Lately, I've been reading Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark which is a nonfiction book about the future of AI. (I'm on the second read through right now because there's so much to unpack. I do that with research that's a key part of whatever it is I'm writing.) It's a fascinating read, and I recommend it, but it has some serious problems.
If there's a marriage made in hell, it's the pairing of AI with Libertarianism. It disturbs me when wealthy tech barons blithely discuss disruption of economic markets as if it were a tiny nuisance that nations get past in a matter of moments. When the reality is that people's lives are thrown into chaos. Jobs are lost and--quite possibly in the instance of AI--whole careers destroyed. And yet, the fallout is merely hand-waved over like it's a minor inconvenience. I don't buy his statement that 'everything will be fine.' It won't be fine. Not for years, possibly decades, not even for your precious tech company. If you're going to argue ethics, and pose how one creates an ethical AGI whose goals don't conflict with humanity's, maybe you shouldn't espouse a political and financial system that is laissez-faire?
The opening fiction story about a small group of amoral, selfish, greedy AI geniuses working within a tech company is downright hair-raising. Have you never heard of Lord Acton? Dictatorships, especially those run for profit, aren't a good thing. It's quite eyeopening.
And ZOMG, people, PLEASE understand that Wikipedia is not an unbiased collection of encyclopedic data. For fuck's sake. You're this really smart man, and yet...
Also, there's an assumption that even though vast, unlimited wealth can be generated by AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), the majority of that wealth will be hoarded by the few. There's zero reason for that--particularly if this is a Utopic perspective, and it takes place after the current censure of Capitalism has completed. He doesn't explain why exploitation and/or the broad imbalance in the distribution of wealth is so essential He merely assumes it will be because: Capitalism. I see it as a flaw in a narrow political and philosophical perspective.
The cherry on top of the tea cake is the unexamined sexism. There are few women (if any) mentioned by name in the entire book. Those who are mentioned are wives of Great Men--and none are technical contributors to the project. Or if they are, their contributions aren't mentioned even in passing.
Yeah. Wow. So much to unpack. Still, there's a lot of really interesting ideas in it. And I do recommend reading it. More on that later. For now, videos.
Halloween is my favorite holiday. So, today I'll collect some links about fun things to do. Hosting a party? Pop on over to USA Today's list of inspiring adult drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions are listed) and other treats. Dinosaur costumes officially rock. Author Heather Greene tweets a list of 31 films about witches. Sadly, a majority of them are awful, sexist, and promote harmful stereotypes from a modern witch's perspective. However, there are a few fun ones. Heather also has a new non-fiction book out about witch films. Have some costume ideas, couples costume ideas (same sex couples are included), and makeup tutorials. Got kids? Have some kids' craft suggestions. And have some DIY suggestions for your home.
Next week? We'll talk about my favorite Halloween movies.
So, last week sucked ass. The US Republican Party has ceased to function as an element of democracy and has switched into full-on Fascism mode. That makes November's election more important than ever before. There is so much on the line this election. And after the latest report on climate change everything feels dire. Because dictators don't care about the environment. Trump certainly doesn't. Neither does the Republican party. This, my friends, is a deadly combination on multiple levels. So, don't listen when the trolls tell you that you'll only make it worse by speaking out. You can't make it worse. It is worse. Relenting and giving the big bad what it wants just makes it easier for them to do whatever they want. Fight back.
Speaking of, lately I've been thinking hard about my practice of retweeting articles and opinions from BlackTwitter. The reason I was doing so was to promote POC voices. However, this had an unfortunate side effect. Trolls saw these RTs and abused POC Twitter-Users. I recently saw a complaint about white tweeters who RT POC tweeters not coming to the aid of the POC tweeters they've RTed. That is a valid complaint. I've giving some thought to my personal response. Anyway, I think, in the future if I see a POC being attacked, I will stop and ask if they need assistance. (Automatically doing so risks the whole White Savior thing.) If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them.
In other news, today is Indigenous People's Day in the US. And I think it's Thanksgiving for Canada. Regardless of whether or not you're celebrating either holiday, I hope you have a happy Monday. Now for those links...
