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trying to get into the swing of things.... This is a good way to start, I think.

I've been too sick to read much of anything for months, but even though I'm still feeling hellish, and my blood tests agree that there's some bad shit going on inside me, I'm pushing myself because the Hugo nominations are coming up fast.

In the past week, I've finished two books that I'd been reading through at a snail's pace, Nancy Ordover's American Eugenics, which is an important but very painful book to read, especially if you are a person of colour, a person with disabilities, or queer. I also finished Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, on which the unexpected blockbuster film is based, and was given some hope along with the stories of struggle.

Begun and finished this week:
Lois McMaster Bujold, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen
Kameron Hurley, The Geek Feminist Revolution
Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria

Currently reading:
André ​Carrington, ​Speculative ​Blackness: ​The ​Future ​of ​Race ​in ​Science ​Fiction
Andrea Hairston, Will Do Magic for Small Change

What's next:
Novels, non-fiction and novellas from my Hugo reading list. Probably either The Merril Theory of Lit'ry Criticism by Judith Merril, Octavia E. Butler by Gerry Canavan or Words Are My Matter by Ursula K. Le Guin for the next non-fiction book. In novels, I'm thinking Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country or Nisi Shawl's Everfair. Novellas, Victor Lavelle's The Ballad of Black Tom, Kai Ashante Wilson's A Taste of Honey, and the two Penric novellas by Lois Bujold. Plus, of course, a scattering of novelettes and short stories.

If anyone else is reading fir the Hugos and has some graphic novel recommendations, I'm still adding to my reading list in that category, as I am woefully ignorant of who's writing what that's really good. Do suggestions are welcome.

As ever, more in depth comments on the books I've read can be found on my book blog, bibliogramma.dreamwidth.org.

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I've mostly been reporting on the state of my health on Facebook, but seeing that I haven't posted here for a while, I figured I ought to try to bring the saga of my deteriorating state of health up to date.

So... Back in late May I was diagnosed with primary hypercalcemia, which means that something had gone haywire with my parathyroid glands and they were producing too much of a hormone that leaches calcium out of the bones at a rate that is not only very bad for your bones, but cannot be properly excreted. As calcium builds up in the blood, you get increasingly sick, and can end up having seizures and nasty life-threatening shit like that.

They did various kinds of imaging on my throat and while the pictures were a bit inconclusive, they figured it was provably due to one or more adenomas, non-malignant growths on the parathyroid. So they put me on the list for a surgery slot to have the adenomas excused from my parathyroids, and monitored my blood calcium closely.

While waiting for surgery, I fell and broke my foot. Back to the hospital. My foot was placed in this rigid boot that has a heel and unbalanced me to the point that even after I was ok'd for weight-bearing exercise, I couldn't balance on my uneven feet well enough to stand.

After about three weeks in the hospital, during which I developed a nasty UTI that would ultimately stay with me for the next four months, still unable to stand, I was transferred to a rehab hospital where I would receive regular physiotherapy. which would be of very little use because I'm still wearing this big-ass boot that destroys my balance. In the meantime, i get shuttled back to the hospital a few times, to have my calcium levels lowered (intravenous drugs plus massive IV fluids to make me pee out the calcium) and to have my foot monitored.

Once the boot finally comes off in late September, I start to make real progress with the physio - I'm shaky, but walking. Then.... Remember that UTI? They've been giving me courses of various antibiotics to try to kill the bugs in my bladder, and it's been coming back every time. They try a new drug, to which I have a seriously bad reaction. For about a week, I'm so weak I can hardly move, plus nausea and a bunch of nasty stuff. Can't manage the physio - haven't enough strength to stand.

It's now mid-October. They decide to send me home from the rehab hospital because I'm no longer benefitting from treatment. Once I get home, and get over the drug reaction, we find a private physiotherapist and start working on walking again. i just start to get my strength back and I'm walking a bit, when I get the call that I have a surgery date. November 17. Back to the hospital. UTI is back, too.

