Saturday, June 29, 2013

The trajectory of women and stars: A review of The Other Half of the Sky

As women age, we get fiercer.

This is true of your clear-eyed, soft-bodied grandmother as it is of the woman of indeterminate age in front of you in the complaint line — or picket line — loudly expressing her indignation.

We wear our experiences on our faces and accumulate our knowing in our bones.

We understand this even as the societal image-making machinery sells us images of young women who are little more than enfleshed desire, walking cliche and narrative accessory. We understand this even as that same machine feeds us images of older women with faces ironed out by cosmetic surgery and bowed by their transition from actor to cameo.

Athena Andreadis is a fierce woman.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the introduction to her science fiction anthology, The Other Half of the Sky (Candlemark & Gleam, April 2013). I imagine that for the reader who picks up the book without knowing in advance that Andreadis is a formidable intellect who juggles the languages of science and myth with equal zeal and dexterity, the introduction may come as a bit of a shock.

The introduction to the anthology is a ripping away of the blinkers donned by a genre that has been billed as having a vision as expansive as the universe. Expansive for whom, Andreadis asks, and in which universe? Not us, not ours — unless we are men, and white, and satisfied with the proscribed roles and trajectories assigned to women in the image-making machines of the genre.

The introduction is partisan.

In case you’ve decided to read this as a negative, let me clarify. I’m tempted to see Andreadis as a kind of Anna Magnani in Rome Open City or Maribel Verdú in Pan’s Labyrinth — someone drawn into resistance by the injustice done to a city, a people, a genre she loves — but such an analogy would ignore that Andreadis isn’t drawn into resistance, she leads it. She fights those who repress, and disdains those who collude.

But where you really see Andreadis’ mettle isn’t in the fierce introduction but in the even fiercer choice of collecting (or cajoling) short stories in open rebellion with the image-making machinery of Sci Fi. Some of these stories succeed better than others, but all of them have at their heart the radical notion that we’ll define our own roles and map our own trajectories among the stars.

The anthology opens with the story Finders by Melissa Scott. It is an interesting choice. The story revolves around a salvage crew, a leader beset by a debilitating condition at the point of transitioning from chronic to terminal, and a salvage score that is both ambush and salvation. It is an easy story to read — just the right length and tone — and we’re familiar enough with interstellar salvage crews from movies like Alien that we get both the emotional and societal shorthand and Scott’s new view. I suspect the story was chosen so the reader could revel in the quiet after the introduction’s storm. It’s an editorial gambit that might work better for others than for me, but I almost wish the anthology had opened with the thornier read, Exit, Interrupted by C.W. Johnson, which uses as a device doors — exits and entries — that need to be stolen to be opened against authority.

Aliette de Bodard’s The Waiting Stars and Ken Liu’s The Shape of Thought are two of my favorite stories in the anthology, and there’s no surprise in that. They are both tremendously accomplished writers, and they each explore — with nuance, subtlety and generosity — ideas of otherness, of interactions ruled by disparities of power and wildly divergent cultural worldviews. This is rich stuff, and I’m as addicted to it as I am to coffee and chocolate.

De Bodard’s story echoes with the history of First Nations’ children taken away from their families and forced to eschew their language, customs and cultural patrimony for a foreign understanding of salvation — though, in this case, not a religious salvation. Her sentient ships, repositories of memory and living connection to the suppressed community, are deftly drawn characters, and the reawakening is a beautifully drawn triumph. It is proof of de Bodard’s generosity as a writer that she allows readers invested in the primacy of romantic love a bittersweet moment even as she tweaks it.

Liu’s story is informed by both colonial history and anthropology. I have to admit I was tripped up a bit by his choice of non-gendered pronoun (“ze” conjures the sound of bad French accents performed by earnest community theater performers for me), but almost as soon as I noted this I was carried beyond it by the strength of his writing. The story of the child who breaches a walled enclave between the known community and the other isn’t unfamiliar, but Liu is a master at imbuing his stories with so many gorgeous small moments — irresistible little beauties really — that I found myself forgiving him the predictability of outcome.

It doesn’t much matter to me whether I know where the storyline is taking me if I like the way it’s taking me there. Vandana Singh’s Sailing the Antarsa is a perfect example. Singh has the most consciously gorgeous of all the writing styles foregrounded by the anthology, so much so that her language almost becomes a character and becomes driver in this story of isolated space travel. All of the stories Andreadis and her partner Kay Holt edited for anthology are longer than the norm for the anthologies I’ve read, but Singh’s is one of the ones I really wish they had cut a bit. Not even the exhilarating language could keep me from being exhausted — and a little glad — by the time it came to a close.

