August is swiftly approaching. So, I thought I'd give you some snippets from my new novel, Blackthorne, once a week. The second novel has extra-added points of view--not merely Suvi and Nels--because Eledore kind of isn't any longer. (There's so much more going on than the fall of Eledore--kind of the definition of Epic, really.) There is more of Dylan and the Waterborne in this one. Therefore, the following bit is from Dylan's perspective. It's also much longer than I normally post.
Good morning, y'all. And since there might be one or two of you who don't already know this... I saw Wonder Woman on Saturday.
I've said this before: I'm not a Wonder Woman fan of old. I'm not. So, it says a lot that I am now a new convert specifically because of this film. A great deal has been said about the film: How 'Wonder Woman' Tackles the Superhero Movie's Greatest Foe: Sexism, 'Wonder Woman' Shatters Records With $200+ Million Worldwide Opening, The Triumph of ‘Wonder Woman’, How a First Nations First World War hero from Alberta helped Eugene Brave Rock find his character in blockbuster, Wonder Woman. Thank the gods, most of it is good. My favorite scenes involved the island of Themyscira (the first part of the film had zero men in it and I could've sat through two hours of story on that island alone--hell, they wiped out a group of soldiers with arrows, shields, horses, and swords!) and the bit where Diana takes a stroll through No Man's Land. I bawled as I watched her plow her way through clouds of bullets, bent behind her shield and striving to move forward anyway. She is all of us women (and those who identify as women) in that moment. The world of men is throwing everything they can at her to stop her. The men behind her who supposedly support and care for her are nowhere to be found. She's alone. And she's fucking standing in a land they've blasted to pieces--not only that, she's making forward progress and most of the men behind her aren't even witnessing it. Now, read HOW WONDER WOMAN’S NO MAN’S LAND TELLS A RADICAL STORY ABOUT TRUST. Yep. That. Another reason I adored the film is that she never once gave up her femininity--unlike most of the female heroes in SF. She's vulnerable and empathetic. She stops to coo over a baby. All these things and she never once stops being a warrior. I adored that. In any case, none of this AMAZING has educated the sexists. (see How not to review ‘Wonder Woman’.) That is, of course, not a surprise.
Good gods, it's June already. Wow. Am feeling pretty great this morning. The timing is perfect. I've a lot of work to do. Blackthorne comes out in August! That's just a couple months away. I kind of suck at the promotion thing. (Bad, I know.) So, bear with me as I go into book promotion gear.
I'm excited about this one. It combines some elements of SF with the Epic Fantasy--specifically one of my favorite science subjects: genetics. As it happens, I got my love of SF (and genetics) via a novel about a JFK clone. I studied it in college/university and even wanted to be a geneticist. Unfortunately, I had a rather terrible Human Anatomy and Physiology professor, flunked it, and well...that killed that idea. I'm still fascinated by genetics. In fact, one of my favorite films is Gattaca.
The idea of wedding SF with Epic Fantasy came to me when I read The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. If you haven't read it, do. Yes, I know it's YA. However if you ask me, it's one of the most under-rated novels ever written. Semi-based on true events, it's about a slave who is used in an small pox vaccine experiment by a group of naturalists. I also have read a great deal of True Crime--specifically, serial killers. They are one of the well-documented sources of what realistic evil looks like, after all. In this case, it caused me to do further research. You see, most of the time in Epic Fantasy we see a great deal of Evil with a capital E. That is, obvious evil. Everything is firmly delineated. These are the Good Guys and these are the Bad Guys. I wanted to do something a little different. So, one of the characters is based upon a Soviet serial killer: Andrei Chikatilo. One of the most fascinating aspects of the case is the fact that the Soviets insisted there could not be a serial killer outside of a capitalist country. It was seen as a capitalist problem. Thus, state denial of reality added to the body count as it often does. In case you're curious, there's an excellent film about the case called Citizen X. It's Hollywood-ed up a bit, admittedly, and it plays fast and loose with certain facts. But it's a fun film.
