Happy International Women’s Day!
So, one of those things you might not know about me, internet, is that back in the day when I spent part of my first ever professional book sale cheque on a Playstation 1 (that’s how long I’ve been in the writing biz!) the games I played most obsessively were: Spyro the Dragon, anything with ‘Discworld’ in the title, and Tomb Raider. We are so overdue for a new Discworld game it’s not funny, and the adorableness of Spyro has been utterly destroyed by the cynical and macho ‘Skylanders’ reboot. But Lara Croft as Tomb Raider is about to make her comeback…
And this time, she’s written by a woman. Rhianna Pratchett, heir to the Discworld IP and one of the most prominent female writers in the game industry, has been doing a bunch of media about her role as head writer on this new Tomb Raider prequel. It’s rare to hear a writer included so openly in the PR about a new game, especially when that writer is a woman, and Rhianna has some really interesting things to say about the creative choices made for this game, especially in a piece she wrote herself for the Telegraph (though she was quick to point out on Facebook that the awful title of the piece was NOT chosen by her). Don’t read the comments of this one, they will ruin your day.Meanwhile, Gail Simone has been signed up to write for Red Sonja which immediately makes me interested in the character in a way I never have been before. A female warrior mostly portrayed as a male fantasy, now in the hands of a smart writer who does smart characterisation? BRING IT. Oh, and as an added bonus, while the regular artist is male, the covers will be handled by all female artists including HELL YEAH FIONA STAPLES, our own Aussie Nicola Scott, Jenny Frisson, Stephania Buscema and Colleen Doran.
Back to the book industry! The big dramatic discussion of the week was the terrible boilerplate contract offered by Random House Hydra, one of several new digital imprints of the Big Publisher. Scalzi and the SFWA Writer Beware blog had much to say about this contract, and its most problematic aspects – if a publisher is not paying advances AND charging the author for set up costs, then exactly what investment are they bringing to the table? A recent update on Writer Beware includes the response of Random House.
Bitch Magazine asked why 70 percent of the most popular podcasts are hosted by men, and I Love Lard responded by gathering a list of podcasts which are hosted by women. Go check out the list if you are craving something new to listen to! And if your favourite female-hosted podcast isn’t on there, ILL will happily add your recommendations. I love it when something positive comes out of an issue that makes me cranky.
Epic Fantasy has also been much discussed – particularly with Foz Meadows piece on Grittiness and Grimdark Fantasy (I love that term so much), and then Kate Elliott’s piece What Is Your Consensual Sex and Love Doing in my Epic Fantasy? The discussion in the comments of that one is wonderful, inspiring and very worthwhile. I have learned to check back on Kate’s posts several days later because her vocal readership are awesome.
The new (March) Apex Magazine is really good! I particularly like the feature article I Married a Fake Geek Girl: A Defense of Casual Fandom which is a must-read and one to bookmark for reference, but I also enjoyed much of the fiction, which has a higher quirkyweird factor than I find in other publications.
This one is depressing but constructive: a Tumblr set up for women to share their stories of everyday harassment, whether it’s street harassment, workplace or social harassment. It can be a gruelling read but it’s an important resource because the fact is, if you’ve never experienced or witnessed this kind of harassment in your life, it’s hard to take in how prevalent it is in our supposedly post-sexist society.
Blue Milk, who has written some amazing think pieces this year, looks at The Cost of Mockery in Australian Politics, particularly as this regards our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the gendered abuse hurled at her by the media (and populace) on a regular basis, above and beyond the usual Aussie mockery of public figures.
Then there’s the VIDA count which shows yet again that the books reviewed in the most prominent publications of review are ridiculously weighted towards the work by men, regardless of merit. Sad, sad pie charts make me sad.
NOW so I don’t leave you all in a blubbering mess of cynicism and gloom, some cheering up links!
Guys Reading Gals, a new Aussie blog established to address the bizarre social practice whereby many men exclusively or predominantly read books by men, often unintentionally. Blokes who want to change this about yourselves, you are awesome!
I was also highly entertained this week by a piece from a former ghostwriter of the Sweet Valley High series, talking about the process and how she balanced her life as a ghostwriter of girlie romance with her dissertation on Serious Books, before becoming a professor of literature. Almost the best bit of the whole piece, which focuses on her fear at the time of being outed as a purveyor of trash, is the comment that points out she went from being a successful, relevant and highly-read writer to being a useless professor who just teaches about writing instead of doing it. It made me giggle, okay? I did appreciate her discussions on the addictive nature of audience, though.
And finally if you’re not cheered up enough yet to go about your day with a spring in your step, check out this SPECTACULAR HOGWARTS MODEL THAT THIS LADY MADE OUT OF LEGO!
Oh, and all this talk about Lara Croft and Red Sonja made me want to rewatch Bernice Summerfield in action: