Tag Archives: helen merrick

Friday Links is Still Writing Strong Female Characters

Greg Rucka, like Joss Whedon before him, reveals how he writes female characters that don’t suck, in a medium that has a tendency to treat female characters badly.

This one is separate to an earlier interview with Rucka, reported on by DC Women Kicking Ass, in which he complained about the poor treatment of female superheroes by Hollywood and the comic book world.

Tor.com talks about the evolution of female superheroes in movies, and how they’re finally getting it a bit right with Black Widow and Catwoman.

Cassandra Clare talks about rape myths and why there isn’t one ‘right’ way for a fictional character to deal with sexual assault, just like in real life.

Ben Peek on the appalling “celebrity rehabilitation” of notorious political racist Pauline Hanson through Australian commercial television, and how she’s still being allowed wide media coverage of her white supremacist views.

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Galactic Suburbia Award

The GS Team: Alex, Alisa, Tansy and our Producer (AKA Gentlemen's Auxilary)

Yesterday Galactic Suburbia put up a Very Special podcast, announcing the honours list and winner of the inaugural Galactic Suburbia Award.

After much discussion, and wanting in particular to create something that wasn’t already out there in the multitudinous world of spec fic awards, we came up with this definition:

The Galactic Suburbia Award: for activism and/ or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction in 2011

We didn’t put links to the honours list and winner as show notes to the podcast, because we wanted our regular listeners to have at least SOME sense of anticipation as they listened, but now it’s well and truly out there, so here is the list:

Honours List

Carrie Goldman and her daughter Katie, for sharing their story about how Katie was bullied at school for liking Star Wars, and opening up a massive worldwide conversation about gender binaries and gender-related bullying among very young children.

Cheryl Morgan for Female Invisibility Bingo, associated blogging and podcasting, and basically fighting the good fight

Helen Merrick, for the Feminism article on the SF Encyclopedia

Jim C Hines for “Jane C Hines” and associated blogging, raising awareness of feminist issues in the SF/Fantasy publishing field.

Julia Rios, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond for Episode 11 of the Outer Alliance podcast (The Writer and the Critic special episode)

L. Timmel Duchamp – for continuing to raise issues of importance on the Ambling Down the Aqueduct blog and various Aqueduct Press projects

Michelle Lee for the blog post “A 7-year-old girl responds to DC Comics’ sexed-up reboot of Starfire


Nicola Griffith – for the Russ Pledge, and associated blogging

The winner will receive a Deepings Doll hand-painted figurine of a suffragette with a Galactic Suburbia placard, hand-painted by Jilli Roberts of Pendlerook Designs. (Tansy’s very talented mother!) Each Deepings Doll is individual, so the one each winner will receive (we do plan to make this an annual tradition) will be unique.

If you have ideas for our Honours list for 2012, please email us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com or tweet @galacticsuburbs


It’s been lovely to see such a positive response from our honourees and winner. Already, Nicola Griffith, Cheryl Morgan and Timmi Duchamp have posted the award details on their blogs with gracious commentary. We at Galactic Suburbia had a great time chewing over what our award should be, and what we wanted to celebrate in the SF community.

Night of Necklaces, Day of Ferries

I felt like such a jet-setter, getting on a plane yesterday morning for a single night in Sydney for the Aurealis Awards. I arrived in the early afternoon and met up with Tehani, Helen and baby Max at the airport so we could taxi in to the hotel together. It felt so decadent to hang out and chat with friends I normally don’t get to see more than once every few years – twice within a month!

We went down to the hotel restaurant for a (very) early dinner, correctly guessing it would be our last chance to eat for the night. Some familiar faces were already down there, with the same idea, and we added a table on the end of theirs – and as more and more people arrived, kept doing so, until we had at least 20 people there, and the table had turned into a long L-shape!

Then of course we all had to disappear to frock up, as the new arrivals were looking increasingly glamorous.

