘middle-aged college professor has affair with younger female student’.  And just because (some) women can have babies biologically doesn’t mean they can’t build robots or super-smart imaginary friends as well as, or instead of, creating life the squishy old fashioned way.

We wanted to challenge the gender dynamic of artificial intelligence stories, and rather than focus on the ‘why are all robot women sexy and adorable’ trope, we thought we’d let some fantastic writers explore the idea of what kind of artificial lifeforms women, and other under-represented genders, might create.

As for the title… it took us ages to find something that captured what we want, but ultimately the quote ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ gave us the answer. When it comes to artificial intelligence stories, the motivation is often just as interesting as the ‘how it all went terribly wrong’ part, and we’re interested to see how the gender of the creator in these stories will affect what they build, and who they make.

The anthology will be published by Twelfth Planet Press… why go with them?

Twelfth Planet Press have a reputation for smart, thought-provoking projects and for challenging the gender dynamic of SF publishing, so they were absolutely our first choice. We’ve both worked with them before, though mostly at the fiction writing end of things, so it’s exciting to be getting our teeth into an editing project this time around.
We want to follow in the footsteps of Kaleidoscope and Defying Doomsday, which were both fantastic, diverse anthologies with strong political concepts behind them.

Do you have a stash of money up your collective sleeves to pay the authors for the project, or do you have some other plan?

Crowdfunding is our plan! With a project like this, a crowdfunding campaign has a lot of benefits to it, particularly that you can create advanced buzz for the book, and also gauge the interest of the readers. If we can’t make our target, then we don’t have enough interest to make the book viable, and it’s better to know that up front. The best thing about crowdfunding is that we are able to comfortably pay the authors (and editors and designers and artists and everyone) professional rates, which is often a hard ask for an Aussie small press budget.

Twelfth Planet Press has run a couple of very successful crowdfunding campaigns for anthologies like this one, and each time that has helped to bring international awareness to the book which is hugely important. We may be working out of the Australian suburbs, but we want to get this book into the hands of readers all around the world.

This will actually be the first time Twelfth Planet Press has worked with Kickstarter rather than the locally-based Pozible, so that’s an exciting adventure. It will be interesting to see whether it makes a difference to international reach.

Are there any authors associated with the project yet?

Yes, there are! We’ll also be opening for general submissions after crowdfunding closes, from July-August 2017.

Our core team of Mother of Invention authors are Seanan McGuire, John Chu, Kameron Hurley, Nisi Shawl, Sandra McDonald, E.C. Myers, Justina Robson, Bogi Takács, Rosaleen Love, Cat Sparks and Joanne Anderton. We also have an essay coming from Ambelin Kwaymullina, which we are very excited about.

Do you have dream plots or ideas you’d like to see reflected in your slush pile?
Version 2

Tansy: I’m not gonna lie, I kind of want at least one super smart sexbot story and/or a gender-reversed Stepford Wives story. So many robot-as-person stories are about beauty and perfection and the unrealistic expectations on human/artificial female bodies, so I’d love something that turns that around to look at the potential sexuality/sensuality of artificial male bodies. I’d also love to see stories that look at how women socialise and connect to each other, and how intelligences that are created by women might reflect that. I’d definitely like a range of ages of the creators — a 96-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl are going to create a different intelligent software, presumably. What would you get if they worked together?

I also really want stories that challenge our premise, challenge the gender binary, and allow for a wide, inclusive definition of what gender means anyway. Artificial intelligence is a theme that invites a complex exploration of gender (or an absence of gender) beyond just the creator themselves, so it would be fantastic to get stories that do this.

rivqa.jpgRivqa: While I’m sure we’ll be including some ‘AI turns evil’ stories, I’m personally more excited to see stories that explore our creators’ creations in more subtle ways. In particular, autonomy interests me as a writer and a parent. At what point do we let go of our children, whatever their nature? What does it mean to make an autonomous AI, whether purposefully or accidentally?

Like Tansy, I’m excited to see how our authors use the theme to explore gender identity and expression. Would a female, genderqueer or agender creator necessarily invent something different to a cis male creator? Or is that just playing into the kyriarchy’s hands in a different way? I can’t wait to see how our submissions subvert the tired old trope of the cis male inventor, because I have no doubt that they’ll do so in a multitude of ways.
At a simpler level, I’m just looking forward to reading stories from people who love robots as much as I do, because I think they’re awesome.

What’s the timeline for all of this?
It all starts in June 2017, just a few weeks from now! We’ll be crowdfunding for the whole month. We’ll then have our open submission period and be reading, selecting and editing for the rest of this year. We’ll be delivering crowdfunding rewards from early 2018, with the book itself delivering to supporters in June 2018.

