Archive | July, 2015

Sad Puppies – A Challenge

12 Jul

So I started writing about women in science-fiction and fantasy several times in the past month and a half, and it always descended into a rant. Alongside me working an awful lot since let’s say, May Long (which I worked!), let’s just say that my thoughts needs to be refined. So first, my reading challenge, then on to the Sad Puppies thing I’ve been quiet about.
A Book with more than 500 Pages – The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
A Classic Romance: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A Graphic Novel – The Search: Avatar The Last AIrbender
A Book You Own but Have Never Read: Skirmish By Michelle West

I know there’s at least some mix-up with Anna Karenina up there; and I’ve read more graphic novels than just the Avatar one. Skirmish was a mix between a Book I own and never read and a book I started but never finished because I had it as my ‘this is my next read’ for like a year, but I never technically cracked the cover. I’m sure I could add more if I think about it, but I have like, half the year to go. I also have the next book Battle, sitting on my shelf – I’m really, really trying to get back to books I love, but let’s face it: I have friends who give me books and I’d rather read their stuff first, then get on reading local authors, especially ones by small presses. Things will calm down at work eventually and I’ll probably read five books in a week at one point this year, but summers are always busy.

When I first heard about the Sad Puppies thing, I honestly laughed, said to myself, “Those clever bastards” and went on my way, because I was too busy to even read what they hijacked (Don’t really follow any awards besides the Auroras and Sunburst), why they did it, and so on and so forth. And in my world, 60 hour work weeks can involve staring at the wall or never seeing the station, plus trying to have a life, read real books, and get my writing done. I kind of got the gist of it on my FB.

When I read it and thought about it, I was like, “Everyone thinks what they like should be awesome and the most favoured. It’s actually hilarious reading reviews and having people piss and moan because I didn’t honour their preferences.” Because I’m slightly evil and your tears are delicious. It’s like watching kids playing in a sandbox – the kids who want to build castles think the kids who are digging holes are idiots, and then there’s the jerk who just wants to knock over everything. Now, don’t get me wrong – I think diversity is what makes the sci-fi and fantasy genre great – you can write about something obscure or as a metaphor, or sometimes it’s really just about being recycled in space. For instance, I love the Riddick Films, but I have no pretensions that they’re anything other than Conan the Barbarian in Space. If every science fiction movie/book/video game/graphic novel/anything else i picked up was a variation of Riddick, I’d start to be bored with them real soon.

And then I started to read more commentary. And then I was reminded of a meeting I went to earlier this year, planning for the writing portion of the convention. Among the topics I proposed was, “Women in Science-Fiction and Fantasy” (complained that it was done time and time again, a reference to man-shaming in a bad movie was made – the topic was, however, chosen when other women who mattered brought it up outside the writing vein) and Diversity in Science Fiction. Because in my experience, many people take a look at me and associate boobs with a lack of intelligence, I was asked to name a black science-fiction writer. I rattled off a half-dozen of the authors in my reading challenge last year, though I might have called Samuel R. Delaney “What’s his face who wrote…”. What got me was even if I didn’t intentionally do a thing on Afro-Futurism, how could I not name Nalo Hopkinson? She keeps winning major Canadian awards. Treat me like I don’t read, oh for shame!SHAME

Actions speak louder than words. I want to challenge everyone who has a thing with conservative versus progressive (have fun with your dichotomies, I shall be a dick from the sidelines pretending to be superior… I’m suddenly reminded of Humpty Dumpty…)

1. Check out a Living Author of Color you haven’t read yet, preferably in the science-fiction and fantasy vein. Yes, I think Octavia E. Butler has amazing prose – I’m going to encourage you to tag blog about three living authors of color who write science fiction or fantasy, because let’s support people who are trying to make a living off their art. Read three, and then some Octavia E. Butler.
2. Got money but don’t want to read? Sweet Irony I saw this Today. They have a week, I’m sending them money on payday.

I’ll throw out that I get it – you’re busy, you don’t have money or you do but… I get a lot of books borrowed to me through friends. I loan out books to people in return. Before I moved rural I would request books from the library all the time. They had an online database, and if I wasn’t in a hurry, I could get a book for free in about a week if they weren’t bestsellers. I think the longest I waited for a book was over a year. Blog or write a review. Even a little tweet or Facebook saying, “Hey, I’m reading this” or “I want to read this” you’d be surprised how many closet readers are on your list – you might even get a small book group going.

Do more than say how awful the Sad or Angry Puppies are – support diversity and, if you can, open a dialogue and support authors who may or may not be writing typical fiction. Help show publishers that there is a market for it. You can talk, or you can let your actions speak for you in putting down the popular novel and going for something a little against the tide. Believe me, I prefer small press novels as a whole (honestly, I find them to respect the audience’s intelligence for the most part)

Here’s Three Canadian Writers. I never met any of them.
Nalo Hopkinson
Michelle Sagara West
Minister Faust

As for my challenge – well, I guess I better get on it. Three new science-fiction or fantasy authors writing anything in the fantasy/science fiction vein.