Tag Archives: feminism

Strange Matings

Unknown.jpegPublished by Aqueduct Press, this remarkable book is a tribute to Octavia Butler. It includes personal reminiscences; photos; a poem; a transcript of a conversation with Butler; and the bulk is made up of academic essays – most of which are also somewhat personal.

I’ve read Butler’s Xeongenesis/Lilith’s Brood trilogy, but a long time ago… and that’s about it. Maybe some short stories as well? It’s one of those cases of ‘I’ve always meant to read more…’. So it was a bit of a weird experience for me to be reading academic analyses of stories that I haven’t read. However, and all kudos to the authors, I was neither hampered by that lack of knowledge – they all explained their points exceptionally well – and nor was I put off reading those stories. I have in fact bought the Parables books and am exceedingly excited to read them, armed with the theoretical discussions from these essays. I’m honestly not sure whether I will read Kindred, and I know this is a privileged position as a white Australian. I will definitely read Fledgling at some point, for all Butler was apparently a bit embarrassed by her vampire fiction. What I loved about the essays presented here is that each author so clearly loved the work they were examining – not glossing over faults, but showing how rich and subversive and powerful and present-speaking and future-prescient they are. How remarkable the women are, and how different the relationships, and how challenging the suggestions of how society could be. It made me realise just how powerful an author Octavia Butler must have been.

This is all beautifully resonant with the personal reflections included throughout. Butler’s shyness and insecurity and amazing generosity all come through, emphasising the sheer humanity of the woman – which I know sounds ridiculous, but it sounds like she made her life so full, and extended that to people around her, despite problems. The transcript of Nisi Shawl’s conversation with Butler, at the Black to the Future Conference in 2004, made me jealous of the people who got to see it live; Nnedi Okorafor’s reflections on sending emails to Butler – even after she died – and Steven Barnes’ very heartfelt reflections on his friend and mentor feel like precious gifts we should be thankful to have in print, so that we can glimpse those connections.

Strange Matings is a magnificent tribute to Octavia Butler that clearly works for someone with very little knowledge of her work, and must also work for those who’ve read far more. It’s provocative and powerful and human. Just like Octavia Butler.

Galactic Suburbia: Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters (2016) Spoilerific!


Was it better than the original? Did we love it or hate it? Was it appropriate for a 6 year old? If you want the new Ghostbusters movie thoroughly Spoiled, who you gonna call?

You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

Some links to other think pieces/reviews:

Ghostbusters is Still Haunted by Negative Racial Tropes (Polygon)

The Clothes of Ghostbusters (Women Write About Comics)

Ghostbusters 1984 vs Ghostbusters 2006 (Book Smugglers)

Not discussed but interesting: the clothes of Ghostbustersthe clothes of Ghostbustersthe clothes of Ghostbusters

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 145

In which we all had a very exciting weekend. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia. 

Launched & pre-launched at Continuum: Defying Doomsday and Something New Can Come Into This World

Tansy & the Silent Producer totally got married!

British Fantasy Award shortlist


Alisa: The Martian, Trepalium

Tansy: The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, Cleverman, UnReal, Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson

Alex: Angela Slatter binge: Vigil, Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Sourdough and Other Stories, Black-Winged Angels. Also Revolution School (ep 1 until July 6)

Alex’s new podcast! Acts of Kitchen

Tansy’s new superhero story at The Book Smugglers: Kid Dark Against the Machine
On superheroes, kids, gender and role models: Tansy’s Inspiration & Influences

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 144

In which books take longer to make than they do to read. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia. 

What’s New on the Internet?

Nebula Awards given

CJ CHerryh named SFWA grandmaster

SF Signal closing – farewell to our friends and thanks for all the links!

Get in your nominations to us for the GS AWard: for activism and/ or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction in 2015.

Alex: The Expanse Season 1; The Medusa Chronicles, Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds; The Philosopher Kings, Jo Walton

Alisa: books released & in progress: Defying Doomsday, Sharp Shooter, Grant Watson’s upcoming collection of film essays – see her Friday night at Continuum!

Tansy: Finished writing a book! My research reading list over the last several years includes: Orlando Furioso (Ludovico Ariosto/Slavitt translation), Thomas Bulfinch’s The Age of Chivalry & Charlemagne, E Nesbit’s entire backlist, Christina Rossetti, George McDonald, etc.

Also: Tansy’s serial Glass Slipper Scandal is now complete at the Sheep Might Fly podcast.

Skype number: 03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

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!

Black-Winged Angels

Continuing my Angela Slatter kick…

23461889.jpg“Baba Yaga is a woman who cannot be bound. She will bear no more children, she bow to the wishes of no man; she is independent, adrift from the world and its demands. The world, in ceasing to recognise her value, has granted her a freedom unknown to maids and mothers. Only the crone may stand alone.” (p135)

Angela Slatter’s exploration of the different ways women can be is one of the things I love most about her work, and it’s evident in this reprint collection. Most of the stories build on European fairytales or characters – Bluebeard, the Snow Queen, Melusine, the Little Match Girl. But the focus is different from the familiar story, because Slatter changes or explains the motivation, or centres on a different protagonist, or moves the setting and therefore the entire context… and she forces the reader to reconsider the telling of those stories, and what we can or should get out of them.