The surgery ends up being much more complicated than expected, because once they have my throat slit and they can see the parathyroids, they discover there are no adenomas. While adenoma is by far the most common cause of primary hypercalcemia, if it's not adenomas, it's probably hyperplasia of the parathyroids, for which the surgical solution is to remove 3.5 of the four parathyroid glands, a sonewhat longer and more difficult operation.

I come out of surgery with unbearable pain in my abdomen and groin, for which they plug me full of fentanyl, which does nothing. Eventually, they try something in the same family as ibuprofen, but stronger, which works some. Recovery is slow and problematic. The fentanyl gives me very bad constipation for three days, the abdominal and groin pain lessens but does not go away, I'm weak as a kitten and.... My calcium levels are not falling as they should. They do the IV drip to lower my levels again and after a few days, they send me home to recuperate, ordering continued monitoring of my calcium.

Meanwhile, I'm developing painful bedsores on my butt - a new thing, even though I have been pretty much confined to bed fir years. And the UTI is still bothering me. And I'm having fevers and chills snd on-going abdominal pains and all sorts of stuff, and I just can't seem to get any strength back. My doctor prescribes a long course of yet another antibiotic, which seems to finally mostly clear the UTI. All the other symptoms continue, and despite doing all the right things, my bedsore do not heal.

Regular blood tests show my blood calcium is still rising - and now there's a new twist. I'm suddenly seriously anemic, my hemoglobin is way lower than it should be, which is probably the reason for my extreme weakness and the impairment in normal healing.

Which brings us to now. The last blood test showed a very small drop in calcium levrls, I'm on iron supplements which should bring up my hemoglobin over the course of 4-6 weeks and hopefully help me regain my strength snd heal the sores, and my doctor is working on getting me a consult for the hemoglobin issue.

Oh yes, during all of this I've lost about 20 kilos, which when added to the 50-odd kilos I've lost over the past few years has resulted in a lot of loose skin that tends to crease and fold in an extremely painful way. Add to that the pain from the bedsores and I'm having extreme trouble sleeping. I'm lucky if I get four or five hours of sleep in 24. So I'm now exhausted and almost braindead. I'm in great pain all the time, from half a dozen different things that are going wrong. I'm depressed and just plain tired of trying to keep going, to the point of wondering how I might go about persuading someone that I really am a good candidate for assisted suicide, which is now legal, though under very limited circumstances, in Canada.

As the title says, life is hell.

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So, my health is kind of falling apart, even more than before. My trip to the hospital revealed that I have developed parathyroidism, caused by tumours on my parathyroid glands. Surgery is the only treatment.

Problem is transport. While provincial healthcare will cover an emergency ambulance transport, it won't cover something scheduled, like surgery. And because I am heavy and of very limited mobility, I need an ambulance and four people (two crews) to get to the hospital, and private ambulance services are expensive.

And I don't have any extra funds for something like this, and I've researched every personal and organisational angle I can think of. It's a hole in the system - my care is covered if I can get to the hospital, but getting to the hospital isn't covered by anyone.

So, I've started a crowdfunding effort to try and defray the transportation costs. I don't know if anyone out there is able and willing to toss a few pennies in the pot, but if anyone is.... You will have my eternal gratitude.

https://www.gofundme.com/morgandhu


Update

May. 21st, 2016 03:46 am
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still alive. Still in hospital.

I have hyperparathyroidism, caused by adenomas of several of my parathyroid glands. Surgery is needed.

I'm liveblogging the fun and games at my Facebook account - Morgan Dhu. Y'all are welcome to drop on and say hi.

Note: I have wifi, but only web access, no email.
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I had some bloodwork done yesterday. My doctor contacted me first thing this morning to let me know that some of my results were highly alarming (as in "are you sure you're not having convulsions?") and she wanted me in the hospital asap, so I will be heading into the hospital tomorrow for more tests and treatment if necessary and appropriate. Don't know if I'll have access to wi-fi there so it could be a while before I can post anything. If worst comes to worst, my partner will let folks know what happened.