The Aurealis Awards were held at the Independent Theatre, a lovely venue only a few minute’s stagger (a bit longer in high heels, but I was wearing flats, hehehe) from the hotel. We met and mingled at the cocktail party (sponsored by HarperCollins), many of us marvelling at how utterly weird it was to be together again so soon after Swancon – when we’re used to an 18 month separation! Of course there were people there who hadn’t been at Swancon, too, so it was a general crowd of happy reunions, gossip and hugging. With champagne. I had lots of lovely conversations with lots of adorable people, though the highlight for me was getting to meet IN PERSON the amazing Nicola, who has edited all three of the Creature Court books with me, one way or another. To get to talk to her in person about the choices we made and how much we love each other’s work was very, very cool.

And oh, the fashions! We are a gorgeously dressed bunch. Tehani referred to it as the ‘night of necklaces,’ and there was certainly some spectacular jewellery on display. Kirstyn wins the prize, of course, for her bird skull necklace that made people go ooh, and then, erkhhhh when they looked more closely…

The theatre itself was the perfect size for an event like this – grand but cozy at the same time, if that makes sense? Tehani and I decided to start a trend by sitting in the front row, since we knew I had to go on stage at some point to present (and we knew Helen would be going up too, but more on that later!). Spec Faction deserve a huge amount of kudos for the event – it ran smoothly, with any dramas rendered pretty much invisible to the rest of us. Cat had put together a hilarious and touching montage of Aurealis Awards photographs (the overall theme was people we knew looking overheated, a bit drunk and terribly happy) which broke the ice marvellously, and there was a really good vibe in the theatre, all that community spirit stuff.

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Galactic Suburbia Episode 31 Show Notes

There’s a new ep up! Yes, already. This is the one with the things in it we couldn’t quite squeeze into our live episode. Grab it from iTunes, by direct download or stream it on the site.


In which we do a quick (ha) awards round up and squee about the Swancon that was.


We wanted you to read this review and be appalled
An issue to be addressed that we want more women reviewed … but not like that.
(but then they edited the review out from under us, so you can be appalled by that instead)

Hugo nominees have been released.

Ditmar, Tin Duck & other Australian award winners (including us!)

Wanted to draw attention to when Tansy won the Atheling and Grant Stone as MC said she was the first woman (invisibility of women)

1979 – Susan Wood, “Women and Science Fiction”, Algol 33, 1978
2007 – Justine Larbalestier for Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century
2009 – Kim Wilkins, for “Popular genres and the Australian literary community: the case of fantasy fiction”
2010 – Helen Merrick for The Secret Feminist Cabal: a cultural history of science fiction feminisms (Aqueduct Press)

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

The Shattered City Mighty Slapdash Blog Tour, Part 3

Yes, still here, still blogging! Here are some more guest posts of mine which appeared throughout the week.

This one was teed up before the Mighty Slapdash Tour began, but I’m counting it anyway. Over at the blog of Kate Gordon, author of new YA paranormal Thyla (also released this month!) I talk about the difficulties particular to the underappreciated middle book of a trilogy, and some of the particularly mean things I have written into this one.

Tehani totally tried to bait me by challenging me to write about the differences between men and women writing fantasy, and I think I acquitted myself reasonably well on that topic.

Jo inspired me to write about my daughter’s response to Star Wars (if I’d gone with Doctor Who, you all know it would have turned into a book, right?).

Helen Merrick gave me four topics and of course I couldn’t choose between them, could I? So she got a mighty, jam-packed blog post!

The posts each come with a little cookie from The Shattered City, out NOW from all good Australian/NZ bookshops (I hope!) and also available as an e-book in iBooks and Kindle (I hope other ereader sites too, let me know if you source it!)

I still haven’t heard any evidence that The Shattered City *is* in bookshops yet, but I really appreciate everyone who has tweeted me or commented to let me know that they have it on order, and that their local bookshop is apparently getting in lots of copies (or wasn’t getting in any until they ordered it). Release month is a nail biting thing, and you have definitely made it more fun!

