4. Clare Winger Harris & “The Fate of the Poseidonia” [SF Women of the 20th Century]

amazing_stories_192612-e1403619869179Clare Winger Harris was the first female short story writer to publish ‘scientifiction’ in the pulp magazines under her own name, rather than a male pseudonym. Her second published story, a space opera called “The Fate of the Poseidonia,” won third place in a contest run by Hugo Gernsback for stories inspired by a particular piece of artwork by Frank R Paul, and was duly published in Amazing Stories in June 1927.

Gernsback said of the story:

“That the third prize winner should prove to be a woman was one of the surprises of the contest, for, as a rule, women do not make good scientification writers, because their education and general tendencies on scientific matters are usually limited. But the exception, as usual, proves the rule, the exception in this case being extraordinarily impressive. The story has a great deal of charm, chiefly because it is not overburdened with science, but whatever science is contained therein is not only quite palatable, but highly desirable, due to its plausibility… We hope to see more of Mrs Harris’ scientifiction in Amazing Stories.”

Men expressing surprise that women should have any interest in science fiction as creators or indeed as readers was to be a longstanding theme of the SF pulps, especially in the letter columns. The existence of women in SF is one of those things that is discovered over and over again, like a Groundhog Day themed episode of your favourite TV show.

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Issue #1: The Wicked and the Divine (2014)

thewickedthedivine_1_BTitle: The Wicked and the Divine (2014)

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Jamie McKelvie

The Buzz: Since it started last year, The Wicked and the Divine (Image Comics) has been gaining attention, award nominations and general kudos. Universal Studios have optioned the right to a TV series. The Gillen-McKelvie team collaborated on the critically acclaimed Young Avengers run, as well as their cult book Phonogram.

All You Need To Know: This is an original comic based around the concept that every 90 years, a group of 12 gods called The Pantheon are reborn into the bodies of bright young things who are adored, loathed, live fast and die after 2 years of glory. It last happened in the 1920’s and now it’s happening again in the new millennium, with the Pantheon reborn as 21st century rock stars and celebrities.

Story: “I see a wannabe who’s never got past the Bowie in her parents’ embarrassingly retro record collection. I see a provincial girl who doesn’t understand how cosplaying a Shinto god is problematic at best and offensive at worst. I see someone who’s been convinced that acting like a fucking cat is a dignified way for a woman to behave!”

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Robotech Rewatch 64: Chill City

Keep your scanner tuned to this station. Robotech is back!

This review is best consumed while humming your favourite musical number from Frozen.

frostbiteEPISODE 79: Frostbite

After Rand and Lancer have made their moves, it’s finally Scott’s turn to get romantic with Marlene. (Lunk doesn’t count, because large men in Robotech are generally only allowed to have love affairs with beef steaks)

It’s a snowstorm (yes, we’re back in snow, after last week’s desert antics), so our crew are all wrapped in slankets, and attempting to slowly move their mecha via a complicated sledding arrangement. Instead of, you know, being inside the nice cozy metal suits Not surprising that the episode title is Frostbite with this kind of ridiculous cold weather behaviour. Stay inside, chaps! It’s chilly.

Rand spots a city preserved beneath the ice, and suggests they get down somehow to raid it for supplies despite Scott’s disinterest in setting up shop as an archaeologist.

The ice makes the decision for them, cracking under the weight of the Alpha and sending them all down without any injuries whatsoever.

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Friday Links Can Temper Steel

grandmaI was fascinated by this article about a trans woman’s history with the art of blacksmithing – how she originally used it as a kind of ‘free masculinity points card’ to make herself seem like a less “girly/queer” teen male, but then after her transition found that it worked against her because the idea of a woman blacksmith was perceived as socially radical. Despite history. BECAUSE HISTORY, PEOPLE!

Seriously, there is a reason we don’t crowd-source history (except on Wikipedia, sigh). People always think the olden times were more gender essentialist than they actually were. And I say this having spent a year at college in a blacksmithing club with my three best (female) friends.

Octavia Butler’s book Dawn is being developed for TV – the interview with the producer covers issues to do with diversity and how badly it has often been handled in film & TV. His attitude sounds very promising, with quotes like “I think that perception in Hollywood that we have to enter from a white male perspective has been proven wrong, especially recently.”

Another vaguely promising Hollywood interview comes from Paul Weitz, writer-director of new Lily Tomlin vehicle Grandma about how he realised he was only telling stories about dudes, and is now all about telling stories about interesting women. Mostly if it means he gets to work with Lily Tomlin, who is amazing. Grandma, which is Tomlin’s first lead role in a film since 1988, is about a cranky bohemian lesbian grandmother on a road trip with her granddaughter to help her raise money for an abortion.

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3. Connie Willis & To Say Nothing of the Dog [SF Women of the 20th Century]

To-Say-Nothing-of-the-DogI first heard about Connie Willis at Aussiecon Three in 1999 – my first worldcon, held in Melbourne. I didn’t go to the Hugo ceremony, because it wasn’t something I knew anything about (I had been a published author for exactly one year, and was completely at sea about international fandom etc.) I spent the evening with my fellow Random House authors, and heard the results come in by rumour and word of mouth. Maxine McArthur, whom I’d only just met, was super excited that Connie Willis won the Best Novel Hugo for To Say Nothing Of the Dog.