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So, The turning of the year has come and gone. Our celebration was as always quiet, perhaps more so this year because we have had an annus horribilis which has only just barely begun, we hope, to improve.

So we sat in the living room and exchanged gifts and ordered a feast of Chinese food and watched the Doctor Who Christmas special, and the Murdoch Mysteries Christmas special, and had a lovely time.
My prezzies were wonderful.

A long list of ebooks:

Andrea ​Hairston, ​Lonely ​Stardust ​
Carter ​Scholz, ​Gypsy
Charles ​Saunders, ​Abengoni: ​First ​Calling
Charles ​Tan ​(ed), ​Lauriat: ​A ​Filipino-Chinese ​Speculative ​Fiction ​Anthology
Chinelo ​Okparanta, ​Under ​the ​Udala ​Trees
Craig ​Laurance ​Gidney, ​Skin ​Deep ​Magic
David ​Pilgrim, ​Understanding ​Jim ​Crow
Deborah ​J. ​Ross, ​The ​Heir ​of ​Khored
Deborah ​Wheeler, ​Collaborators
F.H. ​Batacan, ​Smaller ​and ​Smaller ​Circles
J.M. ​Frey, ​Hero ​is ​a ​Four ​Letter ​Word
Jackie ​Hatton, ​Flesh ​& ​Wires
Jeanne ​Theoharis, ​The ​Rebellious ​Life ​of ​Mrs. ​Rosa ​Parks
Johanna ​Sinisalo, ​The ​Blood ​of ​Angels
John Miller, Judi Dench: With a Crack in her Voice
Katharine ​Kerr, ​Dark ​Magicks
Marge ​Piercy, ​My ​Life, ​ ​My ​Body
Michelle ​Sagara, ​Cast ​in ​Honor
Minister ​Faust, ​The ​Alchemists ​of ​Kush
Rachel ​Pollack, ​Alqua ​Dreams
Sheree ​Renée ​Thomas, ​Shotgun ​Lullabies
Silvia ​Moreno-Garcia, ​Signal ​to ​Noise
Sumiko ​Saulson, ​Things ​That ​Go ​Bump ​In ​My ​Head

And the extended version DVDs of Hobbit II and Hobbit III

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Kat Tanaka Okopnik, social justice activist of the first water, is considering offering an online workshop on cultural appropriation. If you know Kat at all (and if you don't, here's a link to a guest blog she wrote on Jim Hines' website -
http://www.jimchines.com/2015/04/what-do-we-look-like-in-your-mind-okopnik/), you know that she's eminently qualified to help those struggling with this issue navigate the murky waters between racialised exotification and imperialist exploitation to find a way of respectfully appreciating the art, culture and traditions of other peoples.

If you are interested, please contact Kat for more information. You can find her on Facebook or at http://shadesbetween.com

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I am saddened and ashamed.

A Muslim woman was picking up her children from Grenoble Public School on Monday when she was attacked. Two men approached the woman and started hurling anti-Islamic and racist profanities at her. Police said the men started calling the woman a “terrorist” and said “go back to your country.” One of the men started punching the woman in the stomach and a second man ripped off her hijab during the assault.

A Toronto couple put a sign on their property, asking Muslims if they were sorry for the attacks in Paris.

Police are investigating a fire deliberately set at Peterborough’s only mosque. Police and fire officials arrived on Saturday at around 11 p.m. at Parkhill Rd. west of Monaghan Rd. to Masjid Al-Salaam after receiving a call of smoke coming out of the mosque. Peterborough police have confirmed that the fire was deliberately set.
Police in Kitchener, Ont., are investigating vandalism at a Hindu temple. Ram Dham Hindu Temple president Dilip Dav says several windows at the rear entrance of the temple were shattered late Sunday night.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants the federal government to suspend its plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.