Super Bumper Catchy Uppy Review Post 2010

I’ve actually got to the point where it BUGS ME if I like a book and for one reason or another, don’t get around to reviewing it on my blog. Sometimes I don’t have time, or I can’t figure out what to say, or what I have to say is too big, or I just read too many awesome books in the one fortnight and some get lost along the way. Or I talked about it on Galactic Suburbia and lost impetus to write my thoughts down. There are also the books that I feel odd or uncomfortable about reviewing, because they’re written by friends (weirdly sometimes I do feel okay about doing this and sometimes not, and it has nothing to do with the degree of friendship) or because there’s some other perceived conflict of interest – there are some TPP books where I have contributed more editorial input than others, and of course there are anthologies in which a story of my own appears.

And there are the ones I just forgot about at the time. And the ones I finished really close to the end of the year, when all my blogging mojo was directed at Ace and the baseball bat.

Part of me wants to go, “REALLY? You REALLY can’t let it go? You’re going to actually feel guilty about not reviewing a small handful of awesome books that people probably know about anyway, rather than feeling proud about the zillions you have reviewed?”

To which I reply, “Okay, you’re obviously a part of me that does not know me very well AT ALL.”

Here then is a super post of a bunch of books I meant to review in 2010 but didn’t, so I can move on into 2011 with a clear conscience. Or something.

Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook, The Writer’s Tale: the Final Chapter
I very much resented having to buy this book a second time, even if the extra amount added to the paperback was totally worth the price. I now have TWO copies on my shelves, and who’s going to want my hardback of the first half? It was, sadly, completely worth it. A fascinating behind the scenes look at the creative genius (and it has to be said, creative flukitude) of Russell T Davies, it’s a very candid correspondence and one of the best books I’ve ever read as far as capturing what it’s like to be a writer. All writerly spouses should read it, regardless of their interest or lack thereof in Doctor Who!

Helen Merrick, The Secret Feminist Cabal
A fascinating, crunchy examination of the history of fan culture, which happens to have an awful lot in it about women, attitudes to women, feminism, and attitudes to feminism. Awesome stuff.

Clayton Hickman (ed), The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who
One of two very well-chosen Christmas presents I bought myself! I’ve never bothered with the annuals or any of the tie in books about New Who, because they seem to mostly be aimed at kids – this was totally aimed at kids, but luckily the kids in question were mostly TWELVE YEAR OLD ME so I enjoyed it very much as a lazy Christmas read. Far closer to a Doctor Who Magazine Special than some boring old annual, this was full of cool bits and pieces, Moffatt quotes, cast interviews, making of features, and extras. The Brian Aldiss story was a bit of boring old tripe that didn’t capture the character voices at all, but the rest of the book was tip-top. My favourite bit was the collection of Churchill diary entries with mentions of all the Doctors who have crossed his path over his lifetime, which was genuinely funny and sweet.

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Galactic Suburbia Episode 21

New Episode now available for streaming, direct download or from iTunes!

In which we work, play, shake up our format a little (gasp!) and cover the life & death of magazines, the changing face of the industry, respect for non fiction, sexual harassment, rants, reboots and as usual, books, books and more books. Also a few sneaky clues about what Twelfth Planet Press is publishing next year!


Realms of Fantasy is back, again…

Escape Pod Expands:
“We have been pushing to expand what Escape Pod does, adding an SF blog and distributing our stories via magazine format. We’re also becoming a pro market, and hope to keep paying our authors pro rates well into 2011 if the donations make it possible.”

Cheryl Morgan talks about paying for reviews as semipro

On the Cooks Source scandal and seeing stuff on the internet as ‘public domain’

Jim C Hines on reporting sexual harassment in SF/F

Old men complaining?
When you get older, do you by consequence lose your sense of wonder? Just simply because you’ve read everything? And is/should all SF be aimed/written for the 60 year old man?
Jason Sanford responds

New Buffy Reboot

New Friend of the Podcast: The Writer & the Critic (Mondy & Kirstyn)

Rambly Discussion
Books that aren’t marketed as being a part of a series…
Publishing, deadlines, and attitudes thereto…
Chat, rants and backpedalling…

What Culture have we Consumed?
Alex: Blameless, Gail Carriger; The Devil in Mr Pussy, Paul Haines; Women of Other Worlds, ed. Helen Merrick and Tess Williams; Bold as Love, Gwyneth Jones; Day of the Triffids (2009 BBC production)
Alisa: works too hard, and also FRINGE
Tansy: To Write Like a Woman, Joanna Russ; Marianne, the Magus & the Manticore by Sheri S Tepper; Sourdough & Other Stories, Angela Slatter; China Mountain Zhang, Maureen McHugh, Mists of Avalon movie

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia Episode 12 Show Notes

Episode 12 is available for streaming here, downloading here, and can also be found on iTunes by searching for ‘Galactic Suburbia’

In which we talk about publishers behaving badly, authors self-publishing, the future of reading and the price of a short story. Also we talk about books. Shocking, isn’t it?