The other story that could have used some trimming was Christine Lucas’ Ouroboros. Again, a fine story — this one touching upon othering utilitarianism and the power of myth and ancestral memory — but there are long stretches that would have lost neither their music nor their narrative impetus had they been shorter.

I’m not going to write about every other story because, well, I’m lazy and it’s my blog.;) All of the stories are quite competent and the vast majority of them are enjoyable. There are a few that I wouldn't choose to reread. Cat Rambo’s Dagger and Mask hopped heads at last moment, and what was there — revelation and ship captain’s voice, both — felt flat and one-dimensional to me. Martha Wells’ Mimesis seemed an incident rather than a story, and I could never warm to Terry Boren’s unusual diction in This Alakie and the Death of Dima.

Liking and not liking are, of course, a function as much of how we read as what we read. Joan Slonczewski’s Landfall was subject to that distinction. Why? Well, I don’t know if Slonczewski is Latina, but the story has a Latina protagonist, and that made me read it hypercritically. It is one of the prices to be paid for being editor of a Latino-owned, Spanish-language newspaper — I’m always on the lookout for portrayals of Latin@s that feel real and lived. Kudos to her for including a variety of Latin@s in the story and for giving them individual quirks. Did they remind me of me or my family or my coworkers or friends? Nope. Did their Spanish have the rhythm and cadence of Cuban and Puerto Rican Spanish? Nope.

Having said that, kudos are owed because the Spanish in Slonczewski’s story is truly Spanish. There is one incredibly awkward sentence that I think is intentionally phrased that way, but over all, a win. On the other hand, the Spanish wasn’t always used organically and at certain moments the choice seemed more linguistic tourism than character driven. Also — more pointed at the editors than to the writer — I always find it odd when Spanish words are italicized when they occur in the speech or thinking of a Latin@ character. The only reason to italicize is because it is a foreign word — but to the character that Spanish word isn’t foreign. And if you do italicize a Latino character’s speech, I feel it only fair you use the Spanish punctuation, too. So ¡candela!

The anthology closes with the story Cathedral by Jack McDevitt which, if I’m remembering correctly, was panned in an early review of the anthology. This was not my favorite story — Matt’s love for Laura is foregrounded at odd moments and too frequently —but it is a solid and well-crafted story that I hung in with from beginning to end. It is also a brilliant editorial choice to close the anthology with it. The story concerns itself with the last mission of a NASA soon to be defunded and shuttered. The opportunity presents itself for the characters to make the space program relevant again. It only requires they deliberately break the rules.

And, of course, that is what the Other Half of the Sky does.

A final note that harks back to the beginning. I was disappointed to note that, for all its rule breaking, the Other Half of the Sky had precious few older women protagonists (Alexander Jablokov’s Bad Day at Boscobel is the only one that comes to mind). Since I know both Andreadis and Holt are conscious of, and vocal about, the ageism evidenced in most SFF, I have to believe it is a lack attributable to writers rather than editors of this anthology.

So to you, younger writers of SFF, I say: as rare and proscribed as the portrayals of older women are in mainstream movies, Hollywood's more proactive about showing us than you are. Got it? Pretty terrible.

You've been warned — the older we get, the fiercer we get about this (and everything we care about).

So do better, okay?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My schedule at Readercon

At Readercon 23 with college friend Francesca Bewer
Funny how July seemed so far away at one point... These are the panels I'll be on at Readercon (Burlington, Mass.) from July 11 through 14. Now that you know where to find me, stop by and say hello!

Thursday July 11

9:00 PM  Apocalypse Then. Leah Bobet, Maureen F. McHugh, James Morrow, Romie Stott (moderator), Sabrina Vourvoulias. In a 2012 interview published in the Boston Review, Junot Díaz told Paula Moya, "I always say if people [in the Dominican Republic] know about anything they know about the end of the world. We are after all the eschaton that divided the Old World from the New." In this sense many worlds have ended, with a bang or a whimper. What can authors of post-apocalyptic stories learn from past apocalypses like the 1994 Rwandan genocide or the fall of Imperial Rome, and why are there so few works that present real-world events in this light?