And this is just what I know about, what has been reported in the news I've read so far. It's not only that responses like this mean the terrorists have won. It's that when we act in this way, it shows that we are lost, lost to the light, lost to humanity and empathy and compassion. Doing evil in the name of good is still evil. We may think that we are defending something, protecting something, avenging something - but in truth, when we respond to hate and fear with yet more hate and fear, we are destroying light, destroying love, and destroying ourselves.

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I want to talk about something that troubles me greatly.

Why do so many white Western people keep insisting that all Muslims actively disavow the actions of a small number of religious fanatics who want to see the world in flames, when we don't ask the same thing of all Christians? Is it because we believe that Muslims are somehow different from us, that they are inherently more likely to choose and approve of violence? That they need to prove they are not bloodthirsty savages who delight in killing and creating chaos? Because that's what this demand looks like to me.

I have heard people say that Islam is a religion of misogyny and violence, but you know something? I've read both the Bible and the Qu'ran (admittedly, both in translation) and they really aren't much different on those counts. Both have passages that speak to love and peace and compassion, both have passages that seem to counsel violence and intolerance and revenge. Yes, in recent years we have seen much violence done in the name of Islam, but we are also living in a world in which much violence was, and continues to be, done in the name of Christianity.

I've heard people say that Muslims are barbaric and uncivilised, but I've studied history and I know that based on every measure of culture and enlightenment that I know of, by art and law and government and the creation of civil, caring societies, Muslim peoples have not been any less civilised, less cultured, less humane, than other groups of people.

Are we saying, then, that Muslims as a whole are not quite like the rest of us, that they do not feel empathy, compassion, horror and love they way we do? That they lack the breadth of emotions that we have? That they are not quite as human as we are, and hence we expect them not to feel as we do when a tragedy occurs?

What does it say about us, that it is so easy for us to think of others as not just different, but inferior? Perhaps it is we white Western people who lack empathy, compassion, breadth of feeling. We certainly have a long history of being unable to feel empathy toward those who are not white and Western. Maybe it's time for us to become more civilised, more humane, more human.

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Recently I've been going through a rather deep and dark existential depression that results from my response to being pretty much completely lacking in mobility. As this plaint that I posted on Facebook a few days back during an acute attack indicates, I feel pretty damned useless in all things.

******
Losing my identities
I used to be a lot of things.
I used to be a person who sang, who danced, who played guitar, who drew and painted stuff. I used to be someone who acted in plays, who stage-managed and even did some directing.
I used to be a person who marched in protest and in celebration, who spoke at public meetings and presented briefs. I used to be a person who was active in political movements. I used to be a person who could do things to help make the world a little bit better.
I used to be a person who could work, whether it was with my hands or with my mind. Who could be productive, support myself and the people I loved.
I used to be a person who could be of use to my friends and loved ones, who could actually be a friend to them, a person to turn to, to rely on. I used to have something to give.
I used to make a difference in the world.
There are so many things I used to be, and am not not now, and likely will never be again.
Take all my identities away from me, and what is left? Nothing.
******

Well, in an attempt to try to change at least one of these "I used to be"s, I have been playing with a program that is supposed to be a way to make pixel art rather than hand-shaped art. Here are a few of my investigative forays into the world of electronic art.

Disenchanted Forest photo disenchanted forest 2.jpg

Blurred Meanings photo Blurred meanings 2.jpg

untitled (cavern vista) photo Attachment-1.jpg

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it's Wednesday again - how time flies.

I have completed my reading of Lavinia Collins' The Warrior Queen, Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me (which was profoundly troubling but that's all right because it was meant to be) and the Future Eves anthology edited by Jean Marie Stine.

I also read a fair bit of free-standing short fiction, all of which I have made brief comments on and posted to my book journal. Most of it is freely available on the Net, and my comments include URLs. Some of it is very good.