Hey. How're you? Yeah, I've been away for a while. I took a road trip with my sister for a week and a half. We went to Tennessee. It was gorgeous and tons of fun--filled with music (i dj-ed on the road), shopping, gardening, house interior painting (or taping in my case) and niece-visiting. my niece and her husband bought a house in Nashville. I miss my sister so much since she moved to Houston. I'm thrilled she invited me along. It was fantastic to be able to catch up with her like that. Just the two of us + music + open road. We shared a room for all of our childhood and teens. We get along really well. I love her so much. Anyway, enough of that. You came here for links and Feminism. Here we go!
Today's video: John Oliver talks about Kavanaugh. You should watch the whole thing if you haven't.
Mind you, I'm not happy about making fun of a man crying. However, this is a man who is attempting to prove that he's the appropriate choice for a high stakes, high pressure, powerful position of power, and he's repeatedly lied about shit that we can *prove* isn't the truth. For the record, I believe Dr. Ford. Absolutely.
It’s impossible to overstate what a genuine hero this nun from Uganda is. OMG, she's so inspiring. Okay. And now...links.
Good morning, y'all. I'm going to do something a little different today. I'm going to link you to some wake up music. Because it's Monday. You can listen to it while you read. So, here you are, an oldie but a goodie...The Happy Mondays remixed by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Wetherall. It's one of my favorites from the '90s/'00s. And hey, Monday is in the name. ;)
Hang on. Put the soundtrack on pause a moment. This is something you need to see first. It touches on toxic masculinity and other revenant topics. This video does a brilliant job of analyzing why I feel like giving side-eye to anyone that insists that The Last Jedi is a piece of garbage, particularly if they're a CIS male. The film wasn't comfortable--even for me, but it did have quite a lot of important things to say.
Obviously, I saw To All The Boys I Loved Before. Two thumbs up. That was fun!
That was a gem of a movie. Totally fun. Sweet. And entirely not stressful. (Sometimes, I need that in my life.) Also, well-written and funny. Did I mention funny? I bet the book was great too.
What else? Things are going well with the rewrite. I got a haircut. My depressing mermaid story is still out there. Also, have a song from the music list for Persephone Station. :)
More later. I've got work to do. :) Have a great weekend, y'all!
I finally saw Crazy Rich Asians with my husband last night and wow! That was amazing. It also had a lot to say about the role of women in families and marriage. So, I'm going to discuss it behind a cut because, well, SPOILERS.
So, my story A Siren's Cry is a Song of Sorrow is out in the world. It's kind of a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid. Sort of. Maybe not. Maybe more of a reference to The Little Mermaid. You can access it (and the other stories in the September issue of Apex Magazine) for the price of $2.99. That's not very much, y'all. Please consider buying it. If you do, you'll be supporting a wonderful venue for short fiction as well as the authors whose stories are in the issue. You'll help Apex (an award-winning SF/F magazine) continue to pay authors professional rates for stories. And you know what? Writers have this nasty habit called 'eating' they have to support. They also require things like a roof over their heads, health insurance, clothing, transportation, utilities...you know, all that mundane stuff that keeps us alive while we create. Editors have these needs too. (And I've met Jason Sizemore. He's a nice guy.) So, go forth and spend that $2.99. It's worth it. Of course, you could buy the print edition for $10 and have something for me to sign the next time you see me. You know how I love scribbling on my novels. I honestly feel the same about shorter works.
Okay. I did my bit for self promotion. :)
Let's see. What else?
I still haven't seen Crazy Rich Asians or any other new movies yet. I've just been too busy with rewrites. Although, I will do it soon. I've been reading the non-fiction book Dodge City and it's been helpful. Although, I gotta say Earp and Masterson were definitely thugs with badges. It's also obvious that women didn't live long in that era. (I can't find any definitive data that doesn't merely assume that statistics for men are the same for women.) Most of the men in the story marry multiple times due to maternity deaths. (Remember there is no birth control and not a lot in the way of medical facilities in the Wild West.) I've done a lot of reading in between the lines on this one. I've had to. The author is more than a little sweet on Earp. I won't even get into detail about how indigenous Americans are written about--hardly at all unless it's about how they attacked a group of white people. So, I'm not recommending it. There's a lot of going back to give the history of this or that person who doesn't do much, but there have been a few useful details. [shrug] Hey, I've learned to read anything written about the Wild West from a straight white CIS perspective with a healthy dose of cynicism. (I've read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. And I do recommend that one.)
