Robotech Rewatch 66: The Great Reflex Point Conspiracy

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

Chapter 83: Reflex Point

This is exciting! Reflex Point! The whole story has been heading towards this point for so long! My expectations are very high.

The Regis muses on irony, and how protoculture allows the Invid to change into any form they like, but their extensive research has concluded that HUMANS, HUMANS ARE THE BEST DESIGN.

“We are Invid, we cannot fail, I will not allow it.”

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5. Octavia E. Butler & Dawn [SF Women of the 20th Century]

octavia-butler-799659Octavia Butler (1947-2006) is one of the most fondly remembered SF writers in the history of the field. She has won several Hugo and Nebula awards as well as being, to date, the only SF writer to receive the MacArthur “Genius Grant.”

Many of her works look at characters who are dispossessed, whose autonomy is taken from them or compromised. Her stories acknowledge race, sexuality, feminism, and the cost of survival. An African-American writer, Butler’s highest bestselling novel is Kindred, a time travel story about black slavery and the issue of survival vs. compliance.

There’s been some recent excitement (and more than a little apprehension) at the news that Octavia Butler’s book Dawn (1987), first of the Lilith’s Brood series (also referred to as the Xenogenesis trilogy), is being developed for TV, which is why I picked this book for the SF Women of the 20th Century.

This is the point where I admit that I am terribly under-read when it comes to Octavia Butler – until recently I’d only read a couple of her short stories, so Dawn was the first of her novels that I picked up. This book is fantastic! I found myself racing through it in about three days, and while I don’t plan for this blog series to be made up of book reviews, apparently some of the posts are going to be.

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Issue #1: Bombshells (2015)

DC-Comics-BombshellsTitle: Bombshells #1

Writer: Marguerite Bennett

Artist: Marguerite Sauvage

The Buzz: This one got a lot of attention around the feminist comicsverse, for the gorgeous retro art and the all-female creative team.

All You Need To Know: Bombshell art (AKA sexy retro 40’s fashion) versions of female superheroes is a common trend for variant covers, fan art, cosplay and statuettes. Like the Ame-Comi run, this digital comic combines a female-centred superhero universe with a particular art aesthetic to create truly original stories.

Story: In “Enlisted,” Kate Kane’s Batwoman is envisaged as a League of Her Own style baseball-themed vigilante who smashes her opponents on and off the batting diamond. While the men of Gotham City are off fighting in World War II, the women back home are taking over their old jobs – including the baseball league, and fighting crime. We not only get Kate and her adorable sidekick Bette in what has to be my favourite version of these characters (yes, I mean it) but also an established romantic relationship between Kate and private detective Maggie Sawyer.

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Robotech Rewatch 65: Legwarmers of Liberty

1653849-dusty_ayres_02Okay everybody up. Robotech is back!

EPISODE 81: Hired Gun

So this is the serial killer episode.

Our heroes, the dishevelled freedom-fighting Robotech bikie crew, arrive in a town where soldiers are being mysteriously killed by a figure called Dusty Ayres. Scott reluctantly agrees to help track the dude down, for no apparent reason. Even Rand and Rook think this is a surreal change in focus for Captain One Track Mind, and wonder how exactly this is going to help with the whole Reflex Point business.

Rook is assisted in an Invid fight by a mysterious long-haired stranger, and patches him up afterwards – only to discover that he has a metal arm. He’s the Winter Soldier! (sadly, he’s not the Winter Soldier)

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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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