I am currently reading a number of things - I seem to be in a mood for moving back and forth between several different works rather than reading any one thing in a sustained fashion. Books on the go: Laurie Penny's Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution; Gender Outlaws: the Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman; Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell; Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings; The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Edward James and Farah Mendelsohn; and of course, Metzel's The Protest Psychosis.

Up next? More short fiction, more sff novels from 2015, and likely a few other odd things from my extensive TBR list.
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wordweaverlynn on Dreamwidth asked for my top five favourite foods.

I'm going to answer this in two ways - as top five individual foods or ingredients, and as top five prepared foods.

First, the individual food items.

Cheese (Just about any kind), mushrooms, chocolate, strawberries, freshly baked bread

Now, the prepared foods.

1. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream

2. Thai basil fried rice (with chilis, tofu, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, onions, bok choi, etc.)

3. Lasagne with three cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta), spicy tomato and mushroom sauce, spinach and lots of pasta. And herbed garlic bread on the side

4. Curried chicken - I'll take various styles of curry as long as it's nice and hot, with rice, yogourt and a sweet chutney on the side.

5. Any kind of heavy, sweet chocolate torte-like dessert, with a rich buttery cream filling, if it has almonds and strawberries so much the better.

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Carmilla on Dreamwidth asked me: "Top ​five ​most ​memorable ​TV ​episodes?"

I'm going to limit this to continuing series, and not include anthology shows, because I could fill this list twice over just with Twilight Zone episodes and then what would I do with the episodes from The Outer Limits and Masters of Horror and Black Mirror and Alfred Hitchcock Presents?

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - the series finale of M.A.S.H, because I will never forget Hawkeye and the woman on the bus with the crying baby.

"Darmok" - Star Trek: The Next Generation, because it does interesting things with the idea of language, and Patrick Stewart as Picard works it perfectly.

"A Late Delivery from Avalon" - Babylon 5, because Arthurian legends are my thing and this did it oh so very well.

"Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow" - Orphan Black, because Helena is Helena in all her glory "Did you threaten bebes? You should not threaten bebes." "I got refund."

"Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" - Doctor Who, because River Song is dying and the man she loves has no idea who she is.

Bonus TV episode:

"Once More with Feeling" - the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because music and dancing and stuff.

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My friend evil_macaroni from Livejournal asked me to list my "Top ​5 ​non-speaking ​animal ​characters ​in ​movies, ​TV ​or ​books?"

And my answers are:

White Fang and Buck. I mention these two characters in the same breath because they are mirror twins. White Fang, the title character of Jack London's classic novel, travels from the feral circumstance of his birth in the Far North to an old age lived in placid domesticity in the gentle south. Buck, the main character in Call of the Wild by the same author, is stolen from his owner's home in California to become first an Alaskan sled dog and then a wild dog among wolves.

Pixel, the Cat Who Walks through Walls. He does say "blert" a lot, but that doesn't count as talking, does it?

Because they belong together, I'm naming them together - Tao, Luath and Bodger, aka Ch. Boroughcastle Brigadier of Doune, the three animals in The Incredible Journey. I refer of course only to their depictions in the book or the first movie, as I understand some idiot made them talk in the remake.

Shadowfax, the silver horse companion of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. Chief of the Mearas, the fastest horse in Middle Earth.

And, because you didn't specify fictional characters, Elsa the Lioness, from the book Born Free, written by Joy Adamson.
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This is a meme going around on Tumblr, where I have a few friends. If it hasn't made it to Dreamwidth yet, it's here now. :)

Ask me for my top five of anything, and I will try to answer. Those who know me well will expect that you might get more than five. Or an essay rather than a list, but that's how I sometimes roll.


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I did not make a book post last week. This is largely because we have had two bad and very smoggy weeks, in which my brain took a long vacation and left me incapable of doing much more than playing solitaire on my ipad.