Friday July 12

With Daniel José Older at Crossed Genres reading  Readercon 23
Latino Speculative Fiction Writers Collective Group Reading. Daniel José Older, Julia Rios, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Latino speculative fiction writers will read from their work.
11:00 AM 

12:00 PM  Writing Others I: Theory. Michael J. DeLuca, Andrea Hairston, Rose Lemberg, Maureen F. McHugh, Daniel José Older, Joan Slonczewski (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. Authors who want to write outside their own experiences of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexuality face a multitude of challenges. How do we present each character's unique perspective while celebrating their distinctive identity and avoiding stereotypes and appropriation? How is the research and writing process affected by differences between the author's and the character's levels of societal privilege? Is it possible to write about future diversity without oppression, or does today's reality require us to write in today's frame? Which authors have handled this well, and what form does "handling this well" take?

3:00 PM  What the Other Sees as Other. Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Maureen F. McHugh, Julia Rios, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Maureen F. McHugh gets us so deeply into a character's head that while the character may be "other" to the reader, what really registers as "other" are the people who are "other" to the character. For example, in McHugh's short story "Special Economics," otherness is not about being Chinese, because all the characters are Chinese and in China; it's about being old, having ideas that are no longer current or relevant. We'll discuss this and other (ahem) examples of the depiction of otherness.

7:00 PM Sociolinguistics and SF/F. John Chu, Rose Lemberg (leader), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Anil Menon, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Sociolinguistics studies the ways in which language intersects with society. It looks at issues such as interactions of language with power, prestige, gender, hegemony, and literacy, bilingualism and multilingualism, translation, language birth, and language death to name but a few. We will look specifically at the kinds of tensions that are created in societies where people speak different languages or dialects depending on social and racial/ethnic status. We will also discuss genre books in which those topics have been explored, and consider sociolinguistics tools and concepts that may be useful to writers.

Saturday July 13

12:00 PM Friendship Is Magic. E.C. Ambrose, Rose Lemberg, Kathryn Morrow (leader), JoSelle Vanderhooft, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Heroes have friends and companions, while villains only have minions. Stern protagonists can be softened by romantic attachments that draw them back into the community, but the plot also requires that they be special, isolated by some terrible burden of privilege or unshareable secret. Loner stories are episodic (the gunslinger rides off to the next town, the gumshoe slouches off to the next case) while going from solitude to connection is perhaps the most common character development. This panel will examine how cultural narratives and values around heroism, personal development, sex and gender, class, family, and community affect the ways we write and read about being alone and being connected.

Reading: Sabrina Vourvoulias. Reading from my novel Ink.
6:30 PM

7:00 PM Women's Bodies, Women's Power. Athena Andreadis (leader), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Kate Nepveu, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias. In many times and places, cisgender girls and women have been evaluated by their bodies, including their choice of dress, sexual behavior, virginity, and fertility. Juxtaposed with this are the mystification and taboos surrounding menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This outlook has migrated wholesale into speculative literature. It's still standard fare in fantasy for women to lose (or be thought to lose) any extranormal powers they possess when they first have penetrative sex, menstruate, or become pregnant, from André Norton's Witchworld adepts to Zamia in Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon. Athena Andreadis will explore the tropes and assumptions around this issue, including variants applied to trans* and non-binary characters.

Sunday July 14

10:00 AM Gender and Power in Literature and Life. E.C. Ambrose, Cathy Butler, Eileen Gunn, Rose Lemberg, Daniel José Older (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. This workshop, led by Daniel José Older, is a critical look at different ways that gender and power shape our realities and experiences of the world. With examples from the writing process and fantastical literature in particular, we will deconstruct dynamics of power and privilege on the gender spectrum.

9:00 AM Enclaves and Conclaves: Subsocietal Safe Spaces. Gwendolyn Clare, Shira Daemon, Resa Nelson (leader), John Shirley, Sabrina Vourvoulias. People often form societies of commonality to act as safe spaces: LGBT community centers, religious social groups, Girl Scouts, D&D campaigns, speculative literature conventions. We rarely see this sort of sub-societal safe space in speculative fiction, finding instead more tangible safe spaces of domed cities, post-apocalyptic enclaves, or rails over a dangerous earth; and often, in fiction, the perimeter is breached. What does this say about our perceptions of safety and danger, our establishment and perpetuation of in-groups and out-groups, and our ambivalence toward purported utopias?