 Sadly, there is a distinct lack of POCs in that film. (Except for the genetics doctor.) In a way, it works because the people are like the setting: sterile, steel-like, and white. But still...no. On the other hand, if broadly implemented eugenics were a thing, racists would be all about a strictly white population. Wouldn't they?
 Pox parties did exist. And the novel is extremely well researched. I'm not sure that scientists secretly tested vaccines on slaves, but honestly, that isn't a small leap of logic there. Medical science has done similar things in more modern times. See the Tuskegee Study and Loretta Lacks. And that's just the two that are famous/infamous. I've no doubt that there are more. See ‘Explosive’ Growth in Foreign Drug Testing Raises Ethical Questions.
 See the state-created famines in the Ukraine during Chikatilo's childhood. In spite of what you might discover via an internet search, this isn't the first instance of a state-created famine. The UK created The Great Famine in Ireland using the same exact method. [sarcasm font] Odd that it got the same result. Ah, colonialism. Ain't it grand? [sarcasm font end]
 Am I thinking of Climate Change Denial right now? Fuck yes, I am.
 Russians going on about how wonderful the US's FBI is might be one of those instances. [innocent whistle]
Family things have added to the busy schedule this week. And today I've the second round of neck-shots designed to herd the head bees of doom. Everything should be fine. Once again, this is routine. I just may not be posting at my usual time tomorrow. Or I might. If last time is any indication, I may feel so great that I'll be exactly on time as if nothing happened. We'll see.
In the meantime, it's Thursday. And I think I'll talk a little about some things I'm watching.
First, iZombie--because I haven't said anything about it in a while.
I know. I know. I don't normally like zombies. But this one is a standout. (So was Warm Bodies btw.) We're now on season 3 and the writers have done an excellent job of switching gears into more expansive plot-lines. It's also made me think differently about cooking (and specifically shrimp). Liv is a foodie and whips up yummy brain dishes without a whole lot of planning. I've seen I can do that too--without the brains, of course. Sometimes, I'm not sure how to feel about that. Heh. I probably need to just watch the Food Network already. ;)
Next up, Madam Secretary. I've talked about that one before, but I'm still enjoying it. It's been a balm during moments of I CAN'T ANY MORE with the current administration. It does a fantastic job of depicting the ability to resolve issues via diplomacy rather than violence. <3 Also, The Handmaid's Tale is streaming on Hulu and continues to be bad ass. That trailer gives me chills every time. Every American woman should be watching it. Also on Hulu, I'm still enjoying Harlots.
It's well-researched for the record--even if the wig isn't stolen off a dead noble as it should've been. (Wigs were very expensive.) The costumes are amazing, and yes, London was very dangerous. Another show on Hulu is 11.22.63, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel. I'm not going to lie. It has some serious issues. I never read the novel, but I am a Stephen King fan. The series is well-plotted and tight. It manages to make everyday life intense which is great. What's not so great is that it views the early '60s with rose-colored lenses. It's obviously a nostalgia piece written by a Baby Boomer. The main character reacts like a Boomer would--not like a Gen Xer. (For a start, Boomers are obsessed with Kennedy. Gen Xers so, so much less so, and Millennials not at all.) Sadly, it also doesn't add anything new to the JFK conspiracy story. (It would've been so much more interesting if it did.) Still, I'm enjoying the concept of Time Travel and how the Past pushes back. That's fun. I'm also watching Legion.
The show is definitely well-done. It's The X Men told via a literary lens. Mutants are told they've mental illness and are drugged and put away. I like the concept. Alas, it's very difficult for me to watch and I have to be in a specific mindset in order to get through it. I think it's good, nonetheless. Not sure I'll get through the first season before it expires, though. On Netflix, there's a new season of Sense 8. One of my favorite SF series ever, it manages to make me laugh and cry all the while being more upbeat and hopeful than most SF out there. The second season is even better, if you ask me. Sun Bak remains my favorite character, and I love Nomi and Amanita and Lito and Hernando. I want to give Capheus a great big hug because he's just the best and geekiest paladin I ever saw. Riley is fun too. She reminds me of people I used to hang out with. Kala is interesting too. But the least interesting character is Will. Sorry. Although, he's useful to his cluster. I've also been watching Dear White People, which rocks.