We also have a stretch goal planned for a companion series of gender and artificial intelligence essays which would, if we reach the target, extend beyond the original timeline.

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a writer, Hugo Award-winning podcaster and pop culture critic based in Tasmania. Her award-winning fiction includes the Creature Court trilogy and the Love & Romanpunk short story collection. Tansy has edited various magazines and books, most recently the Cranky Ladies of History anthology which was crowdfunded in 2014. She also regularly assesses manuscripts for the Tasmanian Writer’s Centre.

Rivqa Rafael is a writer and editor based in Sydney. Her speculative fiction has been published in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications), Defying Doomsday, and elsewhere. In 2016, she won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent. As an editor, she specialises in medical and science writing, both short and long form; she has also edited memoir, fiction and popular magazines.

Galactic Suburbia 166

In which we debate the all important question, how much zombie vomit is too much zombie vomit? you can get us from iTunes or over at Galactic Suburbia. 

WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERNET

Clarke Award Shortlist

The End of Tropes Vs Women

Sleeping With Monsters Book coming soon!

CULTURE CONSUMED

Alisa: Rogue One, Santa Clarita Diet

Tansy: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Beauty & the Beast, Legion Ep 1, “Making the Magic Lightning Strike Me,” John Chu in Uncanny Magazine

Alex: The Dark Forest, Cixin Liu; Gemina, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff; The Glass Universe, Dava Sobel; other people’s culture consumed (Asher, Kathryn, Meredith)

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon – which now includes access to the ever so exclusive GS Slack – and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia

In which Galactic Suburbia becomes a five-time Hugo nominated podcast… you can get us from itunes or at Galactic Suburbia 

WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERNET?

Hugo shortlist

Also the Nommo shortlist (from the African Speculative Fiction Society)

CULTURE CONSUMED

Alisa: The 45th; S-Town; Sea Swept, Nora Roberts

Tansy: Lotus Blue, Cat Sparks; Buffy rewatch

Alex: New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson; the Ancillary series, Ann Leckie; season 2 and most of 3 of Person of Interest; Last Cab to Darwin

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

Galactic Suburbia 163

In which Alisa reads us all under the table (again) and the women of SFF are anything but Humble. Get us on itunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

What’s New on the Internet?

Cheesecake can be cake if it wants to be cake. Especially if you do not belong to a pie nation. Also, pies need lids or they’re not trying hard enough.

GUFF race (until 17 April)
Paul Weimer is the DUFF candidate, hooray!

Women of SFF Humble Bundle – get this amazing bunch of SFF books now, only a couple of days to go!

CULTURE CONSUMED:

Alisa: Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell; Too Sharp, Marianne Delacourt; Missing Richard Simmons

Tansy: Dreadnought, by April Daniels, Mad Money, Iron Fist

Alex: Hawk and Fisher, Simon R Green; The Delirium Brief, Charles Stross; Logan; The Abyss;

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

Galactic Suburbia turns seven

In which we are seven years old! Get yourself some delicious cake and settle down to our International Women’s Day episode. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia. 

What’s New on the Internet?

Post-mortem on the first Octavia Butler book club hosted by Twelfth Planet Press! We had such a great time talking about Wild Seed.

Next up: Fledgling on April 2 2017.

Aurealis Awards shortlist is out.

Locus Recommended Reading List

CULTURE CONSUMED: REPEAT THE TITLE OF YOUR CULTURE

Alisa: Ken Liu; Women of Letters; The Arrival; Canberry; Courtney Milan – Trade Me & Hold Me.

Alex: Because You’ll Never Meet Me, and Nowhere Near You, Leah Thomas; more Bujold; Cooked (Netflix, 4 parts)

Tansy: Younger, Hidden Figures, shout out for Kickstarter campaign for new card game featuring the art of Tania Walker: The Lady & the Tiger.

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

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAKE! IF YOU ATE CAKE WITH THIS PODCAST, WE WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT.

Spy Game: further thoughts

Our review of Spy Game.

My beloved says that the whole movie is about the woman. And from a plot point of view, that’s true; Pitt’s character is all about saving her, and she’s the reason for the break-up of the bromance (uh, maybe this is part of my problem with it…).

The more I thought about Elizabeth Hadley, the more I realised that she is a sexy lamp. While she has apparently done some things, they mostly happen off-screen. At best, she’s a sexy lamp with a post-it note to assist with passing on some information. She’s a MacGuffin – only there to give the (male) characters something to argue about and then go get. She has zero motivation of her own within the plot, she has zero agency, she has next to no character development.

… and this is why it will never be a favourite movie.