Kay Holt and Bart Leib at Readercon 23
There are lots of great panels and readings I look forward to attending — you should check out the full program  and some of the amazing people scheduled to take part. The other thing I learned at my first Readercon last year ... the bookshop is a fantastic (and financially dangerous) place to frequent. If you are there, stop by the Crossed Genres table, where INK and many other books will be available. Plus, Bart Leib and Kay Holt are fun to hang out with.

See you soon in Burlington!

Miércoles mudo, wordless Wednesday (but not really) - A Chavela Vargas song in honor of DOMA being struck down

Chavela Vargas, for those of you who might not know her, was an amazing singer born in Costa Rica, who became a citizen of Mexico, where she was tremendously loved. She came out as a lesbian, officially at 81, but four or five years before she had revealed in an interview to Spain's El País that: "Nobody taught me to be like this, I was born this way. Since I opened my eyes to the world, I have never slept with a man. Never."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nuestras Voces, Our Voices: Emerging Latina writers talk about their work - Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

Editor's note: this is the eighth in a monthly (sometimes twice-monthly) series of guest blog posts in which emerging Latina writers talk about their work, their process and what inspires them.


Lisa Quinones-Fontanez is a secretary by day, blog writer by night and Mami round the clock. When Lisa’s son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism in May 2008, she found herself in a world she did not understand. In 2010 Lisa founded the blog AutismWonderland ( AutismWonderland is an award winning blog that chronicles her family journey with autism and shares local resources for children/families with special needs. In between work, blogging and advocating for Norrin, Lisa is also working on a historical fiction novel
A Thousand Branches. A chapter excerpt (The Last Time of Anything) received an Honorable Mention in Glimmertrain's Family Matters October 2010 competition. You can find Lisa on Twitter ( and on Facebook ( 

The more I wrote, the more inspired I was to keep going

I grew up in a home filled with books. My father worked in a book factory and he’d bring them home. I can still hear the crack of the cover as I opened each book for the first time; I still remember the way the pages felt as I thumbed through them.

As a girl I spent countless hours reading about people I could not identify with and neighborhoods that didn't look anything like mine. I didn't realize I was missing something.

I was twenty years old the first time I read a book written by a Latina. It was Esmeralda Santiago's When I was Puerto Rican and I read it in less than two days. Her words filled a void, I didn’t know existed. It was the book that inspired me to write, except I had no idea what I want to write about.

Writing professors encouraged me to write what I knew. And over the next few years, I wrote about the things I thought I knew, but nothing worked. I had yet to create a character that haunted my every thought.

In the winter of 2004, I took a vacation to Puerto Rico to visit my godmother. During my trip, we visited the small island of Vieques. It was there that I began to visualize character, a family, a story. I spent the next few years reading, researching, writing and revising.

I began graduate school in 2008 hoping to complete the historical fiction novel inspired by my vacation years earlier. But my son had been recently diagnosed with autism and there was little time to write. Working full time during the day, going to school at night while trying to navigate the special education system was challenging, and my novel was put on hold. I was exhausted and lost my inspiration; suddenly my characters and their world seemed incredibly far away.

I was forced into this new world that I knew nothing about. I didn’t know a single person with autism. I didn’t even know what autism was. I turned to books for comfort, for guidance, for knowledge. I found all of those things yet it still wasn’t enough.

Not a single autism book was written by a Latino or featured a Latino family like mine. I could not identify with any of the men and women sharing their stories. The women wrote about quitting their careers to stay home with their children or moving to smaller house, some even moving to another state so that they could afford services. I knew I couldn’t quit my job as a secretary and my husband couldn’t quit his job as a Fed Ex courier. Living in a two-bedroom apartment, there wasn’t much we could downgrade to, and moving out of The Bronx wasn’t an option.

Two after my son’s diagnosis, I started writing about our autism experience, my son’s progress, our concerns, frustrations and joy and the search for an appropriate school placement. And the more I wrote, the more inspired I was to keep going.

Autism isn’t openly discussed among the Latino community and I write to help other parents know they are not alone and to know that there is hope. I want to encourage parents to advocate for their kids, to know their rights so that they fight for what their kid needs. I write because I love my son and I want the world to know what our version of autism looks like. I want people to know how much my son has inspired me.