Today, I'm focusing on one group of women: veterans. Unsurprisingly, American soldiers who happen to be women tend to get forgotten on this day. It seems everyone imagines males. Movies shown in the US today emphasize the role of men. Rarely, if ever do they portray women. In that vein, I recommend watching Courage Under Fire.
It's not perfect--let's be honest, I can't think of a film that is perfect. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorites. It makes me bawl every time. It's the story of a courageous woman who saves the lives of the men around her and dies in the effort because one of them can't deal. It's a great exploration of misogyny and its effects within the ranks of a military group in combat. However, we spend almost the entire movie focused on the men. Karen Walden is in the background. If this story had been about a male war hero, the entire thing would've been centered on him. Still, during what little time it spends featuring her, Karen provides some really interesting perspective. For example:
Captain Karen Emma Walden: [to Monfriez, after she's been shot in the abdomen] "I gave birth to a nine-pound baby, asshole. I think I can handle it."
I love that--even if it borders on a stereotype.
Now, for some links. The VA has a woman problem. It starts with its motto. More than 345,000 women have been deployed since Sept. 11, 2001. Women welcomed at their local VA hospital have to deal with the staff addressing their husbands first. Also, there is no excuse for not having gynecologist on staff in a military medical facility. None. And a female vet being given a prosthetic that falls off because it was designed for a male? Holy shit sauce, Batman. OH, HELL NO. Female vets shouldn't feel like an afterthought, indeed. For more information, here's a link to the Center for Women Veterans. ("Funny" thing: when you first go to that page the image is of a man. [eyeroll]) Also? You know what gets my goat? According to the Veterans Affairs 2016 fact sheet on Women Veterans Population, the State of Texas has the highest number of Women Veterans in the country. Three guesses which state is currently doing its best to take away women's rights? If you guessed Texas, you'd be right. National Guard, Reserves first up in expansion of VA sex assault treatment. Yeah, in case you weren't aware, the US military has a huge sexual assault and sexual harassment problem. And my impression is, they're still doing very little about it. Here's a great site with some history of women in the US military. And here's one that focuses on minority women serving in the military.
Americans out there celebrating today...please give thought to the women who've served, not just the men. Okay?
 I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be a woman in charge of men's lives in a combat situation. I have a hard enough time wrangling my male friends in my DnD group during an imaginary battle, and these guys are my good friends. When my character is placed in charge, a couple of them find it difficult to a) shut up--stop talking over me long enough to b) listen to what I'm saying without my shouting and c) can't bring it upon themselves to act for the sake of the entire party and not just themselves and d) won't give my character the same respect they give one of the guys if they were in charge. Let alone keep the gender of my character straight. (I often play male characters, and in this case, my paladin is male and gay.) OMG, I get annoyed, and this is entirely imaginary. 
 So much empathy to those who are gender fluid and/or trans. This is exactly why I play characters who are not me in DnD. It helps me understand people who are not me.
We're getting a new Star Trek!!! I'm so excited. What's even more exciting is, it looks like the new captain is to be a black woman. And her commander is Michelle Yeoh!! At the least, it looks like Yeoh is the captain and Sonequa Martin-Green is the second in command. Either way, a Trek series piloted by women of color?!?! I'm so freaking happy and proud to be a Trekkie! Seriously. Just watch.
And because there are a number of severely unenlightened individuals out there, who call themselves fans and yet have apparently never seen the show--ANY of the series...we have ‘White genocide in space’: Racist fans seethe at diversity in new ‘Star Trek’ series. Give me a damned break. First, finally, one of these headlines actually called them out for what they are: racists. Second, in the whole history of Trek series and films (that's 51 years of Trek for those not keeping up) every starship captain with exactly two exceptions has been white and male. That's one black man and one white woman in 51 years. Now, we finally have two women of color and all of the sudden it's a "genocide in space"? I seriously don't fucking understand this reasoning. Mathematically, white men still have the advantage. Do the fucking math. Seriously, if two women of color can wipe out the entire history of white men in a fiction world by merely existing? I mean, Michelle Yeoh is a bad ass and all but... Y'all are weak ass M-Fers. Also? My favorite scene from Bring It On pops to mind.