(To put 1999 into context, Willis was the only female Hugo winner that year in any category, though the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer was awarded to Nalo Hopkinson)

The following year, I went to my first Swancon, where Connie Willis was the Guest of Honour, and read aloud a chapter of her fascinating, then-in-progress novel Passage, which hooked me entirely. I bought up copies of her books over the next several conventions (until Passage came out, I never saw her on an Australian bookshop shelf) and I soon fell in love with To Say Nothing Of the Dog all on my own.

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Hugo, and Livia

hugo rocketI am just surfacing from yet another spell of illness and bedrest after a long, cold winter of the perpetual Colds and Flus… but there is exciting newsness that really should be formally acknowledged.

For a start, we won a Hugo! Galactic Suburbia has featured on every Best Fancast shortlist since the category came into being, and we are beyond excited to have won ourselves a rocket (one each!). It was particularly pleasing to have received so much support from listeners and voters this year – to have the majority of Hugo voters come out in favour of such an openly feminist podcast is fantastic. Alex, Alisa, the Silent Producer and I are all over the moon.

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Robotech Rewatch 63: Rick Hunter’s Sure Spunky

Warning, Rick Hunter does not appear in these episodes. Or at all. Ever. When the excitable narrator implied otherwise in the ‘next week on Robotech’ at the end of The Midnight Sun, Ms10 (who was on Minecraft and firmly Not Interested in Robotech) perked her ears up.

HER – Is that?
ME – No.
HER – But he said Rick Hunter.
ME – He lied. It’s there to make you think he’s going to be in it.
HER – He’s not in it?
ME – Didn’t I tell you that Rick Hunter never ever comes back?
HER – But maybe?
ME – No.

See? See? Even the modern generation of kids who have access to Wikipedia still get their hearts broken by this damned show pretending that it’s going to follow up on the adventures of the original Robotech crew and then not doing it.

This is a particularly dire example of that.

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2. Diane Marchant & Kirk/Spock [SF Women of the 20th Century]

grup3p2Fanfic, and slash fiction in particular, is a huge part of SF fandom history – and its overlapping communities have mostly been built and shared by women.

Diane Marchant is generally regarded as the writer of the first published fic featuring Kirk/Spock – the ship which popularised slashfic as a fan phenonenon. And she was Australian, to boot!

You’re welcome, rest of the world.

The story, “A Fragment Out of Time,” published in Grup #3 in 1974, contained a steamy sex scene but named no names (and played the pronoun game, so it wasn’t even clearly marked out as a m/m relationship).

Still, the piece was illustrated with a Kirk & Spock picture drawn by Diane, making her intentions fairly obvious, and a cartoon underneath the final page of the story shows Bones saying to Kirk: “Impossible….. No, Jim. I warned you about messing with aliens…….. especially Vulcans.” (The look on Kirk’s face in the cartoon implies he has just been told about the existence of slash fiction. Oh, sweetie.)

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Robotech Rewatch 62: Awkward Shirtless Holiday Camp

Keep your scanner tuned to this station. Robotech is back!

EPISODE 76 – Metamorphosis.

Marlene (AKA Ariel) is the worst infiltrator ever, because she has failed to send any spyware back to the Invid Regis.

The Regis transforms two other Invid using ‘biomass reconstruction’ which turns them into conventionally attractive humanoids with adorable hair: Sera and Corg.

She believes that the humanoid form has been categorically proven to be the most flexible and useful life form for surviving this planet, based largely on that time all her dinosaurs got blown up. Cute hair for the win!

awkward shirtlessOur freedom fighting bikie gang are relaxing on a tropical island (bwuh?) because beach time = not throwing hissy fits and quitting the team. Annie finds an abandoned military base from the Second Robotech War, and they get scavenging on the grounds that a boat might be more surprising in their planned attack on Reflex Point than a fighter plane.

Turns out Rand is pretty good at welding. Who knew?

When Rook is injured badly in a skirmish with a patrol, they promptly find themselves an abandoned paradise resort where she can rest up while they swim, frolic and fix up a bunch of mecha.

Rook is a bit of a grinch about fun in the sun, but a shirtless Rand eventually convinces her to enjoy their impromptu holiday.

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Where Have All The Friday Links Gone

poster2My Fridays are so much more jam-packed than they used to be so Friday Links have fallen by the wayside. Whoops! I have so many juicy bits and pieces saved up, though, I had to do one today.

Judith Tarr visited Charlie Stross’s blog to ask the question Where Have All The Women Gone – or, more precisely, to talk about why that question is so damaging.

Also on Charlie’s Diary, Nicola Griffith brought the stats to the party with her post Data, books and bias looking at the gender breakdown of awards versus how seriously those awards are taken. Stirring stuff that will be super useful for Alisa’s thesis.

Some Australian SF Year’s Best Tables of Content! Fablecroft’s Focus 2014 collects an elite selection of work which has received acclaim via national and international Awards recognition. Over at Ticonderoga, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene have compiled the TOC for The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. I’m honoured to be in both books, with two different stories – Focus is taking “Cookie Cutter Superhero” and Ticonderoga are taking “The Love Letters of Swans.”

My thoughts are on women’s role in the history of science fiction right now, so I was delighted to read Vonda McIntyre’s post at the Women in Science Fiction website, talking about “Starfarers,” the best long-lost SF TV show of all time. A diverse cast, an original premise (university faculty steal a starship when their travel funding is cut) and unusual aliens… oh and it was totally a hoax she made up in order to get through a dull panel topic at a convention. It has its own fandom. Oh, SF community, this is why we still love you.

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