Night Shade apologises for any problems they’ve caused any of their authors

SFWA puts Night Shade Books on probation as a qualified SFWA market for a period of one year, effective immediately.

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nobody puts baby in an alcove…

I have a new podcast already – yes, I’m fickle! In this case it’s Will Write for Wine, a brilliantly funny, giggly chatcast starring romance/paranormal/women’s fiction writers Lucy March and CJ Barry. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to Galactic Suburbia – only about a completely different genre. And you know, they drink while podcasting. We so couldn’t do that – we’d end up with every episode FOUR hours long.

I started with Episode 62, in which Lucy & CJ relaunch the podcast after nearly a year away, having both changed the names they write (and podcast) under. Along with fun regular segments like ‘guess that word’ and ‘latest obsessions’ they have a fantastic crunchy discussion about the pitfalls, benefits and psychological confusions that come from reinventing yourself as a writer, and writing under more than one name. The other eps are good too, I am very addicted now. Mango mimosas for everyone!

Jeff VanderMeer blogs about the 50th bookiversary of the very awesome Aqueduct Press and asks that press’s supporters to reblog that link. I’ve been so impressed with the Aqueduct books I have ordered and read over the last year or two – The Wiscon Chronicles, Writing the Other and The Secret Feminist Cabal. (I just searched my whole blog to discover I haven’t actually reviewed this properly, how dreadful! Possibly I was too busy telling everyone how awesome it was on a one to one basis) So yes, Aqueduct Press is brilliant, I can’t go to their website without finding a huge list of books I NEEEEEED, and their shipping to Australia is swift and reliable. Go. Get books. Or at least read this great interview with L. Timmi Duchamp.

Elsewhere on the internet, Pub Rants talks about the problem of e-books and regions, particularly about how hard it is to access US-English editions outside that country.

Genevieve Valentine, meanwhile, documented the experience of seeing the Eclipse movie, so the rest of us don’t have to.

Hugo Shortlist!

The Hugo shortlist nominees went up on Twitter this morning, Australian time – luckily I had been woken up early by my adorable/dreadful children, so I was around to read them as they came in.

I haven’t been as excited about a Hugo shortlist in years – not just because I got to nominate and will get to vote in these particular ones, but because it does look as if there has been a bit of a demographic shift this year. There are lots of women, new writers and online publications represented across most of the categories. Many things I really liked and indeed nominated got up, which is rather nice.

Congratulations to all the nominees! Hope to see as many of you as possible at Aussiecon this September.

The shortlisted items/people I am most excited about are:
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor) [best novel nominee]
“Act One”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s 3/09) [best novella nominee]
“Eros, Philia, Agape”, Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com 3/09) [best novelette nominee]
“The Island”, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2) [best novelette nominee]
“It Takes Two”, Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three) [best novelette nominee]
“Spar”, Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld 10/09) [best short story nominee]
On Joanna Russ, Farah Mendlesohn (ed.) (Wesleyan) [best related book nominee]
The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of SF Feminisms, Helen Merrick (Aqueduct) [best related book nominee]
Jonathan Strahan [best editor, short form nominee]
Shaun Tan [best pro artist nominee]
StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith [best fanzine nominee]

And the works that have been added to or moved up to the top of my reading list are:
Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra) [best novel nominee]
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade) [best novel nominee]
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker (Subterranean) [best novella nominee]
Soulless by Gail Carriger [The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer nominee]
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire [The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer nominee]

Ah yes, somehow it all comes down to more books for Tansy to read… funny, that.

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