The more often I watch that scene, the more perfect I think it is. Honestly, Isis has exactly the right response to Tori. Does that mean Tori is wrong to make the offer? Nope. She's right to do so. It's right for Isis to shred the check too. "Why do you have to be so mean?" is ye old White Woman Tears™ and Isis pegs it. Seriously, I just adore this scene. It's so fucking powerful. And it nails the point that I'm going to bring up.
When one group is given all the advantages over other groups, how can they be sure that they're performing at their very best? Giving everyone the opportunity to excel is what civilization is all about. You know why? Because we collectively reap the benefits when all members of society can contribute their best skills and talents. We bring out the best in one another too. No one knows where the next Einstein or Neil deGrasse Tyson will come from. We don't know. We could be killing ourselves because the one person who can create the cure for cancer or global warming is too busy trying not to starve to death. Terry Pratchett said it best in The Truth:
Death: "AH. NUGGA VELSKI. YOU WILL NOT REMEMBER HIM, OF COURSE. HE WAS SIMPLY A MAN WHO WALKIED INTO HIS RATHER SIMPLE LITTLE HUT AT THE WRONG TIME, AND YOU ARE A BUSY MAN AND CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO REMEMBER EVERYONE. NOTE THE MIND, A BRILLIANT MIND THAT MIGHT IN OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD, DOOMED TO BE BORN INTO A TIME AND PLACE WHERE LIFE WAS NOTHING BUT A DAILY HOPELESS STRUGGLE..."
Yeah. And then Nugga's life intersected with Mr. Tulip's. Mr. Tulip was not a nice person. Mr. Tulip destroyed every chance Nugga had. You know what? Don't be Mr. Tulip.
Ultimately, if you're too weak to handle real competition--if you believe you can't hang if the world's best are truly allowed to bring it--then you don't belong on the top, do you? You're also nowhere near as tough and awesome as you think you are.
One more thing: if you think that liberalism in Trek is a new phenomenon? You've never comprehended what you were watching. Seriously. It's never been that well-hidden a secret that Trek is full of liberal ideals. Hell, Trek one of the reasons why I used to think that SF was liberal in general. (Poor sweet deluded me.) Kirk and Spock literally punched Nazis, after all. I'm not sure how much more explicit you need things be.
 FYI, have you noticed the language used by bigots is often violent in nature? I have. It's an over-reaction to a nonexistent threat.
 And you know what? That scene crops up in my brain quite a bit these days because I'm involved with sponsoring writers of color for the Armadillocon Writer's Workshop. Is this guilt money? Fuck yes, it is. Have you read the statistics regarding writers of color getting published?
Well, there's not much going on over here except writing. And, you know, trying to sink myself into a new universe. This is both my favorite part and my least favorite. Anything can happen, starting with losing track of time. (Which clearly is a thing right now, obviously. Sorry.) Be patient. It pays off. Usually. :) In addition, I've started a series of injections that are supposed to call a halt to the Head Bees for up to a year. That'll be great because trying to think around a migraine is a bitch and those things go on for days. Nonetheless, whenever I go through any medical procedure that involves hospitals and unconsciousness I get a little wiggy. (Even if it's minor and of the outpatient variety--which this is.) Sorry about being a giant flake.
At least the writing is going well.
In addition to writing, I've been catching up on my space opera. I was strongly focused on Fantasy for a couple of decades. It's time to switch gears because I've missed a great deal. I've read a few volumes of The Expanse which I enjoyed. There's been a visit with Vonnegut and Bradbury, of course. At the moment, I'm plowing through Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan novels. Soon there will be more current works as well as some Samuel L. Delany, more Octavia Butler, and then a revisit to C.J.Cherryh's Faded Sun series. (Because I absolutely love it.) I've stacks and stacks and stacks of reading to do. So, there's that. I've also been checking out Space.com for inspiration. I'm way, way behind, y'all. Holy crap.