One day I will finish the historical fiction novel I started. But for now, I will continue writing about raising a son with autism because it’s the story I am compelled to write.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Surprise! Racism and SFWA

Right upfront I’m going to tell you, I’m not a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). While I do write speculative fiction, and even released a SFF novel last year, I’m a bit of an outsider. But if you are active in social media and at all interested in the workings of science fiction and fantasy writers, editors and publishers in the U.S., it is inevitable that at some point you’ll stumble upon postings about SFWA. Increasingly those postings are in response to controversy.

One recent controversy, pretty extensively covered, was prompted by the organization’s official bulletin and its publication of a cover and three articles that were troubling because of the sexism they expressed. As a result of the outcry surrounding the Bulletin, members resigned; members and non-members wrote scathing blog posts; the editor of the publication resigned. The publication was put on a temporary hiatus; the leadership formed an advisory task force, and revised the guidelines regarding supervision of the content.

The second controversy — even more recent — involves a screed filled with unabashed racism written by one of SFWA’s members that was, inconceivably, signal boosted on the organization’s twitter feed. I haven’t read about an official organizational response, though the outgoing president of the organization called for people to make donations to the Carl Brandon Society (which fosters and supports SFF writers of color) and Con or Bust (which offers grants so that writers and readers of color can attend a SFF convention). From all accounts the call elicited a wide response and a good amount of money was raised.

This controversy, too, has generated some blog posts (though not as many as the first) including at least one that has called for the writer’s expulsion from the organization. The originating post is an unapologetic, in fact gleefully, racist tract. It attacks on both personal and universal level. It flaunts the blog writer’s assumed intellectual superiority to the novelist it excoriates and dismisses every point raised by the speech it seeks to ridicule (I’m linking to that speech here, because I happen to think it is fantastic and deserves to be widely read).

Here’s the thing: I am not surprised by the racist rant, I am surprised by how startled many SFF writers have been by it.

Sebastien de la Cruz
I work for a Latino newspaper. Not a day goes by without examples of similarly hateful screeds about Latinos (our countries of origin; our immigration status; every aspect of our culture; our language and accents) popping up in public comment sections, in public tweets, in my mail box. In fact, at the same time as the SFWA racism wake-up call was taking place, Latino social media was abuzz with the story of a young Mexican-American mariachi singer who performed the national anthem at a pro basketball game and the huge number of anti-Mexican tweets his performance prompted.

Like me, the vast majority of SFF writers of color — no matter their dayjobs — are used to noticing the systemic and endemic racism and ethnic prejudice expressed in our society at large on a daily basis. In the choice of which schools to close in Chicago and Philadelphia; in the efforts to institute voter ID and national biometric IDs; in challenges to affirmative action; in national and state budget cuts that kill food programs or make college educations even less affordable to the children of lower-income people of color; in instance after instance of violence against Latinos like Marcelo Lucero and Luis Ramirez, and African-Americans like Trayvon Martin, just because they were walking on streets where they were perceived not to belong.

I’m fairly confident that, also like me, those other SFF writers of color were unsurprised by the language, the vitriol and disgusting sentiments Theodore Beale expressed about NK Jemisin because the SFF world isn’t different than society at large. We walk the streets of a gated community, even in SFF. Maybe — on bad days — particularly in SFF.

So the shock, the stunned disbelief that has been expressed in wake of Beale’s screed? It is a good thing, I think. Good that people are articulating how abhorrent they find expressions of racism. Good that they feel strongly enough to sign on to efforts to curtail it from within the membership of SFWA.

But it’s also easy. It is one instance to be decried; one kook that can be dismissed and hopefully expelled from SFWA; one push to raise money for the Carl Brandon Society.

The hard stuff comes with opening our eyes and seeing that we are blind to, or complicit in, less obvious forms of racism — the everyday kind. The harder stuff is in recognizing the circumstances and instances when we let racism pass unremarked and unfought. The hardest stuff is in understanding that this isn't the work of one blog post or a hundred, but of a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Collateral Memory at Strange Horizons and, for a night, at NYRSF

At New York Review of Science Fiction Reading
June 11, 2013
My short story "Collateral Memory" is the current fiction selection at the wonderful online speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons fiction

I was honored to be asked by Jim Freund to read at the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series on June 11. Terence Taylor was the host, Barbara Krasnoff was my co-reader (she read her story "The History of Soul 2065" which will be released in Clockwork Phoenix 4 in July), and a really lovely and supportive group of people came out to the reading. 

Go read the story, and tell me what you think. And if you are in the NYC area, check out NYRSF's upcoming readings.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nuestras Voces, Our Voices: Emerging Latina writers talk about their work - Julia Rios

Editor's note: this is the seventh in monthly series of guest blog posts in which emerging Latina writers talk about their work, their process and what inspires them.