The quote above is one of my favourite parts of the whole collection, putting me immediately in mind of Ursula Le Guin’s reflections on being a ‘crone’, especially the essay “The Space Crone.” How often is old age meant to be something women should fear? And while Slatter’s Baba Yaga is by no means always happy with her status, she lives it.

This book is also a beautiful object. I have a hardback copy; the cover is black with a white cut-out illustration by Kathleen Jennings. Jennings’ artwork appears throughout the book, with each story having a dedicated picture – some quite simple, some incredibly complex. I love Jennings’ work and she beautifully complements Slatter’s ideas.

Galactic Suburbia 143

In which we talk reviews and gender balance thanks to the Strange Horizons SF count, and Alisa makes books while Tansy & Alex visit the theatre! you can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

coriolanus-covWhat’s New on the Internet?

Locus Awards finalists
Shirley Jackson nominees: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/05/2015-shirley-jackson-awards-nominees/

Peter MacNamara Achievement Award

Strange Horizons – the 2015 SF Count


Tansy: A Sci-Fi Vision of Love from a 318 year old hologram, by Monica Byrne , Wuthering Heights by shake & stir co; Whip it, Kingston City Rollers

Alisa: Working on the release of the Tara Sharp mysteries by Marianne Delacourt (now available for pre-order) and Grant Watson’s upcoming book of film essays.

Alex: Coriolanus (all female production directed by Grant Watson for Heartstring, Melbourne’s new independent theatre); The Dark Labyrinth, Lawrence Durrell; Nemesis Games, James SA Corey; Saga vol 5; Fringe rewatch, The Katering Show

Skype number: 03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

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 142!

In which the Hugo shortlist is more controversial as ever, but in the mean time we’ve been reading & watching some great things. You can get us at iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

MANY APOLOGIES for sound issues on this episode – we didn’t catch an accidental microphone shift which means some background noise which should have been muted were not.

What’s New on the Internet?

Hugo Shortlist
Effect of slate nominations on Hugo Shortlist at File 770.com

The Rebirth of Rapunzel winners: Margaret Eve & Kate Laidley, we hope you enjoy your book prizes!


Alex: Rebirth of Rapunzel, Kate Forsyth; The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein; Defying Doomsday, Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench; The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson

Alisa: Every Heart a Doorway; Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee; Orphan Black

Tansy: Deirdre Hall is the Devil, presented by Jodi McAlister; Teen Wolf, Downton Abbey, Doctor Horrible’s Singalong Blog, Buffy Season 1

Skype number: 03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

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!

Rapunzel-CoverIn which all 3 of us celebrate 6 years of Galactic Suburbia with an excellent baby and variable cake. ALISA IS BACK THIS IS NOT A DRILL! You can get us at iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.

What’s new on the internet?

JK Rowling, Native American “magic” and cultural appropriation.
National Geographic outlines the issues.
An open letter to Jo Rowling on the Native Appropriations blog – why indigenous people are not magical creatures.

Nisi Shawl’s crash course in the history of black science fiction

A list of all the dead lesbian & bisexual female characters on TV and how they died (many spoilers).

Feminist Frequency crowdfunding at Seed & Spark: a series of films about historical women.

Tansy’s “Lamia Victoriana” story from Love & Romanpunk, podcast at GlitterShip.

Also, Tansy’s upcoming superhero story at Book Smugglers – “Boy’s Own Superhero Bingo Card.”

Defying Doomsday coming soon too!

Listen to the end for the GALACTIC SUBURBIA GIVEAWAY – win a copy of The Rebirth of Rapunzel: A Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower by Kate Forsyth, a unique non-fiction collection presenting Kate’s extensive academic research into the ‘Rapunzel’ fairy tale, alongside several other pieces related to fairy tales and folklore. Available soon from Fablecroft.

AND, although we forgot to mention this in the show, it’s time to nominate for the Galactic Suburbia Award! We want to honour activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction – so if you’ve got someone or something that should be nominated for 2015, let us know!

Extra(ordinary) people

1420466.jpgOh Joanna.

Five narratives, loosely connected by brief snatches of conversation between a schoolkid and their tutor on history. Each story different – thematically, stylistically – each story offering different perceptions on humanity and difference and survival.

I’d read “Souls” before – I have it as an Ace double with Tiptree’s “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” The Abbess Radegunde is a remarkable woman – highly educated, linguistically talented, devoted to God and her flock of nuns – and then one day the Vikings come a-raiding. And things change, but definitely not in the way the Norsemen were expecting. How can you judge the people around you? What are you willing to sacrifice? How do you know who you are? I love that this story seems like one sort of story and then KAPOW it’s a very different one.