But it's fun. And that's good, or I'd be losing all hope of catching up.
Good morning. I wanted to say that I deeply appreciate y'all dropping by for each week's collection of links and commentary. Hopefully, this still helps provide a bigger picture just by having them in the same place. Yes, I curate the links. But I figure this is a good, solid start. Feminism isn't about agreeing on every detail. If the whole point to it is that women are people--this also means we're allowed to disagree amongst ourselves. Blind loyalty without criticism is not a good thing in a philosophy if you ask me. Anyway, I've learned a great deal from my sisters who've disagreed with me. And I've grown and learned as a result. Hopefully, this will continue. And now, for those links.
This is why I don't find it even remotely funny when people use "bitch" and "pussy" to put down others.
Jen's activism checklist: May 21, 2017.
It's been quite the week. The news coming out of the White House is increasingly frantic. I've been reading about staffers hiding in nearby rooms while long streams of curses are screamed in a locked down Oval Office. (Someone apparently scaled the White House fence again.) No doubt about it, some unbelievable shit is going on. The Washington Post and the New York Times are duking it out for a future Pulitzer Prize. (Thank the gods.) Thus, every day a new set of problematic/dangerous information comes out. The frequency has gone from weekly to daily and now hourly. One thing is for certain: Dear Republicans, this shit is going to stain.
To top it off, Roger Ailes died. That man did serious damage to American political discourse and American politics in general. Rupert Murdoch and his money are still around, sadly. Mind you, Ailes had already been removed due to the sexual harassment charges/suits filed against him. The fact that he's dead might mean those women might not get justice. I hope that's not the case.
All in all, I'd say that Toxic Masculinity is having a rough month. Good. I hope it goes down and stays down. No one needs it.
So, yesterday's post was postponed due to Head Bees, but not due to migraines. I had my first round of Serious Level Neck shots. They put me out for it--as painful as the Junior level shots can get, I figured it was wise. And I was correct. I even felt the pain under general (light) anesthesia. They must've had a good laugh. I know I was whispering "Ouch." over and over at one point. I've zero memory after that. So, they hit me with the hard stuff. Anyway, I'm super happy because it worked! It's raining and overcast today and I don't even have sparkles on the edges of my vision. Zilch. And I didn't wake up with my shoulders cramped up and digging into my ears. I feel very lucky to have this as an option. It isn't cheap, y'all. And not everyone who has migraines has an option that works this well. Did I mention I <3 science, modern medicine, and medical insurance? I wouldn't be alive today without them. (Please, oh, please, let single-payer be in America's future. It's not ethical that not everyone can get the care they need.)
Anyway, my husband took me home afterward, he made me a pillow nest like he does, and I ended up watching tv. I needed something soothing. So, I turned on Netflix and lo and behold there was Anne with an E.
I love it. I confess, I never read the novels. (I was too immersed in Joan Aiken's and Zilch Keatley Snyder's books to even notice.) Based upon conversations I've had with Jen from Skiffy and Fanta, well...I suspect they might have glossed over the very real threat and abuse Anne would've lived with before the Cuthberts came into her life. This version doesn't do that. At. All. Also, they do a wonderful job of underlining Diana's Aunt's lesbian relationship with zero judgement of any kind. I love-love-love that. Yes, the cast is awfully white. That's the only downside as I see it. So yesterday was pretty wonderful in spite of the (slight) pain. All that, and Torchy's Tacos. :)
So, imagine how happy I am to wake up to news that we've a special prosecutor in the Russia-Trump investigation AND he's amazing. I'm thrilled to death about this development. [crosses fingers] Here's hoping for an impeachment and a thorough White House scrubbing of collaborators no later than 2018.
To top it off, I also just found out about this:
Per usual, I'm actually crying right now. (Sadly, this happens every time I see an instance of Feminism/powerful, non-sexualized female representation in SF.) Not only an Asian woman captain but a black woman too?! FINALLY!!!!!! I'm so proud of Star Trek and of being a Trekkie. I truly am.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.