Fortunately, my brain came home again and i have some reading to report.

Since my last book post, I have finished Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Margaret Atwood's Second Words: Selected Critical Prose 1960-1982, and Isabel Allende's Ripper. I have also read India Edghill's Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen, Gillian Bradshaw's Island of Ghosts, and Syrie James' The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen.

At present, I am reading Lavinia Collins' The Warrior Queen, the first volume in her Guinevere trilogy, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. And I'm still working on Metzel's The Protest Psychosis, and am also picking away at Stine's Future Eves anthology.

Coming up soon: it's time to start some serious reading of sff published this year, so that I will be prepared to nominate. I have drawn up a list of books I have seen recommended in multiple places - most of which I was planning to read anyway - and will be starting in on the ones I've already got on my virtual TBR pile. I've also got some recommended novellas lined up. I should start looking at recommended novelettes, short stories and graphic novels, too. And related works.

As ever, if you're interested in my thoughts on anything I've read, check out my book journal:
http://bibliogramma.dreamwidth.org/
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Well, this was a week in which best-laid schemes really went agley.

I had planned to spend a lot of time reading, but it was a very bad no-good week in terms of health issues, and I was far too full of pain and exhaustion and nasty poisonous smog and other crap that insisted on invading my personal sphere that I could barely read. Instead I spent easily six or more hours a day mucking about on Facebook and playing computer solitaire.

I did, however, finish up Sharon Butala's The Girl in Saskatoon and Anya Seton's The Mistletoe and the Sword.

I'm picking away at a few books - Jonathan Metzel's The Protest Psychosis, Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Margaret Atwood's Second Words: Selected Critical Prose 1960-1982, and Isabel Allende's Ripper.

Some may note that it's taking me a very long time to read The Protest Psychosis. There's a good reason for that. You see, unlike most of the books I read, my copy of The Protest Psychosis is a real paper book, not an ebook. For the past three or four years, it's been almost impossible for me to read paper books because they are so toxic. But there are books I want to read that I bought before that happened, or that my partner bought for himself (or I bought him for one celebration or another) and I decided I wanted to read, or that do not have an ebook version. So I put them inside plastic bags and read a few paragraphs whenever I am strong enough to hold up a paper book, and not so sick that I can't tolerate the amount of toxin that comes through the plastic. Naturally, it takes me a long time to read a book this way.

By the way, as I finish books, I post my comments about them on my book blog, in case anyone is interested: http://bibliogramma.dreamwidth.org/

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I have a few things to say about the Hugo Awards this year and the sadly rabid puppies who did what puppies do all over them. I know that, as puppies, they will keep on doing what puppies do, because they can and because they are full of the bubbling rage of denied entitlement, so I offer this suggestion. If the puppies really want to put the stories they think have been neglected up for consideration against all the other award-nominated works, don't load up a voting slate with crap that ranges from mediocre to barely readable. Because for this year's Hugo's, that's what they did, with few exceptions - most of whom pointedly disavowed themselves from the puppy kennel by declining their nominations.

If puppydom really wants to make a statement about what it thinks speculative fiction should be, then they should lead with their best. Nominate - as individuals, not as a slate - the very best of what they like in science fiction and fantasy. Honour original ideas, good writing, strong characterisation, tight plotting. Because nominating material that is merely competent, or worse, is not the way to showcase the kinds of fiction one loves.

Seriously. I read all the Hugo-nominated works in the fiction categories this year. And rejected the puppy offerings as not worthy of an award, a rejection based on merit, not genre or content. There was a lot of bad to mediocre writing there. There were some competent and interesting pieces, and one or two things that suggested real potential. But nothing that demonstrated the level of skill that merits a
Hugo. And that had nothing to do with the kinds of stories being told, some of which I enjoyed despite the quality of the work.