I found “The Mystery of the Young Gentleman” quite hard to come to grips with, and even on reflection it’s still not entirely clear. Partly this stems from language: someone refers to the narrator as an ‘invert’, and I wasn’t entirely clear what that meant although I knew it had insulting sexual/gender overtones; I’m still not clear whether the speaker intended it to mean homosexuality or cross-dressing. In the context, probably either-or. Anyway, the story is written by the titular young man, as a series of letters although we don’t know who the recipient will be. He’s travelling across the Atlantic with a young Spanish girl pretending to be his niece, and there’s a nosy doctor and a few other passengers. Like I said I’m still not entirely sure what was going on here – whether the young man was rescuing a girl like himself, where both of them are like Radegund from the previous story? Maybe. Despite my lack of complete comprehension I did still enjoy the story in a very Russ-type way: it challenges ideas of gender and sex and sexuality and identity and appearance and how much information you need for a story, anyway. Also what sort of stories ought to be read by young women.

“Bodies” goes well into the future and was probably the most opaque of the five stories, for me (possibly not helped by reading while camping, but anwyay…). This is also written as a letter, but this time we know who is being addressed – James – and the writer is reflecting on the time when they met (after he had been pulled from the past/resurrected/ reconstructed) and the immediate aftermath. It’s also concerned with sexuality and gender identity – James has had a bad life because of his, and adjusting to a future where he is actually allowed to be himself is difficult. In some ways I was put in mind of Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time in terms of how hard it might be a for a 20th-century mind to cope with something approaching a utopia (especially someone who has been oppressed), because we’re suspicious and guarded.

“What did you do during the revolution, Grandma?” is a bit Greg Egan and a bit Ursula Le Guin and a bit James Tiptree Jr. What if our universe exists on a hypersphere and the point where we happen to exist is the point where cause and effect happen to equal 1? Which means there are other universes where cause and effect does not equal 1… and then what would happen if you could access those other places? What would humans do? … it’s a pretty weird story. I am intrigued by the conceit although I don’t think Russ plays it out as much as she might. Again she goes in for human stories rather than the maths looking at cause and effect in humanity, and love and sex and confusion.

Finally, with “Everyday Depressions”, I nearly cried. It, too, is epistolary – it opens with “Dear Susanillamilla” – and it’s about the letter-writer hashing out the plot and characters for a novel she (I presume) is thinking of writing. The bit that made me cry was when the heroine’s mother is named Alice Tiptree, of the Sheldons of Deepdene. The entire collection opens with a quote from Alice Sheldon:

“I began thinking of you as pnongl. People” – [said the alien] “it’s dreadful, you think a place is just wild and then there’re people – “

I can’t help but see similarities in the way Russ wrote to Alice Sheldon in the style of these letters, and in Sheldon’s letters back. The development of the gothic novel the writer is proposing to write also just makes me ache, in knowing the Russ/Sheldon connections – and also of course Russ’ own discussions about the gothic story. This little story is an absolute gem if you know those connections, and still amusing and lovely even if you don’t.

Oh, Joanna.

Galactic Suburbia: Bujold spoiler!

gentleman jole  red queenIn which Tansy & Alex take apart the joyous wonder that is the latest Lois McMaster Bujold novel: Gentleman Jole & the Red Queen. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

The Terrible Title
The Vorkosigan Saga So Far (with particular reference to Shards of Honour & Barrayar, with plenty of spoilers for All The Key Moments involving the Vorkosigan family)
Uterine Replicators and Their Social Implications
Older Women in Space (send us your Space Grannies story recs!)
Space Opera as Social History
Triad Marriages and Alternative Parenting Models
The Changing Roles of Mothers and Grandmothers with an extended lifespan
Oliver Jole as unusual male hero: how often do we see books about men choosing between career advancement and having children?
Aurelia is the prettiest name
Is Miles ‘the man’ now? Does he represent conservative Barrayar, or is there still a healthy rebellious Betan streak in him?
Oliver & Cordelia: an “old person” romance
Bereavement & retirement as positive life turning points
Miles and Oliver: “that” conversation as climax of the plot
Miles and Cordelia: how to surprise your adult son, how to come to terms with your parents as fellow humans
The sciencey science of a colonised planet: Sergyar needs marine biologists and plumbers more than soldiers and politicians!
Reader response: what was problematic, unrealistic expectations, what does a Vorkosigan novel look like anyway?

We love you all and we love this book: only listen to this episode if you genuinely don’t mind being spoiled for all the things.

PS: Tansy still maintains that the Vorkosigan saga is just fine read in random book order. Alex is not okay with this. Follow your own instincts on this one.

You can Skype us to leave a short message about any of our topics or episodes, to be included in a future show.

03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

Otherwise, 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!