Julia Rios is a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. She hosts the
Outer Alliance Podcast (celebrating QUILTBAG speculative fiction), and
is one of the three fiction editors at Strange Horizons. Her fiction,
articles, interviews, and poetry have appeared in Daily Science
Fiction, Apex Magazine, Stone Telling, Jabberwocky, and several other
places. Her website is, and she's @omgjulia on Twitter.

Embracing diversity

My father came to the United States from Yucatán, Mexico when he was a teenager. My earliest memories are filled with his melodious voice, deep and still bearing an accent that marked him as different from my mother's WASP family. Though he spoke English fluently, and even got a PhD in Psychology from the University of Southern California, his English speech patterns remained slightly off. He never taught me Spanish, but I managed to absorb some of his foreign markers all the same. To this day, I sometimes use the wrong prepositions, or not quite usual English constructions when I'm tired. "Put it in the table," I'll say. "Close the lamp."

Most of the time when that happens, it amuses me, but sometimes it makes me angry, or profoundly sad. My father wanted me to be proud of my heritage. More than once in mid-September, he took me to Mexican Independence Day celebrations on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, he made sure I knew Cinco de Mayo was not "Mexican 4th of July" like many advertisers claimed, and he shared stories and food from his home with me in between our infrequent visits to his family. But for all that, the reason my father didn't teach me Spanish was because in Southern California, Latin@s abound, and unfortunately, so does racism. My father wanted me to pass for white, to assimilate, and to have the privilege accorded to people who didn't speak Spanish at home.

As an adult, this push and pull of pride vs. shame is still confusing, and I spend a lot of time thinking about who I am, which communities I belong to, and why. I realized a few years ago that as a child I loved the show I Love Lucy, because it presented a comforting family structure. There was a white mom and a Latino dad who had an accent, yelled a lot, and also liked to sing. It was very similar to my own home. When I asked my sister if she liked it, too, she was surprised and said yes, and that it was weird we'd both liked it because it wasn't a particularly new or popular show during our childhood. It should be obvious though that there's nothing weird about us wanting to see ourselves reflected in our media.

Because of that, I have been paying more attention to what I put into my fiction lately. I started out writing with default straight white viewpoint characters, because that was what I'd understood was "normal" in commercial narratives. Now not everything I write includes Latin@ content, but I've issued an open invitation for those aspects of my background to come out and play. I think about all the other people out there who long to see representations of themselves, and I take that as challenge to embrace my own diversity.

I'm not just a Latina. I'm Mexican. I'm American. I'm bisexual. I'm a feminist. I'm left-handed. I love cats. All of these things are part of me, and none of them alone make me who I am. My story "Oracle Gretel" recently appeared in PodCastle and is forthcoming in Heiresses of Russ 2013 edited by Steve Berman and Tenea D. Johnson. It features a bi protagonist and a talking cat. My story "Love and the Giant Squid" will appear in July in Pen-Ultimate: A Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Lisa J. Cohen and Talib Hussain. It features a character who has a lot in common with my own father, though he's very much a fictional person. I don't know what the future will bring for my writing, but I do know that all of it will be in some way Latina, because it all will come from me. If I want to encourage my Latin@ peers to stretch out and embrace their full identities, whatever they may be, I guess first I must start with myself.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Casting Lord of the Rings, the gender swap and POC version

A week or two ago, I posted Annis' "PicSpammy Casting the Lord of the Rings, the genderswap version" on my Facebook page, after someone I follow on Twitter posted it with the comment that seeing all the women cast in men's roles and vice versa really re-emphasizes how few women roles there are in Tolkien's book and Jackson's movie.

It's true. It does. And it is both interesting and frustrating to note Annis' choices. Because all of the women and men she chose for her gender-swapping version are, like the movie and book, very white. I commented on that in my Facebook posting, and writer-editor Kay Holt soon responded: "Might be fun to put together an all-POC version of this. (Keep the gender-swap, though. It's 100% better this way.)"

So, I did. Here goes — in the same order as Annis' PicSpammy, and retaining its strange omission of Bilbo, my gender-swapped, POC version:

Now, I expect you all to comment (what's the fun of this otherwise?) and signal boost it if you like it. 

Updated to correct the PicSpammy/Annis conflation I fell into originally.