If indeed there are great works out there being overlooked or ignored, then next year, when we look at nominations for the best works of speculative fiction, let's see the best of all of speculative fiction's many faces, including the genres beloved by the puppies - because work that's good will be recognised for what it is. It doesn't need a slate to support it. And if the Hugo voters as a whole decide that no, the quality expected in a Hugo winner isn't there in the puppies' choices - then if puppies want awards for the stories they like to read, they should demand that kind of quality from the writers of the kinds of fiction they prefer. Whining that they are being shut out purely because they are puppies doesn't cut it.

And that brings me to another point. Not everything that one enjoys is award-worthy. I love Mercedes Lackey's writing, she pushes buttons for me that few others do. But I don't think her work is Hugo or Nebula or World Fantasy Award calibre. And that's all right. Maybe your most favourite authors will never win an award - because they are competent writers who know how to tell a story that you and others think is lots of fun to read, but are not trying to challenge you, or blow your mind, or take you somewhere you've never been before. Writers who lack the special something - originality, skill, perspective, vision, depth, power, insight, whatever - that lifts a book beyond the competent and entertaining. There's nothing wrong with that. Not every book can or should be an inspiration to other novelists, an example of the best a genre can produce.

In the long run, if we take them (or at least some of them) at their word and believe that this fuss is all about neglected kinds of stories and not that they just aren't comfortable with stories that challenge assumptions and decentre privileged viewpoints, then surely the gap between us is not as huge or as unbridgeable as they seem think it is.

Take me as an example. I've been a fan for going on fifty-five years. I read the old and the new with pleasure. I grew up on Heinlein and Asimov and Clarke and all the same folks they did. I read widely in the field now, as I always did. Space opera, military science fiction, planetary romance, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy - I read and enjoy these as much as I enjoy more philosophical, sociological and politically themed speculative fiction. I read for fun as much as I read for challenge and enlightenment. I accept that certain kinds of stories - urban fantasy and milsf, for example - are less likely to be found on the nomination lists for many reasons, some of which are inherent to the nature of those kinds of stories. But that doesn't mean I've stopped reading these kinds of stories, both new and old.

(I'll also note that when works that do draw on the motifs and themes of those "neglected" neglected kinds of stories do get awards, puppies claim they are tainted by the "message" of the work or the "intersectional politics" of the author. John Scalzi and Ann Leckie have won awards with books that sure read like space opera and milsf to me.)

But there is something else that's true of me that may not be true of some puppies. As the years have
gone by, my tastes in reading have grown and diversified. I still enjoy the things I used to, but I enjoy more kinds of things than I did then. The field of speculative fiction has changed, and grown, found new stories to tell and new viewpoints to tell them from. But the traditional kinds of stories are still around, still being written, and shock of shocks, I can read and enjoy them both.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that there is more to this than a desire to restore certain kinds of stories to their traditional place nearer the mainstream of speculative fiction. Reading the pronouncements and conversations on various blogs, full of puppy paranoia, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the puppies are frightened and confused by speculative fiction that takes the defining question of the genre - what if? - and puts it in the words of people who do not have the same experiences and perspectives that they do. It was fine to ask what-if when the asker was white, American or occasionally British, preferably male, unquestionably cis and straight and binary, and espoused good American values or at least some approximation thereof. Certainly, there have always been those who spoke from outside that narrow vision, asked the questions no one with those forms of privilege would ask. But mostly, in the beginning of the genre, they were not loud or visible or numerous enough to be disturbing. But as more and more "other/ed" voices began to ask what-if, and to challenge all the accepted viewpoints from which what-if had been asked before - well, that's when some people started to find it scary.

And that, unfortunately, is a gap that may be harder to bridge, the gap between those who can only imagine limited sorts of new worlds, in which they can remain the same as they ever were, and those who are willing to go further and question everything, even their own vision of themselves.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

So.... Have been gorging on crime thrillers. In the past week, I have read Lesley Thomson's The Detective's Daughter, Tana French's In the Woods, Vad McDermid's A Place of Execution, Kathy Reich's Speaking in Bones, Annelie Wendeberg's Holmesian mystery The Devil's Grin, and Yrsa Sigurdardotir's Someone To Watch over Me. Branching out into horror, I also read Sarah Pinborough's The Taken.