Oh! I'll be giving this chicken recipe a try tonight. We'll see how it goes. It looks tasty. Will let you know how that goes. I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures this weekend. Great writing weather. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I get extra energized. I hope you have a lovely weekend!
Happy Friday, y'all! So, here's something you might not know about me. I'm a big Joan Jett fan. She had a big influence on my life. (see that suitcase? i have one of those.) She made it okay to be a woman and be into Punk or Goth. She was the first person to tell me (via the radio, mind) that it was not only okay to be angry, but that I had a right to my emotions--whatever they were. When men told her she couldn't play rock, she did it anyway. I adore her so much. I'm so thankful for her work.
If you haven't seen The Runaways film, you should. It demonstrates the patriarchy's drive to shove women into either the 'innocent' or 'whore' role and how that is used against us. Anyway, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, Heart, Kate Bush, and Stevie Nicks are other big influences for me. They inspire me when the whole Boys Club mentality of SF/F gets me down. I can listen and scream and jump up and down...and then I'm all right. I can get back to work. Mind you, there are many others whose work I enjoy, but these were my early influences.
I've been away from the blog for a bit. If you checked the dates along the right of your screen, you'll already know why. Sometimes it's just too hard to keep up with the blog and everything that's going on, travel wise. I'm only human, after all. That said, I'm back to my regularly scheduled schedule until the chaos of the holidays thrash my sense of time into nonexistence for a while. (I know myself pretty well at this point. Heh.)
There have been a number of new things crop up in my life of late--all of them good to great. I'm excited. I'm also swamped by multiple projects. This is excellent. I like to have more than one thing going on. It motivates me to move faster than I would if I didn't. That said, I've been thinking a lot lately about being a white writer who wants to incorporate inclusivity and marginalized representation in their work. That said, A Very Nice Person (Jen Zink of Skiffy and Fanty fame) gave me a cross-stitch piece of the Wiccan Rede. (She went to all the trouble of replicating the entire thing--not just the final eight words.) I don't think I've ever read the entire thing before. One line stands out: "Speak Ye Little, Listen Much". Pair this with the thought that even if one tries not to harm others, there is no knowing for sure that one's actions will never harm anyone. In fact, as flawed human beings, it is highly likely at one time or another we will harm others. The point is to make the effort to the best of your ability. Apologize. This is part of accepting responsibility. You can't learn from a mistake for which you don't accept responsibility. Listen. Remember that whatever has happened, it isn't about you. It's about the person harmed. Keep the focus on them. Don't make it about you. Learn from your mistakes. Change your behavior. Never repeat the same error. Lastly, there is no way one can remove the risks from writing marginalized characters. If there's one thing I learned from writing about Northern Ireland during the Troubles it's that there's always going to be someone who will object for whatever reason--no matter how careful you are. The point is: never give up trying. The work toward change (for inclusivity) within my chosen genre (SF and Fantasy) is far too important to not try at all.
Babies, we gotta be brave. Change is scary. Change is risky. But this is the right thing to do, and damn it, babies, we gotta be brave.
I also wanted to add that I've learned that as a white author, writing marginalized characters into stories is not the end of the work. It's also important to a) remember that there are some stories that are not mine to tell--particularly if those stories involve the trauma marginalized persons endure and b) make space at the table for marginalized writers. This can mean mentoring, paying for or creating a scholarship program to writing workshops, and recommending/reviewing works by writers who happen to be from marginalized groups.
That's what I've learned so far. I'm sure I've much more to learn. And that's all right. None of this work is about being Right™. It's about being a decent, loving, empathetic human being. It's about leaving this world in better shape than when you entered it--no matter how small that change is, because small changes build up into bigger ones. A beach is made of many small grains of sand, after all.
Anyway...let's get to those links you came here for, shall we?
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.