And I finished Gretchen Grezina's Black London: Before Emancipation.

Currently reading Sharon Butala's true crime narrative/memoir The Girl on Saskatoon, about the murder of Alexandria Wiwcharuk on 1962. This has a certain amount of personal resonance for me because I was living in Saskatoon at the time of the murder.

I'm also reading Anya Seton's The Mistletoe and the Sword, a sort of young-adultish historical novel set in Roman Britain at the time of the Iceni Rebellion. Not a major work, like the books she's perhaps most famous for, Green Darkness and Katherine, but quite enjoyable. A bit reminiscent of Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth.

Having read a lot of anthologies during my Hugo reading month, I seem to have set Future Eves: Classic Science Fiction about Women by Women, edited by Jean Marie Stine, aside for now. I'll come back to it later.

I plan to spend the rest of August reading the same sorts of undemanding sorts of things - thrillers, historical fiction, maybe some light horror. In September, I plan to start paying serious attention to the novels published so far this year that I suspect may be potential Hugo nominees. I have a supporting membership and I plan to use it.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I've been thinking maybe I ought to do this, if for no other reason than to give me something to post about every week. Of course, if you follow my book journal, you already know what I've read, but not what I'm reading or planning to read next, so this should not be too boring for you.

So... I finished my massive re-read of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover post-Contact novels, including the ones written by others after her death. The last ones were The Alton Gift and Children of Kings, by Deborah J. Ross. I'm going to wait a while before tackling a re-read of the pre-contact novels - will likely take that on ad we get nearer to the publication of Ross' next Darkover novel, Thunderlord, a sequel to Bradley's Stormqueen.

And I finished Elizabeth Bear's Range of Ghosts, the first of her Asian/Mongol/Silk Road inspired The Eternal Sky trilogy. I'd actually started it some time ago, but put it aside to do the Hugo nominations reading thing, and then picked it up again once i got through that. A very good read, with some wonderful female characters.

Because I have been reading a lot of sf and fantasy in the past two months, I'm feeling a need to shift genres. I took a glance over the several hundred books on my TBR list and picked out some crime/suspense/thriller books to look at, and maybe some Tudorporn. My first selection was Kathy Reichs' recent murder in the mountains novella, Bones on Ice, which was fun, and also one of the better things she's written lately.

I'm currently reading crime thriller The Detective's Daughter, by Lesley Thomson - a new author to me, and one who has received sone good reviews. I'm not quite as engaged as I'd hoped to be - the author's frequent and totally unmarked switches of POV are a bit disorienting, though part of me is wondering if perhaps this is a case where shifts that were indicated typographically in the printed text in sone way that has not carried over to the ebook. It's not the first time I've seen that happen.

I'm also partway through Future Eves: Classic Science Fiction about Women by Women, edited by Jean
Marie Stine, which features short stories from the early pulps, most of them totally new to me.

Also reading two non-fiction books. Black London: Life before Emancipation, by Gertrude Gerzina, and The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, by Jonathan Metzl. The titles speak for themselves.

Up next? In fiction, probably some more crime thrillers. I have unread books by Nicci French, Maureen Jennings, Kathy Reichs, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Laurie R. King, Sujatta Massey, Tess Gerritsen, Jennifer McMahon, just to mention authors I'm already familiar with, plus some selections from new authors (to me) to try out, including Tana French and Val MCDermid. Also, I need to finish Bear's trilogy.

In non-fiction, I want to read Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book, Between ​the ​World ​and ​Me. Also, there are relatively new books by Laurie Penny, Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein that I've been meaning to get around to. Plus the several hundred other unread books on the ipad. Time will tell which I pick up next.

January 2017

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